Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Open Learning - an exciting project for an Open and Liberal Society 

This is all great news as Sarah Teather says - even if her press release does suggest she has not quite looked at all of what the new Open University project 'Open learn' actually does.

This is what the 'welcome' page for the OpenLearn project says:

Welcome to The Open University's OpenLearn website - free and open
educational resources for learners and educators around the world.
You are in the LearningSpace where Open University learning materials are freely
available for you to study in your own time, away from any formal teaching environment.
Visit the LabSpace to share and reuse educational resources.
Download some learning materials, adapt to your needs: translate, shorten, extend, add examples... and then of course, place it back for others to benefit!

In sort this is not just a collection of material or even 'lectures' available online but an invitation to form part of a learning community. Even to contribute materials for common use. And it is free. All you have to do is register and you are in.

What sort of materials?

Well eventually every single course taught by the OU will be up and accessible. For now there is a selection. Lets look at a couple that are relevant to our current concerns.

Take E500 'Global warming'. If you study this material you will:

Develop an understanding of the current evidence for global warming.
Model and apply the techniques of ‘measuring’ the Earth's temperature.
Understand the current warming in relation to climate changes throughout the Earth's history.
Explain factors forcing climate change, and the extent of anthropogenic influence.
Assess the ‘best predictions’ of current climate models.

Might be useful? Even just to get immunity from phrases like "anthropogenic influence" (caused by people)?

Or how about this from the Social Sciences? DD100-1 "The Meaning of Crime"?

give a definition of crime (in terms of society)
state the steps and factors that lead from a crime to conviction
illustrate how society views crime "with fear and fascination"
give examples of the relationship between crime rates and the evidence to support these claims.

Or even this, from E500-2 "School Governors - Organisation and Practice"

to explain the composition of governing bodies and to consider the respective roles of the ‘officers’ of the governing body;
to understand the sharing of the governing body's workload within an agreed formal
committee structure;
to develop governors as effective managers of their role through critical self-evaluation;
to encourage governors to undertake appropriate training as a means of establishing good practice within the governing body.

I know some governing bodies that could do with imput from this! Maybe there are one or two in your patches?

Do you think it would be helpful to set up a 'Liberal Democrat Open Learning Online' group to look at how these openly available materials could impact on policy making and presentation and campaigning?

I am really proud of my former employers right now.

Edis (former OU Technology Faculty Lecturer, former Business School Project Officer and former OU IT course Associate Lecturer)

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