General
25 Oct 2006

The Open University launches OpenLearn

OpenLearn launched

OpenLearn launched

The Open University’s commitment to broadening access to education is being taken to another level with the launch of OpenLearn, its major new open content initiative. The OpenLearn website will make educational resources freely available on the internet, with state-of-the-art learning support and collaboration tools to connect learners and educators.

The site – at link, right - is live from Wednesday, October 25. This £5.65 million project, generously supported by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will cover 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 will be 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.

Professor David Vincent, The Open University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Strategy, Planning and External Affairs) said OpenLearn could be seen as the next generation of open access learning at the Open University.

He added: “Our mission has always been to be open to people, places, methods and ideas and OpenLearn allows us to extend these values into the 21st century. We want to lead the learning revolution, experimenting with new models of content and technologies. OpenLearn is a huge step towards this aim. The philosophy of open access and sharing knowledge – a cornerstone of this project – matches the founding principles of The Open University.”

Professor Andy Lane, Director of OpenLearn, said: “For the first time we are making some of our educational resources freely available online to anyone in the world. As leaders in distance education, we are contributing a very distinct offering in the field of open educational resources.

"We are encouraging learners to become self-reliant but also to use online communities to support their learning. We are making it possible for educators to download and adapt our materials for their own purposes. All this will teach us a huge amount about how people can learn and teach online.”

OpenLearn was formally launched on Wednesday, October 25 at One Great George Street, Westminster. Keynote speakers include Bill Rammell MP, Minister of State for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, and Professor Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford University.

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 William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been a leading investor in the area of Open Educational Resources over the past five years.

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