The Open University (OU) officially partnered with Race Online 2012 in February 2011 and since then, has made every effort to raise the profile of the campaign and to inspire digital champions.
In May/June 2011 the University launched a competition on its community website, ‘The Platform’, which asked entrants to comment on what they are doing and planning to do to help someone online; to vote in their poll to say “yes, I want to be a digital champion”; to join Race Online 2012 on Platform; and to join the digital champion network. The competition article has been read almost 11,000 times and attracted more than 300 comments – we’re sure the iPad prize had nothing to do with it!
The OU has made progress towards embedding ICT elements across the curriculum. They are currently increasing the credits of Openings modules from 10 to 15, giving the opportunity to develop basic ICT skills. The OU Library has also developed a series of animations called ‘Library Shorts’ to introduce OU students to subjects like what an online library is and how to trust information found online. In addition, the OU has published a range of ‘How to’ videos on developing various IT tools and skills which are hosted on the OU Platform website.
The University plans to place articles asking staff to inspire their students to join the digital champion network and to encourage staff to submit their own digital champion stories via staff directed platforms, its intranet, the ‘OULife’ home page, and Platform and the Vice-Chancellor’s next staff podcast.
The OU has also taken initiatives to assist off-liners, donating redundant IT equipment to Age UK and other charities and organisations that support people who have yet to make their first steps towards becoming online.
The OU wants to attract, support and encourage new audiences, particularly those from socially disadvantaged backgrounds or with physical impairments. To this end, the university is hoping to source some case studies from students with disabilities who have accessed education because of the available technology, and use those case studies to champion further interest in the campaign amongst other disabled students/public.
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