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An Open University

KUHT Collection, University Archives

promotional material from the Open University Conference, April 29, 1977The University of Houston has long had an ambitious and experimental thread running through its history.  Our University Archives are a wonderful resource for tracing that history, as they document both the victories won and the challenges overcome.

Of particular interest is the concept and experiment of the Open University program.  In the 1970s, the University of Houston and a small handful of other U.S. universities attempted to implement a concept being established in the U.K.  In an attempt to increase access to higher education, the British government sought to wed the resources of the BBC with a new university concept to target those interested in distance learning and pursuing higher education on a more flexible schedule.  The non-traditional student and students with disabilities became the natural fit for this new concept.

promotional photograph from the "Anyone for Tennyson?" program / class

promotional photograph from the “Anyone for Tennyson?” class / program

The University of Houston, with its on-campus resources of KUHT and KUHF, as well as its long-time commitment to increasing access to higher education, seemed a fertile ground for this experiment to take root stateside.  The Open University Records contain correspondence, reports, program information, workbooks and classroom supplements that serve to document the implementation of this goal.

Trends in education have a tendency to ebb, flow, and often cycle back.  While the Open University is still going strong across the pond, it is not terribly common to hear the term “Open University” tossed about these hallowed halls of academia.  However, as evidenced by the recent announcement of the partnership with Coursera and the long-running success of UH’s Distance Education program, that legacy of delivering higher education via non-traditional means to non-traditional students has remained a constant.

promotional material for "Cinematic Eye" class / program

promotional material for “Cinematic Eye” class / program

If studying trends in education is of interest to you, or if you simply want to look through the class materials for “Anyone for Tennyson?” and “Cinematic Eye,” browse the finding aid for the Open University Records or come visit us when you have a moment.

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