I haven’t written so much about my studies with the Open University recently. That is because I was on hiatus since the spring. I resumed my course in October, though, the same one I had to stop doing in March. The reason I did was due to a sudden change in my life. A positive change, since I started working full-time a couple of months after the course started. I tried to keep up with my work and my studying, doing a few very late nights to get TMAs done but by mid-March I was struggling and I looked into my options. The OU in Edinburgh have been wonderful, putting steps into place and allowing me to finish where I left off, complete with the results of the TMAs I had undertaken already still intact.
In effect, I have just two TMAs left to do, plus the exam. In practice, since I missed out a lot of work the first time, I am actually going to do the whole thing again, minus the other TMAs, working through each chapter in turn. It will help with the exam plus the course, A223 Early modern Europe, is actually very interesting and I didn’t get the chance to properly appreciate it before. I started back in the summer, reading over chapters to reacquaint myself and to build up slowly to studying properly. In fact on a recent day trip in the Borders, I sat by the river Tweed at Dryburgh Abbey (shown below), reading an OU chapter about Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries from my tablet.
The OU course materials are pretty much all online and downloadable. I have put the course books onto all of my devices, even onto my iPhone so I can read on the way to the football, as I did on the way to Kilmarnock the other night. The printed materials still get their use, usually when writing TMAs, in my experience, when searching for a reference is invariably easier flicking through book pages than searching digitally. But digital works best for me a lot of the time since I spend a lot of my life either working or travelling.
Generally speaking, my best day to get through the work will be a Sunday, Hibs fixtures notwithstanding. I tend to be up early on a Sunday and it is also usually my best writing day. In previous OU courses, I’ve been able to work through whole chapters on a Sunday and this one it might be necessary, plus of course reading on the move.
Being an OU student sometimes requires a little bit of dedication. Some might call it masochism, studying very often when you just don’t want to, after a long day’s work or when everyone else is having fun. It is worth it for the best days, though, when a good TMA mark comes back or when writing one of those assignments and you are on a roll. Or when what you read in the course books just makes you glad you picked this subject and this way of studying. It is best achieved sitting in a comfortable chair, even if it is in transit, and there is a progression each time a course book is opened, one step closer to the end of a chapter or a block or a module or even the degree. For me, the degree isn’t an end in itself – it is something I would like, sure, but it is a means to further ends. Not least actually learning and reading interesting things, which I hope to be doing again in the coming months.