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Openness at the OU



A presentation I gave at the final dissemination event of the Sidecap project in Fiji

A presentation I gave at the final dissemination event of the Sidecap project in Fiji



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  • I work at the Open University in the UK, and it’s mission is to be open to people, places, methods and ideas. When it was founded in 1969 this meant reaching out to people who were excluded from traditional higher ed, using methods such as TV and print, and local tutorials.
  • We really got lucky with our name! We could have gone for something like ‘the university of the airwaves’ (I think there is a chinese distance ed university with that name) and that would have dated. In contrast the term open seems to have become more significant in education as time has gone on. If I were starting a new unversity now, and I wanted to be radical and cutting edge, then I could think of no better name than the Open University
  • While those original aims are still appropriate ‘open’ has a whole host of other meanings in education now. The OU is trying to embrace many of these changing definitions, but here are some.
  • I’ll talk a bit about openlearn – this was funded by the Hewlett Foundation and our aim was to give away course material. Whereas with MIT a lot of the content they give away doesn’t make much sense outside of the lectures, oru course material is designed to be studied by an individual at a distance, so it was a riskier proposition.
  • 21% is rest of the wolrd – so it’s not just UK and US
  • But even then we realised open education isn’t just about content, it’s about a whole different approach to education
  • Can show all these
  • Painting the dinosaur – you don’t really change what you do, and it’s just a side project, and you carry on as before

Openness at the OU Openness at the OU Presentation Transcript

  • Openness at the OU
    Martin Weller
    By mag3737 http://www.flickr.com/photos/mag3737/1914076277/
  • Who am I?
    Professor of Educational Technology
    Blog: Edtechie.net
    Twitter: mweller
  • The OU
    The Open University is open to people, places, methods and ideas.
  • We got lucky!
    By psd http://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/3717444865/
  • If you were starting an OU now…
    Open source
    Open educational resources
    Open teaching/courses
    Open research
    Open technology
  • What OERs used to look like
  • Canada
    8m visitors since launch
  • Openness isn’t just content
  • An ecosystem of openness
  • Not just a project
    Photo – Patrick McAndrew
  • Big OER & Little OER
    Big & Little OER
  • Ways of encouraging little OER
  • Allow space to experiment
  • Recognise and reward digital outputs
  • Staff development
  • Openness is a state of mind…