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The Open University is a world leader in modern distance learning, the pioneer of teaching and learning methods which enable people to achieve their career and life goals studying at times and in places to suit them.


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Next, we wait for Philae lander to touch down on the comet. ESA–J. Huart

Relief as Rosetta wakes up, but still we hold our breath

Out of hibernation, Rosetta stirs at last. As one of the scientists involved in the mission, news that the unmanned spacecraft has woken up and restored contact with Earth comes as a great relief. It contains…
No patience for mess. ted_major

No room for sloppiness in online classroom

When your classroom is a global one, filled with well-informed online learners, they don’t cut you much slack. Hundreds of people pore over every element of your course, making well-informed and sometime…
More appealing and often more effective than concrete flood barriers. John Haynes

Restore our meadows, a most cost-effective flood defence

For the second winter running the UK has been hit by widespread flooding, accompanied by agonised debates over whether government is really committed to adequate spending on flood defence. Largely overlooked…
Swings and roundabouts: sea level rises are hard to predict. Danny Lawson/PA

Saving coastlines from flooding is an uncertain science

Coastal and river flooding struck Britain again this week with huge waves hitting southern and western coasts and around 100 flood warnings still in place by Wednesday evening. Disturbing but, sadly, not…
Apartheid legacies of corruption and violence have held South Africa back, but there is still hope. Julien Behal/PA

Let’s not be impatient, there is hope for South Africa’s future

South Africa is not the most comfortable country to live in. Unemployment levels dwarf those in the troubled economies of Europe. The unemployed survive because families redistribute income internally…
Will the credit card cover this? ben_osteen

Time to stop inflating the household debt bubble

Household debt in the UK recently hit a record high, surpassing the previous peak reached in September 2008. That was the month when Lehman Brothers collapsed, sparking off the global financial crisis…
The ‘Comet of the Century’ had a violent encounter with the sun. NASA/Goddard/SOHO

Comet ISON fizzles … but there’s a sting in the tail

If there is one thing we know about comets, it is that their behaviour is really hard to predict and that they will always surprise us – and sometimes disappoint. Unfortunately it looks like comet ISON…
Programme makers are wary of turning off viewers with climate change. Till Krech

We’ve woken up to climate change but we’re not tuning in

A report from the International Broadcasting Trust has argued that more investment should be made to get environmental issues covered on television. Environment on TV is based on interviews with people…
Blame human psychology. burningangelstudios

Why the fear of zombies? Look at the eyes

Zombies are undergoing a revival. Our screens have been filled with films such as “Zombieland”, “World War Z” and “Resident Evil”. Many home-made zombie will be knocking at our doors this week for Halloween…
The future Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (centre), with older reactors. EDF

Hinkley C goes ahead, but future nuclear costs must fall

There has long been talk of the need for a “nuclear renaissance”, and now it seems underway. The deal has been struck that would see the first new British nuclear power station in a generation. But is…
From massively open to really massively open. oxyman

Google and friends put the ‘open’ back into MOOCs

The entrance of Google into the Massive Open Online Courses market this week has the potential to reignite the spirit of openness that saw these alternative routes into higher education emerge in the first…
Few countries have pushed forward with nuclear power programmes after Fukushima. Tim Ireland/PA

Fukushima’s positive legacy

Just over two years after the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in eastern Japan in March 2011, public attitudes worldwide remain hardened against nuclear power. It may have fallen from the…
Andy Murray ponders the heteronormativity of Centre Court. Not enough megapixels

Game, sex, match: the gender politics of Wimbledon

On a weekend like this, tennis stars like Andy Murray are the nation’s biggest stars. In many ways, sportspeople are no different from any other celebrities - be they reality TV stars, rock stars or film…
MOOCs aren’t the answer to all higher education’s questions. Kanaka Menehune

MOOCs and the battle to open up higher education

Foundation essay: This article on the rise of massive open online courses by Martin Weller, Professor of Educational Technology at The Open University, is part of a series marking the launch of The Conversation…
The USA’s Christine Rampone celebrates with Hope Solo after defeating Japan in the Olympic football final. Anthony Devlin/PA

Sexism, sport and how Blatter took his eye off the ball again

Sepp Blatter, the 77-year-old president of FIFA, the international governing body of football, has put his foot in it – again. Having made suggestions in 2004 that women in sport should wear tight shorts…

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