A thorough introduction to the platform and tools as a common 16 hours to all modules.
An afternoon, face-to-face tutorial? Through OU Students regionally if not with your tutor. Perhaps through Alumni support groups in Google Hang outs or some such?
This may sound like anathema to the online, distance learning purists, but I wonder if the OU will have to 'turn itself inside out' and have undergrads on campus - not just postgrad doctoral students. As 'traditional' universities offer everything the OU and a handful of other distance learning specialists around the world used to have as 'unique selling points' they will be able to offer it all: e-learning support for resident students, e-learning for distance learners and blended learning for everyone in between.
Turn the Michael Young building into the OU's first Hall of residence.
If I go into academia I will want to teach even if my 'job' is research. I can think of no better way, intellectually, to master (literally) my art and subject than by supporting others. Knowing some star 'educators' in other institutions I wonder if tutors would gain also from greater contact. The weekly tutorial (at a price) is feasible through Google Hangouts.
H809, understandably is a module to take once you have several modules under your belt, however, H809 light, say these first couple of weeks, might be an invaluable, even open and free 'stand alone'. I would have scrutinised more closely, fewer papers had I known what I know now.
These first few weeks has been applied learning - using the OU Library not simply as an exercise. Invaluable.
(p.s. cats were fighting in the street. I got up to survey the aftermath and couldn't get back to sleep. Why not catch up on H809 as a few postings from fellow students suggests I am getting a tad behind this week).
Don't get behind. The 'tick boxes' on the VLE 'ladder' are a blunt instrument. Every exercise deserves a 'tick box' too, though I understand why the OU wouldn't do this - it starts to smack of primary school. It really is the case (like exercise), that a a couple of hours every day is better than trying to do it all at the weekend, or worse, abandoning it for a week/10 days because catching up is a monster. If this happens seriously think about abandoning that week - keep up with everyone else first as learning with them is better than learning alone.
Isolation is a state of mind, or a behavioral issue. The sooner you learn to tip the contents of your mind out on your lap the better. Learning together is a joy.
Make time to get your head into gear in the first few weeks. If you have to give it more time than the course notes suggest put in the extra hours so that you 'get it' otherwise you will struggle all the way through. You can't do much about is as an EMA approaches if you're still asking 'but ?' about weeks 1-3.
There is no need to print anything off! Get an iPad and a Kindle. Get your digital literacy skills up to speed ASAP.
Write it all down. The default button in this OU Blog is private. Use it as a learning journal, portfolio, digital notebook, aide memoire.
Take the initiative. Meet online in week one. Buddy up, agree a time. Nothing beats meeting your fellow travellers. Google Hangouts work. The nuttiest one I remember was a 'Pyjamma party' - all above board and 'propper' but given the time differences some were in bed and woke up for it. I guess it requires the 'hyper gregarious' character in the group to do this.
Don't get distracted:
Most don't blog at all ... it should fit in to the regular programme.
Contribute to student forums always, even use RSS feeds but get used to putting the next activity first otherwise you can expend too much of the week's allocated hours discussing the first couple of activities. Enough is enough. Get the other activities out of the way then come back.