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Is there a problem with OpenLearn? OpenLearn status updates

Updated Monday 13th August 2018

We hope OpenLearn works normally, around the clock, through the year. If we know something's wrong (or if we're planning some downtime), we'll tell you here.

Remember you can keep an eye on OUFreeLearning on Twitter for real-time updates.

Advance notice: Wednesday 17th October 2018 tbc

We're planning our next major update for the site for mid-October. At the moment, we're thinking it'll be on the morning of October 17th, but this is subject to change. There will be an outage of service for a short period. We'll let you know more closer to the time.

Advance notice: Thursday 16th May 2018

There's another planned round of updates which may mean we'll be disappearing for an hour on Thursday 16th.

Advance notice: Thursday 26th April 2018

OpenLearn is going to be offline briefly at some point on Thursday for an update to our system. Apologies in advance for any disruption this may cause you.

Fixed issue: Weekend of 21st & 22nd April 2018

Over the weekend we had a problem where the part of our system which shows profiles stopped being updated by the part of our system where you create an account. The upshot was people who created new profiles during this period were being taken to the homepage rather than their profile page. IT have fixed the issue, and affected users should now be able to access their profiles in the correct way. Please contact us if you can't.

Advance notice: Thursday 29th March 2018

OpenLearn will be offline for a short period on the afternoon of Thursday 29th as an update is applied to the system. Apologies, but it's unavoidable.

Tuesday 20th March 2018

The site is running incredibly slowly at the moment - IT are investigating the cause of the problem. We are sorry about the issue, and the impact it is having as you navigate our site.

Wednesday 7th February 2018

We'll be offline for a few hours this morning as we update the site.

Wednesday 24th January 2018

Thanks to the tireless work of our friends in IT, the part of OpenLearn which deals with courses has been moved to shiny new infrastructure. The performance problems have, as far as we can tell, vanished. We'll be keeping an eye on the situation over the next couple of days. Thanks to all of you for your patience.

Thursday 18th January (still ongoing Monday 22nd January) 2018

We're experiencing problems with page load, especially (although not restricted to) on free course pages, and in places where those free courses are referenced.

Update: Although the load problems are still happening, there's been incrememntal improvements in speed each day; our colleagues in IT are working on a more substantial fix.

At the moment, our average page load is taking over 26 seconds. It is worth it when it gets there, we promise, but apologise for the length of time it's taking.

Offline 17th October 2017

We were offline for a few hours while we updated some of the code on the site. We're back now.

Intermittent service outages: 13th - 14th September 2017

We've had reports that from around 8pm on the 13th, some users have had a really slow experience accessing OpenLearn, while others just got a blank page or worse. We believe this peaked around breakfast time on the 14th. Our IT team restarted the service twice, and the second time - fingers crossed - seems to have fixed the underlying problem. We're trying to work out exactly what that underlying problem is.

Known issue: Some courses don't send confirmations of enrollment

We've discovered that some of our free course extracts haven't been sending users confirmatory emails when visitors sign up to study them. This turns out to be down to a systemic error which we're working to fix.

Advance notice: 14th August 2017

We're planning an update to the system on which OpenLearn runs, and this means there will be a short loss of the service on the morning of August 14th. We hope it'll be no more than fifteen minutes.

Advance notice: 6th June 2017

We'll be offline for the morning, and a piece of lunchtime, as we add functionality to the courses area of the site. We hope to be back online from around 3pm. Apologies for the outage.

Advance notice: 30th May 2017

OpenLearn runs proudly on Drupal, and every so often we need to update some of the modules we're using to squish bugs and expand functionality. To which end, we'll be offline briefly around breakfast time on May 30th. We hope the downtime will be as short as possible.

Known issue: Whiteout profile pages

Some users have reported a problem when attempting to create or update an OpenLearn profile - after having completed the information requested and hitting 'save', the page turns blank and nothing else much happens.

