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do you find the OU's rigid framework pedantic and stifling ?

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    Im in second year of OU sciences as a refresher as i had been out of academia for a while, but worked in research and have been pretty creative, producing some biological theory thats been presented at high level conferences. but i want a break from that high flying stuff, and so back to basics.

    Hey At first i loved the flexibility, and how slick it is in comparison to other places i will not name. I mean at least for me its hard to F up, if you stick at what you are told to do, and do not pick stuff beyond you.

    However the OU just feels like school with advanced subjects, rather than a university atmosphere or buzz, where theres that be creative and if you want to be a dynamic go getter go do it.

    Sometimes they gave me an assignment i had a lot of experience and depth in, but the assignment made me look at it fresh and i got inspired to try and really push the envelope of the subject. They marked me worse than if i give them the predictable answer, which appears to be all to easy to do lately. In a regular university, the tutor may have been mmm that line you have taken is interesting, try taking that somewhere, perhaps that might lead to something one of my colleagues in dept AB might be interested in.

    The OU tutors hate that completely and their is no such network. They appear to want an easy life. They dont appear to want to have to read anything outside this quantized, almost semi-automated remote system. i guess due to the crap wages, and being part time. Also unlike universities not many tutors you get have actually consruct the courses they taught so they dont have an emotional or intellectual investment in what they are doing and are admins rather than teachers/ coaches. I heard there are exceptions, but thats why they are called exceptions.

    Rant over.. Is this going to get better. I just had my second blow out with an overworked pedantic tutor that is not happy at anything less than mediocrity.
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    It's the OU system rather than the tutors. Many of the tutors will have taught at brick universities and know the socre. My tutor said she'd mark assignments differently if she had the flexibility. But the OU needs marking consistency amongst thousands of tutors so they have to stick with that rigid marks grid.
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    (Original post by Nitebot)
    It's the OU system rather than the tutors. Many of the tutors will have taught at brick universities and know the socre. My tutor said she'd mark assignments differently if she had the flexibility. But the OU needs marking consistency amongst thousands of tutors so they have to stick with that rigid marks grid.
    I got mixed feelings about it. Its hard to go wrong, but also hard to excel. Im thinking that this way of doing things, should really be no more than a part time adjunct to more dynamic creative work in other areas.
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    Hmm, my experience has been different. I tend to get alternative views from other sources very often, much of which isn't included in the texts. The tutors have left feedback on my assignments to the tune 'It's interesting you did things this way', or 'I like how you did XYZ'.

    This has been my experience so far with MST209 and T207 (one maths, one engineering). One of latest examples was an engineering module required for the BEng, where I pointed out that I didn't want to actually be an engineer. Rather than be punished for not being on message, I lost no marks and got some interesting information from my tutor.

    I don't doubt your experience nor am I suggesting you're wrong to say this, however I wonder if your experience is due to being unlucky with tutors. I have not felt restricted and unable to stretch my understanding (I should say attempts at understanding ) and methods beyond the material, nor from allowing my assignments to reflect that.

    I can't really comment on whether it will get better unfortunately, but I can say that this isn't the same across all tutors.

    Just out of interest, what is your field, and what subject are you studying?
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    (Original post by Moggs)
    Hmm, my experience has been different. I tend to get alternative views from other sources very often, much of which isn't included in the texts. The tutors have left feedback on my assignments to the tune 'It's interesting you did things this way', or 'I like how you did XYZ'.

    This has been my experience so far with MST209 and T207 (one maths, one engineering). One of latest examples was an engineering module required for the BEng, where I pointed out that I didn't want to actually be an engineer. Rather than be punished for not being on message, I lost no marks and got some interesting information from my tutor.

    I don't doubt your experience nor am I suggesting you're wrong to say this, however I wonder if your experience is due to being unlucky with tutors. I have not felt restricted and unable to stretch my understanding (I should say attempts at understanding ) and methods beyond the material, nor from allowing my assignments to reflect that.

    I can't really comment on whether it will get better unfortunately, but I can say that this isn't the same across all tutors.

