Nigel GibsonModerator Post 1 • 18 May 2020, 11:53 • Edited by the author on 18 May 2020, 19:58
Section 3, Activity 1
This thread is for section 3, activity 1
This activity invites you to compare your current work with the "Supported open learning" principles. These are:
Flexible – students work where and when they choose, to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments
All-inclusive – students get all the high-quality materials they need to study
Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials; and specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and module forums
Do you already follow any of the principles?
Are there any aspects which you do not currently adopt? This might be because of the nature of the learners you work with or other reasons.
These are examples of the type of posts we might expect to see:
"My current work includes offering academic advice and feedback - I feel comfortable with this"
"My college provides most of the study materials or directs students to particular resources. My students often have work and family commitments but we have fixed contact-times where they have to attend"
(Image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr user Joe Ennesser https://www.flickr.com/photos/whatsjoeupto/)
I am comfortable with giving advice according to my expertise, whether that is from a technical, academic standpoint or from a "study skills" angle, based on my experience as a distance learner and a tutor of distance learners. My University has an academic skills unit as well as full pastoral care services to which I can refer as necessary.
I do not work in an educational setting but feel pretty comfortable with these principles.
Flexibility is important of course and in my experience can be given where practicable, but from the business context within my current and past roles, this has to be within fixed requirements of the client and the business. If this means swapping deliverables around between team members to allow that flexibility as required, that for me would represent good practice and represent a 'whole team' approach.
Focusing on the team as well as the individual has always been important in my roles. In my experience, good team camaraderie and strong rapport builds individual confidence and drives good results, both as a team and as individuals - people in such a team will always look out for each other. Making the team fun at times always helps, even though there are sometimes difficult things to do as well. A good team that gels well is always more than the sum of its parts ....
Whilst my observations are clearly business focused, I believe there are strong parallels to the world of study and learning.
Hi Duncan, I like the way you highlight the importance of focusing on both the team and the individual. The interplay between the two is important in business - as you note- but I agree that it is also important in learning. From my own days in the university, I the classes I remember most vividly are those that had a strong group component - good discussion, and an open, supportive vibe.
I don't work in an educational setting myself, in my previous career I would have trained using 3 of these principles, everything except the flexible principle although I have had to use all of these principles with my children especially since becoming a carer to my teen and homeschooling throughout Covid-19.
Flexible - having to work around personal requirements due to physical and mental health difficulties
All-Inclusive - ensuring materials are in the right format for the individual, using over-lays, visual representations, transcripts etc
Supportive - to provide guidance to the individual that can aide both current and further learning.
Social - encouraging communication with peers that is effective for the individuals learning experience
Like Duncan, I haven't ever worked as an educator, but I found in my professional life as a developer that the supportive and social dimensions and the interplay he notes were crucial to successful project completion.
As a library research volunteer at the OU, I have gained experience in collecting materials that students can use in their own time, and I have found the process to be challenging, but very rewarding. It is wonderful to find the exact materials that students request, but also exciting to find and offer additional materials that represent counterpoints or other arguments that may help the student expand their understanding.
I am a remote worker and a parent to two young children. I have been the beneficiary of support for flexible working, and believe it is a good way to encourage and support workers and learners.
I really appreciate your task in assisting students find additional materials, because however good the study materials they are given, each student has a different way to study or preparation and therefore in need of alterntive explanations to go forward.
I have found that at certain points some of the excellent OU textbooks were not forthcoming and I needed alternative explanations.
I work in education and I always try to ensure my students have the necessary materials they need and in the format they require - use of different colored paper, overlays, my own notes for the lesson.
Marking of assignments - giving constructive feedback and 1-1 discussions as required.
Encourage class and small group discussions as some students benefit from talking through questions with their peers.
I agree, being able to bring your own material to a tutorial is important. There needs to be flexibility to respond to the needs of the students, which may mean approaching something in a completely different way. And it also allows the tutor to draw on their own experience. Students really like real-world examples and stories.
