Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was probably the worst week I’ve had so far for studying. There are several reasons for this.

  1. I somehow got really behind, and didn’t even start work until Monday! (I usually start on Saturday and try to get it mostly done by Sunday evening)
  2. I had to do an experiment, and I hate it SO MUCH3
  3. Christmas is coming, and I hate it.

Fortunately, I managed to pull it around. Wednesday proved to be immensely productive, and I got not only my normal uni work done, but the extension work (learning about mammals) done too!

Now to the experiment. I had to find out the percentage of water in potatoes, by drying them out in a microwave and weighing them. Simple enough, no?

Apparently not. One set of scales adds an extra 40g to any weight over 700g, the other seems to take 10 minutes to decide exactly what number it feels like stopping on. Point is, I spent over an hour doing this stupid experiment and I hated every single minute of it.

Today I managed to get a little extra work done before the holidays, focussing on Maths for Science, which started off easy and then got insanely hard towards the end, and now my head hurts.

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week can be summarised quite vividly. If you imagine being punched repeatedly in the face, for a whole week, then getting rewarded with a nice cake on the seventh day, you should have some idea of how my week has gone academically.

The big thing this week is that I have hit my first big issue with the Open University (shock horror). Now, I’m no stranger to being online – I have, in fact, spent most of my life on the internet, so the idea of having my study materials presented online shouldn’t cause me too many problems, right?

WRONG.

As it turns out, you break up my study into webpage size chunks and what you’ve given me is an instruction to switch off my brain. I take NOTHING in. I can pages and pages of websites and not have the faintest idea what I’ve spent the last hour doing! As search, I have had to spend a considerable amount of time working around this, which has been a massive pain in the backside.

I have figured out how to download each week’s worth of work into a PDF file, which I work from (which means I can take notes) and flick back to the webpage for any interactive elements. It’s a pain, and I absolutely hate it. So that’s fun.

I’ve also come across some accessibility issues. The course has started linking to videos on YouTube, which is fair enough, but I have found they don’t bother to provide any guidance as to how to find a transcript of these videos. I found one by accident, and after 20 minutes of searching, discovered the other didn’t have dialogue at all! I think it’s pretty terrible that this isn’t considered in the course materials, and it’s really annoying me.

Now moving away from the fury and on to the good stuff.

I have started doing OpenLearn courses on top of my regular uni work, and this week I began a multi-part course entitled The Life of Mammals. It uses the David Attenborough documentary and book of the same name as the teaching basis, and so I spent most of yesterday learning about marsupials and monotremes. It was AWESOME.

Finally, I have officially requested to change my degree pathway from a BSc Computing and IT, to a BSc Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences specialism). So that’s SUPER exciting.

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was designated “Options Week”, the first of 3 over the course of this module. I had to choose what I wanted to study, which was pretty cool.

I decided to study what I thought was advice on how to get the most out of the Open University’s OpenLearn website, but actually, it contained almost nothing I didn’t already know. However, I made the best of it and actually had a really productive week.

OpenLearn hosts a series of mini-lessons on all the subjects the OU teaches. I’ve now been through the website and marked down every biology and environmental science courses that looked interesting (plus a few maths courses) and I will be working through them during the course of my degree. This marks a significant change in my study style as for the first time I am doing more than I am asked rather than the bare minimum.

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was very up and down in terms of student life. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, just a little challenging.

Most of my studying this week involved mathematics – and I’m pleased to say that I managed to get a couple of the questions wrong. Perhaps that’s an odd thing to be pleased about, but I see it as somewhat of a justification for my taking the access module – proof that my skills are as unpolished as I thought they were. So that gives me something to work with.

We also got the results of the PLEXUS committee elections. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected for a position, but that isn’t the end of the world. Frankly, I’m just astonished I put myself down for a spot in the first place. It’s a victory in and of itself. So I’m not too worried about it, and there is always next time.

Next week is the first “Options Week” of this module – I’ve never had one before so this should be pretty interesting.

Study J(OU)nal

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Not much to report on the studying front this week.

I’m still more-or-less on top of my work, and it’s still really interesting. Big news is that I sent off a couple of query emails about officially switching to a BSc Natural Sciences (Biology) degree, and it turns out it shouldn’t be a problem to switch if I want to. That’s obviously completely awesome.

Second big thing is that voting has opened for the PLEXUS elections – I’ve cast my votes already, so this time next week I’ll know if I’ve managed to blag myself a spot on the committee so I can start worrying! It’s all very exciting and scary.

Study J(OU)rnal

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It’s been a weird week for studying, this time around. I’ve been a bit all over the place mentally, so my studying has suffered a little.

First off, I got my first assignment back with a whopping 90% as my result. I am incredibly pleased with this result, and it’s given me a bit of a confidence boost. The comments my tutor made were very helpful and mostly boiled down to making sure I read the task carefully and made my points more concise. I think I can manage that.

Secondly, I’m actually behind on my studying for the first time since starting the course. I’ve done most of this weeks work, but after a rough couple of days, I never got around to finishing it so I will be trying to get that done once I’ve posted this.

Finally, the hustings period for applicants to the PLEXUS committee will be ending soon, and I think my chances of gaining a position are pretty good. If I’m honest, I feel a little out of my depth but I am hoping that is just my normal anxiety messing with me. Either way, it should be interesting to see what happens.

Now back to studying with me!

Study J(OU)rnal

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I feel like I only just wrote one of these, but I’ve checked and it really has been one whole entire week since the last post…and what a miserable week it’s been.

