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charlie, computer cat

April 2018



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Queen of Cups

Further study

I've decided that I do want to go ahead with doing some OU courses. I was surprised by how fired up just looking at the range of things available got me - it really sparked my enthusiasm and I found dozens of courses I'm interested in taking.

I've managed to whittle it down to just 4, all 10 point courses* at the introductory level, but I'm dithering on which of them to go for so, in traditional LJ style, I figured I'd post a poll :) They all sound like they'd be really interesting to me although if I am leaning towards one it would be Chance, Risk & Health, I think. What do you think?

Poll #825718 First course

What should I take for my first OU course?

* which seems to indicate a shorter course - all the higher level courses (as well as some of the other introductory ones) are 30 or 60 point courses. The idea being to do something that will give me a taster of the whole setup and help me get an idea of how much work is involved.


Wouldn't the stats course essentially repeat a great deal of what you know or can learn on your own, being a Proper Mathmo? I almost chose "Understanding Society" because I know you have a great interest in this general area and maybe it would be a very useful thing to get your teeth into, but it could be a huge great clanger, OTOH, in the classic Social Science way. But Shakespeare, now, that might be VERY different for you, and great fun. (You have cats, and Alex, so I didn't imagine for a moment you'd need "Studying Mammals" as an introduction to the OU!)
Actually, it would be a quite different perspective on stats. In the maths courses I did it was all about proving that various distributions work in particular ways whereas this would be more about how those distributions can be used in the real world to give us information, which I think would be much more interesting!

I'm now leaning more towards Understanding Society, I think. The Shakespeare would be covering R&J, which I've studied before so it seems a bit of a shame to cover old ground. I still think Studying Mammals would be fun, and it'd be linked to the David Attenborough Life of Mammals series which I already found really interesting. Still, there's plenty of time for all of them eventually :)
I went for Mammals simply because it's what I would choose and you get the loveely glossy book and DVDs of the TV series.

As you probably don't know, I work in the O.U. library, cataloguing course materials, so if there are any 'samples' you'd like me to e-mail you, just let me know ;-)

10 pointers generally equate to 1/2 a regular term's work and last about 2-3 months (although some have a slooow option for people without much time). They're a good place to start.

I would just say that the Openings courses (those beginning with a Y such as Understanding Society) are really aimed at people who left school twenty years ago at 16 with two CSEs and haven't studied since. They really lead you be the hand and the assignments all include questions at the end along the lines of 'Describe and explain one way in which you found it quite difficult to answer the questions above; and one way in which you found the task quite easy'. Which I would find quite tedious. Having said that, I printed the main text for 'Understanding Management' recently (it was for my sister!) and I thought the content was actually very good.
As I already have DVDs of the TV series, do you reckon I could get money off :)

I didn't realise you worked for the OU - how does their library work? Do I request a book and you post it to me? Or is it more for the tutors?
Sadly you don't get a discount for already having the DVDs :-(

Also the library doesn't do loans to students (except local ones). If there's something you really need, try sweet-talking your tutor (or me - I may end up living in Oxford but commuting back to MK, at least for a while). The catalogue is publicly searchable at http://voyager.open.ac.uk/. Once you've signed up on a course, you get a computer id which lets you into all the e-books and e-journals which are pretty extensive. You can join a local academic library to borrow books on the UKlibraries plus scheme (see http://www.uklibrariesplus.ac.uk/) - OU students can only join one library and in Oxford only Brookes is in the scheme - but that's probably your closest academic library anyway. All the course materials are in the regional office, so if you can get yourself up to Boar's Hill in working hours you can have a good browse of them all before you decide. I can e-mail you any of the shorter stuff (such as assignments) - the main teaching texts probably won't fit through the mail server tho'.
It'll probably be more straightforward for me to use my bodlean readers card in the end, I expect if I end up needing real books!
thinking about what you said about usefulness for teaching, maybe the shakespeare one might be a good one -- being so different from your degree and training?

however i think the most interesting of those looks like "understanding society", and would def. be choosing this one if i were choosing! you seem really interested in society anyway, so i'm sure you'd get a lot out of it, and it could certainly be applied to whatever you put your hand to after your current career path. to be honest, this is probably the most important thing i think kids can learn about at school -- so there's certainly be scope there for teaching too, as part of PHSE if nothing else.
Yeah, it does sound really interesting and having talked it over with Mum, I think I'm likely to go for that (apart from anything else, it'll give me an idea of whether I'm likely to enjoy some of the longer really interesting looking courses in that area).

I did to an Eng Lit A-level so I'm actually more up on that sort of thing than I am on any sciences, which I dropped after GCSEs. I do enjoy studying Shakespeare but I've done R&J before so I'm not sure about repeating that one.