Herewith a para contribution for the OU development office on the subject of eLearning from me…
The Open University is a Virtual University. All modern universities are now keen to exploit the virtual and the online: seeking to understand the impact of the virtual learning experience; to explore how new technology can reach into new communities. But for the OU, virtual is not an option, but a statement of necessity. For our communities, the virtual learning experience is what learning actually means. So it is essential that our mastery of new systems, technologies and practices is embedded in every aspect of our virtual learning frameworks.
The real key to our success is that we are not content to merely observe the future happening around us. In our Knowledge Media Institute we are creating that future. Like others, our researchers seek to understand the impact on our learners of new online media, of collaborative working tools and of new communicative models. However, we know that we must take the next step and actually make our own new systems that will create our own new experiences. Many universities are now “putting their courses online”, However we are not content with putting the old wine of conventional learning into the new bottles of information technology. E-learning is a key to the future of our mission of social justice for all in the effective access to learning. We know that e-learning is one way that the information technology revolution can change the lives of us all: with webcasting and streaming media we can bring live and on-demand learning events to a world-wide community effectively, and economically; our immersive presence systems mean that any time you have a problem, someone in the world can help find an answer; with interactive media systems, our experiments and simulations can really come to life; and with mobile and ubiquitous computing our learners can reach us from anywhere with smart phones and personal digital assistants; and finally our work on the semantic web can make the world wide web an intelligent resource for our global learning communities.