ICT support at the British Open University for student projects at a distance

Bissell, C.C. (2001). ICT support at the British Open University for student projects at a distance. In: International Seminar on Information and Communication Technologies in Engineering Education, 2-4 May 2001, Galway, Ireland.


In recent years the British Open University has been providing increasing ICT support to distance learners carrying out projects within the Faculty of Technology and elsewhere in the University. This paper reports briefly on three generic support tools: 1. A CD-ROM providing general guidance on planning, carrying out, and writing up a final-year undergraduate technology project; 2. The ‘Electronic Information Search Guide’, designed as a user-friendly front-end to a variety of websites, bibliographic data bases, electronic journals, and other information sources; and 3. ROUTES (Resources for Open University TEachers and Students), a Library service providing access to selected quality-assessed Internet resources for Open University courses, searchable by course or keyword.
By means of such tools, distance learners can enjoy resources for project work similar (or in some cases, even superior) to those of their face-to-face counterparts, including on-line access to the full text of many journals. This paper reports the current state of (1) and (3), and work in progress on (2). The CD-ROM (1) was designed initially for the comparatively small numbers of students (up to 100 per year) carrying out a final year, 600-hour undergraduate project. It is now offered to some other students taking projects, and is also being developed - as is the Search Guide (2) - in support of a new, 300-hour project course planned to attract over 1000 students per year. ROUTES (3) currently provides course-specific WWW links for around 100 courses throughout the University, and is expanding rapidly.

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