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OpenLearn Live: 23rd November 2015

Updated Monday 23rd November 2015

Starting a week exploring County Waterford. Then more free learning through the day.

OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your world. This page will be updated during the day, but you can also follow us on Twitter.

On Friday, we got some writing advice, looked into gender neutral bathrooms, and completed a week of Mondays

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


Violence in Mali

The hostage taking and killings in Mali's capital at the end of last week were the latest in an escalating period of violence. Professor Paul Jackson explains the context:

The current cycle of violence in Mali, a former French colony, began in 2012 when Tuareg soldiers returned to northern Mali after fighting in the Libyan civil war. Forming the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), they fought against the Malian government to win independence for the northern region of Azawad.

Read Why has violence been escalating in Mali?


Adele goes against the stream

Adele, onstage at Amsterdam Paradiso Creative commons image Icon Ben Houdijk under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

Amidst the hullabaloo around Adele's new album, 25 was the decision to not make the record available to streaming services. At least, not yet, anyway. Steve Caldwell Brown says that she might be fighting a battle already lost:

But a series [External link]   of studies [External link]   from Amanda Krause and colleagues directly challenge the notion that streaming means that music fans are becoming more passive. For instance, active use of shuffle and playlist functions was evident. The authors argued that the more control technology affords, the more complex the patterns of music listening. As reported [External link]   by the Guardian, a quarter of all songs listened to on Spotify are skipped in the first five seconds. So people clearly know what they don’t want to listen to. But does this active interest in music extend to entire albums?

Read Adele's decision...


On All4: Chasing Perfection

Did you miss Chasing Perfection, our series on Channel 4 which explored what it takes to turn raw athletic talent into medal-winning power? Don't worry if you did, as both episodes are now available to watch whenever you choose on All4. In the programmes, Michael Johnson meets champion sportspeople from across the spectrum, and finds out what the key factors in their success was.

Watch Chasing Perfection now

Find out more about Chasing Perfection

Discover more about the OU's degree in sport, fitness and coaching


FutureLearn this week

It's Monday, which means it's time for a quick check-in with our friends at FutureLearn, to see what's starting there today. Remember, FutureLearn courses are all free, and you study them with a group of other people moving through the online courses at the same time as you.

The OU has a new course starting on FutureLearn this week - Basic Science: Understanding numbers. If you'd rather set your own timetable for study, you can also try the same course here on OpenLearn.


A week in County Waterford: Dungarvan

This week hangs like a hammock between the two episodes of Ireland With Simon Reeve, and to celebrate we're going to explore one of Ireland's counties - County Waterford, down on the south coast. We're starting our week in Dungarvan.

Dungarvan Creative commons image Icon Nicola Barnett under CC-BY-NC-ND licence under Creative-Commons license

The town's name in Irish is Dún Garbhán, meaning Garbhann's fort, after the Saint who founded the town. St Garbhann is difficult to pin down - he seems to have been an abbot around about 630CE, but beyond that, and a feast day of 26th March, his martyrdom and motivations are unclear.

The first thing we know for certain about the town is that it was the site of a castle, built by King John in the 12th century. The barracks and a shell keep remain to this day. They were seized and burned by the IRA during the Irish Civil War in 1922; restored, they became a Garda station until 1987 and are now - after another flurry of restoration - one of the town's tourist attractions.

Dungarvan boasts a Nobel laureate, Ernest Walton, who was born at Abbeyside in the Dungarvan parish. He worked with John Cockcroft at Cambridge in the 1930s and the pair became the first people to artificially split an atom, ushering in an age of wonders and worries. Walton is also notable for having attempted to balance science and religion (the influence of his father, a Methodist minister, shaped his worldview). For Walton, understanding the world was getting closer to his god:

One way to learn the mind of the Creator is to study His creation. We must pay God the compliment of studying His work of art and this should apply to all realms of human thought. A refusal to use our intelligence honestly is an act of contempt for Him who gave us that intelligence ..."

Today Dungarvan is home to over 8,000 inhabitants - many of whom work for GlaxoSmithKline, whose Irish manufacuting is based in the town. This year it celebrated its 800th anniversary.

See more about Ireland With Simon Reeve

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