A study in lockdown

lockdown street sign

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

Well, well, well. What a month! I’ve completed my first module, TM111; received my books for another, TM112; enrolled on one starting in October, TM129, but the future looks uncertain as the UK is a week into Lockdown and all face-to face tutorials were cancelled earlier this month.

On 13 March, due to the increasingly worrying situation with COVID-19, the Open University naturally cancelled all face-to-face tutorials for MU123 and, for that matter, my next module, TM112. While I am obviously disappointed not to be able to go, I would have expected nothing less. In fact, this would have happened anyway with the lockdown that came into force ten days later. So, I received a slew of email notifications informing me of the various face-to-face tutorials that had been cancelled. It is, to some degree, fortunate, that the Open University is set up to offer online tutorials as an alternative. It appears other brick universities are exploring similar options for their students.

Later this month, the Open University continued to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by cancelling some face-to-face exams, operating an email only service for enquiries (due to staff also working from home where possible), and introducing flexibility over submitting TMAs and end-of module assessments (EMAs). While I still have to submit my remaining TMAs and EMAs, I can ask for a longer extension if necessary. However, I am still required to submit the EMA for MU123 by the original deadline towards the end of May. Similarly, tutors get a bit more flexibility too, they now have longer to mark coursework, from 10 days up to 15 days.

Apart from not being able to go to face-to-face tutorials, the impact of these changes on me has been relatively minimal. However, I am aware of other students on the module for whom this has not been the case. For instance, many have children, who are now at home, and/ or may be working longer hours or not at all. Fortunately, I am able work from home and, while, it’s a little more crowded at home than usual, this has not had a significant impact on my studies.

With the unfolding tragedy in the wider world, the joy of completing my first module at the Open University has lost much of its lustre. Still, it should still be something worth celebrating, even if a little quieter than I would have anticipated.

I should be equally excited at starting my next module, TM112, for which my books arrived at the start of this month. Once again, a hefty parcel turned up at my door, with three thick books (pleasingly all spiral-bound) and some associated paraphernalia. This is always a good feeling! The module website opened this month too and, as before, people were quick to post in the forums. I heard from my tutor by email a few days ago. The most surprising thing is that I have a different tutor than for TM111, even though my old tutor is teaching on TM112 too. I’m not sure how tutor allocations are worked out, but my new tutor sounds very friendly and helpful and it’s always good to get different perspectives.

I almost forgot. Enrolment on modules starting in October 2020 opened in the middle of March, so I signed up for TM129 Technologies in Practice. It will be my final Level One module and it’ll be quite the difference just studying one module, rather than two or three at the same time.

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