A full house for Research Café VII at I M Marsh

Left to right: Hafizan Mat Som, Chris Mackintosh and Ivan Subotic

Left to right: Hafizan Mat Som, Chris Mackintosh and Ivan Subotic

This month’s Café VII was at I M Marsh and covered the usual mix of topics from the use of electronic portfolios in Malaysia, through free charges for electric vehicles finishing with sport policy in the UK and globally.

Hafizan Mat Som (Faculty of Education, Health and Community) – The development and use of an electronic portfolio in skills training in Malaysia: Stakeholders’ perceptions

Hafizan started us off with an overview of the Malaysian Education system with a view to introducing E-Portfolio submission to the vocational sector of tertiary education – there are currently no vocational institutions in Malaysia using such an e-learning system. There are challenges in terms of the available technology and resistance from both students and tutors to switching from paper to electronic submission. There will also be a cost in terms of providing support/help with the transition, however the benefits will help make Malaysian Vocational Education more IT-literate. Hafizan hopes to trial this within her own institution and neighbouring colleges.

Ivan Subotic (School of Engineering, Technology and Maritime Operations)   – Free chargers for electric vehicles

Ivan gave a lively talk on a technical subject, basically redesigning the propulsion unit of a car, changing it from a 3-phase to a 9-phase machine. That he made it so interesting and understandable to the lay person was to his credit. His research team has worked on the problem that Electric cars can either be fast-charged at a garage or other charging point (these are few and far between) or slowly at home. An alternative is to have a heavy, bulky, expensive unit installed alongside the engine to enable them to be fast-charged. However, all the elements needed to charge up a battery are already available in the car and just need to be reconfigured. The reconfiguration suggested so far increases the torque (so that the car might move off as it is being charged!). Ivan’s team has come up with a solution to the problem of fast charging without increasing the torque.

Chris Mackintosh (Faculty of Education, Health and Community) – Sport policy but for who? Inclusion, exclusion and insights from beyond the UK

In an entertaining and thought-provoking talk, Chris took us on a journey through his extensive research here in the UK but also globally. He is interested in the role sport can play in engaging communities and is currently involved in a research project in Antigua. Compared to the £9.3bn spent on sport in this country – much of this on elite sport – Antigua spends £2.5m on its population of 89,000. We have talk of the Big Society where sport can engage disaffected youth and be effective in crime prevention but this has been accompanied by a 35 – 40% cut in sport funding.

Chris’s research has taken him to inner city ‘problem’ areas and groups and the government has removed funding for those working with the disadvantaged and left it to the voluntary sector to try to keep things running. He highlighted the need to ask local communities what they want – e.g. crèches, transport, accommodating ADHD kids, are practical issues that matter to families and make the real difference in their ability to participate in sport.

Contrary to hopes, claims and expectations, Chris believes the London 2012 Olympic Games (including the Paralympics) have left no legacy in this country. He now concentrates his sports research in Africa, Antigua, Holland and the U.S.A.

The full presentations are available here  or why not join us at the next Research Café at Avril Robarts Library on 21st May 


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