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Keynote: Martin Bean at the AL Conference

Associate lecturers' National Conference,

Cloud created by:

Gráinne Conole
22 November 2009

Early thinking

This cloud has been set up as a space to live blog Martin Bean's keynote.

Early thinking – the power of the personal

8 weeks into the post – talk will provide some reflections and ideas for the future

  • The power of personal for the students is what makes the difference
  • What is the appropriate role of technology?
  • People, places, methods and ideas – the importance of the OU’s founding mission, still true today
  • Still an external view of the Ou as being grounded in a broadcast paradigm but we have moved on from this. Our research and scholarship is critical not only in its own right but for the benefits for learning and teaching. Martin hears many stories about how the OU has changed their lives or the lives of people they know, the AL role is critical in this respect, the student experience is very much linked to the AL.
  • Aspirations to expand OU reach to other areas in the UK, work-based and internationally.
  • Amazing innovations – itunes hit 10 million downloads last week
  • It’s about experimenting and trying out new things
  • Quality assurance is critical and we must maintain that. We rank at the top in terms of various quality measures.
  • ‘Graduates of the OU are amongst the most employable in the UK’
  • The regions and the nations – an inspiration. Martin visited all the regions over the summer and learnt a great deal. We need to make stronger connections between the regions and central Milton Keynes.
  • Widening participation is also key and is embedded in what we do – working in prisons, employer engagement and other outreach activities.
  • The importance of the Associate Lecturers and their role, supported open learning (SOL) ALs are the main personal contact point for our students. The way that ALs feed forward for students, empowering students – ‘I can do this’. The critical role of ALs in the student experience.

Some concerns:

  • A question of who we are? Are we too open? Do we do them any favours in terms of letting them start anyway.
  • The relationship between Milton Keynes and the regions.
  • We need to move to all of us considering ourselves as part of the OU – ca. 12, 500 staff – Als are equally part of this.
  • Our systems and processes need updating – need to ensure our technologies are fit for purpose.
  • Does the university realise the critical role that the regions play in terms of the OU? Local will continue to be important.
  • Consider the challenges facing HE – globalisation, privatisation, massification
  • Transforming information into knowlledge
  • Need to educate citizens for new types of work
  • We cannot depend on young graduates alone
  • Learning in the workplace needs to becme integral
  • HE must remove artifical barries - link school, FE and HE together

Making change possible

  • Three key considerations: people, processes and technology
  • People spend too much time on the technology and not on the people aspects and how it will be used.

Extra content


  • Key problem - interface between ALs and students moving from first class to VLE, this has been rushed. Only one person working on this. Are we rushing this? Do we need more time. A new committee is looking into this and Niall Sclater is spear heading this.
  • Tony Kelly region 9. Issues about entry at levels 2 and 3. Important to orientate students to an how to learn in a Supported Open Learning context.
  • Janet - the VLE forums, she is manager of the AL forums - very valuable forum, has been running for 7 years. Has been told that they have to move onto the VLE within the next few months, is this appropriate.
  • Walter - regions 4. Transition of learning and different levels. Where does Openings fit in. In Walton Hall people dont see the value of opening and tranistions from that to levels 1, 2 and 3. Faculties must own the openings courses and manage them. 
  • Ronald from Scotland - Not hardware and software but brainware... DD101 new course, ALs will need training for the role out of that programme. The stage gate process - business justifcation for how courses are developed... need to build the whole thinking about role out of courss into the stage gate and cost appropriately. We should not be doing things as an after thought.

Gráinne Conole
10:25 on 22 November 2009

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