This poster will show how and why the OU provides free learning via its OpenLearn platform as well as other third party channels and how it continues to innovate to reach new learners. The OU ensures it provides about 5% of its course materials as free open educational resources every year. It does this because informal learning is part of the OU’s Royal Charter: “Advancement and dissemination of learning and knowledge … to promote the general wellbeing of the community”.
OpenLearn contains over 12,000 study hours of material in 12 subject areas and has received over 40 million visitors since it was launched in 2006. Informal learners can get a taste of what formal study is like by trying the adapted course extracts on OpenLearn, which helps them discover the right subject area for their needs and builds their confidence as they learn. Users mainly discover OpenLearn via the call to action in BBC/OU co-productions and via Google searches.
Ongoing research into OpenLearn learners, their motivations and demographics, provides a mechanism for innovation (e.g. by offering digital badges) and a mechanism for responding to their needs (23% of learners declare a disability and request multiple formats of learning materials). As such, The OU now openly syndicates its free learning to other third party platforms such as iTunes U, YouTube and GooglePlay.
OpenLearn is currently undergoing complete redevelopment and redesign in 2016 to improve usability and to issue free certification to all learners completing a course of study.
Reference: OU Royal Charter http://www.open.ac.uk/about/documents/about-university-charter.pdf