Archive for September, 2012

Plugged in but not switched on

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Photographer: FourNinety Copyright (C) The Open University

For a report on how ‘massive open online courses’ provided by Coursera, edX and Udacity appear to be ‘another tectonic shift in the evolution of higher education and HE internationalisation’, see a report from the Observatory on borderless higher education.

The OU’s eLearning Community newsletter recently noted the interest in massive open online courses (MOOCs) and also noted that it appears to have come as a surprise to ‘Wired Campus’ that many MOOC students form groups to study and socialize. (more…)

Community engagement

Thursday, September 13th, 2012


Photographer: Richard Learoyd Copyright (C) The Open University

A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation recently asked ‘How can universities support disadvantaged communities?’ It concluded that ‘Most universities thought community engagement was important’ and that ‘Some universities were much more active than others in supporting disadvantaged communities. Institutional commitment to this is a key factor’. The OU had such engagement written into its founding Charter which specifies the importance of the ‘educational well-being of the community’. Many OU students have long been involved in their local communities because they did not leave their homes in order to study. It seems as if the OU led theway towards such engagement by other universities.

Graduation day tales

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

The OU's first degree ceremony, Alexandra Palace, 1973

Numerous graduates have recognised the positive impact of university on their lives. However, for many OU students their studies dramatically changed their trajectory and, for some, their pride in their achievement came after a fall.

While full-time young students are often bolstered through their studies, OU students often acknowledge the collective support and commitment from family, tutors, colleagues and friends. Students did not need to arrive at the OU assuming that a university education was a birthright determined by their class position, educational qualifications or age. Perhaps we can hear in the whoops and cheers that echo around any OU graduation ceremony the collective transformations that the OU has helped to shape. and the recognition that this is an award not only for individuals but also for their networks and supporters.

Interviewed at her graduation ceremony, Alex Wood, indicated that for her graduation was not the marking of an, apparently seamless, individual intellectual journey from school to degree. During the six years she took to complete her OU degree , she went through two bereavements, a break up, a new relationship, a house move, relocation, promotion (she was a police officer) and the birth of two children.  She attended her graduation while nine months’ pregnant with her third child.  

If you have a Graduation Day tale, please share it with us.

49 years since Harold Wilson announced the OU

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Today I want to outline new proposals on which we are working, a dynamic programme providing facilities for home study to university and higher technical standards, on the basis of a University of the Air and of nationally organised correspondence college courses. These will be intended to cater for a wide variety of potential students. There are technicians and technologists who perhaps left school at sixteen or seventeen and who, after two or three years in industry, feel that they could qualify as graduate scientists or technologists. There are many others, perhaps in clerical occupations, who would like to acquire new skills and new qualifications. There are many in all levels of industry who would desire to become qualified in their own or other fields, including those who had no facilities for taking GEC at 0 or A level, or other required qualifications; or housewives who might like to secure qualifications in English Literature, Geography or History. What we envisage is the creation of a new educational trust, representative of the universities and other educational organisations, associations of teachers, the broadcasting authorities.

Glasgow, 8 September 1963

Lucky call

Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Since it opened the OU has supported female learners. Many critics were the dismissive accusations about it being the university for bored housewives as if it was a self-evidently bad idea that women should have the opportunity to learn at home.
Now the OU is working to further support women. (more…)