|Arms of the Open University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Year 2 feels very much different to the work the Open University sets in Year 1. Everything that I would loosely term 'hand-holding' has gone from the course, there are no nice glossaries in the back of the work books, we are now expected to be able to notice and define important terminology, the 'how to use' instructions for online libraries and databases have also vanished.
The density of the work also feels very different, I won't say that the work feels harder, just that there seems to be so much more of it. Workbooks for the Year 1 modules tended to have fairly long written sections followed by the occasional written exercise, in Year 2 the books contain two or three short written exercises on almost every page. I know that some people don't do the written exercises, just reading strait on into the 'discussion' section for the answers, but I'm not keen on doing this, I think I am getting more out of the course if I engage with the set tasks.
I have my first TMA (Tutor Marked Assessment) due next week, on the importance of the practical and ritual dimensions in the study of religion. The week after that I have my first OU exam for the module I took this summer, A151 Material Culture. An exam! I have not taken a real essay style exam for about 30 years. I have been steadily revising, and have had a go at a couple of test exam questions provided by the university. I managed to remember themes and concepts when writing these, but couldn't always bring to mind people's names or the dates when things happened. Anyway, I'm not 16 any more so I'm not panicking about it, I'll do as much revision as I can and then what will be will be.
I am also taking a second course with the free university service Coursera. World History Since 1300 is presented by Jeremy Adelman of Princeton University, it might be a big workload doing this alongside A217, but there seems to be plenty of crossover and useful information presented by Adelman that I can work into my main course. The history of the Silk Road, Genghis Khan and the Black Plague has been fascinating.