The Open University has come a long way since 1971, when home experiment kits included sheep’s brains and postal strikes spelled chaos for students desperate for their course materials.
Forty years later and all students study with the help of a computer. And they can do so via mobile devices, using eBooks and audio tracks from iTunes U, and even contributing to field work without leaving their living rooms.
Some of the OU’s first ever students were invited to the OU’s Milton Keynes campus on 19 July 2011 to celebrate the role of pioneers in its history.
The celebration included the official opening of the OU's new Jennie Lee Building, named after the Minister for the Arts in Harold Wilson’s government who was the driving force in the creation of the Open University.
“You, the class of 1971, demonstrated to employers and the world at large that you had the knowledge and skills that were at least the equal of students from the older, conventional universities,” Vice-Chancellor Martin Bean told the 250 guests at the event.
Below is the story of Pioneers Day as it unfolded, told via tweets, audio, images and video…