28 Jun 2007

The Open University's OpenLearn website receives a $4.45million grant

New grant for OpenLearn

New grant for OpenLearn

The Open University has been awarded a further $4.45million grant to support its work to make course materials freely available to anyone in the world.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation today approved a bid to enable the OpenLearn website to double the amount of free learning content by April 2008. The website will also have more learning support and collaboration tools to connect learners and educators online.

Dr Catherine Casserly, Director of the Open Education Resources Initiative at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, said OpenLearn has demonstrated itself to be a robust partner in the open educational resources movement.

“We expect The Open University’s OpenLearn project will continue to develop its unique balance of quality-vetted content, space for continued innovation, and research on open learning environments,’’ Dr Casserly said. “With this new grant we look forward to the OpenLearn team expanding its outstanding content and increasing the site’s reach to help build communities of learners throughout the world.”

Professor Andy Lane, Director of OpenLearn, said: “This funding will have a huge impact on the development of the website. Not only will we be able to increase the amount of content we make freely available and make it relevant to the needs of most learners using the site – such as providing more skills-based courses - but we’ll introduce new technologies such as video blogging and wikis and expand the number of interactive and multimedia resources.

"We’ll also be working with partners in the UK and abroad to extend the use of the free content in more targeted ways.”

Editor’s Notes
The Open University has more than 200,000 students studying its courses. Since its foundation in 1969, the University has pursued a social justice mission to open education to all.

The OpenLearn website – at - launched in October 2006. This £5.65 million project covers a full range of subjects from arts and history to science and nature, at all study levels from access to postgraduate. Available to learners and educators throughout the UK and worldwide, the project is of particular significance in The Open University’s efforts to widen access to hard-to-reach groups and tackle educational disadvantage both within the developed and developing worlds.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been a leading investor in the area of Open Educational Resources over the past five years. The Foundation originally supported the launch of the OpenLearn website with a grant of $4.45 million in April 2006.

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