The world of education; Sample
The wealth of education and in the studios of the BBC in London this is Genevieve second Stine in this programme. We're going to take a look at some aspects of Britain's new Open University. I believe that this is in itself an educational development which is by far the most important in higher education of anybody that is happening anywhere in the world this century. It is a remarkable thing that it should have happened in this particular country. I think it can have an impact on education and an impact on society which is not negligible I think it's an intrinsically interesting and challenging thing to do. The views of a professor who left a job overseas to come to this new Open University which started in January. Forty three thousand people of all ages applied for admission 25000 were accepted for the four foundation courses the humanities the social sciences mathematics and science. And these adult students are now studying in their spare time by radio and television and by correspondence courses each course represents a year's work for the student with continuous assessment and a final examination and a course successfully completed brings
one credit six credits achieve that degree and it credits an honors degree with over three million pounds a year of government money behind it. The group of men who planned the Open University justified it is this an institution that would make provision for the continuing education of the adult population in this country. In whatever walk of life they might be they really came to learn a conscious conclusion that. The education which was seen to end at the conventional university level the individual having gone through primary school secondary school and then some form of tertiary education was no longer enough in itself to prepare that individual for a continuing contribution to society for the rest of his life. And that Periodically he would need refreshing updating re-educating and so on. And personally I regard this as the key justification of the institution and many of my colleagues share that opinion and as does yours
cristata. The university's secretary and these are by definition very different objectives from those of Britain's forty four conventional universities. Although the subjects that are being taught are similar to conventional university subjects there is no similarity in the range of students of course will have to deal with Professor Michael Pence who is a physicist tells us about the science course. The other universities have a perfectly well defined import whereas in the Open University the qualifications that are 6500 science students in fact have ranged from people with degrees including degrees in science to people with no A-levels or anything of the sort so that because the input is totally different you cannot simply take over lock stock and barrel or you and even vary more than just partially the ideas about where you start. Even we are teaching a science course. There is no comparable course to my knowledge anywhere in the world of first year university level which attempts
to be a multi-disciplinary integrated course in sciences not a physics course on chemistry course or a biology course or an earth science course it is a science course and we've tried our best to make it integrated. We are in fact teaching at an intellectual level which would challenge the abilities of some of our graduates among our students. But it is also within the grasp of a nurse with academic qualifications and for the Humanities the approach will again be different. CHRISTOPHER HARVEY is a lecturer in history. Oh teaching method is founded. The curve of it is the correspondence unit. The actual thing that really substitutes are I suppose the true pearl of the university is the correspondence. The radio and the television are seen in a sense as being analogous to the lecture secure. And in some ways that is a more gentle approach than the gentle reading a student might do.
Contentedly with his states I was studying at the university. The students are sent books and in some cases slides films records or kits for home experiments. What they have to send back are essays and exercises which can be marked by computer and both count towards their final degree. And they all need stamina. They'll have to put in 10 or more hours of study every week. Over the four or five years they'll take to complete their degree. Perhaps the biggest difference as Christopher Harvey said instead of lectures the television and radio programs produced for the Open University by the BBC with all this remote control as it were. How can the university maintain a personal link with the student. The Vice-Chancellor water penny. There are two things that will occur. To produce something in the way of a first situation first. There will be the summer schools of two weeks duration each year when the student is in residence in a conventional situation. And secondly we are setting up all over the country what are called studies and those
places where students can meet. Talk together there will be a counsellor available to help them with general problems and will the degrees have the same status and value as at other universities. It would be quite pointless for any new institution to have what was regarded as a second class degree so the answer to that is undoubtedly yes. There will be no difference at all in the standards demanded and that in turn demands a high standard of university staff who were chosen by the vice chancellor and the secretary and I think we have gathered together a most exciting bunch of people who can hold their heads up in the academic world. We chose them for their academic excellence their research output and so on the same kinds of criteria as they used in other universities. We have no regard for example whatsoever to whether they were good broadcasters are not. We really wanted them to be good in the disciplines for which they were applying.
