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Sarah’s T175 Newsletter – Week 8, 27th March

Another week, another newsletter! We’re now into week 8 and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the past weeks’ study. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a newsletter out to you last week… as I said about marking your assignments, I was ill for a lot longer than I anticipated and it threw everything off track somewhat – and I hope that the slight delay in the return of your work didn’t cause you too many concerns. What I’d like to do in this Newsletter is just to highlight some general feedback for the assignment and then to start looking forward again.

Overall, I was really impressed with everyone’s assignments. It was great to see the note taking handled so well by so many and there was a really strong understanding demonstrated of the topics we covered during Block 1. Some issues kept on recurring and I’ll quickly run through these.

1. Spelling and grammar. It can seems like a minor thing when you’ve managed to convey the essence of a topic, but if the person reading your work finds errors in spelling, punctuation etc then this diminishes the quality of your academic writing – no matter the quality of the content. Watch out for tiny typos. Keep an eye on errant apostrophes and if it helps, get someone else to proofread your work as not all errors will be picked up by the spellchecker.

2. Proofreading. Well, this one is related to the one above really. However, there were a few moments in several people’s assignments where it took me a few reads to try to make sense of what I was reading. I’m 99.9% certain that these errors would get picked up through effective proofreading – either by you or a third party. If I can impress anything on you in this Newsletter it’s this. Check your work… and then check it *again* before you send it in. I know time can be very short when it comes to assignment preparation but that final check though makes a world of difference – not just here, but in any type of written communication. You might like to work through http://www.open.ac.uk/skillsforstudy/activities/english/confusable_words.htm and the ‘test yourself’ activities on that page – and elsewhere on that site as it just gets you thinking about your own writing a little.

3. Note-taking style – generally this was absolutely fine, but it crept into several people’s work and this is the problem of slipping out of note-taking mode and falling into writing full sentences. Notes are notes – they’re prompts to remember what you read, to highlight key points and to give an overall sense of an article. As soon as they start replicating the article itself, they’re no longer notes – so do be careful!

4. Word counts. At this early stage of the course, no deduction is made for exceeding the word limits… but this will happen so take care where they’re concerned as they can cost you marks unnecessarily. I think the most (not of this batch) I’ve ever had any anyone exceed the word count was someone who went over by 1000%! Please don’t try to break that record! Writing concisely is a bit of an art form, but it really makes a difference and helps to eliminate waffle / material which isn’t fully focused on addressing the question. So, do highlight the word counts as you go and make sure that you’re not way under them or way over and all should be well!

As you can see – the above aren’t points about the content of what you were writing. People’s technical knowledge was generally of a solid standard… but the mistakes above kept on creeping in and I think it’s useful for all of us to stop and think about our writing style from time to time, as I’m no better than anyone else where this is concerned – and I find that useful for me too!

Studywise this week we’re still looking at ‘People to People’ in Block 2. From databases to Voice over IP and viruses / malware – there’s things I think you’ll find interesting on both an academic level and a personal level, so I hope you enjoy it! The web 2.0 materials look really good and if you want to explore some of those services, then let us know in the tutor group which ones you’ll be looking at and what you think of them! For example, I use Flickr a lot (I also work on T189, the Digital Photography course so it’s an interest of mine – you can see what I’ve shared at http://www.flickr.com/photos/horrigans if you like) – and it would be nice for us to bring together a few examples of our use of these services in our online tutor group forum!

After that – it’s Easter! So, I’m sure a few of you are going away / taking time out from study – and I hope that you have a lovely break no matter how long or short before that next hurdle, the CMA, starts to loom! These last couple of months have whizzed by and I’ve really enjoyed working with you.


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