Gill Ryan is a Learning Partnerships Officer with The OU in Scotland.
Gill engages with the third sector and other partners to widen access to education.
She runs the Open Learning Champions project which now has more than 150 champions across Scotland.
The countdown is on to Scotland’s largest free event for the third sector: ‘The Gathering’ organised by SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) on 21 and 22 February.
My colleague Sam and I are really looking forward to speaking to charities, social enterprises and other not-for-profits about how The OU can help support their staff and volunteers gain some new skills and develop.
There are lots of free (and some paid) resources we want to tell people about.
Our OpenLearn platform is the home of free online learning, with hundreds of resources on a huge range of subjects.
All our OpenLearn resources can be studied in your own time and at a pace that suits you.
You can also use these resources with staff and volunteers, or for training and learning programmes you may run with clients.
OpenLearn can be a great starting point for people interested in returning to formal education.
Sam and I (pictured above right) will be happy to discuss OpenLearn with you at our stand at The Gathering.
2) Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership
We also have specific resources to support volunteer and staff development.
3) Digital badges
Gain a digital badge
to recognise informal learning – these can be used to evidence Continuing Professional Devlopment (CPD) for staff and volunteers, and they can help clients build their confidence and gain new skills.
All our badged courses are made up of eight units, each taking about three hours to complete.
4) Learning pathways
The OU has a range of pathways
to guide you on your learning journey and help you decide the level and pace of study that’s right for you.
If you’re interested in gaining a qualification, all OU undergraduate and access module costs are covered in full by the part-time fee grant
if you have a personal income of less than £25,000 per year.
The OU in Scotland offers free workshops tailored to third sector organisations.
These cover OpenLearn and other free learning platforms, how to support volunteers and clients to plan their learning journey, and the pathways from informal to formal learning offered by The OU.
Workshop participants can then call themselves Open Learning Champions
and participate in a network of more than 150 people in the sector.
Morven Baigent is an outreach executive at the Prince’s Trust, an Open University graduate, and an OU-trained Open Learning Champion in her workplace – supporting staff, volunteers and young people to access learning.
She says: “The flexibility of open learning makes it adaptable for staff and young people.”
Morven is pictured above right with Cath Mitchell, a fellow Open Learning Champion at the Prince's Trust.