18 Apr 2012

Cutting edge award for Ancient Olympics

A learning unit about the Ancient Olympics hosted on The Open University’s free educational resource website OpenLearn has been recognised internationally with an Award for OpenCourseWare Excellence. One of five global winners in the multimedia category, the award for Ancient Olympics: Bridging Past and Present was announced at the OpenCourseWare Consortium’s OER12 Conference in Cambridge on Monday (16 April 2012), with the unit’s use of multimedia highly praised.

The Ancient Olympics: Bridging Past and Present learning unit helps users explore the differences between ancient and modern games with maps, timelines and video materials. An unusual element of the unit is the use of animation videos illustrating how athletes in ancient Olympic Games were naked, partly in order to compete equally – a long way from today’s high-performance ergonomic kit.

The academic behind the unit, Lecturer in Classical Studies Dr Aarón Alzola Romero, said: “It is tremendous news that the Ancient Olympics unit has attracted recognition from such a large global community and it is a unit that we are very proud of producing. Sharing learning materials via our OpenLearn website is a key way that The Open University stays true to its mission of extending education to all. With only 100 days to go to the London Olympics we expect this unit to prove increasingly popular, as part of our dedicated Olympics portal.”

“We’re very pleased to honour these courses,” said OCW Consortium Executive Director Mary Lou Forward. “They are truly outstanding examples of the amazing educational resources being shared openly by the members of the OpenCourseWare Consortium.”

The Awards for OpenCourseWare Excellence provide annual recognition to outstanding courseware and OpenCourseWare sites created in the OCW Consortium community. They also recognize individual leadership in moving the ideals of OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources forward. The awards were judged by the OCWC Board, including Anka Mulder, the President of OCWC and were presented at an event attended by academics from around the globe.

A screencast giving an overview of the unit is available at:

The Open University’s Olympics Portal contains a breadth of resources and interactives around the Games, including video interviews with academic experts and athletes including Usain Bolt and Matthew Pinsent. A fun online game, Olympicize Me, gives people a way to get their own personal experience of the Olympics – the interactive assesses physical, psychological and social factors to help determine which sport people should compete in and what medal they would win.

For a look at the portal visit


Notes to editors
Ancient Olympics
About OpenLearn
OpenLearn, a free learning resources website from the OU, has had over 20.9 million visits since its launch in 2006. It has around 11,000 hours of learning materials including 6,697 hours taken from our undergraduate and postgraduate modules

About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.7 million students and has more than 264,000 current students, including 18,000 overseas.

The OU has been one of the top three UK universities for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2010/11 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.
In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 21 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 50 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Life, Coast, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.


back to All News stories

back to previous page

back to top