edtech,  history,  OU

50 years of IET

At the OU I work in The Institute of Educational Technology (IET). This year the OU is celebrating it’s 50th, and thanks to some excellent historical research from my colleagues Lesley McGrath and Patrick McAndrew, we think we have a date for when the first proposal for IET went forward too. Apparently it was fashionable not to put a date on documents back in 1969 (thanks past people!), but Lesley proposes the following dates:

June 1969 – establishment of An Applied Educational Sciences Unit
Mar 1970 Proposal for this to become IET
Jul 1970 approval of IET staffing and costs

The role of IET is explained in this 1973 clip. Then there is a fabulous 1976 video here of David Hawkridge detailing what IET did back in those early days.

So, June this year can be said to be the 50th for IET in some respects. It was an important step, because educational technology didn’t really exist much before then. There were lecture halls, and research on the efficacy of labs maybe but in the face to face model which pretty much had a monopoly in higher ed, what was the need for educational technology research? But the OU of course needed to evaluate how different approaches worked, and what technology worked effectively at a distance. So, if you were feeling generous, you could sort of say they invented ed tech (or at least gave it prominence and legitimacy). Yes, it’s all our fault. Anyway, I was asked by those nice people at Wonkhe to write a piece on this, in my unofficial role as “Old Man of OU Ed Tech”.

(In a more official role, VC Mary Kellet also has an excellent piece on 50 years of the OU)

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