I ve found over the years feedback has developed to be more flexible and the days are giving it in written format and that was it are over. More adaptable methods seem to work with discussions around feedback given and tutorials discussing developments points being best
In a recent role outside of education, during this current Covid 19 lock down I regularly used MS Teams for scheduled meetings with my team of Network Engineers. Video and audio was used to raise work issues and reduce the feeling of isolation working at home. I also shared and went through slides and material on this platform and welcomed feedback from my team members. I also used this platform for scheduled and unplanned 1-1s. Asynchronous communication was via email, MS Team chat and Whatsapp groups. I am very comfortable with this technology and method of communication.
While teaching mathematics at secondary school, I was used to using marking schemes to mark students mock exam papers and assessments.
I think you rised an interesting point. Due to the COVID situations many platforms for distance communication and virtual meetings have been used for different purposes that include work, teaching and social activities. Surely these platforms allow for flexibility, inclusivity and a social dimension.
I'm currently teaching sixth formers so some of the principles are the same but without as much flexibility. We are definitely supportive, especially now that we're teaching remotely. I chat to students online and by email but I don't phone them, another difference to the OU.
However I have taught trainee teachers on PGCE Computing and the principles were very much the same as the OU. I agree that with adults a phone call is often better than email in order to sort out an issue. I dealt with some difficult situations such as teachers falling out with their school mentors, family members getting ill and people wanting to quit the course because it is a really difficult year.
Having done secondary teacher training last year during Covid I would agree - although because we could not expect the students to have access to their computers or even an internet connection during 'lesson time' we had to include some flexibility into our provision.
I also mentor adult learners in my other job and am used to providing as flexible, all-inclusive and supportive environment as possible. My mentees are mentored one-to-one so the opportunity to provide a social aspect is limited sadly.
I work in the engineering sector, not in education, but I am fairly comfortable with the principles. Flexibility is very important in my day-to-day life as there is always a new challenge/problem. Obviously all-inclusiveness is important and I try to practice that. When training staff internally I have been supportive, and attended to individual needs, and I try to be a positive influence in social environments in which I'm in.
I currently work as a tutor for a distance learning course run by another University. This is a postgraduate course. I also did the course myself as a distance learner several years ago, so have insights from both sides. The materials are all web-based, using the BlackBoard platform. We also have discussion forums. What we tend to do is ask the students to introduce themselves to each other at the beginning on the module. We then have a number of different forums set up. This varies by module, but we usually have one dedicated to problems with practical material, and often a weekly forum where a particular topic is introduced (often linking to a news story or a video) and the students are then asked to discuss it. A small part of the module mark depends on the student contributing each week. This does help to get everyone to take part. However, it is difficult to get a real discussion to take place. It does to an extent, but tends to be many individual contributions.
I work flexibly and will respond to e-mails and forum queries most times of the day and evening when I can. Most students are working, so they tend to be studying in the evening and weekend. The students can be based anywhere in the world, so organizing synchronous activities is difficult, and we don't tend to use them. Students do sometimes need hands-on help with IT problems and I will remotely connect to their computer to help out.
In one module the main assessment is team based. We split the students into teams of 4 or 5, and they imagine that they are working for a consultancy and have to tender for a project to solve a particular problem. They have to agree on the topic from some suggested ones (or come up with their own), choose a project leader (which can be rotated) and allocate tasks. At the end they have to produce a screencast of themselves delivering a presentation (pitch) to the client, with each student doing their part. During this project the students will often use a live chat room, but it's not moderated by the tutor.
I cannot but sympathise with Marcus in the issue one finds with online tutoring/forums. Some rules of engagement are necessary. In my Machine Learning Study Group last year, my initial communication was the rules of participation and the minimum participation was a weekly study progress report identifying issues and successes to enable each member to be aware how to help or be helped by each other. Your "coercion" was to have module marks depending on contribution. It surely is a challenging task.
