Module website opens

After weeks or, for me, months of fevered anticipation, the module websites for TM111, MU123 and, probably, hundreds of others finally opened on 10 September. The actual date had been advertised on StudentHome for some time. My suggestion would be that, in future years, the Open University could add a countdown clock.

Judging by the huge number of early comments (and I mean early, minutes after they opened at midnight), my fellow students might appreciate this touch. While for both modules you get a lot of the material in print form, there is, as it turns out, plenty of additional online content. I will find out whether this is still the case for modules in later years.

Now when I click on the module title, a whole new world opens. I am immediately faced by a detailed study planner that itemizes the tasks I need to complete each week to stay on track. There are links to electronic versions of the print books I received in the post and a host of other resources and online activities.

I can also see details about the assessments. However, the actual questions are not available until the module starts in October. They then get a staggered release over the length of the course. Some students questioned this approach because they like to get ahead. However, I agree with the Open University’s approach because I would like to benefit from feedback from my tutor on early assessments.

In any case, I understand the assessments will be released several weeks prior to the deadline so there should be enough time to complete them. The trick is probably to read the questions as soon as they are available. Then keep them in mind as you read and work through the activities.

There is no information on the location and date of any tutorials, nor have we been assigned to a tutor yet. Several students have asked, and the Open University’s answer is that they start working these things out once the deadline for registration has passed.

This year, the last possible date you can enrol on a module starting in October was 12 September, two days after the module websites opened. I imagine it will take a good week or two to sort out the timetable for the tutorials and assign people to a tutor group. So, I estimate, that I should find all of this out about a week or so before the official start date of 5 October.

Right from the start, the official forums have been very busy. Mostly it’s been people introducing themselves, getting to know each other and asking questions, trying to find out how everything works. They’re module-wide forums, open to everybody studying TM111 and MU123, and moderated by staff tutors, who are doing their best to answer everybody’s questions. Other students will help too if they know the answer. It already feels like a big, friendly community.

Not content with the official forums, though, people have been setting up and advertising groups on social media, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Discord. This prompted warnings from the staff tutors about these not being moderated by the OU and about what you should not post on social media. In fairness, these were taken in good spirit and, so far, heeded by students. The number of social media groups might get a bit overwhelming, but they can serve a useful function, especially on a distance learning course.

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