I expect most people will have seen it’s the OU’s 50th birthday this year (that makes it a little bit younger than me, but not a lot!).
It’s changed a lot in that time. Early students could only get Open degrees, not named… and in fact, for many years, it was only a BA on offer, not a BSc. What’s more, they had to do 480 credits for an Honours degree, not the 360 credits we have now. Plus the modules (well, they were courses back then) started in February, ran to October and had exams. Oh, and the vast majority of them had summer schools – week-long residentials which took place at various universities around the country. And of course, students back then were staying up past midnight or getting up before 6 a.m. to catch those TV broadcasts that were a vital part of their course.
I don’t date back quite that far, of course! But it’s changed even since I started in 2008. Would you believe my first module actually used quite a few clips from the 70s-era TV programmes, though of course now on a DVD. I had to put the TMAs for my first module in the post – it was really nerve-wracking worrying if the postie would lose them, and I must have driven my poor tutor mad by insisting on emailing to check he’d received them! I also had a CMA (computer marked assessment) filled in by pencil on a form, that had to be sent off to the Milton Keynes campus, rather than the iCMAs we have now. We used to wait quite a bit longer for exam results too – exams were early October, and we got our results not long before Christmas. Online tutorials were still in the future, and while we did have forums, they were on a system called FirstClass, not the type we have now. I know social media was already a thing back then, but it hadn’t really taken off yet, so those forums were super-busy!
I wonder what the future will hold? As a self-confessed OU addict, I hope I get a chance to be writing an article like this for the OU’s 75th anniversery, looking back nostalgically to 2019!