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Open education
Open education

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1.3 The open course environment

During this course we will look at open courses in some detail, as well as the technology used to support open learning. For now, we will set out the technologies used in this course which, since the course needs to be open to all, are open technologies. You can familiarise yourself with these and do any setup required before the course starts.


Many of the activities will require you to post your answer or reflections on your own blog. If you do not have one already, then you need to set up a blog, using a free service such as,, and so on. There are often options to buy extensions or upgrades to these services, but for the purposes of this course, the free options are fine. If you have an existing blog, you are free to carry on using that (although you may wish to set up a distinct blog to keep the course material separate).

If you prefer to keep this blog private, then, for the purposes of this course, set up a separate one using one of the free services mentioned above.


As well as blogs and the OpenLearn environment, you may find it useful to use Twitter. This is not compulsory, but you will find it a useful way to find and connect with other learners’ experiences, past and present – and you can begin to build up your own network by following former and current students as well as academics whose work is referenced in this course.

If you post anything on Twitter that is relevant to the course, include the hashtag #h817open, so others can find it and we can gather together the conversation around the course. For example, a tweet about the course may go something like: ‘Just enrolled for the open course at the OU, looking forward to discussing with others. #h817open’. It is recommended that you Tweet about each piece of writing you make on your blog (for example when you are working on the activities in this course) which will potentially increase the audience (network) for your writing, and enable you to find and read others.

Activity 1: Getting to know the open environment

Timing: Timing: 4 hours

Familiarise yourself with the open environment we are using for this open course by doing the following:

  1. If you have not already done so, set up a blog, as mentioned above.
  2. Write an introductory post to your blog that describes your experience with open education. Is it just with the Open University through OpenLearn, have you studied a full OU course, or have you studied a MOOC, used open resources, or engaged with open access publications? Remember to tag it with #h817open (an explanation about tags can be found on Wikipedia [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ).
  3. Go to hashtag/ maode – you do not need a Twitter account to do this. Browse through recent posts about the Open University’s Masters in Online and Distance Education (MAODE) degree course. Then go to hashtag/ H817 and browse the Tweets about the H817 course, from which this OpenLearn material is drawn.
  4. If you wish to use Twitter in this course (you do not have to, but we strongly recommend it as it provides a useful way to experience the thoughts and opinions of other people on the subjects you are studying here), create an account and make a Tweet, using the hashtags #h817open and #Activity1, announcing that you have started this course and have made your introductory blog post.
  5. Search Twitter using the hashtags #h817open and #Activity1 and spend no more than 15 minutes browsing the existing Tweets.