Episode 7: The Educators

Sarah Montague

Sarah Montague © BBC

The seventh episode of The Educators, an eight part series presented by Sarah Montague is scheduled for broadcast this Wednesday 24th September at 16:00 on BBC Radio 4.

The BBC and The Open University have come together to explore the ideas of people whose influence extends from students to governments. Is there a proven model for good schools and teaching? Can potential be unlocked in any student, at any age? Do we value and measure the most important skills? And can children be the best teachers of other children?

This series discusses these and many other issues on a global scale with various pioneers of education.

Episode 7: Jo Boaler
Broadcasting Wednesday 24th September – 16:00

Is our attitude towards maths killing the subject for children? Professor Jo Boaler believes a widespread belief in the existence of a ‘maths brain’ is ruining pupils’ chances of success in the subject.

She tells Sarah Montague that anybody can be good with numbers, but unlike other subjects, we teach the idea that some people are simply good or bad at mathematics.

Having researched the way maths is taught in schools in the UK and in the US, Stanford University professor Jo Boaler says pupils are too often made to think that maths is a long list of rules and procedures to be learned off by heart.

In the programme Sarah Montague discovers why real mathematics is about uncertainty; the study of patterns and creative problem solving. She hears about some of the controversial new methods designed to teach flexibility with numbers, which have some parents confounded by the homework their children are being set.

This episode will also be repeated on Monday 29th September at 00:15

Further Info

Find out more about the series, or if you missed the previous episode you can still catch up:

Take a look at The Open University’s Education, Childhood and Youth prospectus for details on courses and qualifications surrounding this subject, and has particular relevance to:

There is also lots of content in connection with the series and relevant subject areas on OpenLearn.  Find out more now

Open Media Unit
The Open University

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Episode 4: The Secret Life of Books

© BBC

The fourth episode of The Secret Life of Books broadcasts tonight - Tuesday 23rd September on BBC4 at 8.30pm.

In this 6 part series, each week one of six classic British books is considered with a fresh eye.   Great Expectations, presented by Tony Jordan, Mrs Dalloway presented by Alexandra Harris, The Mabinogion presented by Cerys Matthews, Jane Eyre presented by Bidisha, and in tonight’s episode, Cerys Matthews looks at what we can learn from The Mabinogion.

These novels are just some of the classic works of fiction that we all know and love. But how well do we really know them? These rich and vibrant works have much more to offer us, and in this series our presenters will revisit original texts, manuscripts, diaries and correspondence to reveal new insights into some of the greatest works of literature.

Episode 4: The Mabinogion
Broadcasting Tuesday 23rd September – 8.30pm

This episode will be repeated again on BBC4 on 24th September at 2:30am, and again on 26th September at 01.10am.

Cerys Matthews tells the extraordinary story of one of the great literary treasures of the medieval world – the Mabinogion. Its ancient tales, once recited aloud by storytellers, were later translated from Welsh by a Victorian enthusiast, Lady Charlotte Guest, bringing them to an international audience. Their influence can still be detected in works such as JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

‘When I was growing up I had a Mabinogion poster, the illustrations were almost psychedelic’, says Matthews, who was enchanted. ‘I’d fallen in love with the unpredictable plots, the beautiful language and the larger than life characters’.

Here were unforgettable creations – a king who could stride across the Irish Sea, a woman made entirely of flowers, goats that mysteriously changed into wild boars and the first ever appearance of King Arthur. As Matthews delves deeper into these strange tales, she examines some of the original, ancient manuscripts and visits some of the locations in Wales which first inspired many of the stories.

Download the App

To accompany the series, OMU has produced in partnership with the BBC a free app titled The Secret Life of Books and was co-authored by Dr Jonathan Gibson from The Faculty of Arts. You can download the app by visiting OpenLearn.

Online

Take the story further online and find out more about the great authors. OpenLearn has extensive resources to support the series such as a free app, eBooks, interactive features and topics related to this series. Go to Secret Life of Books on OpenLearn

This 6-part series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit, and is supported by the Arts Faculty, with particular relevance to A230: Reading and Studying Literature

Find out more about the series, or if you missed the previous episode you can still catch up:

Open Media Unit
The Open University

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Episode 1: My Shakespeare

Morgan Freeman © Sky / Blakeway Productions

The first episode of My Shakespeare broadcasts on Monday 22nd September Sky Arts 1 HD at 9.00pm.