This week’s studying was dedicated almost exclusively to mathematics. Now, I quite like a bit of maths. Nothing too intense, but sort of GCSE level maths, I dig it. I like order, and rules and things that make sense. So a week’s worth of maths lessons isn’t something that should inherently upset me. However.

As you may, or indeed may not, know, I am currently studying an Access to Sciences course. If you don’t know what that means, it’s a course designed to help people who haven’t studied in a long while to prepare for study at the university level. Which means getting back to basics. Which means that this week, I learned how to use a number line. 

Something else you might not know about me. I used to be a teaching assistant in a primary school, and I took maths for my A-Levels. I used to teach number lines to kids aged 5-11. I won’t lie, it was a little humiliating, I am trying to be charitable and remind myself that some peoples maths skills are not as sharp as mine, but it leads me to one of two conclusions. Either my degree is going to be absolutely child’s play when it comes to maths OR the poor folks who are just now learning about number lines now are going to be absolutely slaughtered when the course kicks in proper.

On a more positive note, I’m still enjoying learning biology, and I have been looking up the requirements for the Open University’s biology courses, just in case I feel like switching from computers. I’m feeling a real desperate need to learn everything there is to know about sharks, and a biology degree might let me do so.

Finally, my biggest competition for the trans officer position on the PLEXUS society (The OU’s LGBTQIA+ group) has withdrawn as a candidate, so my odds went up! Fingers crossed.

Study J(OU)rnal, Week 4, Year 1

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This week has been plain sailing, and hugely productive.

I am managing to maintain my good study habits, which frankly amazes me. Usually I start with good intentions then get bored quickly and give up, so it’s been a pleasant surprise. I’ve even managed to split my studying up into manageable chunks, rather than doing it all in one go, or working until I can’t stand looking at it any more. This is a massive improvement.

My important uni supplies turned up today – all the things I need to help me get round my disability needs. I haven’t the foggiest idea how to use almost any of it, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out. I’m supposed to get some 1-to-1 training to use the specialist equipment and software, which frankly scares the heck out of me! Also my laptop now looks super swanky since I got it all set up and plastered it with cute stickers:

Needless to say I’ve removed approximately 400% of the resale value, but I wasn’t planning on selling it (I really need it) so who cares. It’s pretty and I love it. Also, please take special notice of the big Jodie Whittaker 13th Doctor sticker. Take even further notice if you are one of those people who hates 13 just because she’s a woman now. Take a good look at it and understand you are wrong.

Finally, I completed and submitted my first assignment this week. Compared to the assignments I’ve gotten used to working on, it was unimaginably easy (now watch as I get terrible marks), but it felt good to work on something like that again.

Study J(OU)rnal, Week 3, Year 1

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This has been a good week for study. I’ve been keeping on top of my workload, even though it’s half term and my sisters are at home, and I’ve been studying more effectively too. I’m actually writing down my answers to questions I’m asked, I’m highlighting as I go so I have something like notes, and I’ve even started on my first assignment. I’m definitely getting much better at the study skills side of things compared to during my last degree.

I have also had some nice evidence that my new study skills are helping the material sink in. I am the first to admit that I know less than nothing about gardening. My granny, by contrast, knows a whole lot, and keeps a very tidy and pretty garden. But somehow I was able to explain to her some of the basic scientific principles of compost and compost heaps, as a result of studying it as part of this module. Needless to say the random knowledge impressed and amazed my family, and I was incredibly pleased to see facts sinking in, despite not being part of my preferred topics!

Finally, the OU LGBT society have re-advertised three of the committee positions for self-nominations. I know at least one person who has put in for the trans officer post, and since I’d rather do any role with the LGBT society, even if it’s not my preferred role, than I would to lose the chance to do anything I am now going to be putting my name up for some of the other positions just in case.

Bring on week 4.

Study J(OU)rnal, Week 2, Year 1

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Week 2 is over and oh boy has it been a massive, MASSIVE week.

First off, I’m improving my method of study. As I said last time, I was a bit slapdash with study, particularly with notes. I’ve since figured out how to make notes electronically (which you would think I would have thought about at some stage during the last 7 years) and I will be trying to make notes digitally instead of on paper. It might help, or it might be terrible, I won’t know until I try. I’m also keeping on top of my studying comfortably, which is good. As an added bonus, I got my study area up and running and it looks like this:

If only the computer worked properly it would be almost perfect.

These are all big things for me. It’s a level of organisation I haven’t bothered to utilise before.

I’ve also made a decision. An Access Course is, not surprisingly, pretty easy going for me, since I’ve already recently completed a degree. I’m already used to university level study so I have a big advantage compared to many of my classmates. I had a big wobble during study time the other day because the questions I was asked to complete were so painfully simple compared to what I’m used to that it made me sad. But I fought off the anxiety and reevaluated my focus. I’m going to try and pick up new study skills from this course if I can, but mainly I’m going to be trying to absorb as much of the different STEM disciplines as I can. The first course from my last degree scared me, because I didn’t like “the Arts”, I just wanted to do history as I mentioned in my first journal post (Study J(OU)rnal, Prep Week, Year 1). But I didn’t like the history course, so I fell back on things I had (surprisingly) enjoyed studying during the the first course. So I’m doing the same here. I’m going to keep my mind open to all the disciplines in case I find something I think is more interesting than computers!

Finally, an opportunity fell in my lap this week. I have been wanting to take part in the non-academic side of university life for some time, and this week an email was sent out to all members of PLEXUS, the Open University’s LGTBQIA+ society, about elections for committee members. So I’ve self-nominated for the position of Trans Officer. It’s a scary thing to do, and I’m very proud of myself for putting myself out there, even if I don’t get the spot. But still, fingers crossed.

Bring on Week 3!