Lessons in Lockdown – Online Courses and Skills Training

Our senior lecturer Caroline Nielsen continues her Employability series.

now hiring freetousesounds unsplash
“Now hiring” by Freetousesounds for Unsplash

Welcome back to History and Employability during Covid-19, our mini-series on this blog!

We are now several months into the global Covid-19 pandemic, and if you are reading this in the UK, we have now all experienced lockdown and longer periods at home. I have heard many people discussing how their perception of time has changed during this pandemic. One’s sense of the passage of time is a very individual experience. For some, the challenges of being at home with family and loved ones causes time to fly and provides very little time for reflection. Others find the time passes very slowly and are pleased for any diversion.

If you do have some time on your hands, why not spent some lockdown time learning a new skill or topic through an online course.

In employability terminology, taking a new course may also be described as ‘upskilling’, ‘skills development’, things undertaken for fun but also for ‘personal development’ or ‘professional development’. Sometimes the world of the graduate job/employment/business market/graduate recruitment has a language all of its own. Some of these terms are jargon or ‘buzz phrases’ which are only used for a limited amount of time. But others have now entered common use on job/graduate scheme forms. Due to their ubiquity, they are really good ways of thinking about your skills and how you want to describe yourself or an action to others. These terms denote activity and action – that someone is actively taking steps to learn something or do something, rather than have something passively happen to them.

Whatever you want to learn or are interested in, there’s a good chance that someone has produced an online course in it. There are lots of online course providers out here on the Internet. Some charge, others don’t. The courses themselves come in all shapes and forms, some accredited (linked to a qualification, accredited recognised training scheme or to a professional body), others are not and are fun or general interest.

aim high james healy unsplash
“Aim high” by James Healy for Unsplash

Northampton students and staff have really fortunate to have access to LinkedIn Learning, a huge library of online classes and workshops. Previously called Lynda.com, the site offers hundreds of classes focused on graduate employability and tech skills. Need to make a better LinkedIn profile? Want to try making a podcast? Learn public speaking? Learn coaching and mentoring skills? Go to LinkedIn Learning.

It’s not accredited, but you can get a certificate when you finished some courses. These can be added to your professional LinkedIn profile.

An overview of the service, its specifications and for tech help, the University has produced some guidance here.

To access: just log into Student Hub and click on the ‘LinkedIn Learning’ button on the home screen. It’ll ask you a few questions to see what types of areas you are interested in and offer you some suggestions. Or, you could do what I do; : browse for a little while and then click on anything that looks thought-provoking! The courses vary in length and content. Many come with downloadable worksheets and accessible transcripts. Just work through them at your own pace and fit them around your available time/motivation to study.

A note to our final-year students preparing to graduate: you won’t be able to access this service for free once your course is officially over, so please make use of it whilst you can.

Important: If you are thinking of paying for a course from an online provider, please check out the provider and the course first to ensure that they are legitimate BEFORE paying. Advice on regulated courses and accredited qualifications can be found via the UK Government website. Your university careers service or Student Support services may also be able to help there. Don’t fall victim to a scam.

So go, try some new courses today on Northampton’s LinkedIn Learning. It’s not quite as addictive as browsing boxset TV during the lockdown but it’s definitely better for your CV and employability skills!

Happy learning!



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