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Teaching and research

The Open University has an astonishing track-record of using new and emerging technologies to make higher education available to all people around the world.

Martha Lane Fox, Chancellor of The Open University

Supported open learning

The OU teaches through its own unique method of distance learning, called ‘supported open learning’, which is:

  • Flexible – students work where and when they choose to fit in with jobs, families and other commitments
  • All-inclusive – students get all the high quality materials they need to study
  • Supportive – personal tutors provide academic expertise, guidance and feedback and run group tutorials; and specialist advisers are on hand to help with other aspects of OU study
  • Social – students get together at tutorials, day schools and informal study groups; and through online conferencing, study networks and course forums.

The Open University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education which is a voluntary, non-governmental, membership association that defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence across institutions with diverse missions, student populations, and resources. The Open University has been a member since 2005 and its accreditation was re-affirmed in November 2015.

More about the OU study experience

Learning and Teaching Innovation

The Learning and Teaching Innovation portfolio has a pivotal role to play in increasing student access and success through the continuing development of high-quality and innovative learning and teaching from the OU.   

The portfolio works closely with Faculties and Nations to explore new ways of producing and delivering study materials and providing a more personal learning experience.

The portfolio extends across a wide range of areas in support of the OU mission. This includes providing sector-leading research and scholarship on widening access and success, innovating pedagogies through the Institute of Educational Technology, validating programmes for partner institutions worldwide, and giving learners access to free OU resources across a range of platforms including OpenLearn

Course production

Our modules are developed by multi-disciplinary course teams comprising:

  • Academics, educational technologists and media specialists contributing pedagogic and technical expertise
  • Respected academics from other universities working alongside OU colleagues
  • External examiners.

This model has helped to build the University's reputation for innovation, rigour and quality and has been adopted by distance teaching institutions worldwide.

Research and scholarship

Open University courses are underpinned by research of international excellence and are subject to rigorous external scrutiny. In addition, a world-leading programme of research into teaching strategies and educational technologies ensures that our materials are effective and appropriate for large-scale open learning.

Visit The Open University's research website

Tutorial support

The OU has a network of more than 5,000 tutors – the largest in the UK. Tutors mark assignments, provide detailed written feedback, and offer support to students by telephone, email, or computer conferencing. They also run group or online tutorials and day schools. Some are full-time members of staff, but most are associate lecturers: experts in their subject who combine their work as tutors with other academic or industry jobs.

Assessment

Students are assessed through tutor-marked and computer-marked assignments, oral or practical assessments, projects, examinations, dissertations and portfolios. External examining ensures that we maintain academic standards and provides an independent view of the assessment process.

Quality assurance

Arrangements for assuring quality of academic provision, standards of awards and quality of student learning experience are outlined in a our quality and standards fact sheets.

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has judged that The Open University’s academic standards, the quality and enhancement of its student learning opportunities, and the quality of information about its learning opportunities all meet UK expectations.

Find out more about the review or read our QAA report

Read our Learning and Teaching sub-strategy, Learning Now for the Future (pdf) 


Learn more about our teaching and research