From its earliest days teaching medical students the medicinal properties of plants, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) has evolved into a truly world-class centre of education for the 21st century.
Thanks to players' support, RBGE now offers a huge range of learning experiences across the organisation's four gardens. The programmes engage young and old in everything from helping green-fingered puppet Grandpa in his garden for nursery and early years, all the way to an MSc in Plant Biodiversity. And learning how to grow your own fruit and vegetables is at the heart of the ever-popular Edible Gardening Project, fully funded by players of People's Postcode Lottery since 2011.
But an important element of the education RBGE offers is that classes are no longer restricted to just the four RBGE sites. In fact, you don't even need to be outdoors.
RBGE has an online learning environment called PropaGate Learning, offering courses from short stand-alone "episodes" to much more involved programmes of study.
"The first course we offered on PropaGate was the highly popular RHS Level 2 certificate in horticulture," said Dr Greg Kenicer, a senior lecturer at RBGE. "This has been taught at the Gardens in its many incarnations for decades and in 2012 we launched it as a fully revamped and updated online version."
Right now, over 500 people from all across Great Britain – many thinking about changing careers into horticulture – are studying for their RHS Level 2 qualifications.
"Another option you can see in our online courses – especially the two Diplomas in Botanical Illustration and Garden History – is 'blended learning', a chance to merge the best of both worlds," continues Dr Kenicer. "With blended learning, students have the opportunity to come to the Gardens, be inspired by the places and the people and receive an introduction to the course over a long weekend or week. After this, they work through exercises, assignments and discussion groups at home through PropaGate, then reconvene later in the course."
RBGE are offering the chance to win a free place on their new 'Getting Started with… Botany' course. Starting in autumn 2017, this new and exciting fully online course looks at the amazing world of plants. The course includes everything from learning about the basic 'toolkit' plants used to survive, to how they have influenced the very planet we live on.
Win a place, and you will have the chance to gain tips on plant identification and an introduction to the investigative skills of a botanist from world-leading experts at RBGE, all thanks to support from players of People's Postcode Lottery.
More information about the range of courses on offer at RBGE can be found at www.rbge.org.uk/education.