OU Pretty Things
By Steve Hull on Monday 17 October 2011 Tweet this!
The Open University is among the world's most established distance learning providers, and was invited to join American educators on iTunesU in 2008. Recent figures from iTunes U place it alongside such heavyweights as Stanford and Oxford, and both Stanford and the OU have now reported more the 40 million iTunesU downloads.
Perhaps most revealing of all though, is a breakdown from the OU's Knowledge Media Institute of how users are accessing iTunesU, and the Open University in particular. As the KMI's charts below show, only a quarter of July's unique views of OU materials came from desktop computers, with the overwhelming majority now coming from mobile devices running Apple's iOS mobile operating system - i.e. iPads, iPods and iPhones.
It is perhaps to be expected that Apple devices make up a large proportion of users of Apple's own iTunesU service, but it is the scale of mobile use which is surprising to me - even as a mobile learning evangelist. And what of the bigger picture, and Android? Android makes up nearly half of the smartphone market (though recent data suggests assymetrical internet usage between mobile platforms).
Either way, this data only underlines the importance of making learning materials not only web accessible, but also mobile compatible.
Another key to the new online education community, in which the Open University plays a big role, is the principle of openness itself. Open Educational Resources (OERs) are - if the name doesn't already make it clear - freely available educational materials unencumbered by overly restrictive copyright, and carrying open licenses. OERs are valuable learning resources in their own right, but can also be seen as 'tasters', 'introductions' or 'gateways' to more in depth courses and curricula. Infonet have a whole infokit introducing the OER philosophy and methodology which is (of course) openly available on their website.
We consider some of the impact of the mobile paradigm shift in our introduction to Mobile Learning for Education, and building resources for mobile consumption is a growing element of the Building Effective Screencasts workshop. If you have any questions about making your learning materials more mobile friendly, you can get free advice from our online Helpdesk, and we're always interested to hear your mobile learning success stories too.
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