Perhaps in response to criticisms such as implied in these cartoons (ie that students were isolated and that the television was a badly-used fad) from early on many OU materials sought to minimalise the overt input of the lecturer and encourage learners to construct their own understandings.
One cartoon features a couple eating breakfast and has the caption ‘it’s the Open University – we’re having a sit-in’ and the other one shows a woman with a fake television holding up a card stating, ‘The cat sat on the mat’. The caption refers to a conversation between the two men in the background: ‘She reckons with this teaching method she has the problem of illiteracy licked’.
In 1972 the intention of a psychology course film of children talking and teachers at work in schools was for the student to hear ‘not the analysis of a lecturer but the actual voices of teachers, children and parents… the filter of the lecturer’s personality has been effectively removed’. A sociology film made in the same year used a hidden camera in a hostel for ‘mental sub normals’. There was little editing as the aim was that students could form their own opinions and use it as a starting point for discussion. In 1976 Arthur Marwick (Professor of History at the OU) argued that his aim was ‘to leave each piece of film to speak for itself without being overlaid by an intrusive commentary’.