The module website opened two days ago, and wow, what a difference between expectations and reality.
Although the OU website feels cobbled-together from a lot of different initiatives over the last several years, the individual componant parts are usually quite high quality. For example, the OU online library is a thing of absolute beauty. The ease with which I can come up with nearly any peer-reviewed study is astonishing. (Not to mention so interesting that I’m seriously looking at the cost of 10-credit modules to retain access to it after I finish my degree.)
The module website for TU100 is likewise high quality. Though some things are a bit difficult to find (normally because something has been renamed since directions to it were created), it’s over-all a great way to organise the huge amounts of data I’m going to have to assimilate this year.
The best news is that I don’t have to wait for any of my materials to arrive before my soft start. All texts are available online, as well as nearly every other resource. There are only two things that are not entirely available online: the SenseBoard itself, and some full-length TV episodes from an OU/BBC collaboration. The Sense software, however, has a virtual SenseBoard so that the actual one isn’t strictly necessary, and there are clips of the TV episodes relevant to our studies online. I could do the entire module with what’s available now.
The module site is broken down into three columns: Assessment and Support information, the planner, and resources.
The most important of these is the planner. It defaults to showing 5 weeks ahead, but can also show the entire module, broken down into a week-by-week guideline of what to study when. In addition to being a to-do list, it also has tick-boxes to track your progress, and links directly to the relevant resource for each step.
The assessment and support information column has the names, due dates, and results for the various types of assessment: TMA (Tutor Marked Assignment) and iCMA (Interactive Computer Marked Assignment) are the only two for TU100, but TMA6 is also an EMA (End of Module Assignment). Contact information for your Tutor (and tutorials information) or Student Services is also displayed.
The final resources column is almost as invaluable as the planner. It has any news relevant to the module, discussion forums, and then links to pages where resources have been grouped by type or use. So what’s a resource? It could be an online or eReader book, a diagram, a questionairre, a hand-out, software download, or basically anything else you need to get your module done. Obviously as one of the things we’ll be studying is the Internet and accessing things there, you’ll have to visit other sites for that, but otherwise, it’s a great self-contained collection of information. It almost wouldn’t require you to leave the site to complete the module if it wasn’t specifically teaching you about other parts of the Internet.
Also, I found out that my materials were shipped out yesterday, so even though I don’t technically need them, they should be here shortly.