Online Learning People: Martin Bean

Online learning is becoming big business in the education sector. Increasing fees coupled with demand by learners for more flexible study options is creating a rapidly growing market for online courses. As can be expected most of the response to this rising demand is from institutions outside the traditional university ‘bricks’ model. And one of the most innovative of these in the UK is the Open University (OU).

The Open University has since its creation in 1969 used a distance learning model based initially on printed resources (think big binders arriving in the post) but also supported by educational videos delivered via the BBC. Most of us Baby Boomers will have at some time watched an OU programme on Astrophysics or Petroleum Geology in the small hours. More recently the OU has gone online and today most of its students log into their courses via the Moodle VLE. The OU does online learning in a really big way supporting over 250,000 students at any one time.

Demonstrating their commitment to online learning the OU appointed an ex Microsoft Education Products Group employee as their Vice Chancellor in 2009. His name is Martin Bean and I recently came across this presentation which he delivered at the Association of Learning Technology (ALT) Conference in 2009. It’s over 50 minutes long but it’s worth watching for the mix of insights provided by an educator that has also spent a lot of time working at the heart of the tech industry.

Did you know?
The OU Business School is the largest provider of MBAs in the UK, producing more graduates than all the rest of the business schools put together.

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