Monthly Archives: January 2012

A near complete history of EC funded research

More transparency where EU-funded research is going has always been a desirable. Also to know who is active in it and to what extent. ResearchRanking (beta) is an interesting attempt to rating European research institutions by participation in EU-funded projects. Total funding has been relatively steady over the past two decades:

EU funding statsThe site allows search by institution to see how successful they have been in getting funding, whether as participants or as coordinators. When looking at my own institution, the data is still incomplete, only covering Framework Programmes, but since it is beta, I expect more to come. Still, it’s a good start and judging from how our project activities from the past are identified, it looks representative for the work we are doing.

Interesting to inspect are the ranking tables, where usual suspects CNRF (France) and Fraunhofer (Germany) are leading the 2010 table.

In summary, the site provides opportunities for interesting browsing and it’s worth spending a few moments on it. Finally, it seems, the idea of Open Data has reached the European Commission and we can expect more insights into the workings of the ivory tower in Brussels.



Good teaching comes from the teacher!

Over the holidays, I watched the 12 part video lecture series by Neil deGrasse Tyson called “my favorite universe”. Not only is this a fascinating topic anyhow, but the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium brings it to life. As one commenter put it:

They need to clone Tyson and put him in every class room across the planet. I bet the world would be a better place for it…

What thrilled me was the enthusiasm that Tyson radiated, the love for his subject discipline and the love for telling people about it. Now here’s a good teacher if ever I saw one. What’s even more striking is that he used no technology in his presentations, apart from a few still images illustrating parts of the cosmos. Now this made me wonder, because all the emphasis on being a good teacher that I know and hear about lies on the competent use of technology! Institutions invest zillions of currency into putting a projector and smartboards into every classroom, as well as staff development programmes training people how to use powerpoint or upload a file into the VLE. Who, nowadays, would dare go to a conference without a USB stick with the obligatory presentation on?

Technology surely has its place, especially for reaching out. I would not ever have been able to watch this great series if it were not for youtube, cloud computing, ubiquitous Internet access, and the good man filming and sharing his lectures. But let’s face it, good teaching does not come from technology, it comes from the teacher, presenter, or expert and we need to invest in it!