That's a great insight into current delivery practice and issues that exist in that learning environment.
When I was timetabled to manage teams of students working on their degree projects, I found the best results were produced by multidisciplinery teams comprising software developers, multimedia web developers and network/server administrators. They used a WhatsApp group to communicate (at all hours) whenever a problem arose or to seek clarification on an issue and to encourage others to stick to the project schedule milestones. This diverse skill set required much more group discussion to ensure that each discipline understood their role and where their contribution fitted within the project. And it was apparent during the tutorials that the student experience was enriched by this knowledge transfer crossover.
I'm currently delivering commercial training course, typically 3 days in duration, so some of the principles are the same but without as much flexibility. Until corona-virus all courses were classroom based and very social. Since the lock-down the social element has reduced. I am definitely supportive in terms of expertise, guidance and feedback, however there is limited on-going support for application of the learning outcomes in a work environment.
I don't work in an education environment but I have had opportunity to provide ad-hoc training to both colleagues and customers. Particularly in the case of customers this can be very technical material that it outside of their normal field, so I have to be flexible in my approach, adapting the training to suit the audience, and supporting them to understand the material being delivered.
People having different learning styles and approaches: some prefer the flexibility of primary research, others prefer following key text as provided, each will discover what suits them best, but presented with alternatives they may have yet to discover for themselves.
Hi Gaby, good to see another OU student in here. Can I ask you to introduce yourself in forum over here: https://www.open.edu/openlearncreate/mod/forumng/discuss.php?d=2486
Kate - one of the mods
Activity 1 supported open learning
At present not a tutor or any modules. However a form of supported open learning is relevant to how I provide PhD supervision during covid- using MicrosoftTeams- equivalent to AdobeConnect. Using this is small group research student and supervisor interaction the chat function isn't used.
Hello all, (sorry it's a bit wordy)
I have not worked in education, however the current C19 situation has accelerated the use of tools such as Teams to enable collaborative working. This covers the social aspect, however this technology fulfils a need, but more can be gained through face to face situations.
Framing the other points above
Flexible - from my time studying at the OU I can remember working 50+ hours a week, starting a family and progressing through modules at odd times of the day and night. Studying on trains/planes etc. I also learned that for some subjects this worked - if it was a more academic module, then generally no problem. This did not work where there was a greater amount of practical activity in the module, so for the computing modules I had to become more structured/rigid in my study (started to learn about time management) so I had time in front of the pc to do the programming activities.
All inclusive - As part of my work my team create guides to fix equipment or undertake certain tasks. I am aware of people's different styles of learning, (VAK), so whereas before we would produce only a Quick Reference Guide (QRG), we have started to develop VRGs (although Video is not what it once was).
Supportive - One of the great things about my current role is that I can support other team members. If someone in the team has a great idea, something that will benefit the business, then I tend to get things moving, bring other people on board, develop the collaboration. The beauty of this is that people tend to be happy to lend their expertise which can have some great results (in one example I was struggling to get visio to automate something - I was resigned to a reasonable degree of autonomy, then a young engineer called me onto a forum to see what I thought of something he had done to my work. He had not only automated past the point of where I had wanted it to get to - but had taken it on to another level as well - needless to say I was delighted).
I am a secondary school teacher for GCSE and A level students so already adopt these principles.
Flexible – being flexible to students needs, we have a lot of SEN students in our school. Of course flexibility has also been extremely important more recently dealing with online teaching and facilitating students to adopt a healthy flexible approach to their studies whilst doing so at home.
All-inclusive – I often take into account individual needs such as specific colour contrasts as well as ensuring audio, visual and text based resources are utilised.
Supportive – as a teacher I provide both the resources, teaching, facilitation and sometimes emotional support needed to encourage my students to learn and overcome challenges on a daily basis.
Social – as a previous student of the OU I am very aware of the importance of peer support. I am still friends with people I studied with nearly 20 years ago! Facilitating and encouraging social academic groups is something I also encourage in my everyday teaching. through group working and peer support.
