An Open degree “generator”

Photo of Martin Weller

Martin Weller is a Professor of Educational Technology and the Chair of the Open Board of Studies. Here, Martin takes a playful approach to demonstrating the flexibility and scale of choice available in the BA/BSc (Hons) Open degree. 

One of the exciting aspects of the Open degree is that, apart from a few excluded combinations, students can combine modules from across the range of OU offerings. This creates some interesting combinations, and it turns out that students really take advantage of the flexibility, with many different, often unique, pathways.

Over on my blog I had some fun with the metaphor generator, which randomly selected a metaphor topic from one list and applied it to a randomly selected educational technology in another list to give metaphor prompts such as: “How is your favourite film an analogy for academics use of Twitter?”. I thought I could do a similar thing with module combinations for Open degrees. So, using the list of modules currently eligible for inclusion, I created three lists, covering OU level 1, 2 and 3 modules to create an Open degree Generator. I generalised a lot of the module titles to make sense to a broader audience (we like a cryptic, clever module title at the OU), and combined a few, so it’s not an exact listing of modules. Nevertheless, all of the suggested combinations of topics can (I think!) be studied in the Open degree.

I’ve used three different sentence structures: “Your degree could be a combination of …”; “Would a degree containing … be interesting?”; and “In order to solve complex problems we need degrees that combine subjects like…”. The last is my favourite as it makes you consider how novel combinations can be used to address complex, or wicked problems.

It’s fun to see the different combinations that it generates. Sometimes the suggested mixture looks a bit random, but usually after some consideration you think “there would be some interesting connections between those subjects”. Have a play with it and see if it inspires any module combinations. And if you don’t like the mix you get, just click the Gimme Another button to get a different set. This is just for fun of course, you should explore any module in more depth before signing up for it, but the generator might act as an inspirational prompt.

[The code for the metaphor generator which I used for this is available here, and Alan Levine’s write-up on how he developed it here.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *