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Need to write an assignment or exam paper?

I bought this in 2000 when I was thinking about an OU course. In February 2001 I signed up for the Masters in Open and Distance Education. We used First Class, it was loaded from a disk I think. Using a Mac might have been a problem, I was rarely online to follow the independent, spasmodic asynchronous threads.

Anyway, a decade later I am heading towards the finish line.

2001 wasn’t a good year for many of us … I did the first TMAs but was made redundant a couple of months before the TMA would have been due and had by then decided that doing less for a couple of years rather than more would be a good idea.

Anyway … despite having successfully negotiated two modules and six-eight TMAs and a couple of ECAs I find myself turning to Chapter 10 of the above.

‘Writing essays and assignments’

I love the way the book is laid out. I reads like is was designed to be web friendly with short sentences and paragraphs and bullet points galore.

We may be floating around in cyberspace 12 years on from the last edition of this book (first edition 1970), but is remains relevant, not just for preparing for an ECA, but for writing at all.

I like lines like this,’ After we’ve read, heard and talked about a topic, our minds are awash with ideas, impressions and chunks of information. But we never really get to grips with this experience until we try to write down our own version of it. Making notes is of some help, of course. But there is nothing like the writing of an essay to make us question our ideas, weigh up our impressions, sort out what information is relevant adn what is not – and, above all, come up with a reasoned viewpoint on the topic that we can feel it our own’. (Rowntrree. 1999:170)

  • I will be probing
  • I will develop a critical argument
  • I will start tonight and write 500 words a night over six nights, then revist/redraft and pull it all together.
  • I will have the evidence
  • I will have the references in place
  • I will plan, weigh up and select from the work that I have done (and that has been done in my tutor group)
  • These will back up whatever themes or viewpoints or arguments I am putting forward
  • I WILL write and outline and stick to it
  • I will not become bling to better approaches that suggest themselves (which happened for one ECA and had me heading towards a 40 mark)
  • And I will ‘write like I talk’ (which is what I’ve always done)

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