General
04 Dec 2014

OU awarded £1m to fund research into opening up education

Image from the Personal Inquiry project. Photographer Chris Vale

Image from the Personal Inquiry project. Photographer Chris Vale

The Open University (OU) has been awarded a major grant from The Leverhulme Trust to enable 18 new PhD scholarships to drive forward knowledge of Open World Learning. The focus will be on how to increase access to education for all across the globe using new technologies and innovative approaches.

The Leverhulme Trust has awarded a grant of £1,050,000 to The OU’s Institute of Educational Technology (IET) and Faculty of Education and Language Studies (FELS) to fund 15 full-time, three-year doctoral scholarships over the next five years. In addition to this, the OU will fund a further three scholars from low and middle-income economies, taking the total number of places up to 18.

Managed by the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET), the purpose of these scholarships is to explore the factors that support or impede inclusive approaches to learning, for example around the use of new communication methods such as social networking and devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

Martin Bean, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, said: “It is fantastic to have been recognised by such a prestigious organisation as The Leverhulme Trust, and to be given this opportunity to drive forward our world-leading expertise in open learning – a subject we are incredibly passionate about.

“Drawing on our expertise in technology-enhanced learning and our commitment to learning for all, these scholarships offer an opportunity for researchers to have an impact, not just on the education sector, but also on our wider society.”

Scholars will be able to work across disciplines, drawing on academic expertise and existing networks in such areas as education, educational technology, languages, psychology, international development and science. Proposals will be welcome from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. Examples of areas that could be investigated include: how mobile phones can be used to train teachers in developing countries, how school curricula can be developed to cater for a wider range of needs, and how social networking could be used to teach languages.

Director of the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, Professor Patrick McAndrew said: “We are delighted to be awarded this grant by The Leverhulme Trust. It will enable us to build on our leading research into how to open up education and make it accessible for all. These scholarships offer an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to carry out in depth studies on how learning is changing in a connected world.”

The scholarships will build on the OU’s existing reputation as a world-class leader in the use of technology to deliver online and distance learning, and inform future developments in this area, both by the OU and by other institutions across the globe.

Proposals for the first Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholars will open in early 2015. For further information please visit the CREET website

ENDS

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