Student hub live is a series of live events carried out from the Milton Keynes campus that you can watch or take part in live or can catch up on later. The sessions are run by experienced (if slightly mad) lecturers and staff aimed at helping you feel more part of the community. 

So if you want to find out about different modules or different ways of approaching your study. 

Or if you want to find out more about study skills and developing your own practice, this is the place to go.

And you might even bump into me on one of the sessions. (Not sure if that encourages you or put you off?)

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Rob Moore

Writing a balanced TMA

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Edited by Rob Moore, Monday, 16 Sep 2019, 12:15

Often tutors are asked how to create a TMA that will score high marks. 

We always tell students to plan their TMA before they write it, but often the way the plan is turned into the TMA leads to a poorly balanced assignment that misses key points.

Here is some advice to help with this:

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Judith McLean, Tuesday, 17 Sep 2019, 16:18)
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Rob Moore

Critical Reflection

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 So many models that you can use to help you reflect critically. The one that I like particularly is commonly referred to as the “what-so what-now what“ model.

 Have a look at this open learn page for a little bit more on this model:

A key thing is that it combines your experience with your reflections on that experience and what you have learned from the experience. 

 In looking through some of the material on this I came across the following YouTube video which sums is this all up very nicely. 

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Rob Moore

OU TMA Report Structure

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Edited by Rob Moore, Tuesday, 27 Aug 2019, 13:11
Tutors are often asked the best way to structure a report for an assignment. Often we are asked to share good examples of assignments from other students. Whilst we are not allowed to do this one thing that I have done is produced a short report in the style of an assignment looking at what makes a good TMA structure.

The following video talks through the document that is also attached here.

The video includes subtitles if required.

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Rob Moore

Exam Technique

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We all have our own approaches to exams, here are the ideas I personally use:

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Rob Moore

Revising for an exam

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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.

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Rob Moore

New blog post

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Edited by Rob Moore, Monday, 18 Feb 2019, 09:05

Using Office 365 Documents

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:

This Blog is about what to do when you get there.

First log into office at (you might need to sign out of any work account for Office 365 at this point)

Welcome to Office

Sign in using your OU Email address ( for students and for staff) and your usual OU Password.

OU Office sign in view

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.

View of others editing document

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.

Powerpoint users online image 

In WORD you see the individuals name and flag at the point the cursor is resting at in the document.

Users editing in word

In Excel, you can see the cell or cells the other individuals have clicked on.

Users in Excel

Working Offline

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.

View of version history

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.

List of viewers

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.

Man angry at computer

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.

Next Steps

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.



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Rob Moore

Cycles of Inquiry

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Edited by Rob Moore, Monday, 13 May 2019, 07:53

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.

Cycles of Inquiry model 

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.

What happened?

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.



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Rob Moore

Critical Argument

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Edited by Rob Moore, Saturday, 5 Oct 2019, 13:53

In your studies you are often asked to develop an argument or a critical argument, but what do we mean by that?

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 students 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.

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Rob Moore

OU Students and Office 365

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Edited by Rob Moore, Monday, 18 Feb 2019, 08:41

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:  

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:

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 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

Your sign in details will be

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 email address

Your academic email address will also be [your OUCU] 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.


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Rob Moore

How good is your Referencing?

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Edited by Rob Moore, Wednesday, 30 Jan 2019, 11:01

If you are struggling with referencing, why don't you go to the OU site on developing academic practice and read the section on referencing? 

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.


Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Nzinga Orgill, Saturday, 27 Jul 2019, 14:25)
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