Each programme in this new 6 part Open University/Sky Arts series features a leading actor exploring their passion for the world’s greatest dramatist.

The series includes:

Morgan Freeman on The Taming of The Shrew, Kim Cattrall on Anthony & Cleopatra, Joseph Fiennes on Romeo & Juliet, Hugh Bonneville on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, David Harewood on Othello, Christopher Plummer on King Lear.

In each episode, one star will explore an iconic work by William Shakespeare, revealing their personal connection to the work and how it has shaped them professionally. They embark on a journey to find out how their chosen play was written, as well as meeting actors, historians, and directors to understand how the plays have been performed and developed over time. They aim to find out where Shakespeare got his stories from and what makes these plays, now over 400 years old, universally acknowledged as great masterpieces of theatre.

“This is our first collaboration with Sky Arts and the results are a fabulous set of programmes, that are rich not only in contemporary insight, but in the many clips from the great productions of the past. We are delighted to be associated with it.”

Derek Matravers, Media Fellow, Faculty of Arts

Episode 1: The Taming of The Shrew
Broadcasting Monday 22nd September – 9.00pm

In 1990, Morgan Freeman famously starred in a Wild West version of The Taming of The Shrew for Shakespeare in the Park in New York. One of the bard’s very first works, Freeman sets out to understand how and why the play was written. Interviews include Tracey Ullman, Brian Cox, Sinead Cusack and Fiona Shaw.

Online

OpenLearn has extensive content in connection with the series subject areas. Find out more about the man, the work and the legacy of Shakespeare.

This 6-part series was commissioned by Caroline Ogilvie, Open Media Unit, and is supported by the OU’s Faculty of Arts, with particular relevance to:

Find out more about the series on Sky.

Open Media Unit
The Open University

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Episode 6: The Educators

Sarah Montague

Sarah Montague © BBC

The sixth episode of The Educators, an eight part series presented by Sarah Montague is scheduled for broadcast this Wednesday 17th September at 16:00 on BBC Radio 4.

The BBC and The Open University have come together to explore the ideas of people whose influence extends from students to governments. Is there a proven model for good schools and teaching? Can potential be unlocked in any student, at any age? Do we value and measure the most important skills? And can children be the best teachers of other children?

This series discusses these and many other issues on a global scale with various pioneers of education.

Episode 6: Sugata Mitra
Broadcasting Wednesday 17th September – 16:00

Professor Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, imagines a future where children teach themselves. Famous for his Hole-in-the-Wall experiment, he believes when young people are given the right tools and encouragement, their innate sense of wonder can allow them to learn almost anything from one another. He believes the days of traditional schooling where teachers stand at the front, and facts are taught and recalled, are numbered.

Professor Mitra’s dreams are not going unheard either. Last year his TED wish to build a “School in the Cloud” won him the first $1m TED Prize. Since then, he and his team have gone on to open five learning in the cloud labs in schools in India and in the North East of England.

In this programme, Sarah Montague finds out how Professor Mitra’s Hole-in-the-Wall experiment, whereby computers connected to the internet were placed in the walls of Indian slums, has evolved into a concept called a Self-Organised Learning Environment (SOLE). She hears how groups of children with minimal supervision can teach themselves, and how a team of retired teachers, or Grannies, use webcams to provide support and encouragement during the SOLE session.

This episode will also be repeated on Monday 22nd September at 00:15

Further Info

Find out more about the series, or if you missed the previous episode you can still catch up:

Take a look at The Open University’s Education, Childhood and Youth prospectus for details on courses and qualifications surrounding this subject, and has particular relevance to:

There is also lots of content in connection with the series and relevant subject areas on OpenLearn.  Find out more now

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton
Broadcast Project Manager
Open Media Unit

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Episode 3: The Secret Life of Books

© BBC

The third episode of The Secret Life of Books broadcasts tonight - Tuesday 16th September on BBC4 at 8.30pm.

In this 6 part series, each week one of six classic British books is considered with a fresh eye.   Great Expectations, presented by Tony Jordan, Shakespeare’s First Folio, presented by Simon Russell Beale,  The Mabinogion presented by Cerys Matthews, Jane Eyre presented by Bidisha, and in tonight’s episode Alexandra Harris examines Virginia Woolf’s classic work, Mrs Dalloway.

