Archive for January, 2012

Radio Fun

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

Within a few years of OU broadcasts starting the BBC broadcast two half-hour sketch shows entitled ‘Half-Open University’. Written by Andrew Marshall, David Renwick and John Mason these parodied Open University programmes. The first one paid homage to an OU ‘Environmental Science’ course. The cast consisted of Timothy Davies, Chris Emmett, Christine Ozanne and Nigel Rees. The writers were Andrew Marshall, John Mason and David Renwick, and the producer was Simon Brett. It was broadcast on Radio 3 during a Bank Holiday weekend on 25 August 1975. Characters included Dr Fiona Parody and Professor Jim Einstein. You can hear part of it here. The second broadcast which mocked the presentation of history, was broadcast on 1 December 1976.  

Was this affectionate mockery one of the first signs that the OU was on its way to becoming a national treasure? If you have other examples of the OU as the butt of humour, do let us know.    

Inside story

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Duncan Campbell has recently contributed an article about an OU student to The Observer, 22 January 2012.  Graham Godden was sent, aged 12, to a home for “maladjusted boys” for attacking a teacher. Later he became an addict and an armed robber,was featured on Crimewatch as the ‘M25 Bandit’ and called by the Sunday Mirror ‘Britain’s most wanted robber’. He was imprisoned and is now on an Open University degree course in criminology and social sciences. He admits to have being influenced by a film about another OU student. I used to look at the film McVicar [about the robber John McVicar] and think: ‘My God, I wish I was like him.’

Have you got an OU story? You can upload your OU story on the website.

Intense education

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Perhaps owing something to ideas often associated with The Open University the Occupy movement has invited academics to Tent City University, a marquee in London, and also to the Bank of Ideas which meets in a disused office block owed by UBS bank. One newspaper report explained that under the motto ‘Anyone can teach, everyone can learn’, there have been discussions led by academics on a variety of topics including international banking, philosophy, theology, the Arab spring and central Africa’s pygmy hunter-gatherers. Evictions seem likely to occur in the near future.

Were you pally down at the Ally?

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

OU television programmes were made at Alexandra Palace, North London, between 1971 and 1981 and then were made at a brand new production centre built at Walton Hall. Although Ally Pally was where the first public television transmissions were made, by the time the OU came along it had only used for news broadcasts for many years and once BBC TV News moved to the TV Centre in 1969 it faced closure. The OU helped preserve its use but, from 1977, when worked started on the new studios in Milton Keynes, the relationship was destined to end. (more…)

200th posting – Yesterday’s world

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012
There is an opportunity to hear Marsha and Devin Orgeron (co-editors, ‘Learning with the Lights Off: Educational Film in the United States’) talk about educational films in the USA at UCL on 7th March. Details to follow. 
There is also work on UK educational films. (more…)

Educational broadcasting

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012


Joe Trenaman’s Investigation of BBC Listeners’ Understanding of Science

This is the title of the forthcoming Society and Information Research Group seminar. It will be held on Wednesday 25 January @ 2 pm in the David Gorham Library. All welcome. It will be led by Allan Jones. (more…)

Abstract for World Universities Forum, January 2012

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Kiri's pic

On 8th January 2012 Dan Weinbren gave a presentation on ‘The roots and branches of the OU’s disruptive online environment’ to the World Universities Forum.

Inspired by the success of the World Economic Forum held each year in Davos, the World Universities Forum has developed into a key site for academic discussion on the current state and future possibilities of the university. Now in its fifth year the WUF enables the exchange of ideas between delegates from dozens of countries around the world, numerous academic disciplines, and a range of professional areas including research, university administration, business, and policy-making.  Read his abstract here: (more…)

What have we learnt? the Tight report

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The Times Higher 22/29 December 2011 reported on the recent ‘What have we learnt?’ conference, organised by the History of the Open University Project. It noted Malcolm Tight’s views about the lack of change in the social background of many students in the period since 1945. There are more female students and a larger percentage of mature students and students from ethnic minorities. However, the percentage of those from lower socio-economic backgrouynds had not shifted very much.

Twin tracks

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

The OU opened in 1969, which makes it almost a chronological twin of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The latter opened as the Negev Institute for Higher Education a few years earlier, had a few other antecedents, including roots in the Dimona nuclear research institute and became a university in 1969. Labour Party Prime Minister Harold Wilson promised that the Open University would support the spread of technology and in Israel it was an interest in science and technology that helped to drive the project to develop BGU. (more…)