    Just out of interest, what is your field, and what subject are you studying?
    computational neuroscience with some biophysics.

    Ok tear me apart for this sexist view, but it does seem like the male tutors are more free and easy, while the female tutors are totally pedantic and cannot handle you pushing the envelope of the subject. They dont want the stimulation you provide and they mark you down for trying (even if you still solved the problem better).

    Im not saying all female tutors are like this, but its just something i noticed not just in OU but other universities. OU just makes it worse for some reason.
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    (Original post by rogerharris)
    computational neuroscience with some biophysics.

    Ok tear me apart for this sexist view, but it does seem like the male tutors are more free and easy, while the female tutors are totally pedantic and cannot handle you pushing the envelope of the subject. They dont want the stimulation you provide and they mark you down for trying (even if you still solved the problem better).

    Im not saying all female tutors are like this, but its just something i noticed not just in OU but other universities. OU just makes it worse for some reason.
    If you were doing a science project module then I think there is flexibility to bring up new ideas and discuss them. But the bog standard modules are really "Here's this science content, learn it and demonstrate that you've learnt it." They don't really want to hear about any new ideas that you may have. I've noticed that the L2 and L3 project modules are meant to be the final modules at those levels now for new students, so you're obviously expected to apply your knowledge to something new.
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    (Original post by Nitebot)
    If you were doing a science project module then I think there is flexibility to bring up new ideas and discuss them. But the bog standard modules are really "Here's this science content, learn it and demonstrate that you've learnt it." They don't really want to hear about any new ideas that you may have. I've noticed that the L2 and L3 project modules are meant to be the final modules at those levels now for new students, so you're obviously expected to apply your knowledge to something new.
    I got that, but i found errors and commissions in the texts having previously studied these subjects, so I brought these up in the TMA. which is the point at when it became an issue.

    The solution for me was to provide a different solution that did not require me to be forced to have to learn material that was clearly written by somebody that did not have the required depth to do so.

    No they dont like that. Just want an easy life. Not dedicated at all, but it the system they are working in that causes that.

    I just put in a 5 page complaint on one the neuroscience texts, full of errors, errors that are actually used to grade your TMA outcome.
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    (Original post by rogerharris)
    I got that, but i found errors and commissions in the texts having previously studied these subjects, so I brought these up in the TMA. which is the point at when it became an issue.

    The solution for me was to provide a different solution that did not require me to be forced to have to learn material that was clearly written by somebody that did not have the required depth to do so.

    No they dont like that. Just want an easy life. Not dedicated at all, but it the system they are working in that causes that.

    I just put in a 5 page complaint on one the neuroscience texts, full of errors, errors that are actually used to grade your TMA outcome.
    Has anyone else on your module picked up on these errors? On most science modules there seems to be one or two people who have picked up some knowledge about the subject matter from other sources.
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    (Original post by Nitebot)
    Has anyone else on your module picked up on these errors? On most science modules there seems to be one or two people who have picked up some knowledge about the subject matter from other sources.
    amazingly there has been no reprint in 5 years of this particular text !
    i didnt see anybody else saying anything. be interesting to see what happens here.
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    (Original post by rogerharris)
    However the OU just feels like school with advanced subjects, rather than a university atmosphere or buzz, where theres that be creative and if you want to be a dynamic go getter go do it.
    This has not been my experience. Before OU I attended a well-recognised Russell Group Uni and never once felt like they tried to encourage us to be "a dynamic go getter" and that they are just as bad as the OU when it comes to sticking to marking schemes and procedure.

