Ready for MW15 Workshop, Chicago

(This is a cross-post from the RunCoCo blog).

Slide from workshop: Marilyn Monroe, Slovenian farmer, Angela Merkel, school pupils in the trenches at the Lancs Museum

Engaging audiences online and in-person

Finally, RunCoCo is ready for the workshop “Crowdsourcing user-generated content: using the Oxford Community Collection Model to engage audiences and create collections” (at MW2015, the annual conference of Museums and the Web, April 8-11, 2015, Chicago).

Alun Edwards, Academic IT, University of Oxford – representing RunCoCo will occasionally be tweeting from the conference, especially around the professional forum he’ll be participating in about gathering user-generated content of the US in the First World War.

Check the RunCoCo blog for the references and links from the workshop, and if time some reflections on the conference itself.

“Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye…!”

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Digital diarists give a glimpse into the student experience

The DIGE 2 project is now well under way. In February the core project team of Liz and Sarah was joined by three graduate students from the Department of Education: Kinga Petrovai, Laura Pinkerton and Erin Young.

1200px-Cuddling_with_multiple_devices CC BY Tom Morris

Image CC BY Tom Morris (from Flickr)

In contrast with our previous project DIGE 2 has a greater focus on students. Investigating how they learn with digital technologies is taking priority over what they use, in terms of the actual systems and services, and so we’re taking a more qualitative approach. The centrepiece of our data so far is a collection of 21 ‘digital diaries’ and transcriptions from follow-up interviews gathered from Oxford students at all levels of study. We asked each student to describe a real day in their life, preferably one in which they were out and about having classes and/or going to libraries, and to record when these activities involved the use of digital technologies. They could also take photographs to provide additional detail. We used the diary technique to great effect in DIGE ‘1’ and in the Thema project in 2008; students find it doesn’t intrude too much into their day. They often comment in retrospect that they hadn’t realised how much they use digital devices as they go about their daily business!

We are also collecting data from students through an online survey and have held a highly successful focus group involving students with disabilities. Interviews with members of academic staff have begun, in order to elicit their perspectives on current themes in the student digital experience. These include students’ preparedness for studying with digital technologies at university, their use of mobile devices and the question of universities’ responsibility to equip students with the digital skills needed in their future employment. The staff survey is open until 24th April: if you are an Oxford academic who is involved in teaching undergraduates and/or postgraduates on taught Master’s courses, you are invited to contribute your views.

For further information about DIGE 2, contact

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What happens when the Daily Mail finally takes note?

The results of one of the Education Enhancement Team’s projects is being written about in the national press this week. Over the years you may have heard one of us talk about our work community-sourcing First World War memories from across Europe, and we often tell a story about a man and a matchbox. We include the story in most of our press releases (since 2007) and the last time we wrote about it was in a national history journal this week. Maybe that was the trigger? For whatever reason the matchbox story has been picked up this week by The Daily Mail (and the Mirror and the Express). Their articles mention the IT Services projects The Great War Archive and Europeana 1914-1918, without very specific links – but hopefully some readers will take note. If the articles pique your interest you can see more at

There used to be a rule of thumb, if The Guardian writes about your project you see an extra 20,000 website visitors but if the Daily Mail writes then you could see spikes of 200,000 to half a million. We have recorded much more further impact and engagement about the project and specifically this story in the local community, in family history and in books. Obviously that doesn’t make it into the Daily Mail, but we keep banging on about it! Here’s the text submitted for that history publication:

Will you share your local story from the Great War online?

Europeana 1914-1918 is a website where you can search for family and local history about the First World War from across Europe. It is based on the work of the University of Oxford and in particular the Oxford Community Collection model which encourages groups to engage with their audience online and face-to-face – for example to upload and share online the results of local history or community projects. Here’s a particularly striking story about the possibilities of sharing your local history online, showing in a small way the opportunities and benefits of unlocking the family vaults:

The message in a matchbox thrown from the train by George Cavan

The message in a matchbox thrown from the train by George Cavan, photograph shared by courtesy of Maureen Rogers shared via Europeana 1914-1918 under license CC-BY-SA 3.0