We think this is caused by a memory problem which is persistent, inconsistent and annoying. On some occasions, the information created will have been saved; on others, sadly, it will have been lost. If you open a new browser window, and navigate to your profile, you'll quickly discover if the save had been made. (If you were creating a profile for the first time, and there's a profile there, it has worked.)

If the saves you have made have failed, you can try returning to the original browser window, hitting the back button, and resaving. This sometimes works; sometimes it doesn't.

It's horrible, and if it has affected you we are genuinely sorry. We're working to fix the problem as soon as we can.

Advance notice: 8th April 2017

There's plans to do some fundamental engineering work to the OU network on the night of April 8th, and from 11pm until 11am the following day all OU systems are expected to be offline - including, obviously, OpenLearn. Please accept our apologies in advance.

Learning wheel

The learning design wheel has been broken for a few days due to problems with the hosting environment - our apologies; we believe we've fixed the problem but please note the full screen URL has changed as a result of this fix.

Advance notice: 22nd February 2017

We are planning some work for Wednesday, 22nd February. This will require the site to be unavailable for a short period of time, and will render the site unable to track changes to profiles for a longer period. We hope to be able to provide more detail closer to the event.

Advance notice: 14th February 2017

There will be a short interruption to service on Tuesday, 14th February to allow updates to be applied to the courses area of the site.

Profiles: 10th - 13th February 2017

In order to ensure they were working as expected, we made profiles inaccessible on Friday evening. We found no problems with profiles as a result of our testing, and so restored the service Monday afternoon. We apologise to all users who were unable to access their profiles during this period.

Redesign: 19th January 2017

About twenty-five minutes behind schedule, we've made the site public.

We're aware of some issues with the site, in addition to those reported below, which we are working to correct.

Last week, we changed the way subjects worked - you can see more information about how the new subjects/topics duopoly works below. In the latest update, we've tidied up the topics to be easier to work with and lost some of the curiosities (like mathematics education). If you were a fan of any of the subjects we've removed, the content is still available via tags - and here's a guide to the tags in question. Select the name of an old subject area to see the closest match in tags:

youth studies
young people
health sciences
health studies
physical fitness
psychological studies
social care
social work
educational practice
educational technology
mathematics education
teacher training
literature and creative writing
philosophy: schools of thought
great thinkers
history of medicine
history of technology
social and economic history
world history
environmental decision making
global development management
leadership and management
management systems
technology management
environmental decision making
environmental science
information and computing technology
systems (computing)
technology management
environmental science
health sciences
public health
physics and astronomy
international development
environmental decision making
environmental science
global development management
global education
politics policy people
social policy
the law

Advance notice: 19th January 2017


We shall be offline for a deploy fixing some of the bugs in the redesign from around 9am on January 19th. We hope to be back online by 3pm at the latest.

Redesign: 11th January 2017

We launched a beta redesign of the site earlier this week, and as a result some changes to site navigation have been made. In addition, some errors and issues have presented themselves in the new design.

Navigating to specific topics

The way you choose a subject to explore has changed.

Previously, to see (e.g) maths, you could hover your mouse over the navigation bar, and choose maths

Now, you must select 'subjects' from the navigation bar to naviagte to that page, select 'science technology and maths' and navigate to that page, click on 'all content' in the tabs, and then select the 'mathematics' topic.

Some topics are currently missing from the available lists - the content can still be accessed, but is harder to display. This will be corrected in the next seven days.

Where is Society Matters?

Society Matters can be found at

Where is Participation Now?

Participation Now can be directly accessed at

Where is Creative Climate?

Creative Climate can be reached at

Breadcrumbs: Known issue

Breadcrumbs are not showing the correct nesting of content within its subject area, and are instead showing content as nested inside a content type, making navigation challenging within a subject area.

Section headings: Known issue

At present, the section head on content pages isn't a clickable link. We are working to correct this.

Accessibility: Known issues

Many pages have two separate links 'free courses' which go to different locations - we apologise to screenreader users and others for whom this is confusing.

