Being an OU student
Being an OU student

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Being an OU student

3 Tutorials

Tutorials can really enhance and support your learning, so it is strongly recommend that you take part. Students also usually find them an enjoyable experience.

At the OU you have the option to join tutorials online and many modules also offer face-to-face options. The aim is to offer you flexibility in how and when you attend tutorials, so as many students can take part as possible.

This section will take you through the purpose and benefits of tutorials and how to book on and attend both online and face to face tutorials.

What are tutorials for?

Tutorials are to help you deepen your understanding of your module material and practise applying your knowledge. If you find something confusing, or can’t see how it links to other parts of the module, a tutorial is also the ideal place to resolve that. You may get some useful tips on how to approach assessments too.

Tutorials also give you a chance to connect with other OU students and to engage with a tutor and benefit from their expertise.

Joining tutorials will help you engage actively with your module material. Being actively engaged is crucial in really getting to grips with your subject, and helps you remember it too.

The best people to tell you about tutorials are the people who have experience of them. In the following video, a lecturer, student and tutor discuss the benefits.

Download this video clip.Video player: boc_bous_1_openlearn_video_session4_3.mp4
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Transcript

DIANE BUTLER
Hello, everybody. My name's Diane Butler. And I'm a senior lecturer in the STEM faculty. I'm here today to talk to you a little bit about tutorials and what they bring to the Open University experience for students. And with me, I've got Cath Brown, who is a very experienced and very successful student of many years standing.
CATH BROWN
Hi, everyone.
DIANE BUTLER
And also Isabella Henman, who is an associate lecturer who tutors in the STEM faculty.
ISABELLA HENMAN
Hi.
DIANE BUTLER
So welcome to you both. So first thing that I'd like to ask you is, why do you think tutorials are such an important part of the whole OU experience for students? I'll start with you, Isabella.
ISABELLA HENMAN
I think because it's your opportunity to talk live to your tutor and your other students, because it can be incredibly isolating when you're with the Open University because we're a distance university. And you're doing your work at home. You're carrying on. And you might connect with people somewhere along the line. But if you go to a tutorial, you can connect with other students. You can talk about that. And then you can ask questions. And you can feel genuinely. You go, OK, you just said that. Can I just check my understanding of that? And that's the best part of it. Because you can be reading through things and you might be able to understand, and you can always ask your tutor by email or phone, or whatever, but the live experience in the tutorial is definitely the best bit, because you get more out of it. And your tutor will be helping you to understand how to access the material, how to get more out of it, how to use your skills to build. Tutorials are often about the skills not just the factual content. So what do you think, Cath?
CATH BROWN
I think those are very good points indeed, Isabella. I think I would add to that as well that you can often get a completely different perspective on the material from your tutor at a tutorial compared to the one from just reading the materials. Also, as you say connecting to other students, connecting to your tutor, because we all know it's much easier to ask for help if you feel a personal connection to the other people, isn't it? You feel much more relaxed about it. And even if you think, well, I know all that material, you usually end up learning something. You gain something from it. And the fact that actually you're carving out some time which is just dedicated to your studies where you haven't got the kids calling for you or the housework looking like it needs doing, all those many other things that you have distracting you. So I think it's an incredibly useful way of dedicating time to your studies. You gain loads out of it. And you can really focus.
DIANE BUTLER
And do you think those considerations apply equally to online tutorials as well as face to face tutorials?
ISABELLA HENMAN
Definitely. And I think the best bit about online tutorials is that you don't have to travel somewhere. And you can go, right, my tutorial starts at 7:00. You rock up at 10 to 7:00 or five to 7:00. Try not to get their dead on the time because if you've got any connection problems. And you don't have to worry what you're wearing. You don't have to make sure you're nice and respectable. You can just rock up in your pyjamas. And I have plenty of students who say, oh, I'm in my pyjamas. I'm eating my dinner at the same time. Doesn't matter.
CATH BROWN
You forgot the wine.
ISABELLA HENMAN
Oh, yeah. Well, there is that. Yeah, yeah, definitely.
DIANE BUTLER
You can have your refreshments at the same.
ISABELLA HENMAN
You can, yeah.
DIANE BUTLER
And you don't have to bring your own.
ISABELLA HENMAN
And I think online tutorials definitely offer so many benefits.
DIANE BUTLER
It's that flexibility.
ISABELLA HENMAN
