In a previous post I wrote about the positive experience we were having taking part in Geoff Lawton's Online Permaculture course. Having completed all the online lessons and the quiz we are now working on the practical assignment which is due by the end of August.
The course continues to stimulate us and our enthusiasm for the material remains strong. Even on evenings when we were tired from a busy day the prospect of some "Geoff time" was appealing and we had little trouble keeping up the momentum and staying more or less in line with the proposed course outline.
The course is well structured and its clear that Geoff has given it many times. His great depth of experience serves to ground the potentially abstract materials and to "keep it real"1. For me the only time this focus was lost was in the final section "Creating an Alternative Society". Geoff still had plenty of relevant experience to relate however the videos for this section felt looser and had a more rambling character than the bulk of the course. For students at the end of an intense two weeks this is probably a relief as Geoff kicks back and the amount of material being relayed eases off.
As we start on the practical exercise, studying maps and design options on paper and then taking that onto a plot of land has been revealing and exciting
We didn't make extensive use of the forums however whenever we had a question we could usually find someone else had already asked it. My wife and I watched all the video's together and effectively formed a small team, this was very valuable as we continued to discuss the course content beyond the time spent "in lectures".
The regular uploads of videos with answers to participants questions are excellent and provided an opportunity for him to reinforce core concepts
The course included a DVD set with all of the lectures plus the full set of DVD's previously created by Geoff. So far we have watched a few of these and I can see they will be a very valuable resource
While being very positive about the online course, I can see that the regular on the ground practical work integrated into the learning experience of an onsite course along with a gifted teacher and located at a well developed demonstration site would have many benefits. The quality of the teacher, the depth of their experience and their ability to communicate this would be a key factor in deciding which course to take
Key learning - the mainframe design. The course has transformed the way we view landscape and has us spotting dam sites and swale opportunities everywhere. Walking around the site we are using for our practical assignment, a place we had visited many times before, revealed a completely new landscape potential to us. Geoff says the course will permanently change the way you view the world and I believe he is right.
Another great benefit is that the course text, Bill Mollisons' Permaculture Designers Guide which I had previously found heavy going, has undergone a sort of decoding and now reveals itself as and incredible useful manual which supports the course content with additional depth and paths to study. ↩︎