Kafula (Student): My tutor was obviously interested in me doing well. She was available for me. I would go back and ask questions and ask clarifications for things that I was, you know, not sure about and she would give me examples and make comments that would help me to understand the difficulties that I was experiencing. In Zambia, it was very different. I think, you know, there was very little in terms of support. You were given a piece of work and you had to go and find out yourself the meaning. You had to use your own resources - ask friends, family or just find ways of finding answers and present that.
Anna (Student): The tutors always were encouraging, even when they marked some a bit lower than I might have expected. There was always encouraging words at the end and before that they explained what was wrong so I could improve that in next essay and progress from there.
Kafula (Student): You didn't feel embarrassed about not knowing things because then the tutor would give you comments at the level that you are, to help you understand.
Anna (Student): At first, I was really afraid to ask for help but a friend who is actually OU tutor was saying that he's not always happy with his students because they don't ask him for anything and he's there to help them so then, you know, first time, second time when I had a problem, I did call or ask on the tutorial for help.
Mongrou (Student): I think it's quite nice if you can get in touch with some of the student because you can always go to them.
When I have question that I found it difficult to understand or specially some of the jargon word, I often send it, send an email to them and ask them for explanation or to see if they can help me in one way or another. They try to find out, try to find the answer for you, try to help you in any way that they can.
Alexa (Student): During the last course I did at the Open University which was Exploring the English Language I connected with a fellow student who was Scottish. We called each other a lot.
I was getting quite a lot out of it, when it comes to vocabulary, when it comes to syntax, you know, English sentence-making. Towards the preparation of the exam, we actually revised together and that was really, really helpful.
Kafula (Student): I worked with a friend of mine who's from Zimbabwe, who was doing the same course as I was, experiencing the same problems with language and explanations to the new words that we were facing in our course.
He had a better understanding of the questions and you know, so he helped me to understand the context or the meaning of the question and I think I was much better in structuring the essays, so we fed off each other, so whereas he helped me understand the question, I helped him putting his essay together.
Anna (Student): Other students were helpful in the way that they expressed their ideas in the tutorials. Sometimes you don't know much about the subjects, for example in the first course there was a part which involved 60s and writing an essay about the 60s. I wasn't even born then, so getting the older students to talk about their experiences you could put that in the essay and enrich your work so that was helpful.
Agron (Student): The more interaction you have, the more confident you are at the end of it in answering your questions and you can also see that in tutor group forums which are part of the OU webpage where, you know, people write to each other. It's been a help to me, so I guess it's been a help to other people as well.
Aneta (Student): There is a group dedicated to ‘Exploring Psychology’ course on the Facebook. The brilliant part about it is that everyone can go there. Everyone can ask any questions regarding the assignment or the exam or anything really they want to talk about regarding the course.
The good thing about it is that, if there are any questions regarding any particular topic, people answering them, they're fellow students so they what they do, they actually reply to you using their own language, the very colloquial language, which is actually extremely helpful because suddenly someone is describing to you something you don't understand in a book, in a way that you will understand.
There are also tutors who actually revealed their their identity and saying
‘Yes, we are tutors we actually represent the OU side of it’. Which is also great because, in a sense, you don't only rely on your own tutor which is assigned to every person, but then you have other tutors' point of view presented there.