Moving from speaking to the nation to promoting dialogues.

An invisible college for a university of the air?

This blog has been set up by the History of The Open University Project. This three-year project, initiated by the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive, aims to deliver a high quality, accessible history of The Open University which will look at the University’s contribution to wider society and its significant impact upon students and their families. Professor David Vincent, former Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and External Affairs) and currently Professor of History, is the Project Sponsor.

This is a timely project. The future of higher education is under increased scrutiny, with the prospect of a further financial squeeze as public spending contracts. The nature and role of higher education and its impact on wider society faces examination as it justifies its existence and activities.

The sector has expanded and changed dramatically over the past 50 years. The opening and expansion of The Open University, offering supported distance learning and a non-traditional route to a degree, has made a significant contribution to post-war higher education. It is believed to have influenced teaching in institutions across Britain and set an example that has been followed globally.

This blog seeks to reflect on the University’s distinctive place in the worlds of adult, distance and higher education and keep those with an interest in touch with the project. The project aims to ensure that a variety of voices are heard in telling the University’s history. It aims to promote the history of the OU through dissemination and also to help ideas evolve through engagement with others and through critical reflective practice. It is comparable to being at a conference or at some of the more interesting staff meetings, indeed the economist Brad DeLong likened the blogosphere to an invisible college where ideas can be tested and assessed. Responses to reflections posted here are welcomed.

To get in touch email history-of-the-ou@open.ac.uk