Archive for July 20th, 2011

BBC science broadcasts

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

The OU made thousands of broadcasts with the BBC and between the two bodies there was a flow of information about how best to communicate and support learning. However, educational broadcasting predates the OU by several decades. It was these early broadcasts which provided many of the blocks onto which later broadcasts were built. Sometimes the BBC produced programmes whichwere criticised. ‘Outlook’ went out on the television in the 1960s. It offended the clear, and narrow, view of education held by reviewer J D S Haworth, writing in The Listener (17th Feb 1966, p. 255) it ooffered ‘instructional essays [which] cannot be thought of as wholly educational in purpose because they are not rendered through whatever  techniques as lessons’.  He went on ‘if this is strictly educational television it does damage to the vague idealism conjured up by the phrase ‘University of the Air’ whose plans we are awaiting with awe and cynicism’.

Looking further back is Allan Jones. An exploration of the role of one of the BBC’s first science producers, Mary Adams 1898–1984, who was active in BBC radio from 1930-36, has recently been written by Allan Jones, of the OU. Mary went on to work at Alexrandra Palace as the first woman appointed as a television producer. Allan’s paper, Mary Adams and the producer’s role in early BBC science broadcasts, should soon appear in the journal Public Understanding of Science, a peer reviewed, quarterly international journal covering all aspects of the inter-relationships between science (including technology and medicine) and the public. For an example of his previous work on Adams see here.

Fees news

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Since it opened the OU has charged fees, often different rates for different students. In the context of other universities charging fees (see here) on 19th July the OU announced that the fee level for new students in England starting their studies on or after 1 September 2012 is to be £5,000 per full-time equivalent study year (120 credits). In Wales, the cost incurred by OU students is likely to be lower than in England as a result of additional support from the Welsh Government. In Northern Ireland, there is yet to be a decision on future fees. (more…)

Deaths and the OU’s near death experience

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

It was 41 years ago that Iain Macleod the Chancellor of the Exchequer died. The death occurred at 11.35pm on 20 July 1970 while he was in 11 Downing Street and, according to Patricia Hollis p. 339, while the papers which would enable him to close the OU were on his desk. Macleod is credited with the view that the OU was ‘blithering nonsense’  (Daily Telegraph, 17 February, 1969). The first Dean of Arts at the OU, John Ferguson, said that Macleod’s view of the OU was that he was

rigorously and almost fanatically against it… had declared publicly that if the thing were set up, his party would abolish it… There is no doubt that Macleod’s sudden death, lamentable for national leadership in other ways, eased the University’s infancy (Ferguson, The Open University from within, pp. 13, 26).

Although Macleod’s last testament ‘acquired a special sanctity from the untimely death of its author’, Thatcher, motivated according to George Gardiner, by ‘her strong belief in giving educational opportunity to those prepared to work for it’, kept the OU. (more…)