What are we going to do about the Open University?

Where "we contemplate our own navels" to decide how this forum should evolve. What features do we need? Who decides what we need?

What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Morpheus on Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:08 pm

At times, T214 was a bloody difficult experience to cope with!! At times, I got the impression that there was more to the difficulties than just dodgy writing by the course authors, the provision of untested facilities by the programmers, etc

I clearly got the impression that the OU seemed a remarkably difficult institution to change. It seems as if it has a structural blindspot. This blindspot arises because the only people who could in fact reflect on how the system as a whole is functioning are the people who have no voice in the system, no power to provide meaningful feedback that could produce change. These people are us, the students!

Students are the only people who experience a range of courses, the stress at home, the multiple conflicting messages from the course team, tutors, VLE, etma system etc. Students know when the overall workload is too big or small, when the stress level is too high or the level of respect too low. But we have no power or standing in the system. Our opinions are discounted. We are, after all, just students -- in a system run by academics and administrators supposedly for our benefit.

The only hope for deep and enduring change in the Open University lies with students. We have a deep passion for making the OU work -- after all, our future careers depend on it! Imagine if we enforce the following rule on a company's workers: "under no circumstances are you to talk to customers"! We would not expect a company to survive for long. Similarly, to the extent that the OU silences our voice, the Open University is designed to not innovate!

How can we make our voice heard? And not just in the token request for feedback at the end of a course from tutors or by online surveys -- how can we be involved in a way that guarantees that our issues have been addressed? How will we know that all the aggravation we went through in T214 this year, is not going to be repeated over and over and over again?
Morpheus
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 3:45 pm

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Teiana on Thu Oct 16, 2008 4:22 pm

i wouldn't be so sure we can't be heard.
whether we can get action as a result, is a whole different ball game.
Comes down to meeting peoples motivations - you can't make someone change something unless somehow you convince them it's in their best interests, and even better, if you can convince them it was their idea.
you didn't like my survey?

the other thing about change is how much, and how fast. If you can get it, but not fast enough, it doesn't help. Sometimes you can get change, but it's far less than you wanted, or conversely, you ignore the fact you managed to get some change and feel like it's a failed attempt because the amount of change you get is less than your expectation.

but i wouldn't be so sure we can't be heard.
H.R.H. 8-)
Teiana
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: planet earth

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Andrea on Fri Oct 17, 2008 10:12 am

I guess I would agree with both of you. The formal mechanisms for getting some critical feedback from students (end-of-course surveys, the course reviews page http://www3.open.ac.uk/coursereviews/course.aspx, etc) are highly controlled exercises (we decide which questions to ask and/or we can decide which "reviews" to release, and ultimately, we decide what to change/leave alone). There is therefore no mechanism to engage students in the whole course design/redesign process. And many students are taking things into their own hands through the Internet -- and this is worrying many colleagues. We should be actively engaging students in creating the kind of courses that they want, while at the same time making sure that our course designs can evolve rapidly according to the feedback.
Last edited by Andrea on Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Neill on Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:13 am

"under no circumstances are you to talk to customers"!

I am not sure that any one in the OU is being told this - are they?
I would imagine that the OU expects employees to resist from making negative comments about their employer to the outside world.
This is completely different and acceptable practice in the business world.

When I am talking about my employer to those outside the company I feel morally bound to put their decisions and actions in the best possible light.
When I want to complain or comment negatively on the actions of my employer then I should do so within the company.

If I found an employee who was "washing our dirty linen" in public, I think I would be justified in taking disciplinary action against that person.

actively engaging students in creating the kind of courses that they want

Here I do agree.
Every company should welcome customer feedback and react positively to ensure that feedback is then integrated in to the product. A company that does not do so will lose customers and market share.
I would imagine that a University (which is full of experts) would have more trouble than most in accepting feedback from customers - students (the great unwashed masses)

But ....
In the National Student Survey 2008, the OU was right up near the top (second I think) as regards customer satisfaction. This suggests that not only does the OU listen but it also does something with what it hears.

Maybe no one needs to "do" anything about the OU after all?
Neill Hogarth
Life is not a practice [www.hogarth.de]
T307-10
Neill
 
Posts: 1166
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:20 pm
Location: Nesselwang, Germany

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Andrea on Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:11 pm

Neill wrote:Maybe no one needs to "do" anything about the OU after all?


Graham Gibbs, ex-Director of Research, Centre for Higher Education Practice at the OU, once wrote:

“The Open University, for example, is "open" in very few respects. Students study a narrow range of pre-specified materials, usually in fixed order, starting at the same time, following the same schedule, submitting set assignments to the same deadlines, turning up to fixed tutorials and finally sitting an unseen exam on a fixed date, which tests the achievement of pre-specified objectives. That is not open learning.


In the very latest issue of our in-house newsletter, our vice-chancellor writes:

Most of our students are part of what we now describe as the Net Generation. This is a generation who think IM, text and Google are verbs not applications! "They expect to be engaged by their environment, with participatory, sensory rich, experiential activities (either physical or virtual) and opportunities for input. They are more oriented to visual media than previous generations -- and prefer to learn by doing rather than by telling or reading. They prefer to discover rather than be told." (Becta Research Report 2008, page 13) so, as John Thompson frames the question: "is education 1.0 ready for Web 2.0 students?
....... And we need to remember that the real world of work is a lot more like the team-based and collaborative attributes encouraged by Web 2.0, a lot more about concrete problems, problems which in the real world are seldom so kind as to divide themselves into disciplines.
....... the [2008 Horizon] Report stresses that "the gap between students' perception of technology and that of faculty continues to widen." Students have embraced technologies that remain a mystery to many faculty staff. The report makes the point that there are many Webware tools that have clear potential for education yet faculty remain either unaware or have difficulty integrating them into educational material.


