Archive for the ‘Online teachng and learning’ Category

MOOC Update

Monday, December 17th, 2012

 There has been widespread coverage of the OU’s MOOC initiative and support from some of those associated wioth the OU’s roots in the WEA and Labour Party. Details have been collated here.

FutureLearn and history

Friday, December 14th, 2012

On 14th December OU Vice Chancellor Martin Bean announced on Radio 4 and also on television that FutureLearn Ltd (majority-owned by the OU) is to provide free open, online courses from the universities of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, East Anglia, Exeter, King’s College London, Lancaster, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick. The aim is to build on the OU’s expertise in delivering distance learning and pioneering open education resources and to increase accessibility to higher education. It will be headed by former BBC staffer Simon Nelson. He said that he looks forward ‘to using the OU’s proud history’. 

Former OU PVC goes online

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Coursera  calls itself a ‘social entrepreneurship company’ which aims to deliver online courses. Founded by two academics from Stanford University and funded to the tune of $22m by the computer industries, it claims to offer ‘education for everyone’ by providing courses from its partner universities. These include  the California Institute of Technology, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Virginia, Rice University, UC San Francisco, University of Illinois and University of Washington and also Toronto in Canada and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Coursera does not offer degrees, but students can be awarded certificates. (more…)

Teaching the teachers

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

The need for guidance for associate lecturers (tutors) was identified in 1969 and in 1971 a briefing and training policy was introduced. This focused on briefing of new staff but in 1972 Course Tuition was introduced and in 1973 Teaching by correspondence for the OU. In 1987 a Staff Development policy emphasised the need for continued professional learning. A set of Open Teaching materials was produced to support the policy, including Open Teaching a handbook on teaching and counselling. There was also a manual, The Open Teaching File and a set of ‘toolkits’ about a variety of topics including study skills and support for disabled students.  In 1993 Maggie Coats produced an evaluation of the Open Teaching materials and the student-centred Supporting Open Learning materials followed. These were widely used and developed. A fund for personal development was opened in 1987. In 1992 this was revised to encourage continuing professional development and it was revised again in 1997 to incorporate provision for peer mentoring. By comparison induction for full-time academic staff was introduced in 1995 and a programme of staff development for them introduced in 1998.In 1999 there were approximately 7.400 part-time associate lecturers of whom 10% had no other employment and 70% worked in educational institutions and 45 of them within HEIs. In 1997 the Dearing Report recommended accreditation for HE academics and the Institute of Learning and Teaching was established. At the OU a Centre for Higher Education Practice was opened. It ran courses and produced materials.

For more on this subject see Anne Langley and Isabel Perkins, ‘Open University staff development materials for tutors of open learning’, Open Learning, 14, 2, June 1999, pp. 44-51. We would also value hearing from ALs and students about supporting open learning.

Abstract for World Universities Forum, January 2012

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Kiri's pic

On 8th January 2012 Dan Weinbren gave a presentation on ‘The roots and branches of the OU’s disruptive online environment’ to the World Universities Forum.

Inspired by the success of the World Economic Forum held each year in Davos, the World Universities Forum has developed into a key site for academic discussion on the current state and future possibilities of the university. Now in its fifth year the WUF enables the exchange of ideas between delegates from dozens of countries around the world, numerous academic disciplines, and a range of professional areas including research, university administration, business, and policy-making.  Read his abstract here: (more…)

More graphic than info

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The history of distance education has been compressed into an infographic by OnlineSchools.com, see here. All events prior to 1960 receive as much attention as ‘crime’ (illustrated by a poodle in a mortar board, though not this poodle). A teleological approach is implied by a number of images of evolutionary development, The Open University is not mentioned in this US-focused account and women are not considered to be of significance in this narrative.

Good to see the subject raised. Could try harder with grammar and content.

The OU is missed from this account of the history of distance education which has been produced by Distancelearning.net. There are, however, links to the ‘top distance learning schools’. They are all US-based and private.

