What kind of computer do I need to use OpenLearn?

OpenLearn works on the Windows, Macintosh and Unix platforms. You do not need a particularly powerful computer and we have tried to provide a useful experience for those who have lower bandwidth connections. You will need a computer that can support a modern browser and with a connection to the internet. Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections should allow you to view most materials on the website; however, downloading materials will take a longer period of time. In some cases you will need additional tools such as readers for PDF files or players for audio and video resources, these are explained further where they are needed. The tools are all available free of charge and may already be included in your browser.

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Why can't I log in?

There could be many reasons but the most probable is that you have simply forgotten your password, are trying the wrong one or are entering it incorrectly. Some other things to think about include:

  • Does your username or password contain a mixture of upper or lower case letters? It should be entered exactly.
  • Are cookies enabled on your browser? You have the option of registering free of charge to use the site. You do not have to register if you prefer not to, but registering gives you access to additional features. Users who already have an account with The Open University should log in using their normal ID and password.

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What technology is used to publish the OpenLearn website?

The OpenLearn website has been developed using both Drupal and Moodle technologies. These are open source course management system designed to enable online learning. More information on Moodle is available from http://moodle.org/

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Is it possible to save the video files to a disk or to my hard drive?

Yes. Most video files are available in high and low resolution versions (as MPEG4s and .flv flash video files). These may be played while viewing the site and some can be downloaded for local use. Audio files are in mp3 format. All files may be played using a number of freely downloadable tools. Whether you will be able to download and save the video files will depend on how you have set up your browser. On many browsers the download program will prompt you for a local directory in which to download the file; with Microsoft Internet Explorer, it will automatically download the file to the ‘Temporary Internet Files’ directory. This directory can typically be found at ‘Downloads and Settings[your username]Local Settings’ button in the ‘Temporary Internet Files’ section.

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Is OpenLearn an open source project?

OpenLearn is committed to open systems and will share its approach with those who may wish to launch similar efforts. OpenLearn is best described as an open educational resources (OER) project. This means that we are using many of the principles of the open source software movement and applying it to materials and tools that help people learn. All of our educational content can be reused according to the Creative Commons licensing that we have adopted. The software tools that we have developed are also being released as open source to make them available for reuse and for others to contribute to the development. Finally, we are trying to use as many open source components in our work as possible, in particular building the main learning environments on the open source Moodle system and Drupal. We do need to use some proprietary software behind the scenes to fit with how The Open University works, but these do not impact on the final system. 

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How do I change the font size on OpenLearn?

The OpenLearn website has been designed so that text can be resized using the standard tools in your browser. For example in Internet Explorer and Firefox this is achieved using the View menu and increasing the text size.

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Will OpenLearn be compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?

We aim to make OpenLearn content as accessible as possible. We continue to work towards full compliance with W3C standards for all aspects of the site, including providing accessible versions of our most interactive content.

OpenLearn has been reviewed by accessibility experts and tested using a range of different assistive technologies and computer settings. While we recognise there are areas that can and will be improved based on recommendations from this review and otherwise identified, core aspects of the site are already provided in a way which meets the needs of a wide variety of users. Users with screenreaders should have no difficulty accessing the text-based content. Users who require specific Windows or browser settings should not have any difficulties with the site, nor should users with screen magnifiers. Video and audio materials are provided in such a way that they can be played through a range of different media players or downloaded and have textual descriptions or transcripts to accompany them. As far as possible, where material is provided as figures/images, we have included textual descriptions of them, but this does not yet cover every diagram or formula.

For more information on this please see our website accessibility statement.

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What information does OpenLearn collect from visitors to the website?

At OpenLearn we want to understand about your use of our website and how we can help you. We do this in three ways: by logging general activity on the site such as the time each visitor spends on the site and whether they have also used some other sites; by tracking the use of content for learning; and by asking visitors whether they are willing to be involved in research.

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What are ‘cookies’, and does OpenLearn make use of cookies on its website?

Cookies are small data files on your hard drive or browser. Cookies cannot read your hard disk or make any information collected by use of a cookie available to a third party. A cookie can only be read by the organisation that installs it. OpenLearn cookies store information about your use of the website, in particular we use these so that we can recognise that you have visited the site before. This information is used for statistical analysis including to assess the usefulness of our site and the effectiveness of our navigational structure, and to identify trends in educational needs and demands.

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Does OpenLearn share the information it receives?

We do not release this information to third parties. If you prefer not to receive cookies while browsing the website, you can disable the cookies from your browser and delete all cookies currently stored on your computer. You do not need to have cookies turned on to use or navigate through many parts of our website.

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How do I register on the website using my OUCU?

If you already have an OUCU you only need to enter it when registering on OpenLearn.  No other information is needed.

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Can I decide what information about myself is shared with other users?

If you register on OpenLearn, other users will be able to see your name, location and study interests. You can choose whether or not other users can see your email address by editing your profile. To edit your profile, click on your name which is displayed at the top right of each page once you have logged in. This will take you to your profile which you can then edit by clicking on the Edit Profile tab. If you wish to hide your email address, click on the drop down arrow at the end of the email display and select 'Hide my email address from everyone'. Then click on the Update profile box.

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Is this website available all the time?

We endeavour to make this website available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, the computers that host it need maintenance work done on them at certain times. This work is usually carried out as follows:

  • Tuesdays - 07:00am to 10:00am (UK Time)
  • Thursdays - 12:00am to 10:00am (UK Time)
    - although the majority of work is undertaken between 07:00am and 08:30am.

You may find that you cannot get onto the site during these times. There may be other times when the system is unavailable due to emergency work being undertaken on our computer networks. We try to keep these withdrawals of service to a minimum. Where we receive advance notice of this, we shall let you know on this homepage.

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