Thursday, 4 July 2013

Kilchoan Learning Centre Success

From Pat Glenday:
Kilchoan Learning Centre Manager

Over the last year, and apart from the students described here, there have been 402 participants on 38 short courses, classes and workshops based in or around Kilchoan Learning Centre.

Seonaid Canning achieved BA Hons (First Class) in Scottish Cultural Studies from the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). The degree was delivered by Orkney College UHI, and Seonaid was 'hosted' by Kilchoan Learning Centre, one of the 10 learning centres that make up West Highland College UHI. The college doing the delivery is responsible for all academic aspects of the degree including all the lecturing and marking, while the 'hosting' centre provides somewhere to study and the computers and kit required for studying and video conferences, as well as invigilation for exams, and support for the students. Seonaid and I started at the Learning Centre at the same time, in late August 2009, so we have shared the same workspace for all that time. Seonaid is the first of the students to have completed her degree since I took up the post of Learning Centre manager.

Thankfully the centre has changed a lot since 2009 - picture above of the college, occupying the right-hand part of the building only, in 2010. To begin with, we just had one room, with a big old TV at the back on which Seonaid would “attend” her lectures by video conference at the same time as I was trying to organise all sorts of short courses from my desk at the front. The room was dark and the heating didn’t work well, so we were often cold, but as the years passed various improvements have been made. We got new lights and better radiators first, and then the college took on the other part of the building giving us two rooms, with a separate area for Seonaid to attend her lectures. We still had a few challenges to overcome though. The worst was probably the fact that the UHI exams were perfectly timed to coincide with Kilchoan’s power cut season. If you know the Centre you’ll know that there are only a few small windows, and even though the heating is better than it was, it’s still all electric. So when the power goes off, it’s immediately dark and before long it’s freezing cold too. Imagine sitting a three-hour degree exam on a wild December afternoon, with only a torch for light. The first time it happened I wasn’t prepared, so we didn’t even have the torch, and as the temperature dropped I decided the least I could do would be to trundle out the old Calor Gas heater which I had seen, but never used. I couldn’t read the instructions because it was too dark, so I had to guess. I knew you had to get the gas flowing before trying to ignite it, but I must have kept the gas button pressed for far too long, because when I did push the ignition button I managed to light not only the heater but my trousers too…and through all this distraction, Seonaid just kept on writing. That has been her attitude to her studies throughout. She had three sets of exams disrupted by power cuts over the years, and various problems with the broadband connection as well, but somehow or another she kept on studying and handed in all her assignments on time, including an excellent thesis on the impact of Fish Farming in Scotland. She richly deserves her First Class degree and I want to wish her all the very best for her future.

Seonaid may have completed her degree, but I won’t be alone in the centre because there are other students following in her footsteps, studying for degrees offered by partner colleges in UHI. One has just successfully completed the third year of her Child and Youth Studies BA degree, and will start her final honours year in September; another is studying part-time for the BA in Childhood Practice and is part way through her second year; a third has recently started the BA in Business and Management; and a fourth, who is a post-graduate, is part way through her Masters in Education which will lead to the award of MEd. And then there’s The Diary himself…if Seonaid was my ideal student, it’s hard to know how to describe The Diary, so I'm not going to try... The Diary has taken some of the modules that make up the BSc in Archaeology, and I think you can see evidence of what he has learned in the posts he has written about the history of the scattered townships of West Ardnamurchan such as Glendrian, above.

That’s all of Kilchoan Learning Centre’s university students but there has been another student based here for the last nine months. In 2012, for the first time ever, West Highland College delivered a 'college' course by video conference: the Early Education and Childcare course at Level 6, which is the same level as Scottish Highers; and Kilchoan had a student on this course too, Leanne Harding. Just like Seonaid, Leanne worked hard all the way through her course. She had a successful work placement at Kilchoan School and she passed all her assessments. Unlike Seonaid though, studying wasn’t something Leanne did quietly. It took an awful lot of coffee and complaining for her to complete her course, but she made it through in one piece, and Leanne, too, very much deserves her success having left school aged fifteen without qualifications. She’s going to be able to put everything she has learned to good use very soon as she and husband Sam are expecting a baby later this year. There is another Kilchoan application in the pipeline for this course, but whatever happens, the Learning Centre is going to be a quieter place without Leanne.

My congratulations to Seonaid and Leanne; all the best for their ongoing studies to all the continuing students; and to anyone who’s interested in finding out what they could do at the Learning Centre, do please get in touch with me.

Many thanks to Pat Glenday, not only for writing all this, but also for all the hard work she has put in to running a wonderful village learning centre.

No comments:

Post a Comment