The Open University is a world leader in providing distance learning in science. Online experimentation and observations are at the heart of our pedagogy and our students are able not only to learn about the facts and concepts of science but also to practise as scientists.
New technologies (e.g. mobile devices, immersive environments, crowd sourcing) are opening up new possibilities to practise science authentically. We recently won the Times Higher Education (THE) award for outstanding ICT initiative of the year (2014) for the Wolfson OpenScience Laboratory that exploits these technologies. The laboratory, which was launched in July 2013, is a cross-disciplinary initiative involving the STEM faculty, other OU units and UK and international partners. In 2016, a major new initiative involving robotically controlled equipment has led to the OpenSTEM Labs, which provides an excellent environment for pedagogic research into the use of remote access laboratories. Researching in this area will bring students into contact with a very diverse academic community who are working to advance an area that is challenging but has profound developmental importance.