Author: Laura Dewis

Some changes to OpenLearn

Updated Friday, 3rd July 2015
We were offline for a few hours this week. Here's what we were adding to the site...

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First, apologies for the downtime. We hate being offline, but it's sometimes unavoidable while we're adding new features.

So, you might be wondering: what's actually new?

My OpenLearn

We hope you find your profile useful - and you'll have seen that in the past we've been trying to add ways to help you discover more of the content that's valuable to you.

We've now added the opportunity for you to use tags more smartly - when you add tags to your profile, you can classify them according to whether you're learning about this subject; able to help others with it; or just have an interest.

Why add tags? Well, first, it provides you with an easy way to find other articles on subjects you're interested in - each tag takes you to a page where we've listed all the content that sits under that tag as well.

Secondly, when we're making recommendations for you, the more you tell us about what your passions are, the better our recommendations can be.

And now, in a new feature, you and other users of the site can choose to 'follow' each other - so, we'll find other people who share your interests; you can visit their profile and see the courses and content that they've enrolled or added to their 'save for later' list.

Don't worry - if you'd rather not be followed in this way, you still have the choice of how much you share with other people. You can keep parts, or all, of your profile private. And at the moment, while you can look at other people's public profiles, we're not providing communication tools.

Social networking

Thanks to those of you who share our content through your favourite social networks - we're proud of our learning materials and want as many people to use them as possible.

We've tweaked our line-up of tools, making it easier to share direct to Reddit and LinkedIn alongside Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you use a different tool, our AddThis box at the bottom of the page still offers 293 other channels - from GlitteryMe to YouMob.


Finding things on websites. Not such an old-fashioned idea, but if you're a regular visitor to OpenLearn you might have noticed that our search tool hasn't really allowed you to do that. We've overhauled search now, and we think the experience (and more importantly, the results) have improved a thousandfold. (Okay, to put a scientific measure on it might be stretching things, but "it's a lot better" would do.

And, if youre a fan of our single page list of courses, we've made a bit easier to find the link you need - we've got a little box now where, if you type part of the name of a course, it'll find it for you in the list. It's a little quicker.

Broadcast listings

We've made some changes to the way we construct our pages featuring Open University co-productions with the BBC and other channels. Many of the things are behind the scenes, but we hope they'll lead to a smoother and more consistent experience when you find out what's coming up, and what's available to watch on iPlayer. Have a quick look at our regular TV and radio listings page to see what we've got lined up.


We've been making our courses available in takeaway formats for some time; but we've not always made it easy for you to find them. See the full list at free-ebooks, or keep an eye open for the download logo on course pages.

Right hand side column

The right hand side column. The one there, on the right. In testing, many users report its useful, just not all of it. If we took the bits they didn't need away, it'd be much better. Awkwardly, everybody likes different bits of it. Except for the small minority people who just hate its very presence. In a bid to try and find peace, we've reduced the clutter that was in the column, trying to focus just on the really useful signposts. We've also removed the ability to close and expand the individual blocks, because it turned out nobody knew they could do that anyway.

What next?

We're about to make more changes to the site - we're looking at how navigation works; whether enrolled users want a different experience when studying a course in a formal way; and how we can improve the browsing of the site. Because there's a lot of content here, and we want you to find what you like quickly and easily.

We'd like you to be part of the process, so we'll be sharing some of thinking and asking you for feedback as we go along. You can start now, by using the comments area to tell us what you like, and what you don't like, about our current design.





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