S3 Activity 1
My current work is presently underpinned by supported open learning principles:
My current college provides online learning courses which are already flexible in terms of timing and their other commitments.
Inclusivity is a key aspect and resources should be available to all, we create most of our own resources centrally and make these available from a central platform that all can access.
These resources are made alive through academically directed webinars which are also opportunities for socialisation amongst students where they can also take part in simulations, group work and study groups.
I have experience with providing pastoral support and tutorials through online methods and making referrals to our careers advisers or learning support team where necessary.
I believe the key element is approachability...
If a student gains sufficient trust & confidence in their Tutor, they will be more likely to engage and share their opinions, promoting discussion on the topic, and, forging a relationship.
Having previously been supporting Tertiary Education for a number of years have seen both good practice and poor practice, which has been a result of an ever decreasing circle of the lack on engagement.
In a professional capacity, when having Team meeting, I/we conduct informal 'check-in' prior to the start of the meeting, to act as a current gauge of where & what each individual's ability to concentrate on the meeting might be, or whether they have other more pressing concerns.
When lecturing in FE, I always maintained an "open Door" approach - if I wasn't in class, students were welcome to visit the staffroom, or drop me an email at any time.
On many occasions I circulated tutorials or teaching materials in advance to students who requested them, or high contrast/coloured paper/colour overlay as the student preferred. Less frequently the college supplied particular hardware - keyboard/mouse/pointer - for a student and amended the student log-in profile to change the key-stroke timer to avoid duplicate characters being produced if the key was held for too long.
While I was always able to assist with technical/academic problems and to an extent pastoral to swap students between classes to allow them to travel with a friend and improve their timekeeping or attendance. Frequently I was presented with an issue that was out of my sphere such as debt worries and for these I signposted the student to our Student Services team.
I was lucky that in the main my classes covered a wide age range. The more mature students seemed to have a calming influence on the classes and were less reserved in question answer sessions. I found where the class comprised entirely of youths they were too...boysterish and required a different style of class management. Usually it only took a couple of days after the icebreaker session for the groups to have stormed and normed into a cohesive and supportive unit where peer assistance was freely offeed and accepted.
I'm not surrently in a teaching environment as such, although I do mentor junior engineers quite often. One technique that is quite prevelant in the modern software game is pair programming where two engineers sit side by side sharing one computer in the development process. Although I personally only find it of limited value for my own work, mainly when working through a tricky design with a peer, it is a really good tool when mentoring less experienced people as they get to work hands on but also observe someone else's working practices.
Supporting Open Learning
Part 3 Activity 1: Principles applied to current practice
I do inculcate students to ask questions using any technology that they may have. There is always an earnest attempt on my part to be open with students to guide them along their learning journey. There are many strategies that one could pursue to make learning easier for students. An important first meet with students is to successfully break the ice.
Not working in education I at first struggled to think where at work I've actually done what could be described as Supported Open Learning. Of course I've done all of it over the years but probably not as a single initiative. I have recently, however, found myself doing it all without realising what I was doing. ( I often don't know what I'm doing anyway!).
Last December a friend asked me if I'd like to become Secretary of the Newcastle Bach Choir, so I did. It's a amateur choir but has close associations with Newcastle University and we employ a semi-professional orchestra and professional soloists. Of our 120 members, we have many student and a lot current and retired staff members. The Choir rehearsed every Monday evening during the academic terms, in the University, and gave 4 concerts a year. I was told the secretary job was to keep a database of the membership and send out the odd email. That was before anybody had heard of Covid-19 and the job almost became full-time!
From April we switched to what I now realise was a Supported Open Learning model. Instead of being a choir that was "taught" altogether in a room, we moved to being online. I set up a Google Drive of all the resources our members would need for each of the short pieces we focussed on and I sent out detailed instructions to all members on how to access and what to do. Using the resources members were asked to record themselves singing into their phones and then return the recorded file.
