AJ from our North Lanarkshire Community Support branch is currently studying at college, and has had to work exceptionally hard to deal with the challenges of online learning. He was thrilled to pass his first year, despite the pressures of COVID and having to complete work for online classes between hospital appointments.

AJ has been taking a Skills for Life course at New College Lanarkshire and is hoping to move onto a computer science course at the same college.

2020/21 was AJ's first year of college and it was done almost entirely online. Initially the students on the course were on campus every other Wednesday but by Christmas the whole course had gone virtual. This was a real disappointment to AJ as he didn't get the opportunity to socialise with his classmates and like many students during the pandemic he struggled to adapt to this new style of learning.

The effect of restrictions meant that AJ’s  ‘virtual attendance’ record in his first year was very low and he was struggling with motivation and the online college experience. After the first year, AJ had to decide whether or not he wanted to continue with the course and made the decision to stay on. He then worked extremely hard to catch up and keep on top of the workload which gave him a great sense of achievement and pride.

His goal for the 2021/22 year was to improve his attendance and start handing in assignments on time so that he could progress through his second year. Despite the challenges of multiple medical appointments and motivation issues, AJ was able to better adapt to a mix of online and face to face learning and his ‘attendance’ went up to over 75%. He was able to overcome his issues with concentration and hand in all his assignments.

These achievements have given him the drive to hopefully undertake a specialist computing course at college next year as computers are his passion.

Chris, AJ’s support worker explained the impact a recent return to more face-to-face learning has had on AJ.

“He is much happier in his second year, during class he is known as the comedian of the group! AJ struggled to come out of his shell when classes were online but in person he is flourishing which is great to witness.”

Since moving to in-person learning, AJ has been able to socialise with other classmates during breaks and they play games like Cards Against Humanity together. AJ has also been able to join a computer club and plays online games competitively against other colleges. He also spends time playing War Thunder with one of his classmates and good friends.

To highlight his achievements, AJ was named as a recent winner of the Mary Williamson awards and was rewarded a £250 prize. Being an avid gamer, AJ has spent the money on a SSD drive and memory card for his gaming PC. This card will give his PC more memory, and run games faster!

If you would like to read more stories from the people we support you can click here.