The first week of the course is an 'interesting' time. Some participants are newcomers to online learning; while some teach online extensively as part of their jobs. Some are newcomers to The Open University and its own particular (baffling? lovable?!) terminologies, technologies and processes; while others are old hands and have already completed postgraduate or undergraduate OU degrees.
Some are whizzing ahead through the Block 1 materials, knowing they've got to get ahead because of a holiday or job deadline in a month or two. Others are waiting impatiently for their login and password to arrive so that they can make a start. Some know a huge amount about the subject area already, others are self-declared novices.
This year there's been an unexpected last-minute rush of registrations that meant we looked, at one point, like needing an extra tutor. We normally try to keep the size of online tutor groups around 12-15. We're possibly ok, after all, but it was looking dicey for a while: a late-arriving student or two is manageable; a late-arriving tutor is much tougher for all concerned.
But the first week is also exciting, because we get to meet all sorts of new people, brought together for diverse reasons but with the common goal of making sense of this area of study. And I'm constantly impressed by how so many - old-timers and newcomers alike - go out of their way to help others to get going.