Once again this past week we’ve been busy scanning across the internet to find the latest information and Open University courses. The greatest university on the planet (we reckon anyway) is always innovating and leading the way on many issues that affect us around the globe and these news pieces reflect just that. So if there’s a free course or bit of news on the agenda then hopefully we will pick it up and stick it on the next Open University news.
Open at what cost? The letter “Open to the challenges” (19 March) from Tim Blackman, the acting vice-chancellor of the Open University, wrongly says that our letter “Light and shade in OU student numbers” (12 March) questioned the OU’s commitment to open entry. We have not and are not questioning the OU’s mission, but we are suggesting that open entry could and should be managed responsibly.
Digital literacy. The increasing number of digitally literate students, with constant access to the internet via their own handheld devices, can cause problems for lecturers – but they also offer scholars the opportunity to undertake new and exciting research methods. Earlier this year, the Open University became the first UK institution to produce a publicly available written policy on the ethical use of student data for learning analytics, after research found that many students were unaware of how their personal information was being used.
The way we talk about illness matters. This is perhaps no more evident than in the many passionate critiques of the metaphor of the “fight” against cancer, which many of us will eventually “lose”. Features information from Research associates that include: Zsófia Demjén (The Open University) and Jane Demmen (Huddersfield University). In the 1970s, Susan Sontag famously exposed the negative implications for patients of this “military rhetoric about cancer”. In 2010, Robert S. Miller listed the military metaphor as one of “eight words and phrases to ban” in cancer care because, despite some finding it useful, many patients detest it. Kate Granger, a doctor with advanced cancer, warned that she would come back to curse anyone who described her as having “lost her brave fight”.
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