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Why learning with the OU, indeed distance and e-learning, will always be constrained by the lack of ‘bonding’ between pupil and tutor.

I am asthmatic. I recently attended an ‘asthma clinic’ – a one to one with a specialist nurse. We are able to get on the same wavelength because she recently completed her training on asthma and I have been preparing a PhD proposal that uses an e-learning platform to support people with a chronic illness – indeed a massive randomized controlled trial has just begun in the States. Its limitations are simple – in many instances we do a thing well in order to please another person. In tertiary education this means your tutor – in the MAODE we never meet, there are no tutorials. One tutorial a month in other courses, undergraduate and graduate at a residential, isn’t enough, IMHO, to establish adequate rapport. Where universities have a tutor system a life long friendship forms, especially where hard work is rewarded with a smile. I comply to my asthma and rhinitis drugs to please another human being – it happens to keep me healthy too. Personally, and of course it differs between people, I would do better in my studies for a smile. This makes learning French using Rosetta Stone, very limiting. As a teenager I did one of those exchanges – people smiled because I was an idiot who tried hard, my reward was lifelong friendship.

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