News in brief

October 30, 2008

New media

Academics get 'media savvy'

A programme to help academics struggling to create internet podcasts has been developed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth. The programme, "6Ps in a Podcast", examines not only the technical aspects of creating a podcast but also purpose, pedagogy, social positioning, planning, production, and teacher/student participation. It was developed by Rose Clark and John Wrigglesworth, lecturers in the School of Languages and Area Studies. Dr Clark said: "During my research I met many academics who are top-notch researchers and highly computer literate, but who expressed unease with some aspects of the process of creating a podcast. Once we started talking, it became apparent it wasn't the technology they were unhappy about, it was how they felt they looked or sounded. They wanted to be presented with all the media savvy of someone on Radio 4, and what they are currently producing does not reach their imaginary ideal."

Award classifications

Degree for inventiveness sought

Creative inventors should be rewarded with "bachelors of invention" degrees, according to inventor Trevor Baylis, who is best known for inventing the wind-up radio. Speaking at the Manchester Science Festival this week, he said: "A lot of our best ideas are exported because inventors are not supported enough here compared with other countries. If we're not going to reward our inventors we might as well go down the pan. A recognised practical qualification which rewards people who come up with useful inventions would help to reward inventors and give them a basic training in how to bring their products to market."

Social research

Study of 40,000 households

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has launched a £15.5 million project to study 40,000 households. The "Understanding Society" household longitudinal study is claimed to be the UK's largest-ever single investment in academic social research resources and the biggest survey of its kind anywhere. Ian Diamond, chief executive of the ESRC, said the study would benefit researchers and research users in a wide range of academic environments, as well as those involved in policymaking. It will be based at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex.

Research

Transatlantic stem-cell deal

International collaboration on stem cell research is to benefit from an agreement signed by the UK and the state of California in the United States. The UK's Medical Research Council and California's stem-cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, have agreed a deal that will make it easier for researchers on both sides of the Atlantic to obtain joint funding in the area. Researchers will form teams to apply for funding through a joint process. It is thought that the respective funding agencies will then finance researchers working in their own countries. Lord Drayson, the UK Science Minister, said that the collaboration would "accelerate the search for cures and the development of stem-cell-based therapies".

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