A215 results are in!

My heart leapt into my mouth when I saw the post by a fellow student in the OUSA A215 conference this morning – they weren’t due until Wed 6th August so it was a bit of a shock to get them two days ahead of schedule.

I could feel my heart beating faster as I quickly logged into StudentHome and saw the link saying my result was available …one click, and there it was – GRADE 2 PASS!!!!!🙂 I have to confess that I bunched my fists tightly, waved them in the air and chanted (quietly because I’m in the Office next to the Gallery) Yes! Yes! Yes! It was such a relief to know that I’d managed to achieve my goal.

However, I was quite surprised to discover that, although I’d scored 75% for the OCAS component of the course (that’s the Overall continuous assessment score), I’d only scored 66% for the OES (that’s the Overall examinable score). I’d worked it out that I needed 70% and above for a Grade 2 Pass. I know that the OU sometimes adjusts the cut-off level for grades to take into account the overall student results, but it was still a (very pleasant and unexpected) surprise.

Clicking a little further into the results, I found that 1583 students had submitted the final End of Course Assessment (the OU called it the Project) and finished the course. Of those, 181 scored the 85 – 100% distinction grade A, 635 scored the 70 – 84% grade B, 547 scored the 55-69% grade C, 198 scored the 40 – 54% grade D, and 16 scored the 30 – 39% grade E. Below that, four students scored F (15 – 29%) and two students scored G (0 – 14%)

Reactions to the marks are slowly coming into the conference now and most people seem happy but there are heartbreaking stories of students who were just points off a distinction grade for their five TMA scores but then scored badly in the Project and dropped down to a Grade Three for their final result. I don’t think I’ve ever achieved a higher score in the ECA component than in the TMA continuous assessment score in eight years – I’ve always dropped several percent.

In fact, for B120, the level One Business Studies course, I dropped from 74% in the overall TMA scores to 54% for the End of Course Assessment (which was a stinker, even for a first time presentation) and many MANY students were extremely unhappy. I was just happy that I passed!

So what next? Well, I think I’ve finally settled on S189, Understanding the Weather (10 point level one short science course) for September, followed by SA188, Archaeology: the science of Investigation (10 point level one short science course) for November. That will be two courses towards the six I need for the Certificate in Contemporary Science. Next year I will probably take a breather for the first six months of the year, maybe even nine months, and start again in June or September. I have two VERY important family and business commitments looming for early/mid 2009 and I think I’d be pushing it to tackle anything above Level One.

So that’s finally the end of A215 for me – I’ve got a good result and it’s all been worth it!

It’s over …

… and I don’t know whether to be happy or sad. I have enjoyed A215 but it was hard going at times and I struggled to find motivation on occasions. I don’t know how many of my tutor group have made it to the end but there only seemed to be a handful of us over the last few weeks so I would estimate that maybe half of the original group fell by the wayside. Sadly, I believe, the OU receives no funding for students who don’t complete a course so it’s worth submitting a single page with name and Personal identifier, even if all hope is lost for the course.

On a happier note, I managed to keep up a consistent performance over the five TMAs, with all my scores falling in the 72 – 75% range and the final TMA crowning it with 79%. It would have been nice to think I was aiming for a distinction but I’m happy to settle for a Grade 2 pass which will result if my ECA score is 70% or more. Hopefully I can manage that … although ECAs normally score lower marks than TMAs so it is cutting it awfully fine.

I found it very hard submitting the ECA without receiving my marked TMA05 back – somehow I felt I might be missing some vitally important piece of feedback from my tutor. But there are only three – yes, THREE – weeks between submission of TMA05 on Friday May 16th and the ECA deadline on Friday 6th June. Of course, students are expected to have a considerably body of work to choose from by the time we reach the ECA. Polishing the selected pieces and writing the commentary are the main tasks. But it still seems to leap out at you with a loud ‘Boo!’.

Unfortunately, my tutor had a major computer malfunction and critical family commitments coincide with TMA05 so it was late being returned. Then I also had to go away for five days so the ECA had to be consigned to the post a full week ahead of schedule … before I had my result for TMA05. That was hard. I deliberately put it right out of my mind while I was away and collected it when I returned. That was why my highest TMA score for this course was such a sweet sight.

What next? Well, I’m going to take the summer off (I missed registering for the June start courses anyway) and start again in October or November. I’m considering short course because we have a busy six months at the beginning of next year and it would be foolish to sign up for a 60 point course. Maybe Shakespeare: an introduction or possibly Introducing Environment or Archaeology: the science of investigation or perhaps Understanding the weather There are so many short courses to choose from Open University Short courses

But I think I’ll put this blog to bed for the time being … turns off the light and tiptoes out.

