Student Insights: Collaboration as an Open University Student

Read top tips from your fellow students and find out how you can build your confidence when collaborating.


A group of 35 OU students came together during the Association’s Conference in January as part of our Student Insights series of events which focus on Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion. The workshop style session focussed on collaboration and the rich discussion surfaced some frustrations, solutions, and ideas which might help you when faced with having to collaborate during your studies. 

Word cloud: collaboration, team, work, project, people, volunteer, members, communication, information, everyone, strengths, together, effective, meetings

First, we talked about what collaboration is, and students answered: 

A result that is bigger than the sum of its parts.

Everyone having a voice.

Some students felt that in group work situations, they had to make the daunting step of taking the initiative to lead the group and encourage other members to get involved. 

When reflecting on the challenges they faced when collaborating, many students referenced their Mental Health and Wellbeing as particular barriers when taking part, but also noted that getting involved in the work of the Association – whether that be as an attendee at a community event, being a member of a club or society, through volunteering or accessing one of our other Student Support services – had helped build their confidence. 

Some more top tips for collaboration: 

  1. Understanding the purpose of the project/event you are doing together.
  2. Identify the strengths of the people collaborating. 
  3. Get to know each other. 
  4. Drive a positive vibe. 
  5. Be transparent. 
  6. Trust holds things together so be authentic. 
  7. Address conflict quickly. 
  8. Celebrate success, both team success and individual success. 

*Collaboration makes everything loads better! 

Patrice Belton, Vice President Equality Diversity and Inclusion co-hosted the event and said, 

Collaboration is important for everyone, whether in a professional capacity, at home or in situations of leisure. It is what helps us feel validated and what enables us to thrive and come alive in spaces, where we come across new and inspiring things. Collaboration is effectively the ultimate alliance (or allyship) and is the greatest act of ‘Kindness and Compassion’! For example, knowing we have the support of others amid difficult life changes or, to simply help us make sense of the world we live in or, to help us find our way when we are feeling lost and confused (think about how you found your way around the student community and began to understand your module materials) these are all small acts of collaboration… and we have all been participants in it!

We are now looking forward to our next Student Insights event which will be Celebrating Neurodiversity on Saturday 16th April 11am – 12.30pm GMT on Microsoft Teams – register here.

 We will be in touch nearer the time with more details, but would appreciate your collaboration and support, to help us make it another exciting moment for learning together! 


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Jess Smith

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