The Open University Belgium
The Open University Belgium, In Belgium, just over 500 students enrolled in the Open University; there were slightly more men than women and the average age was 37. This university offers a comprehensive programme but the courses for economics, the arts and social studies are the most popular.
In particular, the new course ‘You, Your Computer and the Net’ has met with a great deal of success. It is the first completely on-line course addressed to a large target group. Each course has a teacher or an assistant who can be contacted by telephone or e-mail. There is permanent monitoring of the student and the learning process and this enables a constant contact. One important detail: there are no admission requirements for the course. Anyone who is sufficiently motivated and knows enough English may join.
Richard Tuffs: Belgium is the first country – after the United Kingdom of course – in which this course is offered by the Open University. In 1982, there was a great demand for these courses from British nationals who worked at the European Community in Brussels and wished to pursue their studies at the Open University. The courses were soon open to everyone and not reserved for British nationals alone. At present, 40% of the students are British expatriates, 20% are Belgians (more or less equally divided between Flemish-speaking and French-speaking persons) and the rest are other nationalities.
At the Open University we do not call the education we offer distance learning, but open learning with distance support. Most students pass; few fail. These are better results than ever achieved in correspondence courses.
With regard to the spirited discussion of distance learning in the media, the problems of the past are now forgotten, including the fact that almost no one completed the course. We do not add value to earlier courses just by sending texts by e-mail. We wish to put the accent on contacts between individuals, between teachers and students. This interactive aspect of on-line learning will become increasingly important in the coming years and the key to success will lie in this mode of communication.