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Open University learning is a joy | Jules Horne

Via The Guardian:
It may not have the nightlife but as a way of accessing a flexible, quality education, I’ve found the Open University can’t be beaten He was a flying goth with rocker looks. I was a new Open University tutor researching a play. I ventured into the OU room in Second Life , and after a few introductions (He: F04 R08 . AL? Me: Yep. A363 . R11), we had a long chat about non-Euclidean geometry. Call me strange, but I found this amazingly thrilling. Living in a rural area, you don’t come across many Gauss experts. Vast academic libraries, with international journals on tap, books and courses to get your brain cranking, people who enjoy a good barney about Shakespeare’s sonnets: the OU has brought all that to my doorstep, and it’s been an absolute joy. A quick straw poll reveals quite a few of my friends are closet OU students – they just haven’t mentioned it. All over the country, distance learning is helping students overcome not just geography, but also disability, culture, financial and family circumstances. Susanne Lockie, a full-time mother to three children, told me the mental stimulation has made it a lifesaver: “I need to keep my skills ticking over, but I couldn’t study to a high level without that flexibility. I’ve been able to get credit for my previous full-time study in nursing, which was interrupted when I had a family. I’ve finished my Open degree now, but I need to spend more time with my parents at the moment, so I’m taking a year out before starting on honours.” Employers tend to be supportive of OU study, knowing that OU students are likely to be unusually determined and committed. That’s why it’s all the more disappointing when you hear lazy “not a real degree, then” comments and ancient stereotypes of tweedy tutors and chalk-and-talk TV. I’ve found the quality of OU learning materials outstanding. The modular structure means you cover the ground systematically, with a clear understanding of context. Elsewhere (I studied at Oxford), I’ve found the learning experience equally stimulating, but much more haphazard.
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Open University learning is a joy | Jules Horne

The secret to e-learning


Via The Guardian:
Online courses are on the rise as firms continue to cut training budgets and the newly redundant update their skill sets Your desk may overlook the desolate edge-of-town business park and the only lunch venue is the canteen, but look on the bright side: you could spend your meal break browsing a book from the New York public library, absorbing an Oxford University lecture on the fall of the Roman empire or taking a short course to enhance your mastery of Excel. Immobilised office workers can nowadays roam the intellectual world courtesy of the internet and can foster passions or update skills in brief, instant gobbets when their in-tray allows, instead of committing themselves to a strict academic timetable. Now the economic downturn has forced firms to reduce staff training and the newly redundant have to rethink their skills to impress potential employers, online resources are likely to become crucial. “This is the time when people are thinking about their skills sets, either because they want to get a better job or because they want to learn more about, say, Renaissance art,,” says Adrian Beddow of Learndirect , which offers a range of downloadable e-courses covering corporate skills from IT to employment law
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The secret to e-learning