Archive for February, 2012

Mocked from Day 1?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

On 10th September 1963, the day after Wilson announced his plans for a university of the air, at the Labour Party conference (as part of his ‘white heat of technology’ speech) the Daily Mail’s Emmwood (John Musgrave-Wood) poked fun by reference to popular programmes of the period, including Coronation Street.

The Daily Mirror’s Stanley Franklin compared (image not featured here) the plan to the ‘hot air’ talked by the Tories, indicating if not the paper’s support for the OU then at least its continual deriding of the Conservatives. Vicky (Victor Weisz) in the Evening Standard focused on another concern of the period, violence on TV. The cartoons can be found in The British Cartoon Archive is located in Canterbury at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library and online here.

Another account of residential school studies

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Isabel Hilton, ‘In Egham, knowledge rules’ Independent, 1 Aug 1992.


‘IT’S NOT like Educating Rita you know,’ said a middle-aged woman, between mouthfuls of spicy chicken spring roll. At first glance, she seemed to have a point. In the cavernous dining hall of Royal Holloway and Bedford College, near Egham in Surrey, some 300 students at the Open University’s week-long summer school were having lunch. Most were in their first year of the Arts Foundation course, others in their third year of an arts degree. (more…)

Calls for papers

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

This from Bournemouth:  

Thursday May 3rd 2012 ‘Addressing the Audience: European Historical Perspectives’,  The Centre for Broadcasting History, Bournemouth University  

Broadcasting History and Media History more generally have tended to focus on institutions and production rather than the audience. There are obviously methodological challenges in studying audiences of the past but there is nothing to stop a consideration of how audiences were imagined and spoken to, and that will be our main theme. This informal one day gathering brings together British and European scholars to exchange ideas and research. It also reflects the ‘European turn’ in media history which has been a feature of recent research projects and publications. We have invited media historians from the universities of Utrecht, Lund, Hamburg, Maastricht and Roskilde to share research and ideas.  We invite papers on the history of audience address (British or European) however that is interpreted. The following key note speakers are confirmed; Patrik Lundell, University of Lund & Kate Lacey, Susex University. Contributions are welcome from academics and researchers interested in the history of broadcasting (radio and television but other media historians are welcome to join us) as well as doctoral students, archivists and curators.  

ABSTRACTS: Please send abstracts of less than 250 words before 2nd April to<> (Kathryn McDonald)  

This from Edge Hill 

The Centre for Learner Identity Studies 4th Annual Conference, themed around ‘Identity, State, Education’ is to take place at Edge Hill University on July 11th-13th 2012. The call closes on the 28th February. See  

We are hoping that the conference will provide opportunities for a wide range of issues to be discussed, ranging from curriculum and pedagogy to policies and structures. We welcome contributions from researchers at all stages of their careers and the call is for paper, symposia and roundtable presentation abstracts. The conference aims to explore the changing role of the state in the provision of mass education from national and international perspectives and to consider the impacts on structures of educational provision, delivery and governance of a range of pressures, including, for example, marketization, neo-liberalism and globalisation.  

This from Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa: 

Since its inception in 1998, the Higher Education Close Up (HECU) Conference has distinguished itself among conferences with a focus on higher education for its interest in research methodology, in particular qualitative approaches which afford fine-grained analysis of higher education practices. Over the five conferences themes have included: assessment, academic literacies, professional development, management and change, quality assurance and the student experience. Consistent with this focus, HECU 6 is an opportunity to reflect upon higher education research from a theoretical and methodological perspective.  

Higher Education Close Up 6 Conference, 11 – 13 July 2012. The theme of the HECU6 conference is ‘Challenging Dualisms in Higher Education Research and Practice’.  Research and practice in higher education abounds with dualisms, in the HECU 4 conference, for example, Paul Ashwin identified problems associated with the dualism of structure and agency, other such dualisms include quantitative/qualitative, essentialist/non-essentialist, macro/micro, academic/vocational.  At this conference four dualisms are considered in the Thinkpieces of the keynote speakers: 



Essentialism/Social Constructionism 


Conference participants are invited to submit abstract that speak to these dualisms in the Thinkpieces. 

This from Saint Andrews:  

Function, form and funding: What are universities for – and who should pay for them?.  An international conference hosted by the University of St Andrews, UK 29 – 31 August 2012  

To mark the 600th anniversary of the foundation of St Andrews University, the School of History and the Institute of Scottish Historical Research are joining with the International Commission for the History of Universities to host an international conference on the theme of ‘Function, form and funding: What are universities for – and who should pay for them?’  

The conference theme is intended to allow for an exploration of both the historic and contemporary function of university education and the extent to which its academic purposes have been, and still are, driven by broader economic, social and political issues.   


Ode to Joy

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Is this part of the secret history of the OU? Did Garry B Trudeau’s character Duke (based on Hunter S Thompson) invent the idea of teaching via the tele? Well, the cartoon dates from the wrong millennium so it is unlikely. However, it does foreground that technologies have often been seen as the cheap and efficient way to deliver education as if it was another commodity which could be pumped out down the cathode tubes.  For a more sophisticated understanding of the history of the OU try the website.
And here is a genuine bit of history which ought to be less secret: the website owes much to the work of Rachel Garnham the Senior Project Manager who is leaving the project today in order to have a baby. Project minding a baby should be easy after making sure that things here run to time and budget.
Another secret (possibly) is that she will select a name for the forthcoming youth based on your votes. Top of the polls at the moment? Walter Perry II. 
Bye bye, au revoir really, Rachel, many thanks for all the work and we look forward to meeting Walter Junior.

The OU in Europe

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Changes proposed to how the OU organises its student support in Europe have made for some controversial headlines in the Times Higher and has led some to ask about the roots of The Open University’s operations there.

Some information about the University’s overseas activities are available on The History of the OU website.

The OU has been teaching within the UK since 1971 and in other parts of Europe since 1972. The arrangements for teaching students outside the UK have undergone several changes in that time.

Between 1972 and 1992, the University served three broad categories of student studying within the wider Europe: those starting their studies in the UK, those admitted under ‘special schemes’ in the Benelux countries and in the Republic of Ireland; and Services personnel and their families admitted under special schemes in Germany and Cyprus. In 1992 when the European Single Market was introduced, the University extended direct entry to any person domiciled in the EU and in other parts of western Europe. (more…)