Maybe it is time to snap out of living off our past successes (and constraints, as outlined above). This has turned us into an institution that is all bureaucracy and no mission. I for one cannot wait to start educating 2.0:
- radically slash the costs of courses by getting rid of print and the army of administrators which now seem to wag the academic dog. Ask any prospective student that has been excluded from formal education as a result of their circumstances and they will tell you that they are far more intimidated by the £650 plus price tag of our courses rather than not having them available in print; this also has the benefit that it will
- make them available worldwide at a click of a button;
- and keep them bang up-to-date!
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Teiana on Wed Nov 19, 2008 6:33 pm

i still don't like the idea of abandoning print altogether. But a middle ground is a print on demand service where a low-spec printed version could be ordered, just for those who need it, and printed in sections such that you could just order the pages/sections you want.

for another course i am on, we were sent huge textbooks yet the course is actually only based on approximately 1/3rd of the books. Extra postage weight, extra printing, for stuff we didn't need, just because of the way it is set up.
H.R.H. 8-)
Teiana
 
Posts: 2800
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 8:46 pm
Location: planet earth

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Neill on Thu Nov 20, 2008 10:49 am

"
is education 1.0 ready for Web 2.0 students?

To which I definitely have to answer no.
I am definitely a web2.0 student. I want everything on the Internet (course material, tutor, students in forums, exams, everything).
And what is the best I get, course material sent in the post, tutorials 1000 kms away, exams in far off cities, nearly everything.

The T214 forums were real Web2.0! they only existed in the Internet, location and time were irrelevant. Great!
Even beter was our group project with Skype and Google Docs. Suddenly it was irrelevant who was sat where - England, Germany, Greece, Italy, who cares.

Ideally the OU should offer courses "traditionally" and "Internetally"
You chose which one you want and run with it.

The Internet version should offer only "Skype" tutorials or something similar. The traditional should offer face to face.
This is something that I really think the OU could do better with little effort. Some where out there is an "internet enabled" tutor who will be willing to try.

Have fun
Neill
Neill Hogarth
Life is not a practice [www.hogarth.de]
T307-10
Neill
 
Posts: 1166
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:20 pm
Location: Nesselwang, Germany

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Andrea on Thu Nov 20, 2008 11:46 am

Neill wrote:Ideally the OU should offer courses "traditionally" and "Internetally"
You chose which one you want and run with it.


This might sound totally crass, but I would like to see the OU transform itself into a "no-frills" university -- the easyOU!! Courses that are stripped down to their barest essentials, with the option to buy "add-ons" if you wished.

"No-frills" airlines made international travel accessible to the masses by obsessively focusing on cutting costs for their clients. They just focused On getting you from A to B. Nothing more and nothing less.This was a radically different model to the one used by traditional carriers who had a tendency to chip-in extra products to attract punters (meals, free alcohol, movies, toys for children, etc). Unfortunately, this traditional model is exactly what the OU has tended to adopt: adding more and more components to already bloated courses so that now they arrive in large boxes and you have to spend half of your time chopping and changing from one teaching resource to another. Of course, all this complexity meant that we had to have even more administrators to deal with it, which in turn, created even more complexity -- since they are all desperately trying to justify their jobs!

What we now have is an organisation that is too big to cope and too big to care. The VC has tried desperately and valiantly to turn things around. Unfortunately, just when she is about to have an impact..... she leaves. Let us just hope that the new VC comes in with renewed energy and vision to finish off what has been started.
esse sequitur operari
Andrea
 
Posts: 1104
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:31 am

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Chris Dann on Thu Nov 20, 2008 1:10 pm

I'm not a luddite, but I am not ready for complete internet OU courses. As I said on the T214 fora, I am used to doing a lot of OU studying on trains and in hotels, and if internet access is essential for all of this, it either makes it a complete 'No No' for me or it involves me in lugging my laptop everywhere I go, some very expensive 'add ons' in the way of paying for internet access at hotel and an internet ready phone, and there is still no way of guaranteeing continuous access through out a journey. Also getting asuitable seat with table to put lappy on its no possible. A book and a shorthand note book take far less space and weight far less.
Further more there are still people who do all their online studying in their local library, who have no internet access at home, and cannot afford their own computers, and in some ways they are the ones for whom OU is the real lifeline out of that poverty and to take that away from them penalises tham in their greatest need.
I understand the costs of paper production, both financial and environmental. but there are other costs that must be considered as well.
Perhaps if all the texts were available, on request, in a form of loose printed sheets that could be stored by the recipient in a ring binder, instead of expensively produced, and poorly proof read bound books, a lot of money could be saved, but access for all would be maintained. The very first course I did, all the resources were presented in this form, albeit with their own ring binders, but during the course we were sent at least three page replacements because of errors. Very quick and cheap to do.
System analysis of the whole impact of any course and its students and the effects on them of changing the presentation needs to be done before changes are allowed to be considered. Now there's a project for next years T214!! :lol:
Chris
Chris Dann
 
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:36 pm

Re: What are we going to do about the Open University?

Postby Ercesuzan on Thu Nov 20, 2008 2:38 pm

Yes I also like the idea of traditional or internet and tutoring face to face or skype.
All for now, take care
Ercesuzan
 
Posts: 209
Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:44 pm

Next

Return to The Navel

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron