Thursday, 29 July 2010

Week 24 and really struggling

I think I've reached a bit of a low point with H800. Throughout most of the course since February I have managed to maintain a high level of enthusiasm, even when I've found the workload very high and had particularly busy periods at work. Over the past week or two however, I've noticed a significant drop in my enthusiasm and I'm finding it difficult to motivate myself to devote time to H800.

It's possibly something to do with being really busy at work, despite the fact that that it's the end of the academic year. Normally around the end of July things ease off considerably and one's mind inevitably starts to turn to holidays, reflecting on the year past and thinking about how things could be better next year. Whilst most of my colleagues at work definitely seem to be in wind-down mode, I've been involved in trying to recruit some new academic staff to replace colleagues retiring or moving on. It's been incredibly time-consuming and extremely frustrating, and despite making several offers we still have not filled all vacancies. Consequently, all the things I normally do at this time of year haven't been done, and I seem to have even less time than normal to devote to H800.

Added to this though, I have to admit to finding the content of course at the moment rather tedious. I have always endeavoured to approach the activities in H800 with an open mind, even when I haven't found the subject matter particularly interesting. Currently, try as I might, I just can't get interested in the material. I'm starting to think that the core content of H800 could really have been covered in a shorter period than 32 weeks, and that we are now just stretching the material out unneccessarily.

I'm also very conscious of the fact that I haven't yet done any work at all on TMA04, which is due to be submitted in a little over two weeks' time. Reluctantly therefore, I think I'm going to have to become a 'strategic learner' (Remember Richardson (2005) – Week 12) and focus on the assessed work. I will look at the course material, but I don't think I will be contributing much to the forum unless something really interesting comes up.


  1. Hi Tony, I expect quite a few of our colleagues on the course have similar issues at the moment. It makes me wonder whether things could be any different...for example, if we had made more active efforts to collaborate would that reduce the workload or merely increase the number of forum postings to be read?
    Hope you get some chances to relax!

  2. I identified this low (yours, mine and others, I think) as being associated with week 23, having to re-read points we'd already covered in, it must be said, less high quality papers with unrealistic or uninteresting tasks.
    I made a start on week 24 today thinking, oh, I'll try and rush it through in the next couple of days and actually found the first reading really interesting - but time, TMA4 and the tedium of writing solitary forum posts may get the better of me.
    I wonder

  3. Meant to say 'I wonder if John's right'. Answer 'Yes'. Join him in wishing you some relaxation time!

  4. Hi Tony,

    You're definitely not alone in this. I too have had a lot on my plate - juggling family commitments, work, marking GCSEs and two OU courses that both require ECAs in September. At the moment my strategy is one of limited fora contributions but rather to focus on TMA04. If it's any consolation, you do know that if you've passed TMA01 and TMA02 (which no doubt you have)the course calculator will indicate a pass for the Overall Continuous Assessment regardless of what you score in TMA04 (I mentioned this in a recent fora post); hopefully this will reduce some of the 'heat'. I know we all want to do well in all the assignments and TMA04 is no different but it does help to check the course calculator and know that since you already pass the overall continuous assessment criteria, you could try to ease up a bit. Anyway, I wish you the very best but do know you're definitely not alone! Kind Regards,

  5. Thanks for your comments, everyone. It is reassuring to know I'm not alone. I do think John has a point about earlier collaboration, but I guess that requires someone to take the initiative earlier. A lesson learnt perhaps, and one which I'll bear in mind in future. I've signed up for H807 which starts in February 2011. I thought about H808 (beginning in September) but couldn't face the prospect of going straight into another course without a break.

    With regard to the assessment on this course, I was aware of Leonie's point about being able to pass continuous assessment without doing TMA04, but I'm going to to do it anyway. I have to say though, that the mark bands for pass (40) or distinction (85) don't exactly provide much incentive for putting in extra effort. Surely there should be some intermediate class (e.g. merit). I got a distinction mark for TMA01, but just missed it for TMA02, so the mark I would need for TMA04 to get an overall distinction is so high that it is almost impossible. I'm not that bothered about marks, but there seems very little incentive to do anything more than than the bare minimum.

  6. Yes, that's exactly the position that I'm in - bust a gut in the hope of an overall distinction, and feel like rubbish if I don't get it, or not really bother and pass anyway. I'm wondering whether just to concentrate all my efforts on the ECA, where I'm doing something that feeds directly into a professional opportunity - however can't quite shake off that 'schoolgirl' desire to get top marks.

  7. Hi Tony and all,

    The discussion really got going whilst I was away in Germany and Russia and am now in Belarus enjoying the summer sunshine and good weather. I think that it’s almost inevitable that we have a dip in both levels of enthusiasm/ levels of activity in the conferences (I’m not saying that they are correlated, but they might well be) towards Weeks of 23 and 24, which I sort of had known all along, but couldn’t tell you. Now I can though )

    If you feel like you have less time to post and feel that you’re tired of the routine of posting into conference threads you might simply have a look at the requirements both TMA 04 and the ECA and plan your work accordingly. There’s no requirements for collaboration or communication with other students at this stage, so feel free to contact me by e-mail if you area away for significant periods of time in the next few weeks or would like to ask about something or share your concerns.

    As Leonie pointed out, it might also make sense to check the assessment calculator and see whether you have already fulfilled the requirements for passing the continuous assessment component of the course without writing TMA 04. However, if you’re up for distinction then obviously doing the assignment would be necessary.

    In other words, there’s nothing wrong with being strategic in your approach to studying H800 at this point, so I’d encourage you to keep going for just the next couple of weeks posting to conferences when you can and focusing on developing an individual plan of work with the ECA in mind. The ECA project usually proves to be enjoyable and people get out quite a lot out of the experience, which I’m sure students in our tutorial group will also do.

    Best, Ruslan

  8. hi tony - I can confirm what others have said, that what you're feeling is pretty common at about this point in the course, so you're not alone. I've only just started looking at tma04 (after a few relaxing days away at a music festival - its quite good to switch off if you can) and obviously there's no shame in dropping course work to concentrate on the assignment at this point.

    I suspect your disengagement with the course content is a function of anxiety about the tma etc - its hard to be intellectually engaged when you're feeling overwhelmed! this is my fourth MAODE course and I think the content is the most interesting yet - and actually am finding block 3 the most interesting of all.

    So keep going, focus on the assessed things, but don't do it all on your own. Keep dipping in to #H800 twitter feed and the h800 tags on Delicious and you'll get by with help from your friends..

    best, john

  9. Hi Tony!
    An extremely late post, but I wanted to say that I really understand you, you are not alone at all. I feel exactly the same as I´ve miss too many weeks (too many things: the end of the academic year, and mainly the fact that I had to pack since I left Ireland after four time and a lot of stress) Now I´m back in Sapin although I cannot find most of my things... Anyway, that is the way it is, so just breath and work, trying to do my best.
    I want to do the same course as you, so it will be great if we meet!!!!
    Hope everything is OK.