Links change colours as you move through the site to reflect the subject area you're in. When you are in an area that isn't subject coloured, the links appear in black. We apologise to users for whom the inconsistent colour presents a problem; we apologise to all users who find it hard to differentiate between black, bold text links, and text that is merely bold for emphasis in those parts of the site. We will fix this in a later release.


Tags are still present, and work as they used to - but you will now find them on the right hand side of the page, in an area headed 'Related content'

Follow-me menus

We have lost, temporarily, the follow-me menu which used to appear on the top right of a page as you worked through a collection. We hope to restore these.

Other known issues

Some of the images at the top of the Subjects page are more like that bit of Ask The Family where you had to identify a photo from a massive close-up.

Other images aren't appearing where they should, leaving a space and sometimes throwing out the alignment of the page, and some are being scaled up and/or cropped in a haphazard manner.

Some courses are showing a ribbon claiming to be draft, and not available to the general public - if you can see the course, it is out of draft and you are welcome to explore it.

Some courses currently swap between the old design and the new design. Their functionality isn't affected, but we're working to correct the problem.

 When you have enrolled on a course, the invitation to enrol should disappear from that course. At the moment, it isn't.

Print items: 10th January 2017

We're aware that some people are having problems using the form to order print items related to our BBC co-productions. IT is working on a fix to this problem, which we hope will be in place in the next 24 hours.

New look: 7th December 2016

We are planning to deploy a new look to the site at the start of December. This will mean three things:

  • A prolonged break in service on that day - we may be offline between 9am and 3pm
  • A new approach to navigation, organisation and layout that is radically different from the current one and may require a period of familiarisation
  • Although we're testing as far as we can, the nature of a site this size is that it is difficult to guarantee everything will continue to work following a major deploy. We would appeal for both patience, and assistance - if you are able to report any bugs or issues you discover in the days following the deploy, we would be delighted to hear from you

Issue fixed: Child of our time surveys

We've had a long-term problem with a couple of our Child of our time surveys not working correctly - we've deployed a fix which means they should now all be working. Why not give them a try?

Advance notice: 9th August 2016

We'll be offline for a short period on the morning of Tuesday 9th August as our system gets a security boost. Apologies in advance.

Issue fixed: Shepard illusion

An error on the page explaining the Shepard Illusion has been fixed, allowing you once again to experience the effect for yourself.

Advanced notice: 29th June 2016

The work originally planned for 13th June will now take place on the 29th June. We will, therefore, be unavailable for much of the morning that day. Apologies in advance.

Advanced notice: 13th June 2016

We're also having a fairly large update to our underlying code this June - we're expecting to be offline for about an hour or so (and currently discussing what the offline messages should look like) but hope to be back in time for lunch.

Advanced notice: 9th June 2016

There's a security fix planned for deploy to our live servers around 10.15 in the morning - we're not anticipating a break in service but users around this time may experience some turbulence as they navigate the site.

Advanced notice: 21st April 2016

The work which had been planned for the 19th of April has been rescheduled for the 21st of April; so the service won't have a (planned) outage on the 19th, but will be unavailable for a short period of time on the 21st.

Advanced notice: 19th April 2016

There's a planned update to the system for April 19th, which will cause a short break in service on that day.

Known issue: 21st March 2016

We've had reports of pages breaking when accessed via a browser 'back' button. That is, when navigating to a page you have previously accessed, the content fails to load correctly. We're investigating the problem

Advanced notice: 15th March 2016

OpenLearn is being upgraded on Tuesday, 15th March, and will be offline for a period of time between 9.30am and 2.30pm, GMT. Apologies for such a long outage, which is due to database issues and beyond our control.

Advanced notice: 8th December 2015

The site will be offline for a surprising amount of time during the day as new functionality is deployed and our courses get a new look for their certificates. Apologies for the break in service.

