About the Institute of Educational Technology

Professor Denise Whitelock

Interim Director of the Institute of Educational Technology

About us

The Institute of Educational Technology (IET) is a leading European research institute in the field of innovative education. We partner and lead on major international projects across open education, learning analytics, and future applications of learning to support society. We have a strong base of leading researchers and provide an excellent environment for researchers and post-graduate students to work on exciting leading edge activities. Uniquely embedded in The Open University we operate our research alongside teaching and strategic work that provides a great base to forefront of innovation at the UK’s largest university.


IET was established in 1970 to understand how we can help people learn. Its mission has always included support for the teaching process of the University through gathering and analysing student data, evaluating initiatives and modelling the design of learning. We have been awarding PhDs since 1986 and from 1989 we have offered Masters level qualifications and now provide the Masters in Online and Distance Education. Operating within the Learning and Teaching Innovation portfolio since 2016 has given us a wider remit for access courses and the University’s open qualification.

Research and Innovation

IET’s work is at the forefront of The Open University’s mission to be the world leader in every aspect of delivering supported open and distance learning. Our innovative research into the design and evaluation of teaching, learning and the use of technology makes IET a pioneer with a world-class reputation. The impact of IET’s research is far-reaching, making a real difference to practice and policy, both in the UK and worldwide. Our research on using mobile technology to enhance education, resulted in institutional and national policymakers signing formal declarations committing to the development of mobile learning across Europe. Our research on Open Educational Resources has been essential to the development of their use including the OpenLearn website – now accessed by over 22 million visitors. We lead the world in applying Learning Design together with Learning Analytics to understand the impact design decisions have on student success and on student satisfaction.


The Institute’s research into technology enhanced learning has contributed to The Open University achieving outstanding Research Excellence Framework results in 2014, with two research impact case studies selected for the top 20 impact on global development. We are number 2 in the UK for research power in Education (combining quality with scale of research). A top 100 QS world ranking for education reveals our strength in cited high-quality publications where we are in the top three in the UK. Our cutting-edge approach to research means we typically attract around £1m annually of funding from agencies such as the European Union, UK Research Councils and international Foundations.