Facing the social sciences

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

As part of a pilot scheme with The Faculty of Social Sciences, The Open University has launched a Social Sciences fan page on Facebook.  This new platform is an opportunity for all Social Sciences students to network outside of their Tutor Group Forums and current study module/s with other Faculty students within the Facebook community. There are nearly 6,000 fans, some of whom have commented on their learning experiences. Here, for example is one:

It’s a journey – enjoy it. I like the ‘big picture’ concepts in OU Social Sciences especially, and a thoughtful tutor, which both help us stand back from the day-to-day. (And ignore the ironing, which is waiting in my kitchen here as I write my first TMA of DD301 for tomorrow’s deadline

Othrs at the OU have used social media to support learning. The History of The Open University Project is still collecting tales from staff, students and alumni, see here  and is running a forum on student experiences, see here.

Registration now open!

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The History of The Open University Project is very pleased to announce that registration for the following event is now open.

What have we learnt?

Transmitting knowledge, facilitating learning c1960-2010

29 November 2011, 10:30-15:30

Library Seminar Rooms 1 and 2, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes MK7 6AA

Higher education has played a significant role shaping our culture and our social, religious, ideological and political institutions. Since the Second World War, in common with other western societies, the UK developed mass higher education from an elite format. New universities opened and existing institutions became polytechnics and later universities. In 1969 the Open University provided a new form of higher education institution. The existing universities developed new student bases and students engaged with a variety of communities

This one-day forum, organised by the History of The Open University project, brings together a range of experts to discuss elements of the history of higher education over 50 years.

The morning session will ask how have students been taught, looking at the move from traditional lectures and tutorials to the use of new technologies, a variety of pedagogies and the development of student-centred learning.

The afternoon session will reflect on 50 years of the student experience, placing learners’ perspectives at the centre.

 Speakers include:

  • Prof John Beckett, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Georgina Brewis, Institute of Education
  • Prof Judith George, The Open University
  • Prof Fred Gray, Sussex University
  • Dr Janet MacDonald, Higher education consultant
  • Prof Andy Northedge, Higher education consultant
  • Prof Harold Silver, Author of Tradition and Higher Education
  • Prof Malcolm Tight, Lancaster University
  • Dr Dan Weinbren, The Open University

There will be a short meeting at the end of the day for current researchers to discuss future workshops in the context of preparing a funding bid.

The workshop is open to all, but those who wish to attend are asked to register in advance as space is limited.

More information, including a provisional agenda and abstracts from the speakers are now available here.

To register please email history-of-the-ou@open.ac.uk.

Educational Futures Thematic Research Network

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The OU has a new thematic research network, Educational Futures. The Educational Futures network draws upon the university’s distinctive engagement with understanding new forms of technological engagement, digital literacies, creativity, educational dialogues, professional identity, pedagogy, international teacher education, learning in non-formal spaces and the development of new research methodologies.

An element of this network is the History of the OU Project because to understand where we’d like to go we need to assess where we’ve come from.  As Arthur Marwick, 1936-2006, first Professor of History, The Open University noted on 24 November 1994 in the THES

We study history because of the desperate importance of the human past: what happened in the past… governs the world we live in today, and created the many problems which beset us … To change the world, we have first to understand it.

This project can help make connections and ensure that network bids are strengthened by reference to the long-standing traditions, assumptions and values of the OU. Longitudinal studies are possible here as they are not elsewhere because the OU has over 40 years of pedagogy including TV footage and course materials in the archives while other universities don’t even have collections of lecture notes from the past. The status and relevance of the OU has dramatically changed over the last half century but popular images, often reliant on stereotypes about kipper ties, remain. Through an understanding of the past the HOTOUP can take education forwards.

social media use

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

There are many OU students and staff who use Facebook (or similar social media) and there are a number of OU-related groups, including one for members of the OU here,  amd ones intended for those with a particular focus, such as the Arts Faculty. Please let us know about other groups and how you use social networks to support your learning or the learning of OU students.