24th November 2015

The University as a whole has been having a bit of a nightmare with its network and systems today, so OpenLearn may have been behaving oddly, erratically or maybe even not at all for you during the course of the morning. If you've had troubles, please accept our apologies. 

Advanced notice: 22nd September/23rd September 2015

The work planned for the 22nd September has been pushed back by 24 hours; consequently the period when OpenLearn will be unavailable will be around ten minutes just after 10.30am on the morning of September 23rd.

16th September 2015

We'll be offline for a few minutes at around 7.30pm this evening to allow an update to keep our free courses lined up with the main courses from The Open University. Apologies in advance for the disruption.

Advance notice: 22nd September 2015

In order to allow some updates to be made to our servers, we're sorry to say that OpenLearn will be offline for around ten minutes just after 10.30am on the morning of September 22nd.

How to read ePubs?

We've added an ePubs download button to the courses pages on OpenLearn, to make it easy for you to download our free courses in a book style to read offline. We're aware some users are finding this confusing, and so we're offering this advice:

"ePubs are an electronic book format. In order to read them on your PC, you'll need a dedicated eBook reader - you can find a list of free ePubs readers to download at If you'd prefer to download the course in a different format, you'll find a range of formats - including Word and PDF - behind the 'alternative formats' tab"

ePub downloa d button Creative commons image Icon The Open University under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 license The ePub button

Advance notice: 15th July, 2015

We'll be offline for a short period during the morning of 15th July to allow IT to apply a security update or two to our machines. We'll try to keep it as short as possible.

Known issue: Flash in Firefox

If you use Firefox as your browser of choice, you might discover that some content on OpenLearn is being blocked as you move around the site. This problem is beyond ou control - it is the result of an action taken by Mozilla in response to a security flaw in Flash. You can read more about the issue at ZDNet. The fix is in the hands of Adobe. 

Advance notice: 30th June, 2015

We're having an update the OpenLearn site deployed on Tuesday 30th, and will unfortunately (and, we're assured, unavoidably) be offline for a significant portion of the day.

14th May, 2015

The work which had been planned for today has been postponed, and so we're not expecting the site to be unavailable. If it does become unavailable, then there's a problem. But it'll be an unexpected problem.

Advance notice: 14th May, 2015

We're expecting some technical work on our system to take place on May 14th, which will require the site being unavailable for four hours. Yes, it sounded a lot to us, too, but the nature of the work being undertaken means the downtime is unavoidable.

Advance notice: 16th April, 2015

The work originally planned for the 13th didn't go ahead; this has been rescheduled for the 16th. There will be a brief interruption to services at some point during the day - we're expecting it to be no longer than ten minutes. Apologies in advance.

15th April, 2015

OpenLearn is responding sluggishly this morning - we're investigating the causes and hope to be back to service as usual as soon as possible.

14th April, 2015

We're getting reports from some users of seeing a message when they attempt to enrol on a free course:

To access this part of the course please enrol. By enrolling you can get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a Certificate to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!


We suspect this is down to a network failure here on campus which is frustrating OpenLearn from checking user's credentials, but we're investigating.

Advance notice: 13th April, 2015

There are plans to roll out a patch to our underlying Drupal technology on April 13th; there's an anticipated downtime of around ten minutes. This will be during working hours, but we do not yet have a time from our friends in IT.

30th March, 2015

There's a known issue with the Frozen Planet interactive: some providers of the material displayed on the map have removed their data feeds. We're working to find alternative sources of the information. Apologies.

9th December, 2014

We believe the technical problems with the site have been solved, but will keep an eye on the site and update you if there are further problems. Again, our apologies for any disruption you may have experienced

4th December, 2014

Please accept our apologies for problems you might be experiencing using OpenLearn - there's been a major problem affecting the technology we use to bring you the site. Our IT are working hard to fix the errors, but while they do you might experience pages on the site presenting a somewhat hostile claim that you don't have permission to see them. We're getting that, too. We know a little bit how Dave Bowman felt. We hope the site should be operating as normal later today.





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