By Leanne Goodall

Do you stick to the study planner on your module website? I haven’t been looking at mine so much of late and it’s got me wondering why.

Until recently, I’ve always followed the planner studiously. For anyone that hasn’t come across the planner or isn’t an Open University student, it’s an online guide which aims to help you keep on schedule with your course materials. Being based at home and, for the most part away from your fellow students, means that you don’t have the strict routine of daily lectures to follow. The materials are given to you in a range of ways (books, DVDs, online activities etc) and it’s up to you to decide how best to work through them. Of course, it would be unfair of the Open University to just expect people to know how to approach this. Often the materials are daunting and students don’t know how long each activity, DVD or bit of reading will take. That’s where the study planner comes in.

I have always found it really useful to stick to the guide, almost like glue. I’m a ‘list person’ who loves ticking off items on a ‘To-Do list’ so being able to have a set amount of study to achieve in a week and ‘tick’ off as I go has always worked perfectly for me. The planner helps me to feel in control of the workload.  It’s just what works for me.

Recently I realised that I haven’t used the planner for weeks. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice this really. I think this is due, in the main part, to really being at the ‘business end’ of the course. There’s a LOT to do and I never quite get to the end before the next bit has started. So I guess I have just continuously ploughed through.

By not visiting the online study planner for a while, I realised that I could (and almost did) miss out some of the activities. Not necessarily compulsory activities but things that are designed to help nonetheless. I felt bad about this and wondered if I was getting complacent. I decided to carefully go back over the planner and check anything I may have missed. The main thing was the end of module quiz which I then promptly completed. Unfortunately, I found it confusing. I didn’t know the answers to everything straight away and often needed three attempts to get them right. Occasionally questions came up that made me wonder if this quiz was about the same course that I had just studied, it wasn’t going well. Through trial and error I got the answers and at the end I was told that my quiz effort was ‘fantastic’. Rather confusing considering I didn’t know most of it. I wasn’t too worried though as the upcoming exam is nothing like this quiz. I knew that this wasn’t something to worry about too much.

It was then that I realised that the planner is not always helpful. Generally, it’s superb and I would certainly advise people to use it but I guess it’s not the be all and end all of your studies. I think that there is another element as to why I haven’t used it as much lately. I think it’s a sign of confidence. I understand what I need to achieve and how the timetables work. I understand how long things take me (everyone is different) and I’m able to make those choices for myself. I shall still continue to use the study guide and look out for the extras that pop up on there but I’m also pleased that I’ve reached a level where I’m comfortable with how to approach my studies on my own.

So tell me, do you use the planner or have another method for keeping on track? Is it something that students use at the beginning of their degree but use less towards the end? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 Leanne is half way through a BA (Hons) in History with the OU and enjoys writing as a freelancer as well as on her blog. Find out more here. You can catch up on all of Leanne’s excellent contributions on STOU here.

Do you stick to the study planner on your module website? Or do you skip off the beaten track and go your own route? We’d love to hear your thoughts or any TMA tips that you can offer to other students!  Feel free to leave a comment below or a LIKE/TWEET/SHARE across our social media platforms.


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