** These days, what jokingly passes for " basic electronics " training consists of countless hours spent learning how to drive circuit simulation software that doesn't so you get the same answers some drongo teacher says are correct plus tediously programming the latest PIC clone to do something totally silly and useless.
That what interests you ?
Gotta tell ya that is " basic bollocks".
Cos basic electronics is best learned by hands on tinkering with simple circuits and a CRO.
Although what Phil said may be true of a lot of what is taught at TAFEs, the quality of the education is wide and varied. Some TAFEs are totally focussed on just passing students with the bare minimum of whatever is needed to "get them over the wire". Many don't focus on the good ol' basics, consolidated with meaningful labs to help the student understand what is being studied. The parallel analogy is the widespread use of calculators, whereby the student believes whatever answer comes up on the screen. Doesn't matter if it is correct or even realistic. It must be right 'cause the calculator said so.
As a person from the "old school", I think the current TAFE 50 - 60% pass mark is a joke. Albeit circuit simulations have their place, nothing quite replaces putting the components of a circuit together, taking the measurements with real instruments and trying things out. Try getting Sim Circuit to demonstrate to a student what happens to a 0.6W metal film resistor when it is dissipating (well for a short while) 10 watts of power. Likewise some skills like high reliability soldering aren't particularly successful subjects taught by distance education techniques.
Please don't think I'm completely against distance education - I'm not. Some packages can be very effective, provided they are well written, illustrated and there is backup support available for the student. Pity most are pretty useless as are some instructor led TAFE courses. In many cases, the quality of the TAFE module is totally dependant on the lecturer and the resources available. Of course, student attitude goes a long way too.
Just a closing comment. Some of us can well remember the good ol' days when it took years to get your Diploma in Electronic Engineering. Now the "equivalent" can be gained in as little as 135 days of open learning study. The industries are primarily to blame for this which has generally lead to a lower standard of competence of many TAFE graduates. Many employers see training as an overhead expense they would rather not have to shell out for. As a consequence they bargained in workplace experience as the filler for formal TAFE studies. The reality is most employers don't fulfil their part of the bargain and the end result is an apprentice or technician gets qualified without really being qualified to do the job.
I can certainly solder reliably. In fact I suspect I may have most of the basic electronic knowledge required. But I am self-taught (over many years) and would like to formalise this and fill in those inevitable gaps.
"Alan Rutlidge" >> teacher says are correct plus tediously programming the latest PIC clone
Sure, there is a lot of that, but there is also a lot of good fundamental stuff on offer too. You take the good with the bad in any course, be it TAFE or UNI.
Yep, that should come first, then you can fill in the theory gaps later. And when you do the theory it falls into place much quicker because you can relate it to the practical stuff you have done. Gingre is probably in a good position to do that, if he picks the right courses.
My understanding is that many years ago Phil had the opportunity to gain formal qualifications (he got a scholarship), but after partially completing his studies he dropped out of uni.
For people already in the electronics industry that just want to gain formal qualifications or increase their skill level, there are plenty of avenues to go down. Unfortunately finding the right path isn't always that easy. There are plenty of mobs out there offering the Earth and delivering bugger all. :-( if it's just a paper qualification the OP is after, all he need do is check the Yellow Pages. :P
In that case I wouldn't bother with the TAFE course, just simply keep doing what you enjoy doing. That way you'll spend more time learning the stuff you want (and need) to learn, and less time doing the boring stuff. Plenty of books out there if you want to learn more and "fill in the gaps". Go into a TAFE book shop and have a look for starters. If you are really keen get some detailed info on the various subjects that interest you and follow through the syllabus yourself.
Or simply see if you can simply do the exact classes you want without having to do the whole course.