Here are a few tips from me on how you might structure your revision.
I am convinced that the best way of revising is to approach the course ideas in as many ways as possible. This convinces your brain that the idea is important and helps it retain the information in your long term memory.
Benefits of Office 365
Distance learning is a fantastic way to study, it is flexible and adaptable, but it can sometimes be lonely, and you might feel isolated. Working with other students in the same position and with a range of views and ideas is a great way to beat this and at the same time develop specific digital skills in remote team working.
To help with this the OU has provided all students with a Microsoft Office 365 account (education edition) and access to the secure system where documents can be shared without sharing personal information (you only use your name and given OU Email address).
You do not need to request the Office 365 account, it is already there. It is activated by you resetting your main OU password on Student Home.
For details on how to access Office 365 for the first time have a look at my other Blog at: https://learn1.open.ac.uk/mod/oublog/viewpost.php?post=217339
This Blog is about what to do when you get there.
First log into office at www.office.com/portal (you might need to sign out of any work account for Office 365 at this point)
Then you get access to the Apps:
Once signed in you can access upload items to your online storage, start new documents or use any links you are sent by way of invites or message forums.
Using Documents Simultaneously
First let me emphasise patience. The documents are being saved in real time and multiple people adding items, particularly images. to the documents uses processing power. Don’t get ‘click happy’ allow time for your changes to appear, there is a slight lag when multiple people are working together.
When you are in the document you will be able to see if anyone else is also reading or editing the document at the same time.
Because you are logged into the OU Office 365 the system recognises you but only uses your OU Email address, no other personal information.
At the top of the screen you get a notification of whether or not other people are working on the document, you can click on the drop down menu to see a list.
Each of the office programmes shows multiple users in different ways appropriate to the programme.
Here are examples of what this looks like in the three main programs.
You can see which slides other people are on by the little coloured flag icon, hovering over the flag gives you the person’s name as registered with their account. You also see he flag shown on the specific element on the slide the person is working on.
In WORD you see the individuals name and flag at the point the cursor is resting at in the document.
In Excel, you can see the cell or cells the other individuals have clicked on.
The online versions of the programmes are really useful, but are slightly limited in functionality and you cannot do everything in the online version of the programmes that you can do in the desktop versions (by the way your OU Office 365 account lets you download the desktop versions of the software to use offline as well).
The shared documents give you the option to edit them in the offline (desktop) versions of the programmes. This is useful if you want to use the more advanced features. There is an ‘autosave’ feature which automatically saves your edits to the shared version. However this should be only used sparingly.
Multiple people editing the same document offline simultaneously can have strange results and other users can be locked out of the document during editing.
If you created the file or have access to the folder the file sits in, then you can easily see who has read it and who has edited it.
Select the file and click ‘Version History’ this tells you who has edited the document and when. You can also download a previous version of the document.
Similarly you can select the file and hover the mouse over the document to see how many times it has been read and the viewers names.
A word of caution
When working with colleagues in a face to face session, you can discuss changes and alterations to your groups’ outputs. It very rarely leads to major arguments because you are present and able to see what is happening.
When working on shared documents remotely you do not get the same level of instant feedback and understanding of the situation. This can lead to individuals feeling annoyed or excluded.
We definitely want you to develop and modify one another’s work but to do it in a way in which you are considering the reaction of your colleagues.
Do they know what you have changed and why, or have they just seen two hours of their work deleted with no explanation? Communication is key, live classroom sessions work well alongside this where you can discuss the alterations or perhaps a message with a summary of the changes made and why.
Conversely, if someone has altered your contribution and you are not sure why, don’t immediately become defensive. Find out the reasons for the change and discuss it. You will not always find you agree but agreeing to disagree is better than taking offence.
All you need now is something to say and a group to say it with.
If you wanted to try a shared document then here is a link to a PowerPoint I created for you to play with. It is available only to members of the OU (staff or students) there are lots of places in the presentation where you can comment or add something to the presentation.
Go ahead, have a go.
In many courses with the Open University you are asked to understate some sort of project or investigation. Many of these have something called a “cycle of inquiry” which is basically the process you go through in order to get something.
Students often come back to me and ask me how to discuss cycles of inquiry. This blog is essentially the advice I have been giving for the last seven years on how to explain and describe these cycles. This is my own personal model that I have shared with my students and if you want to use this approach then please cite this blog as your source.
What is a cycle of inquiry?
First of all a cycle of inquiry is a definite pro-active action that you initiate. It is not just you reacting to something. You may well need to react to something that happened but your reaction should lead to you taking some deliberate action. So any event might lead to a cycle of inquiry but your immediate reaction to an event is not necessarily a cycle of inquiry.
Second, a cycle of inquiry should always be undertaken to get something. That “something” could be tangible such as resources or money or labour. Or it could be something less tangible such as inspiration or confirmation or permission. The point is that any cycle of inquiry must have some sort of an outcome that you can measure.
Third, a cycle of inquiry should not be too big. “Build a new hospital” is not a cycle of inquiry. It is a project. Projects tend to be made up of lots and lots of cycles of inquiry.
In this example, suitable cycles of inquiry would be to “find out how many people live in the area” and “identify how many hospitals already exist in the area”.
Describing cycles of inquiry in a TMA.
