Feedback, feedback, feedback

we like you too sign on a white wall

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

A few weeks into the New Year and the coursework deadlines start to come in thick and fast. Well, after the Christmas lull, that’s how it seems. Meanwhile, I start to get some interesting feedback on my earlier TMAs.

The second and penultimate TMA for TM111 was due in towards the end of this month. As before, I submitted a few days early. This not only avoids any unforeseen computer or network problems in the dying seconds before the deadline, but it also seems to get my work marked faster. The deadline day (for TMAs and iCMAs) in TM111 is always a Thursday, while it’s a Tuesday for MU123. So, if I can submit it before the previous weekend is out then all the better.

TMA 2 for TM111 was all about OU Build. The whole of Block 2 of TM111 is devoted to programming using the Open University’s version of MIT’s Scratch visual programming language. Doing it in this way is quite intense and immersive and I became completely absorbed with it all. Of course, it helps if you enjoy software programming, which I do, though I know many on the course do not like programming and find it difficult or even boring.

I really have to praise the quality and quantity of feedback from my tutors. They have a marking scheme and they’ll tell you where you’ve dropped marks and what you could have put instead. The feedback from my first two TMAs for MU123 has been invaluable while I have been working on my third TMA (which isn’t due until the beginning of March, but I like to work on the questions as I complete each unit). In fact, the strength of the feedback has been a real plus since the Early Start programme for MU123 I did last summer. So, even if you have little direct contact with your tutor, they should give you a mountain of feedback.

The feedback on my first TMA for TM111, while equally great, was not as directly relevant for my second TMA, given the complete focus on programming. I understand that in TM112, the companion module to TM111, the programming elements are woven throughout the module. The benefit of this, it would seem to be, is that you can use the feedback from the early TMAs.

I did enjoy the face-to-face tutorials on programming. The last tutorial took place the weekend before the deadline for TMA 2, by which time I had mostly finished and was holding off submitting for any last-minute tips from the tutorial. In fact, I did make some changes as a result so hopefully attending did pay dividends. Again, the enthusiasm of my tutor for programming shined through and made the session much more engaging.

Sadly, there were only a few of us in attendance out of the 40 or so in my tutor’s groups. I am just fortunate that the tutorials have been at a time when I can attend and are not that far away from where I live. The small numbers actually made the format a little easier, with the tutor taking us through programming problems with his computer on a big screen. With a visual language like OU Build, seeing the sprites (i.e. the Owl) supersized seems to work. If there had been large numbers, then I suppose we could have each worked on the problems separately using our own computers (if we brought them).

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