The Open University Digital Think Tank: Position Paper

Littlejohn, Allison; Sharples, Mike; Smidt, Samantha; Law, Andrew; Hollins, Paul and Tynan, Belinda (2015). The Open University Digital Think Tank: Position Paper. The Open University.


This paper provides a summary of the work of the Open University Digital Think Tank which aims to position the OU and inform a glocal digital strategy.

Members met on 3 occasions in July and September with substantial input in between. In a period of 8 weeks the Think Tank described our current position through:

A comprehensive review of the OU’s current activity in the digital space, arranged in a thematic way. This has identified over 300 ways in which the OU is working digitally in its learning and research activities, captured on the Digital Think Tank sharepoint site.

A detailed paper where members of the Think Tank discusses 10 broad areas of current work and how these might fit into a digital future. These papers are presented, arranged under the headings of platform, people and partnerships.

This paper which summarises the Open University's position on potential directions in developing a glocal digital strategy, with expanded positions aimed at both short term and longer term gains.

The UK Government’s ‘digital by default’ agenda emphasises the need to improve digital inclusion. In the short term, the OU is well positioned to extend offerings related to digital inclusion to specific groups of learners with recognised needs, drawing their attention to open, online informal resources and courses they can use to build digital awareness, skills and competency. We also recommend working with Dot.Everyone to promote Women in Computing as a first step towards long term partnership.

Longer term, there is a need radically to open up learning support to ensure a broader range of learners, particularly those with limited self-regulation skills, can benefit from learning opportunities available online. We recommend learning support is extended to learners worldwide, moving beyond registered OU students.

Support would be provided through partnership with industry, professional bodies, local community groups, third sector and public organisations. Support services would be monetised through various means, such as subscriptions and payments for services or through collaboration with other organisations.

These recommendations broaden our capability to provide courses, resources and learning support to marginalised groups, including disabled learners.

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