Flexible - Members could download the Musical scores and MP3 backing tracks at anytime. They could practice and record singing their part (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) and when done upload this back to the Google Drive in their own time. However we did give a timetable for when recording should be uploaded by.
All inclusive - Everything needed was provided, apart from the hardware. One member did not have mobile phone but was able to use a tablet.
Supportive - the weekly "rehearsals" continued but moved onto Zoom. During these, which proved very popular, the particular piece would be explained and coached by our music Professor, although of course timing issues meant live singing wasn't possible. Members were encouraged to submit questions about parts of the music they were finding difficult and these would be covered. I would also provide support directly to many individual members who had limited IT skills and who would ring/email with technical problems.
Social - although the rehearsal officially started at 6:30pm we started the Zoom session early and many members who, weeks before, had never heard of Zoom would gather from 6pm to chat.
By the end of July we had produced 3 short performances which are now live on YouTube. Not everyone made a recording but we had almost 70 attendees to our Zoom sessions. As you may have guessed I'm quite proud of them
I do not work in the education sector but manage a large team of software engineering experts which requires me to apply all four principles. I manage a distributed team across several times zones so we need to be flexible and mindful of peoples availability. In the current situation with people working from different locations such as home caring responsibilities require even more flexibility. All-inclusive: while we work with a standard set of tools these need to be fit for purpose and we are legally obliged to make adjustments for people with different abilities as required. Supportive: I attempt to support and develop my team professionally but also personally. This requires challenge, feedback, support, constructive criticism but also a great deal of understanding and appreciation of people at the group and personal level. While I might not be able to help with all issues, I need to be able to sign-post. Social: especially at the moment we need to remember that humans are social 'animals' so we meet online for 'off-work' chats as well as work-related meetings.
I have taken part in distance learning myself to complete CPD courses offered by the OU for free during lock down (marvellous idea!). I found the structured OU "brand formula or layout" extremely helpful from course to course as I became quicker at orientating myself and working through them the more I did.
I really like the idea that a team of academics has worked on the materials, resources, and modules as it would give me confidence as a tutor starting out. In schools lesson preparation gives a lot of scope for creativity but it is always a lot of work and one always wonders whether one if reinventing the wheel or whether one is using the best approach!
I feel more comfortable with the ethos of not putting students on the spot. This contrasts with my experience as a teacher where "hands down" question and answer sessions have become commonplace, albeit with preplanned, targeted questioning.
I enjoy distance learning myself, where I can work at my own pace and at times I choose.... whether at 6 am or 6 pm! This is a stark contrast to working in most schools where students follow a rigid timetable. I have also worked at an International School and this was rather more similar to the OU style regarding flexibility because assessments and submission dates were agreed in advance and students had a lot of flexibility to contact me outside of lesson time, and to schedule there own timetable for working on the assignment.
The practice of being able to pass on pastoral aspects of working with students to more specialised units within the OU struck me as similar to my practice of working in typical schools.
In the teaching activities I have delivered so far I met the principles of being supportive and promoting the social aspect of learning. I tried also to provide high-quality materials for the students to study and meet the learning outcomes as in the all-inclusive principle.
The missing point in my teaching practice is flexibility, because the activities were organised face-to-face in precise time windows.
I have worked in the private sector as a trainer and computer science practitioner, but currently work at a state school. I have used all the supported open learning principles and have seen the importance of applying them in practice. I have myself been a distance learner and worked flexibly around work and family commitments and know how important it is to be aware of the wider issues that students face when they are studying. I wouldn't be able to pick out one of the principles as being more important than the other as all of them are necessary to provide support not just to distance learners but all learners.
From my face-to-face experience, I focus on inclusive teaching and learning and try to reach several goals:
- Design intentional curriculum so the students "can see their world"
- Build a community of learners --> “I belong” and “I own”
- Offer flexible delivery --> “I am in charge of my learning”
- Teach explicitly --> “I am supported”
- Develop a feedback rich environment --> “I know what I have to DO” (Nicol and MacFarlane-Dick's seven principles of effective feedback)
- Schön (1983): Practise reflectively --> “I am valued”
As a school treachers teaching years 1 to 13 I find some of the approaches familiar, even if implementations would be a little different, and some aspscts not so familiar.
