The Open University

A history

Author: Daniel Weinbren

This book focuses on the handful of innovators who 'were crucial' for the creation of the Open University (OU), which enjoyed a 'rapid gestation period'. It is about the political framework, positioning the OU within the patterns of convergence and divergence in the expanding higher education system of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The OU has its roots in more than a century of engagement with those excluded from conventional higher education. The book is an assessment of the ways in which, since the 1990s, the OU has sought to enable learners to work together to create knowledge. One way to understand the development of the OU is in terms of a business model. The book addresses the crucible in which the OU was formed in terms of politics, socio-economic developments and innovations in teaching. Through practice, reflection and amendment of teaching the OU developed ways of supporting learning through participation in dialogues. The book 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. It focuses on how governments sought to deploy versions of the market across the higher education sector. The book outlines the OU's continued development of self-directed, student-centred learning.

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