OpenTEL: Lessons from a Pandemic for the Future of Distance Education

Francisco Iniesto
The Open University, United Kingdom

Victoria L. Murphy
The Open University, United Kingdom

Eileen Scanlon
The Open University, United Kingdom

Shi Min Chua
The Open University, United Kingdom


The move to introduce technology enhanced learning (TEL) is a trend that has been observed for decades. Following the disruption arising from Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a move to remote teaching in universities across the world. This move has put the transformation or digital revolution in the limelight in the media. TEL is of strategic importance to the conduct of teaching, learning and research in education internationally. TEL, when combined with the growing benefits of open approaches to education, leads to a potentially transformational means of learning. In this paper the authors introduce some examples of research projects from the Open University’s OpenTEL research grouping. These examples highlight some of the work conducted relating to supporting students, universities, and communities using TEL during the pandemic. OpenTEL research has identified that Covid-19 has exposed the need for better institutional support for students who are facing stress and disruption in their studies; collaboration among higher educational institutions to share knowledge; better engagement in the online pivot ; and understanding of the possibilities (and limitations) for online tools to maintain existing research communities.

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