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OpenLearn Live: 16th February 2016

Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2016

A resort which has attracted visitors for 10,000 years, and a look back at our work with BBC Three during its years as a TV channel. Then more free learning through the day.

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OpenLearn Live brings free learning into the heart of your life. This page will be updated during the day.

Yesterday, we explored the death of a US Supreme Court Justice, caught up with FutureLearn's shed of enterprise, and asked if getting narky in negotiation worked

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


Customer service

The OU's Peter Bloom asks if a consumer focus is as appropriate for a public service as it might be for a private business:

Consumer services lies at the heart of almost any successful business. The commitment and ability to meet customer needs seems straightforward. However, it requires sophisticated forms of management and dynamic organizational strategies. It also is complicated by new challenges such as globalization, corporate social responsibility and growing demands for diversity. Moreover, it connects up to rising questions over whether a consumer service mentality is appropriate in all and every contexts – especially organizations ostensibly aimed at the public rather than the private good.

Read the full article: Customer service


Click... off... gone: Goodbye to the linear BBC Three

Last night, BBC Three stopped being a traditional TV Channel broadcasting "programmes" to "TV sets" like it was still 1957, and instead moved online to put its programmes out over the internet. Obviously, we wish luck to the all-new online only Three, but thought it worth taking a few moments to remember some of the times The Open University has worked with BBC Three to make some great programmes.

Our first time together was back in 2004 - before OpenLearn was OpenLearn (we were still called Open2.net back then) and before the iPlayer (if you missed a programme, you waited for the repeat). Two men took on extreme challenges in the name of science. They were Mike Leahy and Zeron Gibson. They were the Lab Rats.

In the course of the series, they faced their fears - literally, Zeron was made to hang out with snakes. They stayed up late to see how far they could go without sleep. And they even raced their own sperm.

Yes, you read that correctly.

See more about Lab Rats

Perhaps it's inevitable that after mucking about with sperm, our next time together we were at a birth.

The programme was a series following the lives of midwives delivering babies at a hospital in Derby. One Born Every Minute was still just a twinkle in a Channel 4 commissioning editor's eye, we should point out. It's name? Desperate Midwives.

Desperate Midwives Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Which was quite clever at the time because it was a pun on Desperate Housewives, then a contemporary reference. It was a long time ago.

See more about Desperate Midwives

We worked together on the series Our Crime in 2012; this challenged some of the oft-parroted ideas of how young people's lives were affected with criminal behaviour. It included an episode which looked at the then-recent London riots, seen at the time as something of little more than a festival of looting:

See more about Our Crime

More recently, we linked arms with BBC Three to bring you Excluded - following the stories of what happens to kids whose behaviour sees them ejected from the normal school system:

See more about Excluded: Kicked Out Of School

Last year, we also co-produced Wanted: A Very Personal Assistant, which brought together ambitious disabled people and unemployed people of the same age - could the latter cut it as carers?

Find out more about A Very Personal Assistant

This isn't the end of our relationship with BBC Three - we hope to working with Three version 2.0 in the very near future... watch this space. (Or, at least, watch your browser.)


Should we test drugs on pregnant women?

Of course not. That's a ridiculous idea. Isn't it? Maybe not - after all, pregnant women are still prone to illness and how can they be treated safely if there's no data on how drugs affect pregnant women and foetuses? Emily Anthes explains:

This year, some 130 million women will give birth around the world. Expectant mothers grapple with all kinds of health conditions, from depression to diabetes, migraines to malaria, epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and more. Many are offered medications for their maladies: precise figures are hard to pin down, but according to several reviews of prescription databases, the share of pregnant women who receive at least one prescription during pregnancy is 56 per cent in Denmark and Canada, 57 per cent in Norway, 64 per cent in the USA, 85 per cent in Germany and 93 per cent in France. 

But with so little data available about drug safety during pregnancy, many of these women will face a stark choice: use medications that have unknown effects on their developing children, or forgo treatments that are crucial to their own health.

Read the full article: Should we test drugs on pregnant women?


A week in South Carolina: Hilton Head Island

This week, we're starting up each day with a visit to a town in South Carolina, ahead of the primaries taking place there in the next couple of weeks. Yesterday, we started our journey in Rock Hill; today, we're calling in at Hilton Head Island - which, as the name suggests, is on the coast.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina Creative commons image Icon Jeff Gunn under Creative Commons BY 4.0 license Hilton Head marina

Although the town was first developed as a tourist resort in the second half of the 20th Century, it's a place which has been attracting visitors for around ten thousand years - early Americans were visiting the island in the summers as long ago as 8000BCE, and one of the attractions of the area, the Shell Ring, dates back to 1500BCE. This 'ring' is actually a rubbish dump; native Americans would throw the waste from their seafood suppers into a neat pile outside their village. (Better than the piles of chip papers you find on British seafronts). There had been three rings outside Hilton Head, but being of immense scientific and achaelogical value, two of them were smashed up to make materials for roads.

The first Europeans known to have visited the area came in 1521 - Huguenots, fleeing persecution in Europe, came to a place they called Ile de la Riviere Grande. They didn't stay long, choosing to find a less wild place. The next arrival from across the Atlantic was the man who would give the place its current name, William Hilton. The area wasn't exactly unoccupied; native Americans had migrated north from a Spanish-held area of Florida and settled on the island.

With the Englishman came plantations growing cotton, sugar, rice and more; with the English came slavery.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, the town was held by the Confederates. On November 7th, 1861, Union forces made them retreat, turning Hilton Head and the Beaufort Bay from a slave state to something closer to freedom. Sam Mitchel recalled the day years later, when he was 75, but his memories were still sharp:

Maussa had nine children, six boy been in Rebel army. Dat Wednesday in November w'en gun fust shoot to Bay Pin [Point] I t'ought it been t'under rolling, but day ain't no cloud. My mother say, "son, dat ain't no t'under, dat Yankee come to gib you Freedom." I been so glad, I jump up and down and run. My father been splitting rail and Maussa come from Beaufort in de carriage and tear by him yelling for de driver. He told de driver to git his eight-oar boat name Tarrify and carry him to Charleston. My father he run to his house and tell my mother what Maussa say. My mother say, "You ain't gonna row no boat to Charleston, you go out dat back door and keep agoing." So my father he did so.

Curiously, the former slaves of the sea islands were re-enslaved by Abraham Lincoln. Local leader General Hunter issued a proclamation freeing the slaves in April 1862; because Lincoln had his own longer-term plan (which would become the Emancipation Proclamation) the President rescinded this freedom, notionally re-enslaving those people until he freed them again at the start of the following year.

The island became a magnet for freed slaves, and for a while it looked as if the plantations might continue their success in a new America. The freed slaves were given land abandoned by fleeing owners; training was organised. But natural tragedies were to make things first difficult; then impossible.

First, a hurricane hit the area in 1863. 2,000 people died - only two of whom were white. The storm also destroyed the phosphorus mines in the area, which had provided both an underpinning for the island economies and fertilizers for the agriculture.

Secondly, boll weevil infestation did for the cotton industry. By the early years of the 20th Century, Hilton Head had fallen into a slump.

The town's salvation would be tourism - Charles Fraser had been part of a family exploiting the area for lumber but he saw that the area could form the basis of an elegant resort. A bridge came in 1956, connecting the island to the mainland and making it easier for pleasure seekers to access the new hotels. Other estates would follow, and now the small island boasts (or suffers, depending on your point of view) 24 golf courses, 350 tennis courts and 250 restaurants. 10,000 years on, the attractions of summertime on the South Carolina coast remain strong.

See more on the Atlantic slave trade

See more from OpenLearn on history

 

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