Searching for courses on-line to get started

Lots of technical colleges, or community colleges - accredited, real ones, too - often offer short courses on-line or by correspondence study.

Being the beginner that I am and chickening out on the practical side without help, I decided to check out what on-line offerings colleges in Australia had to offer.

I found exactly what I needed with the Box Hill Institute of TAFE (Technical and Further Education). In the Australian state of Victoria, it's widely considered one of the best or even the best technical college.

They offer Electrical Fundamentals 1, Electrical Fundamentals 2 and Digital Fundamentals on-line with tutor support. These are the very basics - electrical theory, simple DC and AC, resistor colour codes, Ohm's Law, Kirchoff's Law, etc., and similar for the Digital Fundamentals course. They assume a little mathematical background. (By that I mean you don't have to take Engineering Maths A, Engineering Maths B and Calculus to do the subjects. Simple arithmetic and algebra is sufficient.)

What I found good about these three "modules" as they are called is that they are straight from a real qualification that's nationally accredited, so later down the track I can complete an Advanced Diploma, then do another 18 months for a Bachelor's degree. Further, the tutor is a real "old-timer." He trained with the RAF then went to university. Considering he trained with the RAF, the quality of his training would have been state of the art. I know that's the case if you join the Army in Australia and get paid to study at a top technical college to become a telecommunications or electronics technician! (Who could ask for more? Well, if you don't mind joining the defence forces, anyway.)

It's compulsory to get a home kit for practical work if you choose to formally enrol, which would be ideal for someone like me. It would be like having a great mentor available by email, phone, etc., for anything you needed.

If you're confident about your basics and don't need or want tutor support, you can enrol online and start studying straight away, free of charge. Just grab textbook and home kit materials and go for it.

So, after collecting my thoughts and setting down some goals which I hope are realistic, joining a forum for support, getting a good reading list together, this is my second step from zero to electronics design. This will help me overcome the first time use of tools for practical work, and I have my tutor on-call who answers questions within 24 hours by email. Great stuff.

So, if you're like me, consider doing some serious Googling on what's available by way of on-line or correspondence study, especially if you don't have to commit to years of study and attend campus frequently, etc.

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