Open University – Open Degree Programme

OU Degree Programme

Open University Degree Programme

I have to confess, I didn’t know much about the Open Degree Programme from the Open University, until Martin Weller asked if we could help capture the visual essence of it to help get others up to speed. 

At its inception, 50 years ago, the Open University in the UK only offered an open programme. Think of the broadest collection of modules that could be put together to form a degree course. Think of each person, charting their own course. Of course, this appeals to me (Bryan) greatly – following the path of greatest interests, rather than my own academic journey which seemed much more like the path of least resistance…


OU Open Degree - Path of greatest interest


As usual, we had an open facilitated conversation lasting about 90mins with the team, which was recorded so as to go back through the conversation to hunt for visual clues, chiefly metaphors and humour.


Undertaking a degree programme requires bravery, but being able to follow your interests requires even more.


OU Open Degree - Brave Learners

Paths of Greatest Interest

During our conversation, one of the team mentioned the “tree of possibilities” when considering all of the possible paths through an Open degree course.

OU Open Degree - Path of greatest interest - tree

The Rebel Degree

Another phrase that was used in our conversation to describe the people who favoured a more flexible degree structure was the “Rebel”…   

OU Open Degree - Rebel Degree

And Finally

It’s always helpful to listen out for an off-the-cuff comment that resonates with the others on the video call…

OU Open Degree - The clue is in the title

Open University

Learn a Language in three weeks

Open University

The team at the Open University got in touch to ask if I’d create some thinkery for a couple of different projects. Firstly, to celebrate the 10th birthday of the OpenLearn platform, the OU’s flagship open access learning platform, some thinkery was needed to articulate it’s achievements.

Secondly, the language learning team wanted to explore if thinkery could be used to explore some of the more tricky areas of their badged open course.

I travelled up to Milton Keynes for a day of conversations, and armed with my pen, A3 paper and a document camera, I met the team and dived headlong into rich conversation.

Here are some of the initial sketches following our thinkery session (click to scroll through).

As always, I came away having learned a thing or two. Here’s a selection of the final artwork:

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