Method of Study
Once you have received the course materials and checked that all the items listed are in the package, read the course booklet carefully, and follow the instructions in it. Here is a general description of the aspects of studies throughout the semester:
- Independent study
- Group study - Study centers and tutorials
- Course websites
- Telephone tutorials
- Laboratory sessions
- Final examinations
- Accumulating credits
Most of the time spent on studying will be devoted to independent study from the course books and to preparing assignments. Tutorial sessions, meetings with the course coordinator and the tutor as well as activities on the course websites are all intended to improve and enhance independent study.
We highly recommend that you strictly follow the course timetable, and, if possible, even progress at a faster rate, leaving yourself spare time that can be used if and when the material becomes more difficult or if you encounter delays which are not related to the course.
Expect to devote 8-20 weekly hours to your studies. This is of course a very rough estimate but it is very difficult to be more precise as the time you will need will depend on many factors, including your readiness for the course, your personal abilities, the level of difficulty of the course, the amount of material, the time you need to absorb the material, etc.
After several weeks of study according to the recommended timetable you will most likely develop a more accurate estimate of the time you need to invest each day or week in order to progress at the required pace.
Various kinds of (homework) assignments, which students are required to prepare and which are corrected and graded, represent an integral part of the study and are weighed into the student's final grade. As a result, students are required to prepare a certain number of assignments during each course. The assignments can be found in the course booklet. The topic to which the assignment relates and the deadline for submission are noted at the beginning of each assignment.
Assignments sent in after the deadline specified in the course timetable will usually be checked and returned, but the grade will not be included in the final grade of the course nor will the assignment count as a submitted assignment (unless you have asked for and received an extension).
In most courses you will not be required to hand in all the assignments, but from our experience, we know that the more assignments you submit, the better the quality of your learning.
The course booklet provides detailed instructions regarding the submission of assignments, including how many assignments to submit, and which of these (if any) are mandatory. You will also be given instructions regarding the format for sending in assignments, and to what address.
Open University assignments can be divided into two major types:
A tutor-checked assignment (maman) is graded by a person who has been authorized to do so by the course coordinator - usually the tutor of the group to which the student is assigned. Assignments include open questions that enable students to formulate answers freely providing them with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to express themselves, and their skills of analysis and synthesis.
Assignments will be graded and returned to the student within three weeks, since the assessment, control and documentation take time.
A computer-checked assignment (mamach) is a multiple-choice questionnaire answered on a special computer card according to directions found in the course booklet and sent directly to the Open University Information Processing Center. When submitting computer-checked assignments, it is important not only not to send them in late, but also not to send them more than a week before the deadline indicated.
Students receive feedback on the computer-checked assignments a very short time after submission.
Open University study centers are scattered throughout the country. Some are located in buildings that serve additional functions - schools, community centers, colleges, universities, and others, but there are also centers which function only as study centers.
These centers serve as a site for tutorial sessions in classrooms or laboratories and a meeting place for students. The centers also provide registration and counseling services, library services and other learning aids for courses, computer services and so forth. The large study centers provide all the services, and some have turned into "campuses" where in addition to pedagogical pursuits, there are thriving student activities. At other centers, only some of the services are provided.
For each course in which they register, students are notified of the location of their study center and the services it provides towards the beginning of the semester.
When they register for a course, students are asked in which study center and study group they would like to study. The University assigns them to a study group, headed by a tutor, which will meet in a local study center. The University tries to assign students to study groups in the area where they live. However, even students who live near a large study center may find themselves assigned to groups that meet at a more distant center since in the division into groups, the University has to consider the needs and requests of all the students registered in all the courses.
When it is impossible to open a study group in a certain area due to the small number of students enrolled in a course, the Open University attempts to find suitable solutions. One of the accepted alternatives is the course group. Students assigned to such a group maintain direct contact with the course coordinator at the Open University in writing, by telephone or through e-mail. They have no group meetings, but if necessary (usually at students' request), the course coordinator will schedule intensive personal meetings.
Near the beginning of the semester, you will receive by mail, in addition to details concerning the study center to which you have been assigned, details about the study group and the name and address of the tutor. This notice will also include the timetable of the sessions to be held in your study center.
It is a good idea to copy the meeting dates into the course booklet immediately, so that all activities relating to the course are clear.
The tutorial sessions provide students with the opportunity to clarify questions with the help of the tutor and their peers. During the sessions, the tutor helps to review the material and practice problem-solving. The tutor illuminates difficult points and provides supplementary materials that help students deal with the assignments.
As in the case of many activities that the Open University offers its students, participation in tutorial sessions is usually not mandatory. Exceptions to this rule are meetings which include activities for which there is no alternative such as laboratory sessions, fieldtrips, etc. In the table of courses, note 47 indicates activities which are mandatory.
Long experience has taught us that for many of the courses, tutorials are important and effective, especially for students who attend them after having read the material that they were supposed to cover prior to the meeting. However, it is important to emphasize that the tutorials cannot replace independent study and the tutor is not a lecturer! It is not our intention, nor is it possible, for the tutor to lecture on all course topics at the sessions.
