Opening a castle of the air
in The Open University
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This chapter addresses the crucible in which The Open University (OU) was formed in terms of politics, socio-economic developments and innovations in teaching. It concentrates upon the activities of Harold Wilson and a small group around him who were responsible for the creation and early running of the university. The chapter focuses on how Wilson won support for the OU not only by building on the ideas and skills of others but also by drawing on the emerging interest in universities for their potential to support economic and social development. The OU was developed by a government that conceived an active role for the state in the diffusion of knowledge. The chapter describes the educational roots of 'the first distance teaching university that was truly multi-media in nature'. It examines the ways in which the OU adapted and transformed established models.

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