Has a module changed your life? Tell us about it

In 1976 TAD292 ,Art and environment, was first presented at the OU. It dealt with

the processes and attitudes of art not so much as these were evidenced in products of art but as they underlie the very act of doing art. This can be seen already from the titles which were given to some of the units in the course: ‘Boundary Shifting’, ‘Imagery and Visual Thinking’, ‘Having Ideas by Handling Materials’.

Students were offered a range of projects. These included the suggestion that the student stop activity and engage in listening. Another was to compose a score for sounds made from differently textured papers and a third was to enumerate the household’s activities and categorise these in terms of role and sex stereotyping. The aims of the course were attitudional, sensory and subjective rather than cognitive, relating to feeling rather than knowledge. They were ‘more phenomenological than conceptual in nature’. Assessment involved a student not only submitting the product, such as a self-portrait photograph, but also notes describing the process and rationale. The criteria were not specific but involved formulations including enthusiasm, imagination and authenticity. This course took the OU some way from the image of standardized, central control.

Dale Godfrey, born 1950, started to study with the OU aged 30 and with no formal qualifications. She graduated in 1986.  She felt that

The course that changed me most was a rogue course, TAD292, Technology, Arts and Social Sciences. The ethos behind the TAD course was you built your own hoops and then decided whether you wanted to jump through them or not. For one TMA [assignment] you couldn’t use any words. That course was frightening and most satisfying at the same time. One of the premises behind it was that you should question everything… If I go to anything involving OU people now I can be certain someone will say, ‘I bet you did that funny course’. Maybe it just attracted people who were like that anyway, open to change and experiences. That’s what the OU’s done for me, it has made me think I have power. … We had one assignment where we had to go to the National Gallery and ask people why they were there. It was quite a good pick-up station. You can get some very strange answers to ‘Excuse me, would you mind telling me why you are here? Even if you start with, ‘I’m doing an Open University assignment and I just want to ask you a few questions’. … I’ll give you a recent example. In September I joined a writing class for sheer relaxation… I just wanted to test out my creativity in writing.. we were given the task of writing a synopsis of a Mills & Boon novel… I looked at the ingredients and I worked with that so that when we came to reading our scripts out, mine was quite different from the others. It was only one sheet of A4 and I’d been very naughty…. It was taking the class on my own terms and I got terrific fun out of preparing for that evening. But without the OU and TAD I would have thought, ‘This class isn’t for me’.


Philippe C. Duchastel, ‘TAD292 – and its challenge to Educational Technology’, Programmed Learning & Educational Technology, 13, 4, October 1976, pp. 61-66 (pp. 62-63).

Dale Godfrey’s interview first appeared in Patricia W. Lunneborg, OU women. Undoing educational obstacles, Cassell, London 1994, pp. 4-10.

One Response to “Has a module changed your life? Tell us about it”

  1. Tony Whitaker Says:

    Dales experience rings lots of bells. Started TAD 292 in 1985 as a serious science student, did the summerschool, studied Shiatsu, found Tai Chi and a new life. Just been to China with other TADPOLES to study QiGong, one was at same Summerschool.
    Still a Tadpole Society affiliated to OUSA – I am the rep.

    Still a small TAD Summer school at Durham, still an annual TADCAMP.

    Simon Nicholson was my Summerschool Director.

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