I joined the Open University on 11th April 2011 and now live in Milton Keynes during the week a fifteen minute walk from the campus. If I take the car it is a three minute run and door to door in ten minutes. This compares rather nicely to horror commutes in my past: South Coast to Hammersmith, 2 1/2 to 3 hours each way. Drive from Chipping Norton to Bristol, 77 miles, half on Cotswold Country Roads - all weathers.
To say I am now 'immersed' hardly does credit to the term.
The family I am staying with have several PHD students/academics staying in two houses (side by side) and three of the family work here too.(We walk in together)
I'm at the OU Business School (Faculty of Business and School of law).
My role is 'Social Media' - ostensibly for external communications, but embracing to some degree internal communications and education.
Internal communications because the content/ideas and discussions generated internally feed the external content (to some degree) - certainly it informs me about what is going on.
Education because of the Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) link ... although a student I am embedded in the Deanery in an open plan office so people can ask questions and I can offer a point of view or indicate who, in my humble opinion, on campus might offer a more informed/expert point of view, which might come down to a paper or talk they have recently given.
A background in corporate communications using video, web and live-events brought me first to the MAODE and now to the OU, so there is a close correlation and logic to all of this.
On campus I meet regularly with people from other faculties, though I'm yet to bump into the glitterati of E-learning - a lunch-time lecture from Martin Weller that suggests that the scholarly blog is on its way should be of interest and I'll do what I can to share that here.
There are some extraordinary developments afoot, indeed they are up and running.
I think OU Platform is about to get a blast of publicity as a Social Media Zone for future, current and alumni students to stimulate their intellectual curiosity and create discussions and groups that may last for many years.
As part of a cross-faculty group that meets each week I am linking in face-to-face with those active in developing social media like tools on the OU VLE.
I am also able to tap into latest developments with extraordinary ease, meeting people in 'The Hub' a central refectory on the campus that is very close to the Institute of Educational Technology.
Yesterday was 'Learning at Work Day' at the OU.
Internal and external suppliers presenting their skills to the 4,500 or so on the campus.
I must have spent around 20-30 minutes at each of four or five stands. Of particular interest is the rapidity of desire for VLE content and course materials on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) ... or the more ubiquitous iPhone and iPad.