Ilya’s Course Blog – The End!

29 August 2015

Region: London

At last! The course is over and I’ve submitted my ‘End of Module Assessment’, the EMA. It is a set of 10 images with some writing, as I said in the last post. It’s this week’s image above. We are told detailed feedback is not given until the end of October although we may get our mark before then. Sounds a long time to me but there are around 200 of us so that is a lot for the moderators to get through. Good timing actually as I have just applied for an ‘L’ advisory day around then, although I already regret it, think I need more time. Help!

Anyway this is about the course, not the future. What do I think of the course? What will I miss? Would I recommend it? Well I won’t bother answering that last as I think every single post has answered that one.

I put up a new discussion in the ‘Café’ forum a couple of weeks ago asking everyone what their thoughts on the course are. So far there are 65 comments. Overwhelmingly most people are very pleased. A common highlight is the peer feedback on images and everyone thanking those who commented on their images. Comments have been really useful and it was very kind of people to spend the time thinking about my images. However more than that, I feel the time spent doing this to others’ images has been even more useful; it has taught me be more critical of my own images and given a framework in which to do this (See blog post 2). If anyone from the course is reading this, please feel free to add any thoughts or comments at the end of this post.

Everyone agrees that the Lightroom videos are excellent and the course material covers a lot –though someone said it does not cover enough! They would like to see some studio and flash photography in there. Well that would be amazing but this course covers so much more than any other beginner’s course, and for only £200 I think that is wonderful. I did a beginner 6 week course late last year at a respected central London college, 3 hours per week for about the same cost. That was great for meeting people in person and having the tutor there but time is wasted waiting for everyone to arrive, the tutor answering questions related to camera operation and where to find, say, the exposure compensation control for their model of camera. Far less was covered and the pace is usually that of the least experienced in the group, plus I wanted more homework!

With the OU/RPS course I got through the first weeks quicker and slowed down as the course progressed as I already understood the basics of exposure and composition. However, there was always lots of information new to me, interesting things included and I felt each week offered more than simply the basics. I have really enjoyed the course material and the varied ways it has been presented. Also I really enjoyed having weekly photographic assignments, practical opportunities to practice what we learnt.

Another student thought it is probably a very steep learning curve for a total beginner; I think that is probably true if you are coming straight from Auto. The forums were a brilliant way to connect with the group, ask questions and simply chat. The moderators used this to share extra learning material which really was both useful and interesting. We also used it to share news of ‘whats on’ –exhibitions, tv etc. I recommended the Salgado film ‘Salt of the Earth’ that I saw 3 weeks ago, amazing on several levels.  We now have both a Facebook and a Flickr group so we can continue with the feedback on images.

Some students commented that they would have liked individual feedback from the moderators on their images. Of course that would have been lovely but this is not built into the course as there are only 4 moderators and 200 students. I did get 2 comments from them over the 10 weeks and really appreciated their input into the forum discussions. I suspect some put in a lot more hours than they were paid for.

The biggest grumble has been related to a technical side of this course. The course has been brought back from a similar course of a few years ago but not yet completely updated. This has especially been a problem for the first few people who tried to upload the EMA, spending too long on the wrong instructions, but we have been assured that these glitches have been noted and will be corrected for the future –you should be safe!

I’ve really enjoyed being able to get the one year NUS card and might well end up saving the cost of the course on it. A week ago I was in Paris (yes! Sorry this post is late but I was over there eating chocolates) and used it to get the student rate into the European Photography Museum, fabulous place. Doing the course also gets you a discounted rate for joining the RPS, too late for me though as I joined a few weeks earlier,and also a free RPS advisory day. Best of all it gets you this wonderful course and time to focus on photography.

I want to end by saying that I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this course and I will absolutely miss it and the interaction with other students and the moderators. Hooray for the FB and Flickr groups.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog, thanks for reading!

Image © Ilya Fisher

If you’ve missed any of Ilya’s blog, you can access previous posts through the quick links here.

The next course starts on 17th October, details here.

Comments (7)

Emily Mathisen
06 July 2017


Ilya's course blogs can now be found here:


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06 September 2015

Hi Chris, Thank You!
There is now a quick way to get to the past blogs via the London About Us page which takes you to this

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Chris Hynes
04 September 2015

Thanks for your blogs Ilya. I managed to find them all and I've found them really encouraging - I'm looking forward to October 17. I think you're right about the value of giving and receiving critiques. I hope your blogs will still be accessible while I'm doing the course - they'll help to keep me going when the enthusiasm falters.
Best wishes and thanks again for spending the time to prepare and post your blogs.


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29 August 2015

I think Henry is being rather unfair on the course and Ilya. The course asks for students to comment on each others work. Learning to critique and be critiqued is an essential part of the learning process and that is what is being taught. I did not see a comment on any of Henry's images that was either unfair or inaccurate; we may not be the skilled photographers we want to be yet, but every one of us have been looking at images for all of our lives. The course attempts to teach us to look at our own images with the same critical eye that we have for others. Because of this, I think the course was a huge help, and I would like to thank all of my fellow students not least Ilya for their helpful and encouraging comments.
Oh, and thank you Ilya for writing this blog which I felt accurately reflected the whole 10 week experience.

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29 August 2015

I did this course in 2009 (in its previous incarnation) and thought it was excellent. I was a complete beginner and hadn't even heard of Photoshop (which is what that course used), so even though there might have been plenty of online help, I wouldn't even have known where to start looking. It is amazing how beneficial peer learning can be, as I suspect most students will discover when they get the feedback.

When I heard that Ilya had signed up for it, I asked if she would do a weekly blog, which she kindly agreed to do.

We are always looking for blog posts, and so I'm throwing down the gauntlet, Mr Nutter … :-) would you like to contribute a weekly blog post for ten weeks about your photography?

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29 August 2015

Henry! Sorry you didn't enjoy the course. I thought there were some excellent photographers and appreciated their comments, but most of all looking and thinking about other students' images helped me be more critical of my own, most important of all in improving and an excellent way of learning. I'm certainly not admin!! Just was asked to write these pieces as I'm a London RPS member. I have watched other LR videos and must say that I really enjoyed that these ones, while maybe not offering any new content compared with others available, they were narrated by people who sounded like they would be at home on Radio 4, very comforting and so clearly explained.

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Henry Nutter
29 August 2015

I thought the course was meaningless in some respects. The lightroom tutorials are accessible through Adobe so why not just watch relevant tutorials?
With regard to critique this comes from inexperienced people and often has no relevance in reality.
I felt that often "students" comment in order to demonstrate their compliance with the course criteria and often are clearly unhelpful comments. I see no real input from the OU and feel that this is simply a revenue exercise.
Also who is Ilya and why has she become more like a member of course admin rather than a student.

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