Open degree generator

I’ve mentioned before that I’m the Chair of the Open Degree at the OU, which is our multidisciplinary degree. Bar some excluded combinations, students can combine modules from across the complete range of OU offerings. This creates some interesting combinations, and as I’ve reported before, it turns out that students really take advantage of the flexibility, with many different, often unique pathways.

I had with the metaphor generator, which randomly selected a metaphor topic from one list and applied it to a randomly selected educational technology in another list to give metaphor prompts such as: “How is your favourite film an analogy for academics use of Twitter?”. I thought I could do a similar thing with module combinations for open degrees. So, using the list of modules eligible for inclusion, I created three lists, covering level 1, 2 and 3 modules to create an Open Degree Generator. I generalised a lot of the module titles to make sense to a broader audience (we like a cryptic, clever module title at the OU), and combined a few, so it’s not an exact listing of modules. Nevertheless, all of the suggested combinations of topics can (I think!) be studied in the open degree.

I’ve used three different sentence structures: “Your degree could be a combination of …”; “Would a degree containing … be interesting?”; and “In order to solve complex problems we need degrees that combine subjects like…”. The last is my favourite as it makes you consider how novel combinations can be used to address complex, or wicked problems.

It’s fun to see the different combinations that it generates. Sometimes the suggested mixture looks a bit random, but usually after some consideration you think “there would be some interesting connections between those subjects”. And if you don’t get anything from the combination, just click the button to get another set. Obviously this is just a bit of fun, and not an actual course recommendation, but I think it offers some interesting prompts.

[The code for the metaphor generator which I used for this is available here, and Alan Levine’s write-up on how he developed it here.]

[Slightly modified version of this also published over on the Open Programme blog]

2 Comments

  1. I got ‘Design thinking, Death and bereavement, and Environmental policy’ which sounds spot on for any aspiring woodland burials entrepreneur.

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