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Open University teaching: anyone done it?

(13 Posts)
Tomatillo Tue 10-Jun-08 21:40:34

I'm thinking about applying to be a tutor (associate lecturer is the official title I think) at Open University and was wondering whether anyone has done it and if so how they found it.

I might be becoming a SAHM mum (DD - 11mnths) in the near future after 5 yrs as a lecturer at a Russell Group Uni. I'd like to keep doing something and OU teaching looks ideal at first glance. They are recruiting for several subjects I teach in my (geographical) area. Depending on the subject it seems you get about £5K for a course and that means doing about 7-9 hours a week for the months that the course runs. The timing of those hours is very flexible as it mainly seems to be marking and being in touch with students by email/website. It sounds perfect as I could work in the evenings/when suited me and presumably add another course if they were still recruiting when DD went to nursery/school.

This sounds like a great flexible way of doing an interesting and useful job, earning a little bit of money and keeping an interest in my subject. Has anyone tried it and if so, what's it like in reality?


GooseyLoosey Tue 10-Jun-08 22:46:17

I haven't but dh did a few years ago. The odd student was a bit of a pain and did not actually get the fact that dh did not work for the OU 24 hours a day and the marking seemed very ardous at times but apart from that he enjoyed it and it was as flexible as you describe.

harpomarx Tue 10-Jun-08 22:54:43

I have done it Tomatillo, but I was working full time as well and tbh found it quite a lot of work for little (financial) reward. I had one tutorial every month (I think, could be wrong) so lesson prep for that. Marking was, as goosey says, a bit arduous, particularly since I had to do recorded as well as written feedback (I was teaching a language). I also did prison visits.

All in all, the money was quite handy (though I don't think I ever earned more than about £300 a month) but it was too much for me to combine with a full time job. However, if you are less tied up, it's not a bad job, contact with students was enjoyable and since you are already a lecturer, I'm sure you will find lesson prep easier than I did!

UnquietDad Tue 10-Jun-08 22:58:37

I looked int it, but they only recruit for certain courses at certain times. My subject was already fully tutored, thank you very much. So I didn't try again.

snorkle Wed 11-Jun-08 10:06:24

A friend does this & says the OU course materials are excellent and she enjoys it.

Tomatillo Wed 11-Jun-08 11:19:53

Many thanks for the replies. It sounds as if it could be a good option to explore in that case (they are definitely recruiting in my subjects at the moment). We think we can afford for me to SAH without it so it wouldn't primarily be for the money (although it would come in useful). It'd be more for the interest.

I guess my main worry is that and 8 hr a week 'average' would become nothing for a couple of weeks and then suddenly a 25 hr week. Also, as goosey suggests, that I'd be expected to be available at particular times rather than to respond in a reasonable time. I would want to restrict it to times when DD was asleep or with DH etc. Provided I can do that I think I'll apply,

Many thanks again

love2sleep Wed 11-Jun-08 11:39:16

I was an AL for 3 years while I was doing my PhD. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most of the students were fantastic - on my course they were mostly supermums who were fitting it in around jobs and children. They made my non-OU students seem a bit feeble with their alcohol related excuses grin. They didn't pester me much at home but I think that depends on the course and how long the students have been with the OU.

I agree that the money isn't great. It's worth asking about travel expenses as they sometimes add this if they have an area that is hard to find tutors. Summer schools can be another option for extra money (for some courses).

The other thing I found is that although the teaching materials are mostly really well written they can be rather out of date as they aren't reviewed as often as in a "standard" uni.

Some of the training courses they offer are really good, so take advantage of whatever they offer.

One more suggestions - have you asked your current uni whether they might have any work for you? We sometimes buy in teaching to cover mat leave etc and it is much better paid than the OU.

Tomatillo Wed 11-Jun-08 14:25:29

love2sleep thanks for your reply too. It's great to hear that you enjoyed it and had such committed students. That's what I want I think - something to keep a connection to my subject and give me something interesting to work on whilst being able to be at home for DD and any future DC.

I've not even hinted to my current Uni that I might be leaving yet so I've no idea what they'll say when/if I discuss it with them. I think it'd be potentially too much of a faff to work for my own uni on a temporary basis anyway (would have to find childcare for short but specific period and have no family around). I can see them offering me some kind of part-time or teaching only option but I'm not sure it's what I want (for personal reasons, nothing to do with the Uni, it has been great). It'd also be very odd to take a step 'down' somewhere where I've worked for a while.

Did you find it quite easy to direct your hours? I'd expect some peaks of work around assignments but wouldn't want to have to work 20+ hr weeks if I was only doing that in the evenings. I hope they'd be interested in me if I'm only doing OU and SAH...

love2sleep Wed 11-Jun-08 15:30:52

Hi Tomatillo.
I found it very easy to direct my hours but I think it depends a lot on the course. I did a Saturday tutorial once a month and the odd phone call in the evenings. I think I specified times that it was ok to ring. Also back in those days they didn't all have email which I'm sure helps now [feeling ancient emoticon]. The marking was the time-consuming bit which is obviously pretty flexible. In theory there were peaks at assignment time but in practice they quite often came in late (or early) and by the end of the year the assignments were often overlapping. This got a bit depressing at times as it seemed to be a constant stream. Again it will depend on the specific course.

I've gone part-time at my uni which in practice means a small cut in teaching/admin and a large cut in research. This isn't ideal but I see it as a way of keeping my job going until the boys are a bit bigger and I have more time/energy to put into work.

I hope things work out ok. smile

Clydesdaleclopper Thu 26-Jun-08 22:50:26

I did it whilst working FT. The pay wasn't that great for the hours involved. The marking is very time consuming and you are expected to give very extensive feedback. If you can manage without the money I would avoid it as it is a lot more work than standard uni teaching

sallyforth Fri 27-Jun-08 13:27:15

Have been doing it 2yrs in addition to FT job. (currently on mat leave from both). Would strongly recomend it - v rewarding. But choose your course carefully.

I find the tutorials v good fun and very easy to prepare thanks to OU carefully specifying learning outcomes etc. Similarly the odd bit of telephone/email help was not a problem. But marking the TMAs (tutor-marked assignments) is HARD work - not difficult (as you get detailed guidance on each TMA markscheme) just time consuming. Also beware any course where you have to spend lots of time online moderating live webchats.

Also! there has recently been an "AL role reivew" and there may be less work for ALs in future, with more being done by fewer, full-time staff.

If your prime purpose is making money, though, it wouldn't be my first choise - the pay isn't THAT good.


wibbleweed Thu 03-Jul-08 16:52:40

Hi Tomatillo - have no experience at present, but I'm currently filling in an associate lecturer application form and will see how it goes. I'm presently a full time mum and am hoping I can do bits around the kids, in the evenings etc. Hope all goes well J xx

MummyToOneForNow Thu 24-Jul-08 16:35:52

I'm thinking about applying to be an AL on some entry level courses if I decide not to go back to work after dc2 arrives - am a secondary teacher at the moment - want the flexibility in hours and intellectual stimulation rather than the money - have done several OU courses as a student and though the materials were excellent and a friend is an AL and enjoys it.

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