    (Original post by rogerharris)
    The OU tutors hate that completely and their is no such network. They appear to want an easy life. They dont appear to want to have to read anything outside this quantized, almost semi-automated remote system. i guess due to the crap wages, and being part time. Also unlike universities not many tutors you get have actually consruct the courses they taught so they dont have an emotional or intellectual investment in what they are doing and are admins rather than teachers/ coaches. I heard there are exceptions, but thats why they are called exceptions.
    This paragraph is completely ludicrous. The uni I was at had some top-notch, internationally recognised professors which was what attracted me in the first place, only to find that out of the 40 lectures, they would only deliver a handful of those, and none of them led tutorials. All the essays and coursework I did, and the tutorials I attended were led and marked by phd students who couldn't have given a damn about nurturing our enquiring minds and who by the way also have crap wages, they just wanted to get back to their research. Universities rely heavily on postgraduates doing most of the teaching and many of them are not motivated at all and do the bare minimum. I also dispute your statement in how tutors are involved with the construction of courses, in most institutions they are not.
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    (Original post by L.O.V.E.)
    This has not been my experience. Before OU I attended a well-recognised Russell Group Uni and never once felt like they tried to encourage us to be "a dynamic go getter" and that they are just as bad as the OU when it comes to sticking to marking schemes and procedure.



    This paragraph is completely ludicrous. The uni I was at had some top-notch, internationally recognised professors which was what attracted me in the first place, only to find that out of the 40 lectures, they would only deliver a handful of those, and none of them led tutorials. All the essays and coursework I did, and the tutorials I attended were led and marked by phd students who couldn't have given a damn about nurturing our enquiring minds and who by the way also have crap wages, they just wanted to get back to their research. Universities rely heavily on postgraduates doing most of the teaching and many of them are not motivated at all and do the bare minimum. I also dispute your statement in how tutors are involved with the construction of courses, in most institutions they are not.
    very interesting, so that almost make this system sound like a factory that you require to excel in spite of it not giving a s%%%.

    BTW my maths teacher at a brick university wrote the primary first year text on the subject, and i could get merit recognition for going beyond what was required in the colleges preceding that. That actually involved completely ignoring the college programming texts, buying my own object libraries and tutorial books for certain assignments.

    So we can at least say there is variability in the brickwall institutions, but not in the OU ?

    BTW i wrote recently to one of the worlds leading computational neuroscience labs, about what skills they require of graduates. After telling him what i would learn at the OU, he replied bluntly

    "you need to change university"
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    another aspect about the open uni, although a plus in other ways, is that the TMA system is so structured and predictable its basically possible to predict what they want, and complete the work in a fraction of the time. i.e. Leave all reading till the week of the TMA. I developed a system using a few screens and having multiple copies of the same texts on PDF (so i could rapidly search through the multiple instances of the same texts on different screens)

    Basically you can get a degree farting around part time once or twice a week in 3 years like this, while a university would require full time attendance. Also what happens in universities is unpredictable (i found). All the shifting around classes, variations in material, teacher styles, social interactions and assessment keeps you sharp.

    The OU actually suits me to some amount, as i have research papers to write up while I do the OU work. I just do all the reading to pass the TMA in that week, then thats it for another month. The OU qualifications are just a stepping stone for me. I would be surprised if anybody in the real world could take what i gain that seriously. Or perhaps they do not realise how easy it is. (and ive taken some of the hardest modules BTW).

    As for easy ones, I took one L1 starting maths one. Well basically i did no work. I did all the TMA and ICMA one day before the due date. 30 points for 80 hours work. thats supposed to be equivalent of a 1/4 term of university yet it only took 2 weeks. Still got high scores, and believe me i am no genius.
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    basically i think the OU need to bring in class type examinations. That way it ensure you read the material and do all the exercises to such a high standard you can survive a traditional timed class type exam where it is hard to predict what will be asked.
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    (Original post by rogerharris)
    another aspect about the open uni, although a plus in other ways, is that the TMA system is so structured and predictable its basically possible to predict what they want, and complete the work in a fraction of the time. i.e. Leave all reading till the week of the TMA. I developed a system using a few screens and having multiple copies of the same texts on PDF (so i could rapidly search through the multiple instances of the same texts on different screens)
    This is not unique to OU assessment. Since the age of 14 I've been told by teachers, and then at uni by lecturers to use past papers. Perfecting exam technique etc. I remember my Higher English exam at school was practically the same as the one the year before! Of course there's going to be a degree of predictability.

