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OpenLearn Live: 5th August 2015

Updated Wednesday 5th August 2015

Game consoles in China, and how GZA is helping teach science. That's just for starters...

This page will be updated across the day - or you can follow our Twitter feed @openlearnlive.

Yesterday: Cilla Black; hardcore punk science researchers; Thatcher on climate change and more

See the full series of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


iPlayer: Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School

Also debuting last night, and available to watch now, is the controversial series which took Chinese teachers and brought them and their methods to Hampshire. It's reviewed today by The Guardian's Sam Woolaston:

Things starts promisingly enough. The Chinese-style tracksuits may not be what these kids would have chosen to wear, but they can at least have a good giggle about them. Morning exercises on the football pitch, to prepare for the day ahead, are a proper success, though – even if not everyone follows Miss Yang’s moves exactly, due to poor senses of rhythm or good senses of humour, or both. Is that an Usain-Bolt lightning celebration going on at the back?

Christopher Stevens watched the programme for the Mail:

The school was picked because it is one of Britain’s most successful comprehensives. Even so, the pupils lag an average of three years behind Chinese counterparts, and this show set out to discover whether the 12-hour days and high-pressure curriculum of the Far East could fix the problem.

After a collective exercise session at 7am, the Bohunt students were arrayed at rows of desks, 50 to a classroom, while a teacher recited information at speed.

In the maths lesson, the pupils lost their grip on the trigonometry formulae within minutes, and started chatting instead.

But you don't need to take anyone else's word for it - watch the programme now on iPlayer

After the programme, we hosted a lively debate - read what people said, and join in with your views


iPlayer: Life Begins Now

If you missed our one-off Life Begins Now, following a group of students with learning disabilities as they prepared to leave college, you can catch up right now on iPlayer.

Watch Life Begins Now now

More about the programme


BBC Four, 9pm tonight: Genius Of The Ancient World

If you're not enthused by people making bread on your TV, you might want to try putting Buddha on. In the first of three programmes looking at different Ancient thinkers, Betthany Hughes uncovers the story of the Buddha.

Find out more about this programme


Why limit your bake-off to Britain?

Of course, the return of the Great British Bake-Off to our screens is a time of great rejoicing for those of us who can't get enough of watching people putting things in proving ovens, and then taking them out again. But why restrict your baking passion to the boundaries of the UK? 

Baked goods: An Easter Braid cake Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Hans

Each nation in Europe has its own vibrant baking culture, and those pastries, breads and are a great entry point to discovering language and culture. Join us for a baker's tour round Europe.


FutureLearn this week

Normally on a Monday we bring you a quick update on courses starting over on FutureLearn, but... well, Monday was busy. So let's catch up now. Since Monday, the following courses have been available:

Creating Coding with Monash University

Academic Integrity with The University of Auckland

Childhood In The Digital Age from The Open University

Understanding Musical Scores from The Open University


China's game console market opens up

For fifteen years, non-Chinese game console companies have been barred from selling in mainland China. The rules are about the change, though - but could it be too late for Sony et al to grab a slice of what's considered to be a potentially lucrative market?

The decree in 2000 was never terribly effective; both consoles and games easily reached smuggling markets like online retail platform Taobao, as well as physical game stores, where traders openly sold goods smuggled from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.

There were drawbacks to smuggled game systems, of course. The consoles would overheat, some discs would be unreadable, and a host of other issues emerged—all without any technical support, as the manufacturers refused to provide it for illegal purchases. When anything like this happened, Chinese gamers simply had to buy the product again.

Read Foreign games consoles finally enter the Chinese market


Musical scientists: Chris Emdin

So far in our start-up segement for the week, we've looked at musicians who do music as well as being scientists. Today, we're going to focus on Chris Emdin, who brings science and music together. He does it so well, he's started working with GZA of the Wu Tangs to teach kids about science theory.

GZA Creative commons image Icon Flowzim... under CC-BY-NC-SA licence under Creative-Commons license GZA, supporter of #hiphoped

The idea is simple - that by bringing hip hop into the classroom, you engage kids with the subject and get them to think about science in a different way. But as we all had a teacher who, at some point, brought in a guitar and attempted to set the nine times table or features of chalky uplands to a tune, most people know that this is the sort of thing that can be done incredibly badly. So, does #hiphoped resonate with students rather than make their toes curl?

Droppin' science rather than dropping science. It seems to work.

You can study science with the OU...

You can study music with the OU...

But if you want to mix-and-match, you could try an Open Degree

 

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