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Dr Karen Foley

Profile summary

Professional biography

As Academic lead for Student Hub Live (, I oversee the strategic direction of the OUs live online interactive platform to facilitate academic community for students. Working with a team of people, I plan, communicate, deliver and evaluate the multi-platform programme of events.

I chair Y032, People work and society, the largest Access module that feeds into psychology, social science, business, law, health and education. This has involved chairing three presentations per year and overseeing the mid-life review that included a substantial restructure and rewrite of the module.

I am the production chair of Y034, the Access module for psychology, social science, education, health and social care, and sport due for first presentation in 2023.   

I chaired of the community and sense of belonging task and finish group (2021/2022) and am involved with promoting community and sense of belonging in a range of ways for OU students.

I am the academic reviewer for Maryvale Institution, a validated partner to the Open University.  

Key interests:

Student engagement, community and sense of belonging, large scale online interactive teaching, Access (foundation), and widening participation.

Research interests

  • Community and sense of belonging
  • Student engagement in distance and online learning
  • Online communities to support progression and retention
  • Large scale, live interactive events to facilitate student engagement, interaction and discussion

Teaching interests

I am an Associate Lecturer for the OU (Tutor) for DD102 (Introducing the Social Sciences) DD210 (Living Psychology). 



Scaffolding Extracurricular Online Events to Support Distance Learning University Students (2019)
Foley, Karen and Marr, Liz
Journal of Interactive Media in Education, 2019, Article 17(1)

From despair to somewhere: activating students in a distance learning environment (2015-01)
Foley, Karen; Middleton, Dave and Fribbance, Ian
Practice and Evidence of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 9(1) (pp. 18-32)

The Student Hub Live: The Open University’s Solution to Facilitating the Development of an Academic Community in Distance Learning through Collaborative Online Interaction (2020-09)
Foley, Karen
In: Dennis, Chris; Abbott, Stuart; Matheson, Ruth and Tangney, Sue eds. Flexibility and Pedagogy in Higher Education: Delivering Flexibility in Learning through Online Learning Communities (pp. 179-191)
ISBN : 9789004438118 | Publisher : Brill | Sense

"Is There Anybody There?": Engaging With Open University Distance Learners (2019)
Clough, Helen and Foley, Karen
In: Joe, Jennifer and Knight, Elisabeth eds. Social Media for Communication and Instruction in Academic Libraries (pp. 151-172)
ISBN : 9781522580980 | Publisher : IGI Global

Student Connections: Livestreaming and Creating Community via an Annual Student Conference (2018)
Foley, Karen and Fribbance, Ian
In: Baxter, Jacqueline; Callaghan, George and McAvoy, Jean eds. Creativity and Critique in Online Learning: Exploring and Examining Innovations in Online Pedagogy (pp. 169-189)
ISBN : 978-3-319-78297-3 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan

Case study 22: The PodMag: podcasting to promote academic community (2018)
Foley, Karen
In: Matheson, Ruth; Tagney, Sue and Sutcliffe, Mark eds. Transition In, Through and Out of Higher Education: International Case Studies and Best Practice (pp. 154-156)
ISBN : 9781134817627 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : UK

Preparing for success: understanding the impact of Y032 on WELS students. (2024)
Butcher, John; Bhandari, Renu; Foley, Karen; Curry, George and McCormick, Michael
In : Praxis Festival of scholarship 2024 (13 May 2024, The Open University [online])

Preparing to Succeed: The Impact of an Access Module at the Open University (2024)
Bhandari, Renu; Butcher, John; Foley, Karen and Mccormick, Mick
In : The European Conference on Education (ECE2024) (15 Jul 2024, London, UK (Online))

Engaging Distance Learners in an Academic Community: Student Hub Live (2022-01-04)
Foley, Karen
edd thesis The Open University