    (Original post by rogerharris)
    Basically you can get a degree farting around part time once or twice a week in 3 years like this, while a university would require full time attendance. Also what happens in universities is unpredictable (i found). All the shifting around classes, variations in material, teacher styles, social interactions and assessment keeps you sharp.
    My friend basically did just that, fart around, get drunk, turn up to lectures a few days a week and now has a 2:1 in Economics from Manchester. Also, what you said about changing classes, social interactions somehow keeping you sharp is a bit generous.

    (Original post by rogerharris)
    As for easy ones, I took one L1 starting maths one. Well basically i did no work. I did all the TMA and ICMA one day before the due date. 30 points for 80 hours work. thats supposed to be equivalent of a 1/4 term of university yet it only took 2 weeks. Still got high scores, and believe me i am no genius.
    Why are you even bothering to do an L1 maths module? If you already have studied at undergraduate level before, are now actively involved in scientific research etc what's the point in doing an L1 maths module? Like you said, you're not finding it challenging and if it's not challenging then it's not contributing to your personal development. Wouldn't doing an MSc be more appropriate?
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    (Original post by L.O.V.E.)


    My friend basically did just that, fart around, get drunk, turn up to lectures a few days a week and now has a 2:1 in Economics from Manchester. Also, what you said about changing classes, social interactions somehow keeping you sharp is a bit generous.
    well sure ive seen people do that at uni, but not in the hard sciences.

    Why are you even bothering to do an L1 maths module? If you already have studied at undergraduate level before, are now actively involved in scientific research etc what's the point in doing an L1 maths module? Like you said, you're not finding it challenging and if it's not challenging then it's not contributing to your personal development. Wouldn't doing an MSc be more appropriate?
    I thought it would be harder. it turned out to be school level. Also i need to do L3 maths for biophysics and they have a sequence they want you to go through so..
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    (Original post by rogerharris)
    BTW i wrote recently to one of the worlds leading computational neuroscience labs, about what skills they require of graduates. After telling him what i would learn at the OU, he replied bluntly

    "you need to change university"
    That doesn't surprise me. OU modules, as you know, can be a bit general for those interested in specialist some science and engineering subjects. When you said that you were doing computational neuroscience with some biophysics, I thought to myself, how do you cover all that at the OU?!!

    I've seen people on TSR who want to specialise in genetics and other life science subjects and moan that there's nothing for them. And I'll admit to moaning about how general the BEng is. Where's the aerospace or electronic pathways? I might well have done one of those. And of course science lab time is a big issue. The OU can't really afford to offer much of it as it has to hire other universities' facilities. You really need to go find your own.

    But I suppose the bottom line is that if you think the OU won't meet your needs, you may have to consider a part time degree at a brick university which may be able to give you better options and more support.
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    (Original post by Nitebot)
    That doesn't surprise me. OU modules, as you know, can be a bit general for those interested in specialist some science and engineering subjects. When you said that you were doing computational neuroscience with some biophysics, I thought to myself, how do you cover all that at the OU?!!

    I've seen people on TSR who want to specialise in genetics and other life science subjects and moan that there's nothing for them. And I'll admit to moaning about how general the BEng is. Where's the aerospace or electronic pathways? I might well have done one of those. And of course science lab time is a big issue. The OU can't really afford to offer much of it as it has to hire other universities' facilities. You really need to go find your own.

    But I suppose the bottom line is that if you think the OU won't meet your needs, you may have to consider a part time degree at a brick university which may be able to give you better options and more support.
    Im looking at on the side programming courses, plus the free stanford Ai courses can fill in the gaps. And i know a some people in the biz for tips.

    I really dont want the debt from the brick universities, and the DIY approach may be better as i can specifically tailor it to my requirements and industry. Often university degree courses are behind by a year or two (sometimes 5 !)

    With this strategy, i get the letters after my name that people will not even talk to you if you dont have, A tailored custom approach to bridge gaps to industry and best of all no debt !

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