Linuxing Liverpool Online — Part 8: The move to PDF

Several months ago, when UoL was still using FirstClass as their classroom platform, some fellow students and I complained about the use of some butchered Word file format for the lecture files that instructors distribute. We then suggested PDF as a good alternative, as the spec is open, layout is preserved, files are typically smaller and many cross-platform readers exist.

It seems that the switch to Blackboard also brought along PDFs! In my latest module, all lectures are in PDF format. This is another step in the right direction, letting UoL catch up a little with the Open University’s excellent online learning environment that is more oriented towards open standards. OU even use Moodle for many courses, and have some freely shareable (Creative Commons) lectures.

I hope that this competition is one reason why UoL’s system keeps improving now.

5 thoughts on “Linuxing Liverpool Online — Part 8: The move to PDF”

  1. Hello,
    Sorry for posting here.
    I planning to study on MSc – ISM. I want to ask you some questions about Liverpool/OheCampus.
    Are you happy that you study here?
    Do you recommend this university?

    Thank you.


  2. Hi Mark,

    I’d say the university is okay, and some specific courses and lecturers are excellent.

    I’ve met many good instructors, but of course also one or two not so good ones. I think with the less-than-great ones, the problem was that they hadn’t updated their knowledge in a long time, and thus more modern things could not be discussed with them, they were completely stonewalling. The result was that they teach outdated (or plain wrong, by today’s standards) knowledge.

    But that was only the case in one module (out of eight), so that’s fine.

    Also, the UoL recently moved their system to Blackboard, which makes it much easier and more convenient to participate. Unfortunately, they haven’t quite grasped how threading works in the comments system πŸ™‚ They still stick to posting just one question and then billions of replies to the same root thread instead of allowing proper threaded discussion. I believe this is because the old system didn’t even have a threading feature (!) and thus instructors are still used to the old ways. That’s not very convenient, but you can get used to it.

    All in all, you just have to make sure that if you want the latest knowledge, you can’t trust the course material but instead need to rely on the textbook or on external sources of information. The textbooks are usually the latest editions.

    Perhaps you could also look at the Open University. They are very progressive and also offer some course material under permissive licenses such as Creative Commons:

    I very much like their course material and I’m thinking of doing a BA at Open University after finishing the MSc at Liverpool. I haven’t actually tried OU so far, so I don’t know about their instructors etc.


  3. No, I think you’d be okay studying at UoL/Ohecampus.

    The course material is probably old at any university, and there will always be a few lecturers that are behind the times. I don’t think that can be avoided.

    If I had to give you a percentage, I’d say I enjoyed about 90% of my experience at UoL so far. It has been a _lot_ of work and some of the online discussions with the other students don’t always seem fair, but I think that could happen anywhere else as well.

    The modules were all fine, and I think having to look up newer information online yourself is okay as well. As long as the instructor doesn’t fight you for finding and presenting newer findings than what’s in the course material…

    Also, don’t forget that UoL grants the same degrees as you can get on-campus at Liverpool. That’s worth putting up with some issues. Plus, the personnel at Liverpool has always been very friendly, quick and to the point when responding.

    I may sound a bit cynical about it all, but that’s just my general disillusionment with the higher education world. I thought it’d be more progressive! πŸ™‚


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