Friday, 10 August 2012

A363 end-of-course feedback (Or, "Mr Angry Goes to Town")

Today I took advantage of the opportunity to give feedback on A363, using an online questionnaire. Highlights from my responses are below. Apologies for typos, etc. I was "typing angry", lol.

  • [33] The guidance in the Assignment Booklet seemed to have been written to test us more than guide us. The advice for TMA 03 referenced at least two other sources of advice, one of which used terms not sufficiently explained - least of all in the main course book. I spent an entire day simply collating the scattered bits of advice and fragmented TMA requirements, and trying to draw a single coherent assignment from it. It was hard work, but I did it in the end. I firmly believe that it was this, plus a ruthlessly tactical approach to my choice of discussion material, which earned me a score higher than most of those I talked to. Seems a bit wrong to me.

  • [39] Three of the six TMAs were returned to us significantly later than the expected two-week deadline. In the case of TMA 06, this directly and adversely affected my own EMA performance (and that of MANY of my peers) because we were supposed to use TMA 06 tutor feedback to guide us. We plan to write to the appropriate PVC about this.

  • [49] The only significant benefit I had from this course was peer support. That aside, I could have taken the course fee, spent half of it on a short holiday, spent half the remainder on booze, then spent half of what was left on creative writing books from Amazon, and been in a better position to develop my skills. I'd have beer money too. (In fact, I have said this many times to peers and to prospective enrolees. I have even created a "List" on Amazon which I refer potential A363 victims to.) The inadequacy of this course was quite staggering.

  • [Forgot to record question number - was to do with what I'd like to have seen I think.] More nitty-gritty creative writing technique, and less airy-fairy useless stuff. If you must try to take it to a higher plane, refer more to Campbell's mythic structure and material of similar repute.

  • [60] The module has failed to contribute to the achievement of my overall study goals.  Although I tried to link A363 and A215 to the E25 Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing a long time ago, I have not been awarded that diploma. Apparently the OU has decided not to issue this diploma any more. It would be irritating enough to do the exact same work as my predecessors and not be awarded the same diploma, but some of my own A363 cohort HAVE been awarded the diploma this past week! When I checked my qualification planner I found that A215 has been removed. The official statement of progress states that the (only) reason I do not have the diploma is lack of points. The official statement does not mention the award being defunct. Be assured that well over 100 other students are currently discussing this issue on Facebook and we all expect the OU to do the right thing. This is just the latest in a series of spectacular screw-ups, starting with absentee tutors, and including inexcusably and disastrously late returns of TMAs. I feel a letter to the national press coming on.

  • Sadly, the threatened letters to a Pro Vice-Chancellor and national newspaper were never written. Once again, the OU got away with very shoddy service because of what I call TFFT Syndrome. Students are so relieved to see the back of a course that their resolve to make a fuss about its quality wanes. We should have complained, but didn't. Shame on us.