So I studied with the Open University as a distance learning student. I never attended any OU premises; all lectures were in schools or other universities’ sites.
I attended university in Lancaster. This gave me face-to-face access to tutors and meant I could study on campus in any of the study areas. Initially this meant the Graduate College IT Study Area they call their PC Lab. After the first few months I migrated to studying in the library as I had access to the bookstock and it was more convenient for lectures.
When we moved to Milton Keynes it meant I no longer could study in the Lancaster University library. I have tried studying at home but, with the usual domestic stuff and unpacking to do, there were too many distractions. So I have looked into alternative places to study. The nearest public library is in the town centre where parking must be paid for. Others have restricted opening hours. The nearest university library is … the Open University library.
So I arranged access through the SCONUL mechanism and today I have visited to see how suitable it is. I had a wander round and, crikey, the place is like an oven above the first floor. A member of staff told me that is a design flaw that has been there since construction, so won’t be fixed any time soon. The 1st floor is the silent study area and it is unbearably hot up there. That is a shame as it is where the study carrels are. The 2nd floor study area is less formal but is also very hot.
The ground floor comprises a selection of ‘comfortable’ seating areas which means they will be uncomfortable after a while trying to use a laptop.
Parking is free and there were a couple of empty spaces behind the library.
There is a tepid tap water fountain but no cups. I must bring one next time. On this occasion I paid £1 for a tea from the vending machine. Wow! A new standard in awfulness for vending machine tea. That is remarkable since it was even worse than the foul browness provide by ICL’s data centre vending machine in Enfield circa 1999 which was considered a prime example of the art form. Trying to stir in the floaty bits did not make any difference to the appearance. It tasted like chilli-laced brick dust. I had to throw away the translucent ochre fluid from the cup, then rinse out the grit from the bottom, so I could use it as a receptacle for the drinking fountain. As I went to do so, someone else was sucking from the tap as he had neither cup, class nor consideration. Discovering the water was tepid assured me any germs contained thereon would be fit and healthy. I should bring my own refreshment in future.
There are some PCs provided in the study areas. It won’t let me access Lancaster email as it hijacks the Outlook requests and redirects it to the OU. I did not bother trying out any apps on there; documents would need to be saved to USB and it was too hot to investigate further.
I must remember to bring tissues, if only to wipe the sweat from my fevered brow.
But there is nothing to do here to distract me; not even other students I have studied with.
So I might end up completing my dissertation at the OU as a Lancaster distance learner!