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Thursday, November 08, 2012

Open University Turns Distance Learning into Apps by Nick Clayton

"The Open University (OU) is to start delivering course materials to students using apps for smartphones and tablets. It is the largest academic institution in the U.K. with almost all of its study based on distance learning. The OUAnywhere apps enable undergraduates to access their main course materials and support content on a “plethora of platforms”." writes Nick Clayton.


The apps are being developed from the ground up for touch interfaces with the first ones due to appear in Q1 2013. There will be native iOS and Android apps along with others based on HTML5, according to Tech Crunch.
OUAnywhere is being created in response to increasing use of mobile devices by students — the OU notes that mobile usage of its virtual learning environment in one month is now comparable to usage for an entire quarter of the previous year. It’s also noticed students are spending much more time online via mobile and tablet devices, and clocking up more repeated visits...

Ultimately the university wants to be able to provide all course learning materials on one device to make it easier for students to squeeze study sessions into their day — an important factor for its many part-time students who combine studying for a degree with full- or part-time work.

Currently it delivers some course materials online, but also sends out materials via post — such as print textbooks, audio CDs and DVDs. The apps will be able to streamline all these different course resources into a single interface.
Source: Wall Street Journal (blog)