Can you look at the course first?
Look before you learn. Is there a trial or cooling-off period at the start when you can get a refund if you return materials undamaged?
Does the provider have open days, or allow you to look at materials online, or if you visit their premises?
Is the course right for you?
Is the course too elementary, or too advanced? Is it interactive enough? Does it look attractive, or just boring?
How much support is offered?
On some courses, learners can contact tutors at any time by phone, email or via a learning platform. On others, contact may be only by post, or through the marking of assignments. A lot of support can make a course expensive, so you need to weigh up the options.
In distance learning you are in control. Don’t expect the provider to chase you; they’ll support you, but not manage your learning for you.
Would you like to talk to others on the course? Is this possible?
If you might need extra support because of a disability, tell the provider as early as you can, and in writing. They’ll explain how they can help, so you can decide if the course will be suitable for you.
Is there face-to-face training?
Can you complete the entire course at home, or do you need to spend some time at a regional or national centre? Some professions require it.
Can you talk to former students?
Some providers will let you talk to former students who can recommend the course. (As part of the ODLQC assessment, we check that learners are satisfied.)
Have previous learners been successful?
This information may not be easily available, but it is always worth asking. Distance learners often have more control, and motivation, than face-to-face learners, so success rates may be higher.
Can you compare courses between providers?
Are similar courses offered by other providers? If so, compare prices and levels of support on offer (and success rates if they are available).