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The Danger of Spending Money on a NEBOSH General Certificate Online Course

For many people the possibility of completing a NEBOSH General Certificate course online for about a third of the price of a classroom course is extremely enticing. Combine this with the flexibility to study in your own time and at your own pace and it seems like a clear choice. However, before spending any money on a NEBOSH General Certificate online course or distance learning option, it is essential to understand the dangers and realise that in most cases it can actually end up being more expensive in the long run.

We will look at the true monetary cost of an studying for a NEBOSH General Certificate - or indeed any accredited NEBOSH qualification for that matter - a bit later on in this article, but firstly let us focus on the negatives associated with an online course compared with a traditional, tutor-led classroom training course.

Actually Learning all of the Information Required

As anybody who has tried reading through a long email or lengthy PDF document on their computer will be able to attest, concentration levels wane exceptionally quickly when sat at a computer. Even after a few minutes eyes can begin to hurt, boredom begins to creep in... and that is for exciting topics. Although some may disagree, health and safety and its various components such as legislation and policies are in all truthfulness probably not most people's idea of a stimulating read.

This means that without the skills of a course tutor to keep delegates engaged and interaction/discussions/group work with fellow delegates, an individual can find it exceptionally hard to absorb and remember all of the knowledge and information that is needed for the exams afterwards. A classroom NEBOSH General Certificate course comprises ten full days of teaching; imagine trying to read all of that from a computer screen!

Not Being Able to Quickly Ask Questions and Clarify Points

Along with the sheer amount of information, it is worth remembering that quite a lot of it is complicated. There can be a misconception that health and safety in a workplace is simply a matter of common sense, when in actual fact, whilst there is no denying that common sense does play a significant role in staying safe at work, there is a significant amount of detailed information which must be learnt and understood. With the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus covering topics like health and safety management systems, chemical and biological health hazards & risk control, and legislation such as the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 (except Part IV) as amended in 2002 to name but a few, it is clear to see that a student cannot simply get by on common sense alone. If they try, they will not pass the assessments at the end and will not acquire the qualification.

With so much detailed and easily-confusing information being taught, it is pretty much essential to be able to ask questions to clarify points and ensure that information is understood correctly. The last thing a candidate wants to do is waste a whole chunk of time in the exam answering a question according to their own incorrect interpretation of a particular point, and to receive little or no marks as a consequence.

Attending a classroom NEBOSH course and having a course tutor present in the room provides many benefits and enables questions to be raised and answered instantly. Whilst there may be tutor support available for those attempting an online course (although even this is by no means guaranteed from some health and safety training providers out there who may take your money and then leave you to struggle on by yourself), there can be long gaps between asking the question(s) and receiving an answer. Sending emails, leaving phone messages, either side slightly misunderstanding what the other is saying and needing to repeat the whole process again to clarify... all of this can result in an extremely frustrating experience which is not conducive to learning the correct information. This is especially true when after a while the student loses patience and simply gives up asking anymore questions.

With ten days worth of training and therefore so much course content to be taught, there are likely to be a great deal of questions and points to be clarified from a NEBOSH General student. If you had a lot of questions which would you prefer; a face-to-face conversation or trying to get your point across via e-mail or phone message?

Distractions Play a Major Part in Overall Failure

Aside from the lower price, the flexibility to study in your own time is the biggest selling point of an online or distance learning option for a NEBOSH General Certificate. After all, it sounds great not having to travel to a training venue and fitting in study around workplace and personal life commitments. But few stop to consider how this will actually work in reality before signing up to the course and handing over their money.

The best way to think about potential pitfalls is to think back to your school days and how you got on with doing homework out of class. During the school day you were there between the first bell and the last. You may not have wanted to be there, but the fact is you were in a dedicated learning environment where there was little option but to get on with the work.

Things got much more difficult though when it came to undertaking homework. Television, sleeping, computer games, playing football, shopping, seeing friends... there were a million and one better things to do than sitting down and doing boring homework. In fact, the only reason it begrudgingly got done at all was through fearing being told off by the teacher.

Fast forward to the present day and all of these distractions still exist, only this time because you are a grown adult and do not actually have to do any of the course if you don't want to unlike school work which you were forced to do, it becomes even harder to find the motivation to forsake the distractions and get on with the work. Sure the premise of "learning in your own time" sounded wonderful at the outset, but are you in all truthfulness actually going to switch off the TV and miss that football match, or tell your friends you can't go out with them tonight in order to spend a few hours reading about health and safety legislation and best practices? And of course there are children of your own to consider now if you have them; will you really get the time and quiet needed to undertake that all-important self-study?

It is easy to have the best of intentions at the outset, but as many who have opted for the online or distance learning route have found out, the reality can be much more different to the best laid plans.

The Passage of Time Lessens the Chances of Success

Time is an important consideration for both online/distance learning courses and classroom-based courses, as the more time that elapses between learning information and requiring it for the examinations and assessments, the greater the likelihood that it will have been forgotten.

This is important for classroom health and safety courses as some people will only consider ones which are run one day per week for example. Whether this is by choice because they cannot stand the idea of attending a health and safety training course for a whole week, or because they simply cannot get/afford the time off work to attend, the fact remains that the more time which elapses, the greater the probability that they will forget vital information which they will need in the exam.

A course such as the NEBOSH General Certificate would take over TWO MONTHS if being conducted one day per week, and probably even longer via a distance learning or online format. Then there is the wait for the exams, which as many training providers will link into the NEBOSH standard exam sittings once per quarter in order to save costs, could mean another wait of anything up to three months, assuming of course you are free on this specific exam date, in which case it'll be ANOTHER three months to wait. With so much time elapsing between learning the information and needing to write it down in an exam, students will immediately be at a big disadvantage and will struggle to pass the assessments.

At ATC Risk Management we run all of our accredited qualifications as full-time classroom-based block courses with the exams straight after, as this provides far and away the greatest potential for passing the assessments and actually achieving the qualification. We care more about helping our students to achieve the qualification than providing formats which are not conducive to this goal simply to try and earn more money. So if an individual wishes to gamble with their money and try to go it alone with an online or distance learning course then that is up to them, but a full-time classroom tutor-led training course is the option which provides by far the highest pass rates.

Is it Really Cheaper After All?

We can talk about the higher probability of success and passing the assessments until we are blue in the face, but for some individuals the fact is that price will be the determining factor in their decision rather than quality of teaching or likelihood of passing exams. E-learning and distance learning courses are much cheaper than classroom ones due to the lack of overheads and costs incurred by the provider, and that is all they wish to know. Job done, case closed, sign me up. Surely it is worth putting up with a bit of frustration and fighting distractions for such a massive discount, right?

It probably would be... if you were guaranteed to pass first time after studying a course in this manner. Over the years, ever since the marketplace started to become saturated with more and more providers popping up offering online health and safety training courses, we have lost count of the number of individuals who have come to us needing to enrol on a classroom course after having wasted money on an online or distance learning course and trying to struggle through it largely on their own. It could have saved a lot of time and money by opting for the classroom course in the first place.

Even those who steadfastly stick with the online or distance learning course can find that they spend a small fortune on exam re-sits as they try and somehow get enough marks to pass the assessments and achieve the qualification. So ironically, many people can actually end up paying MORE money in the long-run than they would have by just choosing a full-time classroom block course in the first instance.

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