Open University announces £5.6m project to make learning material free on the internet

The Open University (OU) announced a £5.6m project to make learning material free on the internet. The OU is the largest university in the UK by the number of students.

The Open University today announced a GBP £5.65 million (US $9.9 million) project to make a selection of its learning materials available free of charge to educators and learners around the world.

Supported by a grant of US $4.45 million from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation the University will launch the website in October 2006.

The provision on the internet of ‘Open Educational Resources’, free at point of use and available to everyone, reflects The Open University’s mission of promoting fair access for all. During the initial phase of this initiative, the University will select and make available educational resources from all study levels from access to postgraduate and from a full range of subject themes: arts and history, business and management, health and lifestyle, languages, science and nature, society and technology. Learners will also be able to benefit from a range of study skills development material.

In this wikipedia and OpenCourseWare (OCW) era, free, systematic and organized educational online content is not, in itself, a very impressive proposition.

What puzzles me is how you can spend so much money just to “select and make available some educational resources”. Some web developers are really overpaid these days! (yes, that’s a joke)

Kidding aside, with this kind of budget, I’m really looking forward to see what they’ll put together. It better be more impressive than a few pages with PDF documents on them. And it better be more than “here’s the first lesson in our calculus course, enter your VISA card number here if you want to take up the rest of the course”.

With this kind of money, they should be able to innovate somewhat. Let’s see what they come up with.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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