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[ Focus: Online learning ]

was still working for my old employer at the time, so being able to fit it around work was crucial. I didn’t have to take time off or lose any pay while I was studying.’ Another big advantage of the online course is the flexibility

it provides to complete it at your own pace. A classroom- based course is very intensive, and everything has to be completed within a set timeframe. There are no such time constraints with the online course; you study for as little or as long as you are able to. Harper felt this was better than a full-time course because

spreading the learning out helped him absorb it better. In fact, both of them found that by doing a bit everyday, they were able to complete the course within a couple of weeks, and get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

Well organised Harper says: ‘The course is really well organised into the same sections that you find in the Regs Book. This is extremely helpful because you can do a section at a time, and do as much or as little as you have time for. You can also repeat the sections as many times as you want, until you’ve got the hang of each one.’ Newbery also found that the format of the course suited

him well and that the videos helped him learn a lot easier than if he’d done a classroom course. ‘I found it very useful to be reading through my Regs Book at the same time as the tutor in the video was talking me through the key points. This meant I really read the book and learned what’s in each section. This is invaluable when it comes to the exam because, while you can take your Regs Book in, if you don’t know which section to look in for each question, you’ll be flicking through the book for hours and will run out of time.’ But, for Newbery, by far the most useful part of the online

course was addressing the questions at the end of each stage: ‘These really helped me get to grips with what’s in each section. Answering the questions was like a mini exam practice, and they made sure I learned about each section of the Regs before I moved onto the next. Doing the questions themselves was also helpful practice for the final exam, as was the full mock exam at the end.’ Harper also found the questions and mock exam helpful:

‘The mini-quiz at the end of each section helped test my knowledge of what’s in each section, which is really useful when you’re against the clock in the actual exam. And the mock exam at the end ensured I knew what to expect when doing the real thing.’ The final assessment still needs to be taken at an approved

City & Guilds or EAL training centre, but the ECA offers a discount to those who book both the course and final exam together (see How much does it cost box). And, on average, the online course costs about £200 less than a classroom course – providing a very cost-effective option.

Thumbs up So would they do it online again? ‘Most certainly,’ says Harper. ‘In fact I’ve already recommended it to other electricians! I’ve got the full qualification I need to run my business and my customers can have the confidence that I’m up-to-date with the latest regulations.’ ‘Definitely,’ says Newbery, ‘and I wouldn’t hesitate to

How much does it cost?

Students can do it in their own time, saving them valuable time during the working day when they need to be on site

ECA Online 17th Edition course ECA members: £196 + VAT

ELECSA registrants and ECS cardholders: £255 + VAT All other contractors: £280 + VAT

ECA 17th Edition examination £70 + VAT

Discounted package for both course and exam together ECA members: £256 + VAT

ELECSA registrants and ECS cardholders: £315 + VAT All other contractors: £340 + VAT

recommend it to other contractors. It’s so much easier and less time-consuming than doing a full-time classroom-based course. As electricians, it’s important that we keep up-to-date with the latest regulations. Even after 20 years or more in the industry, like me, you still need a refresher from time-to- time. This was the first exam I’d done in a long while, but the online course gave me the confidence to succeed.’ In fact, Newbery took to it so well that he got a perfect

score! ‘I was pleasantly surprised to learn I got 100 per cent on the final exam. Having done lots of questions on the course and downloaded some past papers, I was expecting to pass with a high score, but I hadn’t thought I’d get 100 per cent! It’s fantastic, and I hope my customers will find it reassuring that I did so well. I certainly know my Regs Book inside-out now, thanks to the online course.’ Of course, Amendment 1 of the 17th Edition came into

force in July. Anyone who signed up before that date will receive the updates free of charge. For anyone who signed up since, the course material has been updated to reflect the changes. And since all qualified supervisors need to have their 17th Edition qualifications before 31 December 2011, applicants still looking to take the exam may find that the online course is the quickest and easiest way to ensure they fulfil the criteria of their Part P registration. n For further information on the course, to view a sample clip or to book your place, visit

The graduates

Ashley Newbery of Newbery Electricals., tel. 01227 711173. Ashley runs the family business, along with his dad who set up the firm in 1976. They cover Canterbury and the surrounding areas for domestic, industrial and commercial electrical work. They have been ECA and ELECSA members since Part P came into force in 2005.

Graham Harper of G. Harper Electrical. Tel. 0115 877 8631 With more than 30 years’ experience in the electrical industry, Graham started his own business in June this year, following redundancy. He carries out a variety of electrical work in and around Beeston, Nottingham, including domestic, commercial, industrial and PAT testing.

September 2011 ECA Today 53

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