Face to- Yeah, face to face, lovely, because you can put the real face, the actual here you go face. But online just is even better, in my view.
CATH BROWN
I think both of them have got great advantages. The fact that you don't actually have to go out of your house. The fact that for some people who can't go out of the house, they're accessible. Obviously, you can't go to the pub afterwards in the same ways you might with a face to face one with other students. But online can be brilliant. If they're done well, they can be absolutely amazing. And you can get all that sense of community and engagement from them as well.
DIANE BUTLER
OK. And what do you think the students themselves can do to get the most out of the tutorial experience that's offered?
ISABELLA HENMAN
I think look at what a tutorial is going to cover. Ideally speaking, you will have covered most of the content in your study there. But sometimes, they're timed towards the start of a particular block or bit of study, sometimes towards the end. Have an idea. Come with questions. Come prepared to learn, prepared to get this idea of interacting. Don't just sit there and go, somebody's going to talk at me for an hour. You're not going to get a lot out of it if you just take it as somebody is talking at you for an hour. Be prepared to engage, not in a scary way. You don't have to come out. You don't have to go, oh, I really don't understand this, and feel silly. But you can genuinely ask. Say, actually, I'm not quite sure on that bit. Or I've had this really good experience and about this, and I understand this this way. Am I OK?
CATH BROWN
I think that being prepared to actively participate was top of my list as well. But I think another thing to remember for a lot of students is some people come to the OU in a kind of school mentality as if they were naughty year nine hiding behind the bike sheds, and the tutor's the scary deputy head. And you need to move away from that one. Remember the tutor is another adult, and they want you to succeed just as much as you want to succeed. So come with the idea that you're having this fantastic opportunity to spend dedicated time with someone who is best equipped to help you succeed.
DIANE BUTLER
Absolutely. That tutor, the tutor's got all the experience in supporting students, hundreds of students through that particular module, and their advice is so golden, yeah, what they have to offer. So just finally, what about your best tutorial experiences as a tutor to start with, Isabella, very briefly.
ISABELLA HENMAN
I think I've had some really quite large scale ones recently. The small ones are lovely as well. But some of them where everybody's engaged and the chat box is moving and going on and on and on because everybody is engaging. And it's fine. I know some people find that distracting. That's fine. You don't have to look at it. But it's great when you're getting people who are asking questions, who are answering questions, who are adding their own bits in it. And you know that, actually, even though I'm talking to a computer, there's somebody on the other end of it. There's all these somebodies on the other end of it, and they're responding. And that's definitely the best experiences for me.
DIANE BUTLER
OK. And you, Cath?
CATH BROWN
Can I cheat and have two?
DIANE BUTLER
Very quickly.
CATH BROWN
So one of them is a face to face one. And we were at a day school and we were doing a workshop on how to tackle spectroscopy questions. And so that's a problem solving sort of thing. And the tutor got us up and involved, and it really affected how I saw that whole topic. And it turned me from being one of the things I was a bit scared about to one of the things I've absolutely loved the most. And the other one was an online one. And again, it was a real conversion experience. I started off feeling that this module, it was meant to be a chemistry module. It felt more like biology to me. And I'm not so keen on biology. Sorry, Diane. But the tutor managed to show me how this particular topic, actually, she brought the chemistry out in it. And it really transformed my understanding of it. It turned that module into one of my favourite ever. And those tutorials were so much fun as well because the other students were in there. They were interacting. We used to have a bit of banter before it started. We used to carry on and have a chat afterwards. Everyone was asking questions and involved, so that really stands out as a fantastic experience for me.
DIANE BUTLER
Great. Those are excellent experiences. It just goes to show that attending tutorials and really participating in them can make a huge difference to your study experience. So when you sign up for your modules, look for your tutorials and make sure you do go, make sure you participate, and take the opportunities that are offered. You won't regret it.
End transcript
 
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Some students worry about whether it’s OK to go to a tutorial if they’re a bit behind. Yes, it is! It’s always OK to go to a tutorial. And you may well find that going helps you catch up, and gets your motivation going again. If you find something hard, or aren’t getting quite the marks you want, you most definitely should go! Tutorials are a great opportunity to ask questions and get advice.

Always remember – the purpose of the tutorial is to help and support you.

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