David Willetts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and his Chief of Staff, Nicholas Hillman, today visited the Open University. Accompanied by the Vice Chancellor Brenda Gourley they came to KMi to get a clear picture of the future of learning in the internet age, and to meet up with a selection of Open University students. KMi Director Peter Scott demonstrated a range of knowledge media technologies as they are used by our learning and working communities. Showing the KMi Semantic Web systems, like Magpie and the ambient presence system Hexagon, gave the visitors a picture of the breadth of Knowledge and Media research in the University and how we are using it to frame the future of learning and work. "From OU students working on Climate knowledge with Magpie, to Sunderland City Council workers sharing their presence with Hexagon we are showing how higher education can reach beyond the traditional boundaries of the University", said Dr Scott. "It is time for the UK, at the highest level, to recognise that Open Learning is the future!".
Will Swann, Director of Student Services, then introduced them to half a dozen Open University students, for a wide ranging discussion about being an ‘open learner’ in the 21st century.