Archive for the ‘Nations and regions’ Category

Broadcasting developments

Thursday, July 21st, 2011
The OU has not used television to support assessed learning for many years. The relationship with the BBC has changed from one of partnership towards one in which the BBC is only one of a number of possible providers. One forthcoming development is a series with Channel 4. In the meantime the OU continues to use broadcasting to support learning with a new series just about to hit the screens. It is about towns (one of those featured is Totnes, hence the picture) and there is a website and openlearn site. More here.

Fees news

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Since it opened the OU has charged fees, often different rates for different students. In the context of other universities charging fees (see here) on 19th July the OU announced that the fee level for new students in England starting their studies on or after 1 September 2012 is to be £5,000 per full-time equivalent study year (120 credits). In Wales, the cost incurred by OU students is likely to be lower than in England as a result of additional support from the Welsh Government. In Northern Ireland, there is yet to be a decision on future fees. (more…)

Messages through the long white cloud

Thursday, July 14th, 2011


In From a Distance (published in 2010 to mark the 50th anniversary of the distance education programe of Massey University New Zealand, Aotearoa) Emeritus Professor Tom Prebble noted that the use of television by the OU (the educational significance of which he may have overemphasised) had an influence on this New Zealand university’s distance education programme.  

‘When the British Open University began in the early 1970s, it made extensive use of television to support its teaching programmes. These programmes were also available to the general public on a free-to-view basis and they did a lot to publicise the new institution. By the mid 1980s there was a widespread belief that television should be used to deliver distance education in New Zealand. At Massey, this viewpoint found an enthusiastic champion in Terry Povey [who established] a Television Production Centre [p.79]’.     (more…)

OU: one of many?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

The popularity of distance education has increased considerably in the USA. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the number of students enrolled in at least one distance education course increased significantly between 2002 and 2006, from 1.1 million to 12.2 million–and the growth spurt doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The OU, once unusual in offering supported learning for degrees at a distance is now much more part of the mainstream. The history project aims otconsider its role as parent to many other institutions offering distance education. If you have experience of distance education through another body, perhaps you could share your story.

Welcome in the hillsides for OU?

Saturday, July 9th, 2011
A report by Geraint Talfan Davies (Chair of the IWA and former member of the McCormick Review of Higher Education Governance in Wales) about the closure and merger of universities in Wales fails to mention The Open University. This despite the fact that it operates in Wales. This omission highlights how far the OU is perceived not as local, regional or national but as centralised in Milton Keynes. if you want to correct this inbalance, please help ensure that the narratives we are collecting on the website reflect the international flavour of the OU.

History of European Universities. Challenges and transformations

Monday, April 18th, 2011

The Anglo-Portuguese Treaty of 1373, ratified at the Treaty of Windsor in 1386 is one of the oldest international alliances in the world. The OU is hoping to strengthen cordial relations between the UK (the UK took over the Anglo part of the alliance) and Portugal by building up links at a conference being held in Lisbon. Representing a third of the participants who have travelled from HEFCE institutions, (London, Oxford and Cambridge are also represented here) Chris Bissell and Dan Weinbren have ensured that blended, supported distance education has not been marginalised at this international conference about the history of universities. Their interests are echoed in other contributions. One, on ‘massification’ in the Portuguese HE sector since the 1974 revolution, is chronologically comparable to the period of the early years of the OU while another, on the role of the informal sector in the construction of the discipline of history in the Netherlands, might lead to comparisons with FACHRS (see earlier posting). In addition, Dan’s paper, which assesses the uses of the market metaphor, was prefigured in both the welcomer’s address and the first keynote, which was entitled ‘The transformation of the universities: from the church to the market’.

For those unfamiliar with Lisbon there are similarities with parts of the UK. For example, the steep hills, trams and fado (a cultural form which celebrates misery) might make it easier for visitors who are homesick for Sheffield. Even those seeking Yorkshire weather will not be disappointed. It poured with rain on 18th April.

Lisbon conference

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Intending to make an impact at least as momentous  as the earthquake which rocked the Portuguese capital in 1755, though aiming to be considerably less destructive, and dreaming of being received as raptuously as the Carnation Revolution, which started in Lisbon in 1974, Chris Bissell and Dan Weinbren, both from The Open University, will be making contributions to the History of European Universities. Challenges and transformations conference currently being held at the oldest university in Portugal, the University of Lisbon (founded 1288-90). Chris Bissell’s topic is ‘The Open University of the United Kingdom’ while Dan Weinbren is going to be talking on ‘Openness, universities and national identities’.  He will be arguing that while the market model is widely used as a metaphor for understanding universities, and that specifically the ideas of Clayton Christensen have been applied to contextualise the development of the OU, there are wider political structures which also need to be considered.  He will propose new parameters which can be employed to understand the impact of the OU.

Twenty years of schooling

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

2011 marks the conclusion of the first two decades of an European association for distance learning open to institutions and individuals. This not-for-profit company, EDEN, the European Distance and E-learning Network, is interested in formal and non-formal education and training at all levels. It holds conferences, supports the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning and provides support and advice for a range of projects. It has close associations with the OU, for example Alan Tait is a former President and former VC, Sitr John Daniel is to address the EDEN annual conference in June 2011.  For more on ‘this other Eden, demi-paradise’, as Shakespeare almost called it and for information about the forthcoming conference click here.

History of the regions and nations – help required

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

The History of the OU project was pleased to receive a copy of The Open University in Wales: A Charter Celebration by Mandy Ashworth, which was published in 1994 to celebrate the University’s 25th anniversary. This contains a fairly detailed rundown of the history of the OU in Wales, some of its unique features, and ways in which it pioneered initiatives that were later taken up by the University as a whole. If any readers know of similar publications relating to other regions or nations, the project would like to hear from you.

Motives for distance education

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Open universities have engaged in such a wide range of activities besides research and teaching adult higher education that Alan Tait concluded that ‘what remains constant is the development function and I suggest that it is helpful to define the purposes of an open university in this way’ (Alan Tait, ‘What are open universities for?’, Open Learning, 23, 2, 2008, pp. 85 – 93 (p. 93)).  (more…)