When describing a cycle of inquiry it is quite possible that you can describe it without using any theory at all and without providing any substantive evidence. This is fine for a general conversation but if you are describing a cycle of inquiry for an assignment then you must include both theory and evidence. If your chosen cycle of inquiry does not include both of these things or is very limited then choose another cycle to describe.
Key questions to ask as part of a cycle of inquiry
What is it you need?
The answer to this question should indicate why the thing you need is important to the initiative or project you were talking about. There should be some evidence here and some discussion on how you expect this thing to change your situation.
How do you plan to get it?
When answering this question, you should consider any theories you have used or are using in the cycle of inquiry. There might be some stakeholder analysis also power theories as you identify the people to engage with. There might be theories on communication or maybe you’re using some creative problem-solving techniques. This is where you get the theory into your answer and possibly some application as well.
This question let you provide some evidence to show what happened when you carried out the cycle of inquiry.
What did you learn from this?
Here we want you to think about how it went. Did everything work as you expected it to? If not why not? Did you get the results you expected? If not why not?
What difference has it made?
If everything went as you expected it to then the answer to this question is “take the next step” however it is rarely that simple. Often things happen you didn’t expect and things have changed as a result of your cycle of inquiry. It might be that the cycle failed and you need to try again so what has changed is your understanding of what works. Every real cycle of inquiry will ultimately make a difference of some sort.
What will you do as a result of it?
So what are your next steps? It might be you have to repeat the cycle of inquiry with different people with a different approach or maybe you’re going onto the next stage or maybe you’ve gone in a different direction so what are you going to do now that you’ve completed this cycle of inquiry. There is always something else to do, even if it is just “celebrate success.
The first thing we want is a clear statement of what it is you are arguing. What is it you are going to demonstrate or prove in the discussion.
Then we want you to prove it using examples and applied concepts as evidence. This is not just presenting the evidence or models, it is much more. It is an explanation of how the models and evidence support the point or the argument you are making. With critical argument we are looking for you to also discuss evidence that might contradict your point and explain why you still feel your point is valid. You may even include some discussion on the weaknesses of the concepts you are using.
In short, we want you to clearly state your argument and then show what that is based on.
Too often student just give the tutor some well applied models and concepts but the tutor has no idea what point they are making or how the concepts link to them.
Tutors can usually guess what the link is, but we can only give marks for what you tell us, so if you don’t explicitly state it, you won’t get marks for it.
Do I need Office 365?
Some OU documents and streamed content from tutors is stored on the OU Shared drive. This is only accessible to active OU users. In order to access some documents or recordings you will need an active OU Office 365 account.
This blog explains the process:
FIRST: The Help Centre advice is really good, you will find it at: https://help.open.ac.uk/microsoft-office-365
Microsoft Office 365 is optional and freely available for current registered students for the duration of their studies. The account is already set up whether or not you have used it.
Your account will include:
- Access to Microsoft Office 365 for two years after you finish studying.
- An academic email address (.ac.uk) which can be used to access many student discounts.
- The Office suite to download and install on up to five PCs or Macs.
- Office online i.e. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote.
- Outlook mail including calendar, people and tasks.
- Learning Tools: free tools that use proven techniques to help improve reading and writing skills for everyone, regardless of age and ability.
- OneDrive with 1TB of online storage.
- Sway: a story-telling app for displaying information.
- Delve: discover and organise your information across Office 365.
Already have Office 365?
If you already have Office 365 from a personal or work account then you will have to sign out and sign in with your OU account since access is limited to member of the OU community. We are using the OU Sharepoint which prevents access from outside the OU community. To sign out simply type www.office.com into your browser, right click on your profile icon (top right) and choose 'sign out'.
How to get Office 365 from the OU
You have been allocated an account, even if you have never requested one. The account is activated by you resetting your password on the Welcome Screen on student home.
You may have received an email prompting you to change your password to be able to access Office 365. Once you've changed your password, you'll need to wait for up to 24 hours for your access to be set up.
NB. When you change your password you should do it from within student home.
Log in and click PROFILE at the top and then in SETTINGS you will see the option to change your password. Responding to the prompt on the log in page does not appear to allways activate the account.
If you haven’t received an email from the OU or can't find it, to get access to Office 365 you’ll need to sign in at portal.office.com.
Your sign in details will be
- [your OUCU]@ou.ac.uk - your OUCU is your OU computer username that you’re given when you first registered with us, e.g. email@example.com It is NOT your PI number.
- Your password will be the password you use to sign in to The Open University.
If you've forgotten your OUCU, you'll find it on your profile page in Contact details.
If you're still having trouble signing in to Office 365, contact the Computing Helpdesk.
It can take 24 hours for the account to be activated.
Your ac.uk email address
Your academic email address will also be [your OUCU]@ou.ac.uk. You’ll need to use this email address to sign up for student discounts. To view any emails you’ve used this email address for, you’ll need to sign in to Office 365.
The OU sends emails to your preferred email address. You can check what this is by visiting your profile page in StudentHome. You should check your preferred email mailbox at least a couple of times a week for important communications we may send you.
TIP! You might wish to keep study emails and personal emails separate, in which case you could use Outlook in Office 365 (already set up with your OU email address) and then change your preferred email on your profile page. You can always add this account to your usual email programme, but you never have to give out your personal email.
You could try the Introductory Quiz
Or even the advanced quiz.
You can always work through the practical examples in my presentation on this link:
Let's see how you get on.
This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.