These novels are just some of the classic works of fiction that we all know and love. But how well do we really know them? These rich and vibrant works have much more to offer us, and in this series our presenters will revisit original texts, manuscripts, diaries and correspondence to reveal new insights into some of the greatest works of literature.

Episode 3: Mrs Dalloway
Broadcasting Tuesday 16th September at 8.30pm

This episode will be repeated again on BBC4 on 17th of September at 2.15am, and again on 19th of September at 02.00am.

Award-winning writer Alexandra Harris shows how Virginia Woolf’s classic work Mrs Dalloway completely re-imagined what a novel might be.

Woolf came of age as an author after Europe had been shattered by the First World War. ‘Everything was going to be new,’ says Harris of Woolf’s literary ambitions. ‘Everything was going to be different. Everything was on trial’.

The result was a new, free-form style of writing that responded to the post-war climate of confusion and uncertainty. Radically, Woolf’s central characters – socialite Clarissa Dalloway and shell-shocked survivor Septimus Smith – never meet, while the novel also pioneers a flowing stream-of-consciousness style.

Using original manuscripts, diaries and notebooks to ‘catch a glimpse of a great writer at work’, Harris argues that the novel also allowed Woolf to creatively channel her own mental illness into the character of Septimus Smith, and in so doing helped keep herself sane.

Download the App

To accompany the series, OMU has produced in partnership with the BBC a free app titled The Secret Life of Books and was co-authored by Dr Jonathan Gibson from The Faculty of Arts. You can download the app by visiting OpenLearn.

Online

Take the story further online and find out more about the great authors. OpenLearn has extensive resources to support the series such as a free app, eBooks, interactive features and topics related to this series. Go to Secret Life of Books on OpenLearn

This 6-part series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit, and is supported by the Arts Faculty, with particular relevance to A230: Reading and Studying Literature

Find out more about the series, or if you missed the first 2 episodes in the series  you can still catch up:

The Open Media Unit
The Open University

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‘Into the Open’ at ALT-C 2014

At the heart of The Open University Royal Charter is enshrined the reason why the OU releases thousands of hours’ worth of assets as open educational resources online each year: part of The OU’s mission is to make content freely available for the public to “promote the educational well-being of the community generally”.  At the recent Association for Learning Technology Conference (Riding Giants: how to innovate and educate ahead of the wave), Andrew Law, Director of the OU’s Open Media Unit, gave an overview of this journey ‘Into the Open’ from the OU distance education perspective, as face to face Universities continue to explore how they can transfer some of their teaching online and make good use of digital technologies for education and student engagement.

OU free content has been broadcast on TV via the BBC from the very first OU courses, when course programmes were transmitted for registered students and any interested viewers to watch, usually late at night.  Now the OU commissions 25 feature length prime time TV and radio programmes a year with the BBC.  Each programme has a call to action at the end pointing to OpenLearn, which hosts 10 – 15 thousand hours of free learning materials, including study unit extracts of past and present OU modules.  Anyone can see this material for free, and from October will be able to earn badges and certificates for some of the free courses.  13% of OpenLearn users make enquiries to find out more about studying at the OU.  In addition, OpenLearn receives around 5 million visitors a year which is more than any Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform in the world.  The majority of OpenLearn traffic comes via Google and natural searches.  The benefits to the OU of releasing high quality free content in this way are brand presence, enquiries, reusable assets and income, which exceeds the production budget.

The OU syndicates digital content to other channels, such as YouTube and iTunes U, more recently this has expanded to others, such as Audioboo, Bibblio and Google Play.  Surveys show that most iTunes U users of OU content are USA undergraduates, however YouTube brings OU content to a much wider global audience, especially as the videos can be embedded in other websites or blogs, giving opportunities to expand the OU’s social mission and show what studying with the OU is all about.  The OU monitors usage data of each channel to enhance the benefits of the various resources and discover how to make better use of the individual channel features to support informal and formal learners.