George Cavan served in the Glasgow Highlanders. At the end of March 1918 George was away at a training camp in Scotland when he received orders to go to France. The train he was on went through his home (Carluke in Scotland) but would not stop there. He hastily scribbled this note to his family “Dear wife and bairns, Off to France – love to you all, Daddy.” On the other side he wrote the name and address of his wife, Jean. George stuffed the note into a matchbox and threw it out onto the platform as the train whistled through Carluke station. Someone picked up the matchbox and delivered it to his wife. George was killed in action just two weeks later at the Battle of Hazelbrouck near Ypres in Belgium. All that was sent back to his wife was a small tin box, containing a purse, his identification tags and an old medallion. This story was uploaded to our website, by George’s granddaughter in Australia. Soon afterwards we wrote a blog about the matchbox and received a comment from George’s family in Scotland who were unaware of the matchbox story! Through this the family branches were able to join together their elements of their ancestors’ stories. This formed the basis for a chapter of a book, published by the British Library, called “Hidden stories of the First World War” by Jackie Storer. A local historian has also contacted the website because they wanted to find more about George Cavan – who was identified in a photograph of the local bowling club in 1914.

George’s story began by being locked in the family memory, not available to anyone else – actually not available to ALL the family. Uploading material online has opened the story up to the world. Would you share online the fruits of your local history research into the First World War? Register for a user account on the website ( and start to add your research or just a sample -to show the rest of the world what you are doing.

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Should the University support staff who suffer harassment?

What if the headlines “Cyberbullying suicide” were about an Oxford student or a member of staff? For Safer Internet Day 2014 over 50 representatives from across the University of Oxford came together to discuss the University’s response to harassment. Podcasts of the speakers’ presentations were uploaded to iTunes-U for you to download.

For Safer Internet Day 2015 I will present as part of the ITLP’s do: series: do: Nothing (and your staff and reputation could be at risk on social media) on 10 February 2015. In researching this session I have found the most powerful video:

If your APP was a shop assistant

If your APP was a shop assistant

The slides are available as a low res PDF, as well as the handout (link tbc), and the session will be live-streamed by the ITLP (link tbc). Further advice is available from the information security team.

Slides for do: Nothing (and your staff and reputation could be at risk on social media)

Slides [PDF] of ‘do: Nothing (and your staff and reputation could be at risk on social media)’

We’re pleased to be supporting the Safer Internet Day 2015:
Safer Internet Day

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DIGE 2: Revisiting the Student Digital Experience

students doing polls on mobilesThree years ago we carried out DIGE, the University’s first detailed study of students’ experience of digital technologies in their academic and social lives. The time has come to revisit the findings from that work, and so we will shortly launch DIGE 2. We will be looking to see what has changed – or remained the same – over the past three years, and will also be focusing on students’ preferences regarding digital technologies to support their learning. We want to involve students at all levels of study and to consult with academic staff for their perspectives on e-learning at Oxford.

Watch out for invitations to participate. In the meantime, if you would like more information or to volunteer to take part in an interview, please contact the project leader, Liz Masterman.

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Mainstreaming Open Educational Practice in a Research University: Prospects and Challenges

This is the abstract of the paper that I’ll be giving at the OER15: Mainstreaming Open Education conference in April…

OER15 thumbnail-300x165Increasingly, the case is made that OER should be deployed within pedagogic practices that ‘rely on social interaction, knowledge creation, peer-learning, and shared learning practices’ (Ehlers, 2011: 6). Within an individual institution, this may entail exploring the relationship between the principles and practices of openness in education and the values and practices espoused by individual academics in order to identify an optimal institutional approach to OEP (open educational practice).

This paper reports on an investigation into this relationship at a leading research-intensive university with substantial OER collections that reflect its strategic priority for global reach (University of Oxford, nd). Additionally, numerous staff are active in open science initiatives, and open access publishing is rising in response to funders’ mandates.

We conducted semi-structured interviews with 14 members of teaching staff from a range of disciplines, selected either for their involvement in open practices or for the recognition they had received for excellence in their teaching. The interview schedule was based on a conceptual framework of OEP focussing on sharing and reusing OER, open pedagogic models, students’ learning in an open world, and open educational knowledge. The framework was synthesised from an extensive literature review and will be presented in the paper. As a research-intensive university, we were also interested in identifying cross-fertilisation from open science to OEP.

