maths study via The Open University


The website opened yesterday as planned, and I have to say its interactivity is excellent.
There’s built-in video and audio to address certain topics perhaps more easily and effectively than the written word might do.

It doesn’t have to be studied online for the most part – probably 99% of the materials can be downloaded as PDFs, and I think there *may* be an option to get them working on various platforms such as the Kindle with a minimum of fuss, too.

The small bit that can’t be downloaded into print, for obvious reasons, is the videos/audio.

However, I suspect it’ll be a small matter to download some sort of .flv program and save them off for use offline if you so desired.

So, any concerns I had that this might not be a particularly portable course are gone, subject to having a printer if you want to lug paper around with you.

I’ve printed all that’s available so far – which amounts to about eight weeks work from the looks of it. The rest doesn’t seem to be online yet.

The first unit deals quickly with stuff a student should already know – the basics of probability theory, discrete and continuous distributions, the Central Limit Theorem, aspects of calculus, Taylor and MacLaurin series, proof by induction, etc.

There seems to be a requirement to get through about 30 pages of A4 per week, which is about a page every 15 minutes if you manage to stick to just eight hours of study a week (excluding TMA time).

There’s a fair bit of calculus in unit 2 – which deals with PDFs, CDFs, moments, quantiles, gamma and beta functions, etc. Here, the requirement seems to drop to about 20 pages per week.

Unit three is where stuff starts looking a bit new to me – bivariate joint, marginal and conditional distributions appear, together with bivariate and conditional moments. It’s calculus-heavy. Then there’s covariance and correlation, the bivariate normal distribution, multivariate distributions, multivariate moments and the multivariate normal distribution to finish the unit off.
I have to say, it looks fun.

That little lot concludes Block one.

There are four blocks, and 14 units in total.

Printing off units one to three, and their associated extra examples to reinforce learning (separate file) has filled a slightly-larger-than-standard A4 ring binder.

So, I assume we’ll end up with about four ring binders-worth.

Something I have to mention is the amount of reinforcing questions for students to have a go at. I thought MST209 had plenty, but M347 is loaded with them. There’s absolutely stacks. Which is a very good thing.

The course writing style is friendly and very accessible, and it’s well-presented, too. I’ve only found one minor typo so far, in about 60 pages or so (skim reading until the wee hours last night).

I seriously think I am going to enjoy this course, although it doesn’t look like it hangs around….

I’m looking at spending maybe 20 hours a week on M347, then a further 20 hours a week on M343 – hopefully to get a bit ahead, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s only sufficient to keep me up-to-date – I’m having to do a bit of background reading to overcome the fact I skipped statistics at second level. That said, I find probability to be fairly intuitive. For now.


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