5.3.1 The eTMA system
When the OU was founded over 50 years ago TMAs were submitted in hard copy, usually handwritten and posted to the tutor. This started to change around the year 2000 with the introduction of the eTMA system, and now most assignments are submitted via the eTMA system.
Students produce their assignments on a computer, an eTMA, and submit it electronically. Nowadays the term TMA is commonly used for both types of assignment, whether submitted via hard copy or the eTMA system.
The following diagram outlines the journey of an eTMA.
A key point to note from a tutor perspective is that most of the administration tasks are handled by the eTMA system, so tutors can focus on the marking and feedback. It is useful to check the file formats as the TMAs arrive, as some student need support using the eTMA system. This quote from an experienced tutor highlights how he makes an early check on eTMA submissions.
"Before attempting any marking of further solution documents, I check for the correct format and inclusion of relevant files. If there are submission errors, then my current module requires that the student be informed and given the opportunity to resubmit. I would do this by email explaining the error(s) made whilst also providing appropriate help and support. I also give a time limit for that resubmission." (Geoff, from the Correspondence tuition workbook)