What is The Open University? (1/7)

What is The Open University? (1/7)

October 9, 2019 14 By Stanley Isaacs


The key’s in the name.
It’s open, to people, to places. It’s open to all nationalities or groups. I am Brazilian, for example,
and I’m here. To methods and to ideas. When you work with people here,
you realise they are open to ideas. They are open to fundamentally
changing the way that the university is delivering its teaching
and learning experiences. The OU is the only truly
global university. It never ceases to amaze me that
wherever I go and mention Open University, people have heard of it. The brand stands for quality.
The brand stands for integrity. What we do is not just straight distance
learning, it’s blended learning. Because our students are spread all
over Britain and, in fact, increasingly, all over Europe and the rest of the world, we can use technology to help students
compare their experiences, all their local environments,
with each other. We have a tradition that
we’ve developed, I suppose, of using technologies to support
and overcome that sense of isolation that can be felt with distance learning. You and your students need to look at
knowledge and media and how they work together. The Open University is doing that. We are often training people who,
in their own countries, are also running large institutions. So, we’ve had a lot of impact, not only through
our undergraduate student base, but through
our postgraduate student base, too. In every sector of the
Ethiopian economy, you will find people who are trained
by the Open University. Open University model of teaching
is very new and very popular in Russia. The Open University is seen as a
leader in quality, in terms of distance education
and distance learning. I keep on telling to everybody that it’s
really nice to work with them. But I had no idea of the infrastructure
that it has and how big it was. The particular thing that I’m
impressed about is the very comprehensive
learning materials. Indeed, if a student were to study
on his own, he can actually do it using the
OU UK materials and pass the exams. Life is really fast paced,
and many people have to work and want to improve their
standard of living and improve their skills
at the same time. So, I think the course that OU offers
are actually ideal for people who want to work
and also study at the same time. It gives room for those who are still
working in government, who have a busy schedule,
to adjust their programme to attend this high level education. The world is changing. It’s always been changing,
it’s in its nature. But it changes so fast now that you can’t be looking at
a conventional view of higher education. The OU, in a sense,
is a child of technology. And one of the most impressive things
is the way the OU has managed to stay at least with, and
sometimes even ahead of, the curve. You could say that the Open University
has been waiting for the Internet. The visual landscape of the Internet
is changing dramatically. And what it does, essentially,
is it makes distance irrelevant. We’ve been known as the
University of the Air, so it’s very, very natural for us to be
in that kind of space. So, a TV based university has genuinely
become a digital based university. We started nearly 40 years ago
by absolutely breaking the mould. That initial excitement, the ability to challenge the traditional
way of doing things, it’s still there, it’s still inherent in us all,
I think, here at the Open University. For me, absolutely, Open University is the place where we
came to dream about the real future and to approach the future
and our dream. The Open University, I think,
is a mechanism for liberation. For families, for communities,
for different groups. Because it’s through education that
we can actually change people’s lives. That has to be the most powerful
strap line. An inspiring university
that changes lives. I’ve never had anyone say to me
that it wasn’t difficult, but I’ve never had anyone say to me
that it wasn’t utterly rewarding.