- Regular tutorials: Between five and eight 2- to 3-hour sessions each semester
- Intensive tutorials: 2-3-hour sessions almost every week
- Minimal tutorials: One or two sessions during the semester
Distance tutorials: In several courses, some of the tutorials use synchronous interactive distance teaching. The tutorials incorporate various audio-visual aids - computer presentations, pictures, video clips, animations, etc. All interactive tutorials are broadcast in real time and are available on the course websites for review (or for students who were unable to attend the live session).
There are various types of distance tutorials:
- Ofek sessions - The tutorials are broadcast from a studio on the Open University campus to classrooms throughout the country as well as to the Internet, enabling the students to view them on their computers at home. Students see the tutor on a television screen or on their PC. At any time during the session, they can ask questions, request clarifications, or answer the tutor's questions using a telephone and/or via chat.
- Video-conferencing - The Open University has several video conference classrooms that enable all students to see, hear and speak to one another. The sessions are also transmitted via the Internet, enabling students at home to participate and communicate with the tutor via chat.
- InterWise - The InterWise system enables live lessons to be transmitted to the student's home computer. The computer screen is the "blackboard" and students can hear (and sometimes see) the tutor. Students can ask questions and interact with one another orally or in writing.
If you are unable to participate in the tutorial session of your group, you can usually attend a tutorial session of another group in the course, if it is the same format as your group. Only registered students may participate in intensive tutorials, and only students registered in institutional study centers may participate in tutorial sessions in the institution. Students who have not completed the course requirements in the semester for which they were enrolled may participate in tutorial sessions of the course held during a following semester (with the exception of tutorials in which there is a limited number of students or practical work, such as science or computer labs).
Most Open University courses have a course website. These can be accessed from any computer in the world at any time. Through the website, you can communicate with the course coordinator, participate in discussions among students, receive enrichment and review materials, access relevant databases, view demonstrations, etc.
Note: The Open University offers students free use of the computers in the study centers throughout the country.
For some courses, this mode, with the guidance of the tutor, provides a substitute for regular tutorial sessions.
The course websites can be accessed through http://telem.openu.ac.il.
Every course tutor has fixed times (usually in the evening) when students may telephone, in addition to the times when the course coordinator will be available to tutor the students via telephone (usually in the morning). If you are stuck while studying, and the next tutorial meeting is far off, you can call the course coordinator or your tutor to discuss your questions on the phone. You will be informed of the tutorial hours of the course coordinator and the tutor at the beginning of the semester. You may also contact other tutors of the course if for some reason you could not make contact with your own tutor. To find out whether on a certain day any tutor in the course has telephone hours, call the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) number (972-9-7781111). When you call, you will be asked for your password and ID number, to ensure that you are enrolled in the course.
Some of the courses in the Natural Sciences include laboratory sessions. These sessions are conducted at the Open University laboratories or at laboratories of other universities in the country. Participation in these sessions is usually mandatory. Keep in mind that laboratory meetings are generally much longer than regular tutorials, and may take place at a location far from your home. The dates of the laboratory sessions are specified in the course timetable. Sometimes there is a possibility of some flexibility in determining the dates of the sessions.
Field trips are an integral part of some of the courses (for example, Geology). The duration of these trips may be several hours, an entire day, and in certain cases even more than one day. When participation if the field trips is mandatory, this is indicated in the course description in the catalog, and all relevant information can be found in the course booklet. No fee is charged for mandatory trips, except for lodging and meal expenses. A fee is charged for field trips that are not mandatory.
The Open University holds regular symposia on a range of academic topics related to the contents of various courses. If symposia are held during the semester on topics that relate to your studies, you will be invited to participate. Some of the symposia are recorded and can be viewed on the Open University website, here.
Final examinations are held at the end of each semester in examination centers throughout the country. In most of the courses, examinations are three hours long (from 4 to 7 pm). Examinations are monitored and you must bring a photo ID (ID card or passport) with you to the exam. Students from different courses may take exams at the same time, in the same room.
If you have handed in all assignments and met the other demands of the course as described in the course booklet, you may take the examination twice at most, at the two sittings (A and B) of the semester when you take the course, and at the two sittings of the following semester. After this date, you will not be permitted to take the exam.
You will usually find sample exams in the course booklet, or they will be mailed to you toward the end of the semester. Sample exams can usually also be found in study centers and on the course website.
You will receive notification of the dates of the exam by mail, some time prior to the first examination sitting of the semester.
You can find more details regarding examinations here, which will probably be of more interest to you toward the end of the semester.
If you have handed in all assignments and met the other demands (if any) of the course, and passed the final examination (with a grade of 60 or above), you will receive a final grade for the course. The final grade is the weighted grade of the assignments and the final exam (with the final exam getting the most weight). Full details about how course grades are calculated can be found here. If your final grade is 60 or above, you have successfully completed the course and accumulated the credits which it grants. You will be notified of this by mail.
It is important to note that the university reserves the right to change elements of the examinations in all courses (such as the number of questions, the weight of each question, the materials that can be used during the exam, topics of questions, etc.)