The Ultimate Steal

I don’t know if anyone’s interested but this popped up in one of the OU open conferences recently and I thought I’d post it here just in case anyone would like to take advantage of the offer. It expires in seven days time so you need to take advantage pretty quickly to avoid missing out.


Basically, Microsoft is offering its Office 2007 Ultimate suite for less than £40 to UK registered students. The only catch is that you have to have a university email address:

You must hold a valid email address at a UK, Jersey, Guernsey or Isle of Man educational institution, ending in either ‘.ac.uk’, ‘ac.im’, ‘ac.gg’ or ‘ac.je’.

I’ve always resisted the MS Office suite because it’s expensive and bloated, but even I couldn’t resist this offer (it has Publisher 2007 and I’m still using Publisher 98!). It also has OneNote which is a good tool for students.
Anyway, if you want to take advantage of the offer you need to give them your OU address to verify. They then send an email with a special link to your OU mailbox, you click on the link and purchase the software. You can get it as a download (about 500Mb+ but it was a VERY fast connection on my broadband) and also buy a backup DVD for about £9.00 if you want. You can buy the download for £38.95 or buy a year’s license for £12.95.

Note that an OU student email address has this format:


I haven’t installed it yet (I’ll probably try it on my laptop first) but I doubt very much if I’d pay Microsoft’s £599 published price for it!

crying with laughter …

Humorous Pictures
Enter the ICHC online Poker Cats Contest!

Oh how I love “I can haz Cheeseburger?”

Enjoying poetry

Yes, I’m enjoying the poetry section of A215 more than I enjoyed the fiction – no surprise there then🙂

The only drawback is that it leads to a proliferation of notebooks, scraps of paper and computer documents which can be very hard to track down – you get hit by a beautiful line, write it down and then …. can’t find it again! I seem to work best with several poems on the go, usually handwritten in a large A4 looseleaf binder so I can switch between them.

My favourite poets are probably Gerard Manley Hopkins and Dylan Thomas. Many years ago, when I was just eleven (yes, THAT many years ago …!) I was in a First Year class called 1W because each class bore the initial of its supervisory teacher. Well, ours was a Welshman by the name of Norman Waldron. He was over 6ft tall with dark wavy hair, a glorious Welsh accent, a passion for Rugby, music (especially choral) and custard creams. He also had the sort of film-star good looks that had every mother eager to attend Parents Evening. On the last day of the summer term (remember how hectic and chaotic they were?) he brought in an LP (you know, black, vinyl, round, fragile?) and played us ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas read by the late great Richard Burton. I think the entire class went quiet to listen. Fabulous!


I’ve come to the conclusion over the last couple of weeks that my approach to writing poetry is best described as ‘free-noting’ rather than ‘freewriting’. I tend to start with a big A4 sheet of lined paper, write a rough one line precis of what I am aiming for at the top, then add lots of jottings below. I might note down what form the poem could take – sonnet? sestina? vilanelle? I can make notes about the important happenings in the poem, images, descriptions, lines that occur to me, words from my Thesaurus, trial rhythms … all sorts of stuff. I end up with a whole page of notes and scribbles that contain the beginning essence of the poem.

Then I let it ‘simmer’ quietly for a day or so, returning occasionally if a thought occurs to me that I need to add to my freenotes, adding words or ideas.

I have several pieces in this sort of freenote format, none of which have taken on any real form as such, but are really collections of thoughts and jottings just waiting to be moulded and polished.

On the other hand, I’ve been reading lots of poetry – as widely advised both by the course team and fellow past/present students – and become quite disheartened at the brilliance of what I read and the paltryness of what I write.

No-one ever said writing poetry was easy and a LOT of people have said that writing poetry is damned hard work!

Relief at last …

AND my nails survived the prolonged wait🙂

My tutor didn’t get home until the early hours of this morning and so didn’t manage to get by TMA back into the system until just before 10am. I checked in ten minutes after to get her message and dashed over to the OU site straight away.

It was a huge relief to discover that my fiction TMA (which had been a long hard slog) had improved just a few marks on the first TMA. Having ready the various posts by unhappy students who had dropped 15 marks from first to second TMA, I was able to heave a deep sigh, make another cup of tea, print out the saved marked TMA then sit down to read and inwardly digest. I could have kicked myself for not indenting the dialogue and I got a few commas in the wrong place, but overall that was only a minor self criticism. She said the story worked well, I’d created believable characters and the plot was good. I even managed a reasonable commentary but she advised me to make more reference to my notebooks and more about how I was influenced by external sources.

Now I feel much more positive about the poetry module🙂