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Educating Verity the OU way

'The skin of my C++ custard remained unruffled'

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The exam

OU exams are the proper deal: three hours on a hard chair at a wonky desk in a big hall with lots of other sufferers and a Rosa Klebb up at the front, invigilating firmly. At one point, there was a craze for having one's mobile phone go off halfway through, but these days Rosa seems to have got a grip: miscreants know they can expect two or three swift kicks in the shin with the poisoned spikes concealed in the toecaps of her sensible shoes.

Note that there is a ban on mobile phones at your desk, so you won't be able to use your smartphone as a calculator.

EMPIRICAL HEURISTIC OBSERVATION

Sort out an old-fashioned calculator well before you start out for the exam.

That way you won't do what, ahem, somebody did, and at the last minute accidentally and idiotically grab the online banking passcode generator gadget.

CASE STUDY: Living the exam dream

Someone asked on the module's web discussion board, about 24 hours before the off: "We are allowed to take in the course textbooks, aren't we?"

Thus he got to experience in real life what has been my "favourite" anxiety-induced nightmare for 30 years. Except I guess he probably chose to wear his clothes for the ordeal.

One thing that has changed since the exams of my youth: everybody (except me) now solemnly brings in a plastic bottle of water and places it on his or her desk. Why? An examination is not an arid desert that must be crossed. You don't get thirsty in three hours – not if you are concentrating on the matter in hand, you don't. Wimps.

CASE STUDY: Picnic

The girl at the desk next to me in the last exam brought in a complete picnic:

  • bottle isotonic Lucozade as no longer aids recovery;
  • bottle mineral water in case the Lucozade ran out;
  • Marks & Sparks luxury fruit salad with watermelon;
  • huge American-style chocolate muffin; and
  • bag of sweeties.

I looked up at the end, and she had scoffed the lot.

Remember the fuss they made when Rebecca Upton smuggled a packet of Spangles into A-level Geography? I begin to understand how society has gone to the dogs.

M865 course reviewM865 Project Management Graphic

Learning outcome

Although some courses come with graduation ceremonies and opportunities to be photographed looking a prat in a mortar board and gown, I believe this not to be the case with a PGDip, and regard this as an advantage of the qualification.

SAQ

What is the main practical use of a photo of someone dressed in mortar board and gown?

The BBC prefers this format when selecting photos of murder victims shown on TV news bulletins and  Crimewatch UK.

But despite all the homework traumas and exam panics, I really did enjoy the experience, and would recommend it.

Which is decent of me, actually. Got an e from the OU while I was finishing this article. I eagerly clicked it open, expecting congratulations on my glorious completion of all the necessary modules. But no. It was a message from the results-awarding computer, quite wrongly telling me that I was out of time to finish my registered course, so I could sod off, see if it cared.

Yup, these are definitely the boys to go to if you want to learn how to make great software... ®

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