Rethinking learner support in the Open University UK: a case study

Tait, Alan (2002). Rethinking learner support in the Open University UK: a case study. In: Mills, Roger and Tait, Alan eds. Rethinking learner support in distance education: change and continuity in an international context. Routledge Studies in distance education. UK: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 185–197.



This chapter reviews the change of factors both internal and external that makes imperative a review of the ways in which learners are supported in the OU UK, and by extension more widely in open and distance learning. The factors include, from within the institution: declining retention figures; the nature of learner expectations in the change of status from 'student' to 'customer'; changes in the division and distribution of labour brought about the ICT; pressures on costs and the effect of competition; and from the external perspective the nature of consumer behaviour; the deterioration of time available for study with the increase of long working hours; difficulties with space for study in the context of increasing domestic overcrowding; and changes in the characteristics of learner populations with the impact of lifelong learning as governmental policy arena.

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