Online studies more than satisfying

The UK’s Open University was created to drive more access to higher education. Vice Chancellor Martin Bean explains its successes in an interview with The Australian:

Coming third in a national survey for student satisfaction last year gave bragging rights to Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of Britain’s Open University.

After all, Mr Bean didn’t need proof. With 265,000 enrolled fee-paying students and numerous others around the world taking OU units for free, the numbers speak for themselves.

Soon to celebrate its five millionth download, 90 per cent of which are from outside Britain. Mr Bean says the student satisfaction result, which cushioned OU nicely between Oxford and Cambridge, shows teaching and learning online could be done at great depth and breadth and still be informed by research.

That’s the other unexpected thing about this wholly online university—in research performance,
OU makes its mark in the top third of British institutions. “From day one, our founders knew that for OU to gain legitimacy, it would need to have deep scholarship as well as excellent teaching,” Mr Bean said.

“At OU, the research makes its way into the learning materials. There is absolute cause and effect in terms of what we do in research and scholarship and making its way into teaching.”

The Melbourne-born and UTS-educated Mr Bean said it was the capacity of technology to create access to education that was the most compelling.

“Technology creates access like nothing else,” he said. Extremely rich interactive learning materials are backed by 7000 tutors. Mr Bean says. “Every student has a tutor assigned to them for every module they take. It’s got less to do with the way the tutor and the student interact, but more about whether it is a meaningful interaction.”

Watch the video interview with Martin Bean here.

About ouartsfaculty

The Arts Faculty of The Open University is a world leader in supported Open Learning, and one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. You can follow us on Twitter @OUArtsFaculty and on Facebook.
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