Welcome to suburbia

I've finally plucked up the courage to set-up an online blog. I'm going to endeavour to blog as often as possible to share my thoughts, to share some articles and news i find interesting, and also use it for my private reflections (you guys won't get to see that!). Also i hope people will read and comment on some of my posts.

The spur for deciding to set-up a blog has been my studies through the Open University. They encourage learning and reflection, and collaborating with others.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

What would i say to the new class?

In June i'll be meeting up with my "Making a Difference" course tutor's new group, really looking forward to sharing my mistakes and also the things that really helped me get through such a challenging course. I'm doing this because i didn't get this opportunity, as the previous group didn't have any volunteers to come speak with us. I think if i had had the benefit of their thoughts the 12 months would've gone a bit smoother.

As my tutor has an online group as well, i've put pen to paper, answering some standard questions that they may ask:

What was/were the best thing(s) you got from B830 ?
reflective practice. Used it with colleagues at work, and have now set it up a business unit best practice. Writing some sort of journal really helped, and has continued post course.

What caused you the greatest challenge(s) ?
Also writing 7,500 words is not easy. i always used to think that because i always went over word limit by 1,000 words that i would find TMA03 easy to write. I didn't, it was hard, but i can be done. The trick is to split parts of the essay up into manageable parts of about 1k words each, then you don't notice how much you've still got to write as you're just trying to fill the current section you're working on.

If you were a new student starting the course, what would be your advice ?
Top tips:
a) it is a 12 month course for a reason, treat it with respect, do plenty of reading around the course material, the earlier the better.
b) I love the harvard business review (always have!), whatever you do find a periodical or a method for sourcing material from outside the course.
c) do TMA02 as soon as you can (i left it late and found it very difficult to add more detail to TMA03), 
d) but don't panic if you get to the residential school and don't have an Evidence Based Initiative
e) you only get 3 day schools, and so if you can set up some discussion forums outside of this it will help your progress. This is essential for the ECA question, sharing ideas in a group is very powerful.

If you doubled up B830 and another course, how did you find it and what would your advice be to a new student on the course ?
During the 12 months of the course i doubled up with Creativity, Innovation and Change, and also Strategic Human Resources management. There were two big clashes in November/December with TMA01 and TMA02 and also finishing MAD TMA03 whilst also completing TMA02 in SHRM. not a lot of free time! Get organised and find pockets of time when you are going to be productive. For me working away from home in hotels every single week gave me that time. I got up at 5am to read or write, and then continued after work. Keep the courses separate if you can; only doing one essay or course book at a time. And remember, the OU doesn't recommend it, but if you are disciplined then it can be done!

May be worth sharing your approach to reflection and learning logs
Very simply every time something interesting happened at work, i wrote a journal entry in my little black book. Once a week i would summarise my thoughts in a weekly entry to the journal. This proved useful in collecting evidence but also driving forward my EBI. I got some really useful insights from thinking about my interactions with stakeholders. 
Now i'm a little bit more tech savvy, i use Twitter to signpost articles or theories that i find when surfing my iPhone, i have a blog for public reflections, and an ejournal (pocket-journal.com) for private ones. This probably works better for me, and if i had invested the time upfront this would've really helped me out during the times courses clashed!

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