Archive for the ‘Students’ Category

Adult education since 1862

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Distaining to take the hint offered by Professor Malcolm Chase who suggested that ‘there are rather more histories of adult education than of other fields which would seem as deserving of historical scutiny, for example … higher education’, Vaughan College, Leicester has seized the opportunity of an anniversary, its 150th birthday, to reflect on its past (Chase ‘”Mythmaking and mortmain”: the uses of adult education history’, Studies in the Education of Adults, 27, 1 ,1995, p.52). The event will be marked by three main sessions over July 2nd – July 3rd 2012 which will look at what Vaughan College has stood for, how ‘the Vaughan tradition’ now fits into current thinking, policy and practice and the place of adult education in contemporary society.

It opens at 4.30 on the 2nd with a talk by AA100 author and AL at the OU, Dr Lucy Faire who is also Director of the HE Certificate in Modern British History at Vaughan College.  (more…)

Poetic brilliance and imagination trumps dreaming spires

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Ian Flintoff  was a language scholar at Oxford University before becoming a professional actor and director. |He started his OU career in 1989.His academic qualifications are mainly in biological sciences and he has a doctorate in science communication. He appeared on an album compiled by Richard Holliman for iTunes U, Science communication and public engagement. The album also features contributions from Alan Irwin, Jon Turney, Susan Greenfield, Vic Pearson, Robert Lambourne and Richard Holliman.Here Dr Flintoff recalls the residential element of his OU experience:
 You can never go to an OU summer school without seeing this amazing cross-section of society. The first time it brought tears to my eyes, the beauty of it … I was in an all-male college at Oxford which was mainly Etonians who were charming people, but I can’t kid myself for a moment that Trinity had anything on the majesty or poetic brilliance and imagination of the Open University.The Open University is a century or two ahead of Oxford.
Quoted in Patricia W. Lunneborg, OU Men. Work through lifelong learning, Lutterworth, Cambridge, 1997, p. 117.

Can’t hear yourself think?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

On the website Catherine Smith has uploaded an account of an OU examination when ‘we sat in a room four floors up which looked out onto a small courtyard; every few minutes the lid of the rubbish container creaked as if it was in the same room. After that I started to wear a pair of industrial ear protectors during exams’.

Janet Wardle was an ‘A’ year (1971) student who, due to her husband’s job, moved to Rome in 1972 but then could not sit the examination as the papers were lost in the post. On her return to London she sat the examination ‘stuffed between high-shelved bookcases with someone typing behind them’.

If you have an OU examination story that you’d like to share you can do this via the website.

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.

Inside story

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Duncan Campbell has recently contributed an article about an OU student to The Observer, 22 January 2012.  Graham Godden was sent, aged 12, to a home for “maladjusted boys” for attacking a teacher. Later he became an addict and an armed robber,was featured on Crimewatch as the ‘M25 Bandit’ and called by the Sunday Mirror ‘Britain’s most wanted robber’. He was imprisoned and is now on an Open University degree course in criminology and social sciences. He admits to have being influenced by a film about another OU student. I used to look at the film McVicar [about the robber John McVicar] and think: ‘My God, I wish I was like him.’

Have you got an OU story? You can upload your OU story on the website.

Grandad, you’re lovely

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Writing in the THES on 6th October 2011, Martin Bean argued that the ‘vital work’ of the OU was to support widening participation and social mobility. He went on to refer to the history of the OU, using a familial image:

I recently heard The Open University described as the “grandaddy” of widening participation into education. The title was gratifying, but being the grandaddy brings with it a responsibility to work with the rest of the higher education sector and the government to ensure that we do what is necessary to provide the best possible opportunities – and outcomes – for future generations…. we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all of those who wish to study are able to do so.


Changing views of HE

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The view that degrees should be seen in individual, economic terms was emphasised today by the production of data about graduates’ salaries six months after graduating. International consultants The Parthenon Group drew on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and concluded that some post-1992 institutions do just as well as or better than many Russell Group institutions on employment outcomes.  Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the analysis risked contributing to a “fast food” vision of higher education. She added that

Universities are not just graduate factories turning out a ready supply (of employees) for business – they are there to teach a diversity of academic subjects for a wide range of purposes that serve all our communities 

This has echoes of Harold Wilson’s response when asked about housewife students at the OU:

I’m not at all appalled at this. They are having a chance they have never had before. I’ve never thought of the Open University as a technical college for vocational education. It doesn’t matter if their degrees never earn them a penny piece (Education & Training, December 1972)

 However, since 1972 the pressures to conceptualise the university in terms of the market have grown.

Pillar of wisdom

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Milton Keynes council has commissioned a new war memorial to commemorate those who died in battle.  There has been speculation that the memorial which is to feature pillars and at ground level, an image of a rose, might also commemorate both those killed on the local roads and according to the Milton Keynes Citizen  on 22nd September, those who gained degrees at the OU.  According to the local council Minutes ‘spend approval for the MK Rose Cenotaph project’ was granted by the Cabinet on 6th September. Former OU employee Councillor Sam Crooks, the Lib Dem leader felt ‘unable to support proposed expenditure’. The Cenotaph Trust is backing the idea of what is being called the MK Rose. The memorial and (if the rose-tinted conjecture is to be believed) tribute to scholars will be in Campbell Park, in Milton Keynes, (pictured) once a site proposed for the OU.

The impact of OU students

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

The history of The Open University project is attempting to assess the impact of the OU on wider society, but the ripple effect of its education via its graduates would be difficult to quantify.

A perusal of mentions of the Open University in news articles just today gives a flavour of the diversity of people who have studied with the OU and how it might have effected their professional lives. The Scottish Business Insider reports that Nosheena Mobarik, co-founder of M Computer Technologies, has been appointed Chairperson of the CBI in Scotland. She studied with The Open University when her children were young. Anne Fielding Smith’s appointment as the new principal of Strode’s College is reported in the Midweek Observer. Anne has studied part time with The Open University for three years. The East Fife Mail reports that local artist Teresa Doughty is opening the Merchant’s Room in the Scottish Fisheries museum. Teresa has a degree in psychology from The Open University.

Finally, there is an interview with Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O’Neil in the Daily Mail. O’Neil, who was a childhood football prodigy playing in the Newcastle youth team with Gazza and is now making Irish football history as he takes the Shamrock Rovers into the group stage of a European competition for the first time ever, talks about the Open University degree in maths and statistics he achieved while he was at Dundee United.

Benefits of an OU degree

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

In mid-August The Open University was again ranked among the top three UK universities for student satisfaction in the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) National Student Survey of 265, 000 final-year students studying at 154 universities and 99 further education colleges. The response rate of 65% – the highest rate in the seven years that the NSS has been running. A third of students (32%) were unhappy with the level of assessment and feedback they received, while a quarter (25%) criticised the organisation and management of their course and 10% of UK students were disatisfied with the quality of their qualifications. (more…)