Open Eye: The `virtual' campus

First Thursday; Revel Barker looks at how the OU's website will allow students past and present to keep in contact and exchange ideas
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With the launch of Open Eye comes the launch of the OU Online Community, at, destined to become the world's biggest online club.

The service is designed to supply instant benefits to members, from book sales to jobs. Chats, forums, and bulletin boards are being established so that you can communicate by faculty or by geography - or, of course, by both. You can: create an e-mail address for life (; build your own Internet homepage; design your perfect, most user-friendly start-up page; and buy OU branded products from the students' association, and books from the OU branch of the world's best university bookshop. You will be able to play chess online, compete in a quiz, renew friendships made at summer school, and join in OU events for students past and present. The OU's alumni community is open to anyone who has been an OU student, regardless of what qualifications resulted. Furthermore, there are many friends of the OU who have assisted its work without being either students or employees. These volunteers and donors are also welcome.

One of the most pleasant things about alumni associations is that you don't have to do anything to be in one: in fact you don't have a choice - you are automatically a member and remain one for ever, unless you opt out. This does count on your helping to keep in touch, if only by keeping the association informed about any change of address (write or preferably e-mail, giving your date of birth and registration, and your PI number). An alumni association is nothing without members: we need feedback telling us what you want, and feedback offering to help set up and organise all the things that members will tell us they want. The most efficient way to volunteer this information (and to volunteer yourself) is via e-mail, on

In an effort to raise our presence, we are organising two jazz evenings around Open Day (26 June). The Stables in Wavendon is near the university and run by two hon grads, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine. Elaine Delmar, the jazz vocalist's vocalist, is presenting the best of Gershwin and other classics at 8.15pm on Friday, 27 June. It will be an evening of truly sophisticated jazz from a real star. Tickets cost pounds 8.50 and pounds 12.50.

For those staying on for Saturday, the seats will be cleared and the audience defied to keep still during a concert by Cayenne, darlings of the London salsa scene with their wicked blend of jazz-rock improvisation and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Tickets cost pounds 10. Tickets for both concerts are available from The Stables box office (01908 583928 - and remember to mention the Open University).

But that's just the start - we also want to get around to the regions. For that we will need your help, not only with ideas of the functions you want to join in with, but also in organising them. Again, volunteer if you can, via I look forward to hearing from you, even if you are unable to volunteer: offers of contributions to OPEN EYE will be welcomed (please send the idea, not the article), as will letters intended for publication. The address is

The writer is director of alumni relations at the Open University.

Further information

If you would like any further information on the Open University or its courses telephone 0870 9000315 or write to:

Open Eye

The Open University

PO Box 625

Milton Keynes


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The next issue of `Open Eye' will be in `The Independent' on

4 June