Teaching at a distance

A few months ago, Dan Weinbren, who is heading up the History of the OU project, posted a wonderful archive film clip of a real, live course team meeting – from 1976. The course team is one of the central organisational forms of OU-style distance education, although they have changed a bit – as Dan noted, there was a lot of smoking going on back then.

Things change, things stay the same…

Course teams are now technically ‘module teams’, and we don’t smoke anymore, not the in the meetings. The OU Social Science Faculty Facebook page has just posted a set of photos providing a ‘sneak peek’ at the course team I’m currently part of, which is producing a new social science module due for its first outing in 2012. If you do this course, you might find out why smoking no longer goes on inside the meetings, but outside in designated boxed-off spaces.

You can play spot the difference if you like. Obvious things, apart from the smoking, is a lot less denim in 2011, less facial hair too. There seems to be plenty of coffee in both meetings (or maybe tea in the 1970s), but larger cups in 2011. The great mystery, of course, is just whether the 1970s really were that brown compared to the light, airy shininess of 35 years later. Or is that something to do with advances in technology?

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