Archive for May 19th, 2010

At the Eisteddfod

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

From 1971 the Open University in Wales, Y Brifysgol Agored, has been represented at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, which is conducted in Welsh. When a competition was organised for an englyn (a single verse of two couplets in strict metre) with the subject was ‘Y Brifysgol Agored’, Dic Jones, a chaired bard, won with the following entry:

Agored ysgol gwerin – I danio

Doniau’r dyn cyffredin,

Daeth y coleg i’r gegin

A chwrs gradd i chwi ar sgrin


This has been translated as:

An open school for the people – igniting

The gifts of the common man,

A college came to the kitchen.

A BA course to the TV screen.

Quoted in Mandy Ashworth, ‘The Open University in Wales. A Charter Celebration, April 1994’, pp. 12-13.

Obituaries of Jones appear here and here .

Maggie & the OU

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I was at an OU Graduation Ceremony at the Barbican a couple of weeks ago. In his address the Chancellor, Lord Puttnam, spoke briefly about the origins of the University, and in addition to the usual mention of Harold Wilson and Jennie Lee, paid tribute to Margaret Thatcher, who turned out to be a powerful supporter. Walter Perry, in his book “The Open University” recalls a meal with her: She suggested first that our main activity would be to offer courses on ‘hobbies’. I fear that I needle very easily […] The exchanges were sharp, short and furious. I am happy to say that , in spite of it all, we ended on a friendly note. […] When she became Minister of Education after the Tory victory in 1970 we had reason to be glad of that dinner.

Many Happy Returns, Jennie Lee

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

JLB on the Walton Hall site was named to honour Baroness Lee of Asheridge

Jennie Lee, later, Baroness Lee of Asheridge, was born on 3 November 1904. She died in 1988 but if she had lived and was able to attend the forthcoming workshop then it would a good time to offer her birthday wishes. as it wil be held on her brthday, 3 November, 2010.

Open and shut case?

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Openness at the OU is not as simple a matter as it appears, but one which requres critical understanding. There are hidden connections with what seem to be the opposite of openness – conventional processes of selection that supposedly hve been abolished and closure of access to occupations … In effect a selection policy has been developed.

David Harris, ‘Openness and closure in distance education’, Falmer Press, London, New York and Philadelphai, 1987, pp. 14-15.

Was this the case then? Or now?

Openness was always about more than access, but the framework has shifted with the spread of the web as Terry Foote of  Wikipedia noted when he said: ‘Openness: imagine a world in which every single person is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.That’s what we’re doing’.