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Distance learning courses
The Ptyxis distance learning courses are aimed at early-career ecologists and amateur botanists who wish to develop their field skills further. Each course gives you support with your fieldwork for six months.
Going on a short course gets you started, but it is very easy to forget most of what your learned if you don't get a chance to practise your new skills, or if you have nobody who can check how you are doing. These courses are designed to follow on from an introductory face-to-face course.
Many people find the distance learning approach much better than attending a course. You go at your own pace, in your own time. You tailor the course to meet your individual learning needs and the feedback you receive will be directly relevant to what you most want to learn.
The courses are built around structured field assignments where you collect samples of the plants you try to identify. I give you detailed feedback on the work you submit during each course unit.
On average, each course comprises 4 or 5 units of 3 to 5 hours study each. But the courses are flexible, so participants vary in how much time they put into the course.
John O'Reilly BA(Ed) BSc MSc CEnv MCIEEM originally trained as a PE and Geography teacher with a degree in education. I also have a Maths & Statistics OU degree.
As well as running the Ptyxis distance learning courses, I normally run around 10 bespoke face to face botanical and habitat survey training courses every year. Overall, training is normally around 10% of my total workload.
I was British Bryological Society (BBS) vice-county recorder for Durham and Northumberland and am beginner's referee for vascular plants with Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI).
My survey work is all botanical or vegetation-based. I do detailed botanical and bryophyte surveys, National Vegetation Classification (NVC) surveys, and vegetation monitoring. I also design ecological monitoring schemes and analyse ecological data statistically.
Before going freelance in 2008, I worked:
- as 'Hay Time' (an upland hay meadow project) project officer for North Pennines AONB Partnership;
- for Defra coordinating the development of the technical aspects of the Higher Level Stewardship agri-environment scheme;
- as an ecologist for Rural Develpment Service (now part of Natural England) in Newcastle;
- as a habitat surveyor for London Wildlife Trust and London Ecology Unit and
- as project manager for Woodlands of Ireland.
Here are a few videos covering some basic plant identification skills
PTYXIS specialises in detailed botanical surveys, data analysis and habitat management advice, offering affordable and reliable ecological services.