Tag Archives: technology

Rouen blood transfusion 1954

Women at the forefront of the NHS

The traditional role of women in the medical profession was often seen as one of caring and not necessarily a role that required technical, pharmaceutical or even medical skills. Research at Huddersfield has revealed a new dimension to the type of work women occupied in the NHS during the mid-20th century.

While researching his book on hospitals in Leeds and Sheffield, Professor Doyle discovered documentary material showing mid-20th century women carrying out analysis in the pathology lab, taking charge of radiography and handling other high-tech procedures.

“Care to cure”

2 million volt X-ray Generator, Sheffield
2 million volt X-ray Generator, Sheffield

As the 20th century develops there has been a shift in culture in the medical profession from “care to cure” using new technologies, medication and pharmaceuticals. This focus has often seen men and the male doctor leading this area. This research reveals that in the early days of the NHS, women were just as likely to be found in labs and x-ray departments as at the bedside adopting a caring role.

A brochure issued in 1952 by the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board, reports on the previous five years of its activities – therefore covering the transformation to the NHS in 1948. It has a sequence of photographs showing women – some in nursing uniforms, some in lab coats – taking control of most aspects of hospital life.

This brochure demonstrates that during this time women were using microscopes, manipulating a huge two million volt X-ray machine, operating an iron lung, taking charge of the chest clinic and correcting children’s eyesight in the orthoptic department. Few men are to be seen. Most doctors would have been male, but there were actually very few doctors in hospitals at this period.

Professor Doyle has also accumulated evidence from overseas as well as the UK.  For example, a 1950s blood transfusion centre in Rouen, France, was entirely run by women.

Reappraising the role and status of women

Chest Clinic, Sheffield
Chest Clinic, Sheffield

Professor Doyle now believes there is an opportunity for health historians to reappraise the roles and status of women in early 20th century hospitals and he hopes to carry out further research.  Meanwhile, he has written a blog that includes the text and pictures of the 1952 Sheffield booklet.

He acknowledges that men did begin to exert predominance in healthcare technology and began to take over the narrative of the medicalization of healthcare.

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Developing the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists

What makes an effective teacher of vocational science, engineering or technology (SET)? How can a teacher’s effectiveness be improved in an education system under increasing pressures from changing economic, political and technological circumstances? These questions have an important bearing on current debates and policy concerning technical and vocational education – not least the recent Sainsbury Review – and are the focus of a three-year research project based in the School of Education and Professional Development.


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Subject Specialist Pedagogy in Initial Teacher Education for Vocational Science, Engineering and Technology (ITE-VocSET) is funded by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, which has a long-standing interest in improving teaching and learning in SET subjects. This interest connects with a wider UK context of ongoing concern about the supply of scientists, engineers and technologists, not only of graduates but also at technician level where further education colleges – and their technical teachers – play a critically important role.

With its long tradition of teacher development for the further education sector, and its strong record of research in this field, the School of Education and Professional Development is uniquely placed to host the project, which combines research into subject specialist pedagogy with application to teacher development.

The project has a semi-experimental methodology based on a series of “interventions” – short programmes of study for trainee teachers in addition to their main teacher education programme. Based on a theory of change in which specific aspects of teacher development are identified as possible consequences of the intervention, the team then aim to evaluate its impact on what teachers do and how they think about their actions.

Learning resources


The research began in October 2015 with a literature review aimed at building a conceptual model of subject specialist pedagogy appropriate to the teaching of vocational SET subjects. The resulting model of pedagogy was then used to develop and refine learning resources for use by trainee SET teachers taking part in the interventions. These resources include structured video materials based on teaching sessions in further education colleges, animations to explain and illustrate key concepts of pedagogy, and a website providing structured pathways through the conceptual model.

Alongside the resource development, the team has worked with partner universities and colleges to identify trainee SET teachers – and teacher educators – who would like to take part in the interventions. A key issue has been the shortage of SET trainee teachers across the country, which has meant approaching the project on a national basis, using online sessions and “Saturday schools” based in Manchester to facilitate participation.

The first of the interventions is now approaching completion and evaluation is under way. Working with colleagues from the Education and Training Foundation (the national body for further education teaching) the aim is to include up to 70 participants by early 2018. In addition to evaluating the specific approach used in the intervention, the research will provide a rich source of qualitative data on how SET specialists think about their teaching, their students and the relationship between the college and the workplace. This research should be the basis for a range of publications for the 2020 Research Excellence Framework.

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Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music

Technology plays an increasingly important role in the way music is created and disseminated. The majority of music heard today is mediated through digital technology of one form or another.

But has technology changed the creative possibilities open to composers? Or is it just the same music in a different medium? Can composers work in new ways and conceive their music differently because of the new technological opportunities available today?

The TaCEM project

The TaCEM project, Technology and Creativity in Electroacoustic Music, set out to examine these questions. This collaborative research project between the University of Huddersfield and Durham University was funded by a grant of £312,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and ran for 30 months.

The project examined nine case studies in depth. These nine musical compositions, chosen as outstanding examples of composers deploying new digital technology to significant effect, have been studied in terms of their technical means, their musical context and through music analysis. As part of the project the researchers visited composers from the UK, Europe, USA and Canada in order to discuss works ranging from 1977 to 2013 and analyse the technology that inspired them.

Interactive aural techniques

Professor Michael Clarke
Professor Michael Clarke

A major part of the research has been the use of Interactive Aural techniques, previously pioneered by Principal Investigator Professor Michael Clarke in earlier projects. This approach uses software so that the investigation can be undertaken in terms of sound and by emulating the technologies used for the music.

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Dr Frédéric Dufeu, Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield, has worked on the project and has made major advances in the way such interactive software is designed. He has produced emulations of several systems crucial to the development of computer music but now obsolete, enabling their characteristics to be examined and their creative potential researched.

This particular research project had a sense of urgency, as many of the pioneer composers in this field are ageing and so is much of the technology they used. As early computers and synthesisers become obsolete or unobtainable, it becomes increasingly difficult to recapture the sounds and techniques that inspired creativity in the field up to three decades ago. The period covered started in the 1970s right through to the recent past.

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In addition to the software dedicated to the individual case studies, generic software is being developed within the TaCEM project. TIAALS (Tools for Interactive Aural Analysis) enables the user to develop their own interactive aural analyses from the sound contents of any piece.

Co-investigator Professor Peter Manning from Durham University, a leading international expert on the history of electronic music and the technologies behind it, brought this expertise to the project.

International impact

The work has been presented at many of the major conferences in the field around the world, including in Athens, Berlin, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Paris and Perth in Australia. The work has been received with enthusiasm with many academics keen to use the software in their own teaching. The software is to be made freely available alongside a book Inside Computer Music to be published by Oxford University Press. Work is currently underway to complete the final case study for this publication.

Future work includes plans to develop the Interactive Aural approach to a wider repertoire of music including those aspects of acoustic music least suited to traditional notation and verbal description, for example, improvisation, world music and contemporary instrumental works.