The Open University

The Open University (OU) is the world leader in distance teaching and the largest university in the UK. It is also well known as the UK’s most innovative and high-impact concept in higher education. Since its charter was granted in 1969, it has re-shaped the notion of quality distance learning, evolving to what the OU now calls Supported Open Learning in recognition of the extensive and flexible support offered to its 260,000 currently registered students through a vast human network of 7,000 Associate Lecturers throughout the UK and Europe. Over 190,000 students are now regularly online, using discourse environments to work with their tutors and peers or interacting with increasing amounts of custom-developed primary and support resources via the Web and streaming media.

The Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) was set up in 1995 in recognition of the need for the OU to be at the forefront of research and development in a convergence of areas that impacted on the OU’s very nature. Approximately 70 researchers, technologists and designers work in the fields of new media systems, narrative hypermedia, the semantic web and knowledge technologies, knowledge management, social software, and information retrieval and knowledge discovery.

KMi has an enviable track record in deploying and evaluating knowledge media in both OU communities and other sponsoring organisations. In keeping with a lifelong learning perspective, our research agenda takes a broad definition of ‘learning’, embracing distance learning, learning in the classroom, and learning in the workplace. We believe that to demonstrate that technologies work requires that they are grounded (in authentic work contexts, with genuine user communities), and interdisciplinary: hence our mix of computer science, knowledge representation, cognitive science, sociology, human-computer interaction, multimedia, and the visual arts.

The OU’s role in this project is the installation and configuration of a suitable off-the-shelf content management system, possibly Drupal with additional modules, plus integration into one or more existing social networks, to satisfy the needs of the project. In general, OU will be responsible for the supervision of the project products form a technological point of view.

OU will contribute to the following work packages:

  • WP1 - General project management
  • WP3 - Planning of the intercultural paths
  • WP4 – Implementation of the intercultural paths
  • WP5 - Preparation of the overall material for the web platform
  • WP6 - General project quality assurance
  • WP7 - Dissemination strategies
  • WP8 - Actions aimed at project exploitation
Partner until April 2015
Departments and their web pages: 

The Knowledge Media Institute -

  • Chris Valentine
  • Damian Dadswell
  • Harriet Cornish
  • Jane Whild

The Open University

Brickhill Street
Milton Keynes 
United Kingdom