Podcast of the Week #7: Pythagoras’ Trousers

The title of this occasional series is a bit of a joke as it’s been several weeks since my last Podcast of the Week post. Nonetheless, it’s worth breaking my silence this week because this month‘s podcast of the week has local and professional interest. I’m a committee member of the Wales South West Network of the Institution of Engineering Technology (IET). Serving in the Young Professionals Network is ‘young’ Rhys Phillips who broadcasts a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) podcast called Pythagoras’ Trousers on Sunday mornings on Radio Cardiff (7.30-8.00 am). Now, that’s not in receiver range here in Swansea, but it wouldn’t be a modern, thrusting radio show if it didn’t also provide a web site for web broadcasts and a podcast.

Although there have been only 6 episodes so far (they’re all still available on iTunes), Rhys has managed to interview some quite high profile people including broadcaster and writer Simon Singh and Project Leader of the Large Hadron Collider Lyn Evans of CERN.  Plus he’s flying the flag for STEM and the IET in Wales, so all power to his elbow.

Bad Times – Good Times

The college newsagent had sold out of The Guardian, so I bought a copy of the latest Times Higher. There were two main features of interest. The first, mostly bad news for the UK academy, were the reports of the likely impact of the Browne review that was published this week
“Lord of the market: let competition and choice drive quality.” The future looks dark indeed, with strong hints (see Leader: A gamble on the Market) of a 70% reduction in teaching budgets and the decimation of funding for non Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

And though Browne’s review is careful to talk only about funding in England, Wales is sure to follow.

Apart from one bright point, hidden away in the Review in Summary

All new academics with teaching responsibilities would undertake a teacher training qualification accredited by the Higher Education Academy.

it’s a tale to take the shine off any academic’s day!

So it was with some relief that the other major feature was a two-article feature on Social Media: Don’t Be Afraid to Share and Face Values. The former features quotes from Martin Hall, Martin Weller, Alan Cann and Jim Groom. Some of whom should be familiar to my fellow #PLENK2010 lab rats. Cann, who’s experiments with student PLEs and FriendFeed inspired me to create a PLENK2010 group (see Tuesday’s post), has some things to say that are apposite to this week’s topic of assessment in PLE:

I don’t want to be building some ghetto destination that students have to go to get marks. If we want our students to build social networks that they will use, we need to use public destinations and online resources that people already have confidence in.

The second article is concerned with the face that people project on the social network Facebook. Apparently, though not as inhibited as people my age and older, young people aren’t as reckless with giving away their personal lives as the media would have us believe.