Archive for July, 2011

Who attends university?

Monday, July 11th, 2011

At the opening of the OU in 1969 the new Chancellor spoke of it being open to everybody, regardless of qualifications. This disrupted the assumption that only those with suitable formal qualifications were suitable for higher education. It reflected the OU’s culture as emerging from part-time adult education, correspondence courses and Univerisity Extension in the nineteenth century, as well as in the post-war expansion of HE. It now appears that other universities operate a system of entry not simply based on formal assessment. However, these universities have not adopted the ethos of openness espoused by the OU.  Research by the Sutton Trust (a charity) suggests that five schools send more students to Oxbridge than 2,000 other schools. There was a report on this by the BBC.  In terms of its historical committment to being open the OU remains distinctive.

Welcome in the hillsides for OU?

Saturday, July 9th, 2011
A report by Geraint Talfan Davies (Chair of the IWA and former member of the McCormick Review of Higher Education Governance in Wales) about the closure and merger of universities in Wales fails to mention The Open University. This despite the fact that it operates in Wales. This omission highlights how far the OU is perceived not as local, regional or national but as centralised in Milton Keynes. if you want to correct this inbalance, please help ensure that the narratives we are collecting on the website reflect the international flavour of the OU.

Digital Humanities

Friday, July 8th, 2011

After PVC Alan Bassindale opened this colloquium on 8th July and John Wolffe welcomed everybody there was a keynote contribution from John Corrigan of Florida State University. He spoke on ‘Digital technologies and the spatial humanities’. See here. There were many presentations from staff from all over the University, and beyond, at the Digital Humanities colloquium and many distinctive and fascinating speakers. This colloquium is part of a wider debate about the impact of access todigital records and sources for thestudy of the Humanities. For example some academics at Kingston fear that archive data on commercial websites tend to be geared to family history rather than other research. (more…)

The Open University Oral History Project

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

On Tuesday 16th August 2011 at 6pm, at Bishopsgate Institute, London there is a meeting of the Oral History Workshop. The forum will include talks by Hilary Young (who recorded many interviewers with OU staff and students and now works at the Museum of London) on ‘Old Guard v New Recruits: The Open University Oral History Project’. There will also be a talk by Owen Collins (University of East London) on ‘George Ewart Evans and the roots of oral history in Britain’. It is intended that informal group discussion afterwards from speakers and the floor will facilitate finding out what’s happening in oral history projects and local projects, discussing possible new directions in oral history and meeting activists/organisers from a wide range of history projects. There’ll also be opportunities to consider future co-ordination and collaboration of projects. This is a free event. All welcome.

 If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Stefan Dickers at If you can’t attend please let us know if you’d like to be kept informed of future activities. Directions to  Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London, EC2M 4QH  here

The History Company

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Unlikely bedfellows – Margaret Thatcher and Jennie Lee

Full marks to Rachel Garnham and the Open University team which is encouraging staff and student memories to help create an interactive online history for its 40th anniversary.

For more on this story see

Bringing the history into learning

Friday, July 1st, 2011


In 2009 the broadcast executive, with more than 20 years experience in the production of specialist education and e-learning materials, Andrew Law, moved from being Head of BBC Worldwide Interactive Learning to become Director, Multi-Platform Broadcasting at the Open University Previously responsible for developing educational media strategies for NGOs, the Department of International Development and the Ministry of Education in Kenya, Ghana and Ethiopia he shifted to helping the University develop sophisticated web 2.0 tools to help create multi-platform learning communities.

Today he is the keynote speaker at ED-MEDIA – World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications is an international conference, organized by the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. In the abstract for his address, ‘Bringing the Social into Learning’ he recognises the importance of placing history at the heart of his account and his presentation illustrates the point that the OU has a strong tradition of supporting blended learning by including an image of the first OU broadcast.