The university staff and BBC producers work closely together right through from the first ideas about the courses to the finished radio and television programmes. This is a new and unique experience for both of them. But with these new relationships how many of the traditional ideas about making programs have survived Peter Montagnier on BBC head of programmes for the Open University where we had to throw most of the old concepts of programme construction out of the window because they just don't apply. And this in a sense is one of the hardest tasks because even given the fact that most of our production staff were relatively new to the game they still had an idea in our mind about what a program looked like and we had to disillusion them because the beginning of the program is embedded right in the correspondence text. There are lots of things you don't need to say you don't need to describe what you're doing the student knows what you're doing because he's read the material so what's been learned so far from these new concepts. Well I would say paradoxically that that is something which is I'm apparently not concerned with either
radio or television. The fundamental change perhaps in concept within this university is that we start off by asking what we wish the student to be able to do at the end of the course. We then try and construct a course which will enable him to do this and we take it as axiomatic that if there is a failure it is a failure on our side because we specified objectives. We should be able to meet the objectives. It isn't a student failure is our failure. And if we fail then we will modify what we do. Now this is perhaps the reverse of the traditional attitude which says that you have certain things which are quite sacred which you are going to teach. And if the student can't learn them or assimilate them then that's his fault. We're not saying that we are saying that we wish the student to be able to do certain things. And it is our task to make him able to do those things. And as Professor Pence explains this is meant that some of the teaching staff at the university have had a great deal to learn.
They had to learn to coordinate their work preparing a course collectively. Now this is a very unaccustomed thing for academics to do is NOT use of academics to find their written work criticised by their colleagues not only and not even perhaps in their own departments let alone in other departments. Yet we have had cases here where a professor who was indeed a professor in another university before he came here has had to learn to live unlike. What he does. The idea that he has to redraft is something which is very close to his heart by the time he's written it once twice three times you drop it you drafted four or five times and he goes on where you drop you can do the rest of the team likes it. And the interesting thing about it is that this transformation in attitude in a mode of work has happened and it's happened without any serious thought of upsets. People have shown themselves to be adaptable to a totally different environment. So I think that although we have had to naturally adapt method that the method has not dominated the content not in science at any
rate. And how will this method affect the students. I hope that the manner in which we should be teaching science and science which is contemporary which is irrelevant to which the student when he puts the question well so what. We'll find the answer within that course will help just a wee bit to transform the image of science which I think is one of the contributory factors to the flight from science of young people as it being an activity where there is no room for imagination or insight or initiative or what have you. Where you learn a lot of facts you learn a lot of formulas you learn a lot of ignores that our whole approach to this do the science course is so different on that score that I really think we should influence the attitudes not only of our students incidental but of a lot of other people who are going to be in the category of systematic eavesdroppers. Because you have to bear in mind as you know that are a key part at least of our teaching system the broadcast component is done in
public which is more than happens about the teaching of any other university. Any other university. And as does yours Christodoulou traveled all over the world to see other experiments. I think they were important in the sense that they could provide us with some evidence of for example the effectiveness of television in an educational context. The effectiveness of correspondence studies for adults who also had their. Living to earn and their work to do in the daytime and so on. And indeed the planning committee contained members who had some knowledge of what was going on overseas and now the headquarters of the Open University north of London is receiving visitors in its turn. Ricks NETTLEFOLD director of extramural studies at the University of the West Indies is one of them. Been very happy to see the television and sounder to keep aspects. Complementary to act teacher student contact in the regional centers which indeed would correspond to our
centers in the Unready in the Caribbean and that correspondence courses are also being used. So it's a pyramid if you like or math tricks of different educational technological devices being you will just do a facility study away from the traditional campus or the traditional classroom. And this I think could help us we could look very closely at how this works and see so that we don't make the same sort of errors that others have made in other places. And from the reactions of other visitors. Christodoulou believes the Open University may have a great deal to offer. If we pull this off we've discovered a means of providing opportunities for higher education at considerably lower cost than other universities. They've also recognized the fact that we may well be producing educational material as a product which has perhaps a
viability in their own context in the sense that they could lease the use of it or maybe perhaps adapt it for their own purposes perhaps translate where translation is necessary and so on but generally exploit a ready made product which with some added adaptation made may resolve their problems. The real point I'm trying to make is that it's not necessarily a system which must be geared to university level work. It could be good to other levels of education. And because as I say provide bridges between various levels of education. And Professor Michael Pence put it this way. I believe that it's that it's the overall system which we are pioneering here on which literacy emphasise you know right at the beginning and is going to change I would put it this way this is a self-improving system and it's that system with that feature built into which I think is that is the product which we have on the market which has the highest educational value. Professor Michael pence of the Open University and this is Genevieve Eccleston in the studios of the BBC in London.
This is the national educational radio network.
- The world of education
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