October has finally rolled around and can only mean two things. Halloween is nearly here and it is the beginning of a new year of study for Open University students. However, it appears many OULS members are experiencing a nightmare of errors and delays relating to modules they have started.
Whilst we are all aware of the big problems with tutorial clusters and booking portals there have been a few other teething problems with module materials and log in errors. We asked YOU what problems you’ve been having so far and your response has been brilliant. Problems were shared, solutions were offered, and above all else OULS students showed that when they come together nothing can stop them!
So here we have the most common problems encountered by students so far. After collaborating with other students, consulting wise heads and speaking with the Open University themselves, we have come up with some advice on what to do should you encounter any of them yourself.
The Golden Rule
Should you ever encounter any problem with your studies at the Open University, there are two things the Open University has advised us that you must do first. Contact your tutor immediately and inform them of any problems, and contact Student Support Services. By doing so, even if the problem cannot be immediately resolved, a record will be made on your file so that it can be referred to in the future (for example as supporting evidence for an extension or to more swiftly help with a future problem).
So no matter what problem you have, contact your tutor and Student Support Services first!
Incorrect page numbers in manuals for W300 & W301
The textbook page numbers referred to in manuals on W300 & W301 are incorrect because they refer to previous editions of your textbooks. At the time of print of the Open University manuals, the latest edition of the textbooks had not yet been released.
Solution: Amendments to your module materials are available from the University of Law site accessed through student home. A sheet with the correct page numbers is available there to download.
Consolidation sessions clashing with assignment due dates
Consolidation sessions are incredibly useful and help recap and pull together everything you may have learnt over the course of a few units, and prepare you for any assignments based on that material. Unfortunately, a few consolidation sessions appear to be scheduled for after the due date of their respective assignment.
Solution: As far as we are aware these inconsistencies have now been fixed and the sessions brought forward to occur in good time before assignment due dates. Keep an eye on the resources section on your module website to be kept up to date on any future date changes.
Log in issues
Several people are having trouble logging onto, or having serious trouble with either StudentHome or Open Studio. This is obviously going to be extremely frustrating as you can’t even access any of the resources that you would normally turn to for help!
Solution: As with any problem on this list you should first contact your tutor and Student Support Services to let them know of the problem. Being unable to access material is likely to hinder your progress and it is important that there is a record of this for the future. Following that you should contact the Open University IT Helpdesk on 01908653972 who should hopefully be able to work to resolve the issue.
Damaged/unreceived course materials
Nothing quite says ‘this is getting real’ like that big box full of manuals and textbooks from the Open University on your doorstep. However, a few students, despite being a week or two into a module, are yet to receive their books. A minority have received them, but the books are damaged and unusable.
Solution: As modules provide you with physical materials such as manuals and text books, it can be just as a big obstacle to your learning as being unable to log in. Therefore immediately contact your tutor and Student Support Services to keep a record of your problems. Whilst that should mean fresh materials will be dispatched to you as soon as possible, in the interim all manuals are available to download through the module website (though non-Open University materials such as text books will NOT be available to download on most modules).
Tutorials clusters and Tutorial bookings
Oh boy. This is the big one.
By now you will have heard that the Open University has changed the way it is handling tutorials. Instead of tutors being allocated to students by region, students have been divided up into clusters. As a result you may not be near where your tutor is based. As such you may now book and attend any tutorial located anywhere in the UK, and are not restricted to just those hosted by your tutor (though you can of course still attend those too if possible).
If you’ve managed to remain blissfully unaware of this (what’s the weather like under that rock?) a series of explanatory notes and videos can be found on StudentHome here http://www2.open.ac.uk/students/help/tutorial-booking-system (you must be logged in to view this).
Pros and cons of the new system aside, there have been severe delays in implementing the new system, and even now some students are unaware of when and where tutorials will be held. The majority of tutorials should now be listed and available for booking via StudentHome now. It is worth double checking to see if yours has updated. However, some students are reporting that they still cannot see them, or that there are problems regarding irregular dates for tutorials.
It is an understatement to say students have been unhappy about the new system and the delays, but we’re here to help as best we can.
Solution: Firstly, as ever, contact your tutor and StudentHome to let them know you have a problem. Some tutors do not have tutorial information either, but they will try their best to help you and are sure to email you the moment they know anything.
Second, check your module forums on the respective module website. A number of module forum moderators have posted excel spreadsheets of the upcoming tutorials so that students can plan ahead. There also may be more information regarding irregular dates of modules and you may discover that the problem is being dealt with.
Finally, and this may be cheating on our part, look to other students to help and support you. Distance learning can be at times a daunting challenge and tutorials often seem to be our only chance to get some ‘real’ support face to face. If there is one thing that the OULS community has shown me though is that it can come together and provide and excellent support network of students who, together, can overcome anything.
So remember this all hallows eve that no matter what pitfalls lay in your way and no matter how scary your course can get, you are capable of more than you realise!
Joe Beet – OULS News Reporter