History of Open Learning from Tony Bates who was there for the launch of the Open University

We hardly have to say much about the global impact and reach of the Open University in the UK, it’s well known. How did this institution come to be the place described as “the future is open”?

Fortunately, someone who was there from the start, and is still active in the field has been writing about it. I’m referring to Dr. Tony Bates, long time expert and researcher in educational technology and online courses. His open textbook published by BCcampus, Teaching in a Digital Age, Guidelines for designing teaching and learning, now in its 3rd edition, is a common reference for coursework in online learning.

More than that, I have to give much credit for how much and and how frequently Tony shares in his blog, Online Learning and Distant Education Resources, even covering current issues like Artificial Intelligence and adding as a search service to his site his own AI powered TonyBot, starting with Part 1

But what I want to share now is a series of posts Tony is sharing about his personal history, which started in the open days of the Open University.

I leave the reading to you, but wanted to pull the quote from the first Chancellor Lord Crowther in 1969 that defined what Open Education meant then and still fits now. The new Chancellorr described this new University would be open to:

  • to people, with its open admissions policy,
  • open to methods, such as broadcasting and print and ‘other technologies yet to come’,
  • open to ideas, and
  • open to time and place, where students could learn and where instructors could teach from anywhere at any time.

Note the audio and transcript of this address is still available from the Open University archives.

What are your thoughts on this framing of open education? How does the mission and work of open education now compare to 1969?

And read on for parts 2 and 3

I was fortunate to spend time with Tony in 2015 at a conference we were both speakers at in Guadalajara, Mexico. His energy is strong and his stories of his world wide adventures in education (I believe he talked about experiences in Mongolia) were memorable.

And he enjoys digital photography.

Tony Bates And Camera flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I am hoping to coral Tony into being a guest on an upcoming OEG Voices podcast.


A post was split to a new topic: Easy to Set up Open LMS