Almost inevitably MOOCS and Open Educational Resources were discussed and debated throughout the 3 day conference.  Andrew explained that all the Open University’s MOOCs on FutureLearn are released on OpenLearn after they have completed their FutureLearn run, so the content lives on as Open Educational Resources.  In some of the conference parallel sessions other universities (such as Bath and Strathclyde) talked about their FutureLearn MOOCS adopting a course team collaborative approach, similar to OU module production practice of more than 40 years, to develop high quality and popular short free courses.  These MOOCs showcased their Universities internationally and enabled eLearning teams to reposition themselves as integral to online curriculum development.

Andrew also reported to the conference that the OU is reinventing OpenLearnWorks, a cloned version of OpenLearn, which is for any third party to use for development and distribution of OER.  It is currently used for several blended and distance learning projects to post materials and deliver teaching / learning experiences, however the Opening Educational Practices in Scotland project will provide further functionality and usability to the platform.  The IT development of OpenLearn Works and the other objectives of the OEPScotland project will be documented on the oepscotland.org blog in the coming months.

View Andrew Law’s talk at the ALT-C on YouTube

Anna Page - Senior Producer

Anna Page
Senior Producer
Open Media Unit

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Episode 5: The Educators

Sarah Montague

Sarah Montague © BBC

The fifth episode of The Educators, an eight part series presented by Sarah Montague is scheduled for broadcast this Wednesday 10th September at 16:00 on BBC Radio 4.

The BBC and The Open University have come together to explore the ideas of people whose influence extends from students to governments. Is there a proven model for good schools and teaching? Can potential be unlocked in any student, at any age? Do we value and measure the most important skills? And can children be the best teachers of other children?

This series discusses these and many other issues on a global scale with various pioneers of education.

Episode 5: Paul Howard-Jones
Broadcasting Wednesday 10th September – 16:00

Most parents will have witnessed the magnetic effect of computer games on children. The combination of skill, memory and risk, leading to an eventual prize, can engage people of any age for hours at a time.

Paul Howard-Jones is a psychologist specialising in education and neuroscience. He tells Sarah Montague why a better understanding of what makes games so compelling, could lead to more effective teaching.

Research suggests that combining a reward with an element of risk-taking can increase the brain’s appetite for learning and success.

In classrooms this could mean pupils collecting a running score, as they would in a game, then risking some of their points on a chance outcome, such as a roulette wheel spin.

Paul also discusses research into sleep, memory, and transcranial electrical stimulation – putting a low voltage across the scalp – and the impact these things have on our ability to learn.

This episode will also be repeated on Monday 15th September at 00:15

Further Info

Find out more about the series, or if you missed the previous episode you can still catch up:

Take a look at The Open University’s Education, Childhood and Youth prospectus for details on courses and qualifications surrounding this subject, and has particular relevance to:

There is also lots of content in connection with the series and relevant subject areas on OpenLearn.  Find out more now

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton
Broadcast Project Manager
Open Media Unit

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BBC Inside Science

Adam Rutherford © BBC

BBC Inside Science is a year round series, broadcast weekly on BBC Radio 4. As from Thursday 4th September the series will be produced in partnership with The Open University for 26 episodes.

Broadcasting: Thursdays – 16.30
Repeats: Thursdays – 21.00

Dr. Adam Rutherford, Professor Alice Roberts and Dr Lucie Green share presenting duties to illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that’s changing our world. Covering everything from the humble test tube to the depths of space, Inside Science is your guide to how science is evolving, transforming our culture, and affecting our lives.

Further Info:

Online – OpenLearn also has extensive content in connection with the programme’s subject areas including interactive games and activities and over the coming weeks will feature many science features and articles. For more information go to: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/bbcinsidescience

The wide range of topics covered in the series has a particularly relevance to the following qualifications:

The Open Media Unit
The Open University

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Episode 2: The Secret Life of Books

Simon Russell Beale © BBC

The second episode of The Secret Life of Books broadcasts tonight - Tuesday 9th September on BBC4 at 8.30pm.

In this 6 part series, each week one of six classic British books is considered with a fresh eye.   Great Expectations, presented Tony Jordan, Mrs Dalloway presented by Alexandra Harris, The Mabinogion presented by Cerys Matthews, Jane Eyre presented by Bidisha, and in tonight’s episode, Simon Russell Beale looks at what we can learn from Shakespeare’s First Folio.

