My French exam on Friday was not my first time at that particular rodeo. For the past few years the OU has conducted its language exams online through a software system called Elluminate. It’s a glorified conference call with a few bells and whistles.
And it is rubbish.
That’s not the word I usually use for it, but we’re all ladies here (and the few blokes that visit are far to polite to disagree).
About four years ago I did my Italian exam on this system. The whole thing crashed and we had to do the exam by telephone.
Next was a French exam. There should have been 4 people in the conversation, only 2 of us turned up and I couldn’t hear the other speaker. She sounded like the teacher in Peanuts.
In that one I ended up making up the whole of the conversation section based upon a presumption of what she might have said.
So this time…well, I was prepared.
The night before I’d cleared my workspace, got all the material to hand in an orderly fashion, and I had several pens in case one or more gave up on me at a critical note taking juncture.
I’d tested the headset and ensured I could log into the site.
I was ready.
Virgin Media had other ideas.
They had scheduled work on our broadband for the 12th (and kindly notified us in writing). They decided to do the work on the 5th (and forgot to tell us!). Which meant I had no broadband and couldn’t log in for my exam.
Cue much scurrying around. I went to Ma’s. I turfed her and The Boy out to the local play centre. I logged in with 10 minutes to spare for checking out my access and my headset.
I took a deep breath and we started. And just as I started my presentation…the telephone rang and the workmen across the hall started hammering and banging.
Hmmmm…you can imagine how it all went after that.
So, now its a case of notifying the examiners of the extenuating circumstances and keeping everything crossed that I’ve done enough.
I just need to pass this module. If I do that I get my degree. I know I’ve passed the continuous assesment part of the course. I know I’ve passed all the other modules. And I’m confident that my written paper is good enough to pass. So we shall see.
But the OU really needs to review this process for oral examinations for their foreign language exams. There are simply too many things that can go wrong. And I appreciate that they are trying to reduce costs, and perhaps make it more convenient for those students who have difficulties travelling. But surely, it’s not beyond the wit of an organisation of their size to provide a more robust system, and the option for a face to face examination if you prefer it.
Or even, the opportunity in such circumstances as these, to resit on another day. Because that’s not an option.
I’m glad I’m done with this. I’ve studied at a bricks and mortar university as well as at the OU and would never do another course with the OU, particularly a languages course. There aren’t enough opportunities to speak, there are very few tutorials, and the examination process is severely flawed. I know I’m not alone in thinking this because there are lots of threads on the course forums where other students are expressing their concerns and frustrations.
But I’m done. And I’ve spent the weekend relaxing and celebrating.
Now…I’m looking forward to KCWC.
I’ve only one thing planned at the moment…any thing more than that will be a bonus. Although I will be kicking the week off with a little knit I’ve just finished for Button.