Distract yourself with free materials from the Open University

Via @skepticbarista I’ve found a col­lec­tion of Open Educational Resources from the Open University. They’re lis­ted at their Open Learn site, and there are stack of inter­est­ing courses to browse from Introductory to Master’s level. There’s all sorts of things that make this inter­est­ing. There’s the vari­ety of the mater­ial from Aberdulais Falls (a case study in Welsh her­it­age) to Zoology. There’s the qual­ity of the mater­ial. There’s also the extra ele­ment. It might not be a taught course, but there’s still thought in how you can use the material.

There’s fora, learn­ing groups and a tool called FlashVlog for record­ing video diar­ies. That seems above and bey­ond the call of duty for OER mater­ial. The whole thing is CC licenced, so I had been think­ing about work­ing through a mod­ule here. The dif­fi­culty is that if you see the full list of courses, it’s a bit like being let loose in a sweet-shop.


When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

5 Responses

  1. Tony Keen says:

    That’s actu­ally one of the smal­ler repos­it­or­ies of free online OU mater­ial. There’s also stuff on the OU’s YouTube chan­nel, and if you have iTunes, there’s the OU’s page on iTun­esU, which you can get to from here, and has lots of av mater­ial, coim­plete with tran­scripts. A lot of that mater­ial (though not the tran­scripts, can also now be found at the OU’s Podcast page. Also, some courses have their own web­sites where futher taster mater­ial can be found.

    I use these resources all the time, and they’re very use­ful in teaching.

  2. rwmg says:

    Do you think I could per­suade them to pay me to act as a guinea pig to try out these mater­i­als to make sure they are access­ible and usable by someone with no OU contact?

    • Alun says:

      It’s a nice thought isn’t it?

      It is a great example for them to set though. At the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science in Leicester the tar­get is to make all new courses avail­able as open teach­ing mater­ial as standard.

  3. Laura says:

    Hi Alun
    Glad to hear you like the site. We’re about to relaunch OpenLearn to pull all our OER con­tent (which as Tony rightly points out exists on a num­ber of plat­forms) into one site. Fantastic to hear your tar­get to make all courses avail­able. Impressive. I’ll be at the JISC OER event in London on Friday — if you hap­pen to be there give me a shout @lauradee.

    @rwmg Yes please. We have run sev­eral access­ib­il­ity and usab­il­ity tests on the site and have another stage of test­ing planned in for early October which we’ll be recruit­ing users for. Only prob­lem — you’d need to come to Milton Keynes in UK — not sure we can do remote user test­ing although I could ask. The new site will launch in beta so we’ll be look­ing to gather feed­back over the com­ing months for the next iteration.

  4. rwmg says:

    I must admit I’m temp­ted, but I don’t think a trip to Milton Keynes is really on the cards. Are you sure you couldn’t per­suade the powers that be that it’s neces­sary to test them in an area where inter­net access to mater­i­als is the only prac­tical option?