Saturday, 26 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 4

Week 4

26 Oct


  • Assignment: iCMA 41 (open date 26 Oct)
  • Assignment: TMA 01 (cut-off date 29 Oct)

The TMA is submitted, so time to get on with Week 4s timetable.

This week we get stuck into some proper theories looking at Keynesian Economics, also the first iCMA has opened. I went to have a look at it but it had too many warnings about only being able to submit once, although you can start it when you want. So rather than be the first to press the wrong button and submit a blank iCMA I'll read the instructions first.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : TMA01 pretty much finished.

Part 1 of the course, weeks 1 & 2, have been pretty much completed. The chapters were reasonably straight forward (not easy to understand - but well laid out) and the online tutorials were very good, certainly got you thinking about what you'd read and made me go back and re-read things.

The TMA also covered all that the 2 chapters had to offer, whereas in previous courses you only had to concentrate on one aspect or part of that section's material, for example in A222 Philosophy it was one of four chapters in that a particular book.

It is a bit difficult to discuss this TMA without infringing on the OU's social media rules as the answer is not, as in previous TMAs, your personal thoughts and ideas, but specific answers relating to the data in question.
The Student Notes accompanying the TMA were very helpful in pointing you towards where you needed to look, but I'm not sure I would be as happy with answering the questions without also looking at the website and the YouTube series of videos from UCBerkely ( especially regarding the macroeconomics current and capital account balances.

The word count as also very tight which was in the end a good thing, as it meant you had to stay focussed on answering what was asked, and not drifting off on unrelated tangents.
So, unless I have an epiphany between now and the cut-off date regarding flows, stocks, balance and surpluses, the TMA is pretty much as good as its going to get.

Now the question is will my tutor be a prompt marker, I certainly hope so. I'll spend the rest of this week sorting out the revision notes and then hopefully start Part 2 on time on Saturday. Keynesian theories and real economics, looking forward to that. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 3 - TMA01

Week 3

19 Oct

TMA week

  • RepeatTMA 01 

    The secret of this TMA is to let Microsoft Excel be your friend. If you can use the spreadsheet and let it draw graphs then things become pretty easy to describe, and you can see any correlations between different aspects of the economy come to life. 

    YouTube has some excellent tutorials on drawing graphs, just Google "youtube using excel to draw graphs" and take your pick.

    There are also very helpful student notes for this TMA which pretty much lead you to where the answers may be, these are found on the website pages after the TMA question which are often missed in the rush to answer the TMA.

    This TMA should be easier to complete that ones I have been used to because,
    i. It is not an essay.
    ii. There are calculations which have answers which are right or wrong. 
    iii. It has a 800 word count cap.
    iv. It is only worth 7%, so don't over think it.

    So, hopefully this will be pretty much done this weekend, and on to Part 2.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Tutorial Group Discussion Week 2

Chapter 2 has been a challenge.

There has just been far too many words. Page 77 uses the phrase "is exactly equivalent to", what does this mean ? Why is the phrase "is equivalent to" not sufficient, and in what way is "exactly equivalent" different in meaning to "equivalent". I have deliberated over the use of this word and can see no obvious benefit or difference in meaning that it imparts, so that's one word they didn't need to use.

Also they vary the definitions of commonly used words. The constant use of the word 'saving' to mean what I would refer to as 'savings' is just off-putting.

If you have a 'saving', then this is the difference between a higher price you may have paid, and the lower price you actually paid and this difference represents your 'saving' on that product. As in the phrase "I waited until it was on offer and made a saving of £1".

'Savings' is surplus of income and sometimes this surplus ends up in my 'savings account', at least until I need it to bail out a deficit in my current account. So when I'm reading the text every time I hit the word 'saving' my train of though stalls while I question the meaning and wonder why they use loads more words than they need to, but far fewer of the letter 's' than they should.

And the 'current account' I allude to above, is not the same as the nation's current account as understood in this book, for it also seems to have a variety of definitions, and nailing down just one is a bit like nailing jelly to the ceiling.

In amongst this struggle for understanding, there is what appears to be a mandatory Tutorial Group Discussion centering around Activity 4. After answering the question we are instructed to post this on the tutorial group. There seems little appetite so far from our group to actually post an answer and in doing so publicly demonstrate our lack of  understanding for the material so far. This is unusual as we are most of the way through this week and with the TMA on the study planner for next week I'd have thought somebody would ave posted by now. I'll refine my answer and post tomorrow, but I hope I'm not the first.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The trouble with Open University tutorials are........

...... sometimes they are just too far away.

This is my 4th Open University course, so my 4th tutor and my 4th set of tutorials, and thankfully this hasn't happened to me yet, however,  it does appear to happen quite often to many other students.

It appears that as a general rule tutors will have no more than 20 students per course to look after, and in my experience tutorials have never had more than 50% student attendance, and an attendance of 35% (7 out of 20) would be unusual.

So why is it that there seems to be so many people that would like to go to tutorials, being allocated tutors that are simply far too far to make attending tutorials viable either in terms of travelling time and/or cost. While students who aren't going to attend tutorials are allocated local tutors.

Could the Open University not simply ask students registering for new courses to tick a box to indicate if they will or will not be attending tutorials. That way students with no intention of attending tutorials should not be allocated a tutor until after those who wish to attend tutorials have been allocated whatever local tutors are available.

C'mon Open University, this seems a fairly easy solution to a common problem.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : First Tutorial

Today's tutorial was pleasant.

The tutor was pleasant, the venue was pleasant and the small tutorial group were all very pleasant.

We went over course structure, how to use the VLE and did some filling in of graphs and some sums. The main advice regarding the TMA is not to over think it, if it says describe then describe, if it says explain then explain, you can add graphs and tables, and if you're doing sums show your working.

So, no earth shattering revelations, but a pleasant couple of hours spent in pursuit of economic excellence. Now, to finish Chapter 2 and get stuck into the TMA.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Week 2

Week 2

12 Oct
  • Website contentWeek 2: Macroeconomic imbalances – why do they matter? 

    The course officially starts today, so I am effectively a week ahead of schedule and it would be good to have done all the necessary reading for the first TMA before the tutorial next weekend. So the plan is that this week I crack on with Chapter 2, which is quite a bit more challenging than Chapter 1.

    Not much of consequence has happened on the course or tutor forums, but our tutor is threatening to put up some activities before tutorials, lets hope that doesn't include the first one, as I already have enough to do !

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

DD209 Running The Economy : Very pro-active tutor, but my head hurts.

I received an email from my tutor who seems very organised, pro-active and enthusiastic.

I have been pretty lucky with my tutors so far, but although they have all been good none have introduced themselves as early as this and with so much information. So, things look very positive on the tutor front.

Chapter 2 however - its making my head hurt!!! Chapter 1 seemed a bit of an easy intro in to economics, Chapter 2 however needs a lot more reading, and I haven't even got to the coloured graphs.

I'm sure it will all become obvious in time, but this is not going to be a simple matter of churning the handle and just reading the material - this is going to require some serious thought :-)