Friday, 8 February 2008

OpenLearn: back to basics?

Both Donald Clark and Seb Smoller have posted rather critical reviews of the content published by the Open University on their OpenLearn learning space.

One of the challenges for the OU I think, is the scale and methodology on which they (have to) work. Issues like scalability, reliability and accessibility will have been very high on the list of priorities, and whether we like it or not, all of these ussually make is a lot harder to be creative and innovative. Nevertheless, in spending over 5 million on repurposing this set of, mostly rather old and dull, resources it does seem that the OU has let this 'overhead' get way out of hand.

It is also a matter of expectations perhaps. I know when we attend conferences and presentations there is a lot of interesting and exiting stuff floating around, but if you poke a bit deeper into most of these presentations, you will find that the majority actually links to very small pockets of practice, pilots, or plans. Very few truly innovative practice actually develops into a mainstream embedded practice. The uncomfortable truth of projects like OpenLearn is that it suddenly exposes a lot more then the tiny tip of the iceberg that ussually makes it's way to dissemination.

And so perhaps this is really a good thing. It is an honest look into the state of higher education, and it gives some very clear, and perhaps uncomfortable, truths about the state and quality of the majority of our learning materials and activities. We should perhaps log out of second life, close our facebook for a minute and start cleaning up some of the more mundane mess in the backyard.

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