Here we go!
So I am now back from 5 weeks backpacking my way around Europe which was great fun and extremely interesting. I was looking forward to getting stuck into another year of OU study and found the M150 preperatory units pack on my doorstep upon my return.
I have been working my way through these materials and in particular the diagnostic quiz. This is a quiz that the OU ask you to work through to find any areas in your basic mathematical knowledge that may need refreshing before the course commences. I have found the quiz fairly easy going and any questions I have found challenging have been easily understood after reading through the examples and answers provided in the answer booklet. The introductory pack is fairly chunky and I would definitely suggest students tackle it sooner rather than later as it is a good way to brush up on your maths skills.
Also whilst reading the introductory materials you are advised to buy the TI-83 calculator for the course. It retails at around £88 however the OU have negotiated deals with a company to provide it at a discount which can be paid all in one or over 10 monthly installments. As I don't have £88 on me (Just purchased the new iMac) I set about looking for a pc emulated version of the calculator. I found two pieces of software, VTI and Tilem which both do excellent jobs of replicating the calculator with full clickable skin on my PC. This will be useful as it delays the inevitable purchase of the calculator until I can afford it but I imagine that it will also allow me to easily take screen shots of the calculator to place into my TMA's over the year. There is a good website called www.ticalc.org which provides information on alll things TI related and is definitely worth a look.
Moving on, as I have already said I have just purchased the new iMac, although I do plan to install windows xp on it via bootcamp and parallels desktop, I am interested to see the sort of support that the OU may provide to Mac users. I appreciate that the inhouse software such as firstclass may be windows bound for time to come but things like course materials will hopefully be available to both Mac's and PC's.
I am still waiting for the study materials for my other courses and will update as they arrive.