Want to be a distance learner? Don’t know where to start? The OU has teamed up with BBC Learning English to provide a free 10-week online course to teach you how to become a pro. Go the Distance includes animations, explainers, support from academics on writing techniques and interviews with students about their experiences of distance learning.
Whilst anyone with an interest in distance learning – which is essentially studying online or remotely – can participate, the online course is particularly useful if you are a non-native speaker of English.
Go the Distance is broken down into five categories – one for each day of the week:
Monday: Student Life
Short documentaries will feature a real distance learning student's story. We see them at work, rest and play as they make their learning experience part of their lives. The students talk about various aspects of distance learning, such as academic writing, critical thinking or social learning, explaining the challenges they have faced and how they have overcome them. Each episode ends with inspirational messages about study-related achievements, personal goals, plans and ambitions.
Tuesday: Academic Insights
Short interviews with distance learning tutors will share top tips for students who are doing, or thinking about doing, a further education course by distance, be it researching and writing assignments, finding and using source material, social learning, exams, time management or project work.
Wednesday: Study and Exam Skills
Entertaining animations designed to help develop study skills for distance learning, including quoting, paraphrasing and summarising, critical thinking skills, listening and note-taking.
Thursday: Academic Writing
A guide with an emphasis on the English language skills needed for further education, whether face-to-face or by distance. Topics include academic vocabulary, essay structure, writing in online discussion forums, the language of academic argument and more.
Friday: Digital literacy
A video guide to best practice in participating in distance learning in the digital age. Popular BBC Learning English presenters, Sian and Tim, guide the viewer through the world of digital information, online forums, safety and security, study tools, communication portals, storage options and much more.
Useful and inspiring to new and experienced learners
David Hann, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, and Anne Wesemann, Lecturer in Law at The Open University are Lead Academic Consultants for the course, and both welcome the opportunity to share The Open University’s knowledge with the BBC’s global audience.
Anne Wesemann said:
Education should be accessible to all, and this collaborative course is a great start in helping people make the first step into distance learning. It offers such a diverse range of guidance and advice that it will be useful and inspiring to both new and experienced distance learners.
A toolkit for distance learners
Go the Distance is hosted on the BBC Learning English website where new material will be posted each weekday over ten weeks, after which the complete course will be available on demand. The online course will also be promoted on BBC Learning English's Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube channels.
Catherine Chapman, Series Editor, BBC Learning English, says: “It's been great to build on our successful cooperation with The Open University to create this course. Go the Distance provides existing and would-be distance learning students, wherever they are in the world, with a comprehensive toolkit of information, skills and strategies, as well as language knowledge, to help them succeed at all stages of their learning – from choosing a course to sitting their final exams.”
Commissioned for The Open University by Head of Broadcast and Partnerships, Dr Caroline Ogilvie
Nominated Academics: Lecturer in Law, Anne Wesemann; Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, David Hann
Media Fellows: Angela Lilley; Fernando Rosell-Aguilar
Broadcast Project Manager: Amie Nimmo
Online Project Producer: Georgia Axtell-Powell