Flexible – My students have a fixes timetable with me in class, aside from homework where and when they do the learning is not up to them.
All-inclusive – my studnts are given materials or directed to them at least so this aspect is not too different.
Supportive – Primarily I run timetabled classes, but there would normally be opportunities to give individual and group help for thoise that want /need it. My advice might also extend beyond advice about what I am teaching them. There are strict rules around safeguarding however that may impose imotation on this and require me to refer on to a designated authority in come circumstances.
Social – In this, it will be fairly similar, although school age students getting together outside of class are probably less likely to be sytudy focussed. My ability to have any involvement in this is severely limited due to safeguarding concerns.
Throughout my experience of teaching I have enjoyed the different aspects of open learning described.
Students, even in a traditional HE setting, or in schools (both of which I have taught in) often require a flexible approach to learning; learners have different backgrounds and requirements with regard to their learning needs.
As such an all inclusive approach, with the support from tutors that can be tailored to their needs is ideal. The support from other tutors for the tutors themselves is essential. Moderation of feedback and marking will ensure a uniform fairness to a personalised approach.
I have always had a flexible approach as not everyone has the same home life/working conditions. To make sure that students attain the best they can, it has to fit in with their lifestyle. Supportive, not everyone works in the same way and it takes a bit of time for some students to 'click'. It can come down to lack of confidence and not knowing what to do and when. Students don't always need academic support, it can be how to balance life and studying. We are social animals and we need to have contact with each other to relax and enjoy ourselves. This helps our wellbeing and we then build an infinity with each other.
I currently tutor and assess on a freelance basis, so flexibility for venues / dates / times around life's many commitments is core to my current work. I could be running a group tutorial, arranging a 1-1 meeting, corresponding with feedback / info / guidance via email or supporting on a forum with resources and assessment. I may be in a classroom, a workplace, or online via Zoom. Day schools and study groups are not something I currently work with, as my learner groups tend to be small and local anyway. As a freelancer, I don't tend to have direct connections with wider support services of organisations I work with, although I'd refer to any direct line manager when required.
Flexible – students work where and when they choose, to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments.
I fully understand the flexible model and even though I have studied a full time course this year for ITE I still use the principles of flexible working to ensure I can manage my life around the work load.
All-inclusive – students get all the high-quality materials they need to study
My roles at my placement schools have shown me that some educators are require to design and create their on materials and Schemes of Work. An OU role would eliminate the pressure from this with its all inclusive model. Granting an AL an excellent base to begin for making any modifications to help learners with additional needs.
Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials; and specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
I am already comfortable giving supportive and professional feedback.
Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and module forumsAs a trainee teacher I have developed and practised the many social roles a tutor and teacher needs to take on and have become comfortable delivering material, assisting when questions arise and taking an interest in my students lives beyond the school.
The students that come to do their final year projects in our laboratory are provided with all the literature and laboratory material necessary for their project (all-inclusive). They are supported, not only by their supervisor, but by all the colleagues in our lab and wider in the research institute (supportive).
Attending seminars and talks is part of any researcher's life and students and students are expected to attend them too, where they acquire skills like critical thinking, feedback giving (social).
I don't have formal education to deliver training. However I have run different graduate / early career enablement trainings for both sales and technical graduates. As well as training for returners coming back to tech industry. As well as running workshops, training days or just adhoc meetings on different cloud concepts as part of my role.
Flexible – For me this is setting expectations, as tech can be overwhelming the deeper you dive into an area. So making sure people understand the amount of work involved, but also maintaining some work / life balance i think it is important. Else if you are just trying to cram to pass an exam it won't go in as well as learning to fill gaps in knowledge.
