06 Jul 2009

Mobile learning research brings OU’s online repository to 10,000 items

A research paper which argues that mobile phones and portable devices can lead to new perspectives and practices in learning has become the 10,000th item to be deposited in The Open University’s research repository – Open Research Online (ORO).

Launched in 2006 as part of the ‘open access movement’ – an initiative to make peer-reviewed research free to readers – ORO is visited by around 7000 people across the world each week and is now the eighth largest higher education repository in the UK. Currently around 20 per cent of the articles deposited on ORO provide access to the full-text, with research ranging from dating climate change on Mars to investigations of rhythm in North Indian music.

Professor Brigid Heywood, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) at the OU, said: “This is an astounding achievement. We established this online resource just three years ago and have been both surprised and delighted at the rate at which ORO has grown in its relatively short life. To reach 10,000 items in that space of time without mandatory deposit is testament to the hard work and support of individuals across the university and the commitment of this institution to open access. Alongside initiatives like OpenLearn, it is another example of the OU’s drive to make key resources freely accessible to all.”

Colin Smith, Repository Manager for ORO, says, “We’re particularly proud to have reached this landmark figure, not least because the repository operates on a self-archiving model whereby academics deposit their work themselves. This shows great progress has been made in embedding the repository and Open Access in general, into the culture of the University and the publishing routines of our academics.”

The 10,000th item, Will mobile learning change language learning?, was written by Agnes Kukulska-Hulme, Professor of Learning Technology & Communication at The Open University, and first published in ReCALL, the journal of the European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning (EUROCALL). The article, which was published in May 2009, has been made freely available by kind permission of Cambridge University Press, which publishes ReCALL on behalf of EUROCALL.

During her research, Professor Kukulska-Hulme looked at the impact mobile phones and other portable devices are beginning to have on how learning takes place, and concludes that an emphasis on mobility can lead to new perspectives and practices. Agnes said: “I was rather excited to hear that we now have so many publications in our open repository. ORO is embedded in my practice as an academic and researcher, so it is fabulous to witness its rapid growth and adoption among colleagues. Browsing the repository gives an instant sense of the enormous breadth and depth of our collective expertise – a just reflection of the research and scholarship of a multitude of talented people working at this institution. I’m certain ORO has a bright future; so, to borrow from a Chinese saying: May it live ten thousand years!”

Les Carr is Technical Director of EPrints – the open source repository software developed at the University of Southampton that is used by ORO. He said: “Having worked with the OU’s repository team over the last few years, we know only too well the huge amount of work that has gone into ORO behind the scenes, how the library has thoughtfully developed the EPrints repository to incorporate functionality that enhances and aids the deposit process for researchers, and how they have promoted the benefits of ORO to the OU research community with skill and enthusiasm, the result of which is the sizeable database of Open Access material that ORO represents. This is an excellent example of a repository team that has strived to embed the repository properly and effectively in the day-to-day routines of the research community in their institution.”

The 10,000th item – Kukulska-Hulme, Agnes (2009). Will mobile learning change language learning? ReCALL, 21(2), pp. 157–165. – can be viewed here:

Open Research Online (ORO)
- Open Research Online (ORO) can be found at:
- ORO was launched in September 2006 and is the eighth largest HEI repository in the UK
- Around 30,000 people from approximately 170 different countries visit ORO each month
- ORO operates a self-archiving model - academics deposit work and the ORO team checks and verifies the research before making it live.

For more information about Cambridge Journals, visit
EUROCALL aims to provide a European focus for the promulgation of innovative research, development and practice relating to the use of technologies for language learning. For more information visit and

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