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How does OpenLearn deal with older content?

Updated Thursday, 8 November 2018
OpenLearn has a vast archive of content from across the years. Here's our policy for dealing with it.

This page was published over 5 years ago. Please be aware that due to the passage of time, the information provided on this page may be out of date or otherwise inaccurate, and any views or opinions expressed may no longer be relevant. Some technical elements such as audio-visual and interactive media may no longer work. For more detail, see how we deal with older content.

We will keep content live unless there is a good reason to remove it.

This is because:

  • Many people and organisations link to our content, both as citation and for discovery purposes; it is best practice to keep these links working where possible and reduce 404 errors/user dissatisfaction.
  • OpenLearn articles are marked as 'archived' whilst still kept on the site after 5 years in order to reduce potential reputational damage.
  • OpenLearn courses and interactives are reviewed by faculty as time permits, then updated, replaced and deleted accordingly.
  • Content has historical/archival value in its own right - simply being 'old' is not a reason to remove a piece of content.

We will remove content if:

  • Keeping it online is potentially dangerous (e.g. safety advice has changed since original publication).
  • Keeping it online is potentially creating a legal issue (e.g. expired copyright; potential libel).
  • Keeping it online is potentially damaging to the OU brand/reputation.
  • We have received a valid request to remove a piece of content.
  • It requires technology to access that has become difficult for an average user to acquire (e.g. a piece of content requires certain software to be able to enjoy).

Our preference is to update content rather than remove a piece entirely. Reasons for updating content may include:

  • The article, interactive or course was correct at the time, but subsequent research or events have made content outdated.
  • We have published an article more recently on the same subject that contains more up-to-date information.
  • An error made it through the production process.

When we remove, or make a significant change to, a piece of content, we will leave a note on the content, or at the URL if the content has been removed, to explain the changes we have made and the reasons for them.

Because OpenLearn consists of tens of thousands of pieces of content, inspecting every piece regularly is time consuming and costly. However, we will check that a piece of content still passes all the tests explained above, under the following circumstances:

  • When a learner flags a piece for our attention, either through social media (@OUfreelearning) or directly emailing
  • When we are raising the profile of an archive piece of content.
  • When external events mean that we expect the piece of content will have increased attention - e.g. the subject of the article is celebrating a significant anniversary.
  • When our analytics show that a piece of content is receiving a sudden spike of attention.

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