These novels are just some of the classic works of fiction that we all know and love. But how well do we really know them? These rich and vibrant works have much more to offer us, and in this series our presenters will revisit original texts, manuscripts, diaries and correspondence to reveal new insights into some of the greatest works of literature.

Episode 2: Shakespeare’s First Folio
Broadcasting Tuesday 9th September at 8.30pm

This episode will be repeated again on BBC4 on 10th of September at 2.30am, and again on 12th of September at 00.00am.

In Shakespeare’s day, original manuscripts of plays were thrown away after use. If it wasn’t for one printed volume, The First Folio (1623), many of his greatest works, such as Macbeth and The Tempest, would have been lost forever. Actor Simon Russell Beale has long been obsessed with the collection – and what secrets it might give up about its author.

‘What can we learn from this wonderful book?’ asks Russell Beale. A surprising amount, it seems. ‘We can learn that he collaborated, worked with his fellow playwrights and actors, that those great words were not always his. We can learn that his plays changed during his own lifetime. And, more controversially, I think we can find out something about Shakespeare the man, his biography’.

With privileged access to this rare volume, expert testimony from director Sam Mendes, and Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, plus wonderful solo performances by Russell Beale, the shadowy figure of William Shakespeare comes more into focus.

Download the App

To accompany the series, OMU has produced in partnership with the BBC a free app titled The Secret Life of Books and was co-authored by Dr Jonathan Gibson from The Faculty of Arts. You can download the app by visiting OpenLearn.

Online

Take the story further online and find out more about the great authors. OpenLearn has extensive resources to support the series such as a free app, eBooks, interactive features and topics related to this series. Go to Secret Life of Books on OpenLearn

This 6-part series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit, and is supported by the Arts Faculty, with particular relevance to A230: Reading and Studying Literature

If you missed the previous episode you can still catch up:

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton - Broadcast Project Manager

John Sinton
Broadcast Project Manager
Open Media Unit

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Castles in the Sky

© BBC

The first showing of a new drama Castles in the Sky, the previously untold story of the fight to invent Radar by Scotsman Robert Watson Watt (played by Eddie Izzard) and a team of British scientists is being broadcast on BBC2 Thursday 4th September at 21:00.

Castles in the Sky was commissioned by the Open Media Unit and supported by The Open University’s Faculty of Maths, Computing and Technology. It conveys the genuine human drama of determination and genius versus establishment prejudice – behind the invention which was to save the nation in the Battle of Britain.

Watson Watt’s ambition was initially dismissed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as “Castles in the Sky”, while the scientists, who were his meteorologist colleagues, were disregarded as a bunch of “weather men” from provincial Universities. Yet they strived to achieve their dreams against all odds.

Eddie Izzard comments: “I feel very privileged to be playing the role of Robert Watson Watt. Hopefully our production will allow him, along with Skip Wilkins and their team to finally take their places in the pantheon of British greats of World War 2, as the inventors of Radar. Without Radar the Nazis would probably have been able to invade and occupy our country. So the future of the free world may well have been saved by these unlikely men and their brilliant work leading up to the Battle of Britain. Their names are not famous – that is a mistake Britain must rectify. This is their story.”

Producer Simon Wheeler explains why he decided to tackle the story: “The time is right for a contemporary approach to this rich vein and secret British history – if anything it’s more akin to a combination of The Social Network and Chariots of Fire. It’s an important story whose poignancy and meaning still resonates today.”

Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad) plays Margaret Watson Watt’s long suffering wife. The cast also includes Alex Jennings (The Queen) as Henry Tizard; Tim McInnerny (The Devil’s Whore) as Winston Churchill and David Hayman (Trial and Retribution) as Frederick Lindemann; Julian Rhind-Tutt (Greenwing) as Albert Percival Rowe and Karl Davies (Emmerdale and Game of Thrones) as Skip Wilkins.

Further Info

Take a look at The Open University’s Engineering section for details on courses and qualifications surrounding this subject, with particular relevance to:

To discover more visit the Castles in the Sky section on OpenLearn which features a wealth of information on the history and development of radar, along with some of its everyday uses in modern life. You will also find a ‘behind the scenes’ video available to watch about the ‘making of’ the drama.

Caroline Green

Caroline Green - Broadcast Project Manager

Caroline Green
Broadcast Project Manager
Open Media Unit

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