All-inclusive – I have multiple disabilities myself, so I'm very conscious about accessible training. Calling out assistive technology everyone can use in office etc eg to dictate notes, or use read aloud or immersive reader is really helpful for neurodiverse people.
Supportive – If a group isn't asking questions I tend to over explain, especially acryonms etc, or ask myself the questions I think they should be asking. To try and give people confidence to then ask their own ones. So examples when I learnt this topic this section confused me but if i thought about it this way it made more sense...
Social – to start with getting everyone to intro themselves, what their current level of knowledge is / background I think it is useful. Also though trying to stop people competing too much against one another, although some people will do this. Trying to get people with more knowledge to explain their experiences too, so it isn't so daunting for people who are completely new to a subject and might have imposter syndrome more.
"Supported open learning" principles examples:
All-inclusive – In previous experience, offering and supporting students to get to grips with the assistive technology available to provide additional support to their learning journey. Like the start of all new challenges, the start of this journey is often the most daunting. Tech such as to dictate notes, or use read aloud or immersive reader which are helpful for neurodiverse people as highlighted above. The initial challenge here is developing the students confidence with these technologies that can be used to offer support. Like using any new tech, tutors being available to offer support when using these for the first few times is invaluable.
Supportive – Having regular opportunities for individual 121’s offers the opportunity to develop a strong professional working relationship with the students, which is at the heart of the processes of developing the trust of the students to ask and confidently receive individual support. Empath and a non-judgmental approach is also invaluable here.
Social – in addition to points raised above- using breakout rooms in adobe connect offers the tutor the opportunity to facilitate the formation of relationships between students.
Principles of supported learning
I agree with all the principles outlined and recognise it in my current role the importance of them. The degree of flexibility offered by OU is probably more than I have experienced previously, but I think this is positive for students and AL's. The social aspect is interesting as trying to capture that online community can be a challenge rather than the traditional physical face to face approach.
After working for the OU for over 10 years, I'm very clear on the principles that OU learning is based on. I often have to emphasise that the module materials are all that a student needs for most of their learning on a module. Students can be quite encouraged to understand that their modules materials are all they need to refer to in most assignments, however not many students make use of the full range of module materials, as the textbooks tend to be the main point of focus.
The flexibility is key for students, particularly in understanding that there can also be flexibility in the amount of module content that they study. Some students benefit from being supported in prioritising the content they need to focus on, particularly when time is restricted.
I agree with this. There are times when students benefit from encouragement to stop study on a particular subject and move on.
Flexibility is really important; and finding the balance between encouraging participation and making students feel uncomfortable can be difficult.
Encouraging students that they can do maths can also be a challenge; but well worth it!
Within the current institution I work in we employ the above principles and have developed flexibility and inclusiveness in teaching and learning especially during lockdown where 'standard' delivery models had to be adapted to support adult learners and move away from rigid timetables and really put support in place to help students which I believe would be a good grounding and experience for working for OU
Flexible – For me the flexibility of learning is very important. I've been studying with the OU since 2012 and I am Dyslexic. I firmly believe that I could not have achieved what I have at a traditional university. I've been able to take it slowly working on one module at a time. As for my professional career, I've worked in software engineering for over 25 years and I tended to gravitate towards small startups that practice agile development. These companies need flexible people and for me that is a perfect fit.
All-inclusive – I have always had access to everything I have needed.
Supportive – The support has been excellent. The most powerful part of this for me is being able to email my tutor at any time and get a response back in a day or so.
Social – Personally I don't tend to involve myself in big social circles. I am happy to be on my own for days at a time. So being able to dip in and out without any demands is ideal for my personality type. :)
I have experience of working in matrix teams and we have for some time used online media to conduct reviews using "tools" such as agile to gain collaborative interactions.
Being flexible is a key principle from my standpoint and is why I did my degree with the OU.
Support is also critical, I mentor and offer what we call our "peer 2 peer" diversity coaching internally, however it is backed by HR guidance.