A number of our findings are distinctive to the University, but nonetheless can prompt broader discussion. For example, interviewees considered the characteristics of the open pedagogic models to be already embedded in its model of individual and small-group teaching – which raises the questions whether, if the pedagogic goal is what counts, it can remain acceptable to achieve that goal using ‘closed’ means, and whether teachers can simply opt into those aspects of openness that enhance their existing practice (cf. Beetham et al. 2012).

Other findings are perhaps more generally applicable, and the paper will also invite discussion around these. For example, although their professional values may resonate with those of openness, academics may feel more confident being open in their research activities than in their teaching, in part because the latter is both personal to them and personalised to their students. An asymmetry in the motivating factors to share versus reuse resources – viz., altruism and knowledge self-efficacy (van Acker et al., 2013) versus suitability to the immediate pedagogic need – may call into question how far these behaviours are two sides of the same coin.

Finally, although the University’s devolved decision-making structure is also distinctive, interview data regarding a potential institutional strategy for OEP may hold true across the sector. Interviewees identified the need for a clear position on openness and its implementation; a sound understanding of the consequences it might bring (intended and unintended); and above all an emphasis on autonomy: freedom of choice at both the individual and departmental level.


Beetham, H., Falconer, I., McGill, L. & Littlejohn, A. (2012). Open Practices: a briefing paper.

Ehlers, U.-D. (2011). Extending the Territory: From Open Educational Resources to Open Educational Practices. Journal of Open, Flexible, and Distance Learning, 15(2): 1–10.

University of Oxford (nd). Strategic Plan 2013–18.

Van Acker, F., Van Buuren, H., Kreijns, K. & Vermeulen, M. (2013). Why Teachers Share Educational Resources: A Social Exchange Perspective, in R. McGreal, W. Kinuthia & S. Marshall (eds.), Open Educational Resources: Innovation, Research and Practice (pp. 177–191). Vancouver: Commonwealth of Learning and Athabasca University.

CC-BYFor consistency with the OER15 conference documentation, the text in this post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence.

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Shaping Europe

View through 'our' window

View through ‘our’ window

(Cross-posted with the RunCoCo blog)

This week we found ourselves working in a slightly different space. For a few days, crews from Europeana, Facts & Files, and RunCoCo set up camp in the European Parliament in Brussels to run the ‘Shaping Europe’ event. Members of the European Parliament, commissioners, assistants, and anyone working in the building were invited to come along to see what we do and to share their stories, memories and objects from the First World War or 1989. Project staff from Europeana 1914-1918, Europeana 1989 and 89 Voices were on hand to record interviews and digitise matterial and, above all, talk about the work we have been doing over the last few years.

The ‘Shaping Europe’ event ended with a reception where participants were treated to brief presentations by, amongst others, Tibor Navracsics (European Commissioner for Culture, Education, Youth and Sport), Jill Cousins (Executive Director, Europeana), Frank Drauschke (Historian, Co-founder Facts & Files) and Patrick Lefèvre (Director General of the Royal Library of Belgium). After the presentations, visitors and speakers had a chance to mingle and talk to project staff, see the digitisation and interview areas and share their stories and material.

Jill Cousins
Jill Cousins speaking at the evening reception
Picture of two people at a desk
Ready to receive the visitors
Recording and cataloguing material
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The University Teaching Awards: Invasion of the Digital?

Rhodes House (CC BY SA 3.0 Kaihsu Tai via

Rhodes House (CC BY SA 3.0 Kaihsu Tai via

Each year the University honours those teaching staff who have particularly excelled in supporting their students learning at the Teaching Awards Ceremony, which this year took place in Rhodes House yesterday evening. But it is not only teachers who are recognised in this way; the 2014 award-winners also include support staff including librarians and, this year, two colleagues in Academic IT – EET’s own Kate Lindsay and Steve Eyre, one of the ITLP teaching team. Together with Liz McCarthy of the Bodleian Libraries, they have spearheaded the acclaimed Engage: Social Media Michaelmas programme (now nearing the end of its third season, steered this year by Sarah Wilkin while Kate is on maternity leave).

The University Teaching Awards ceremony always acknowledges the winners of the ‘staff’ categories in IT Services’ own OxTALENT competition, but I was struck also by the number of winners in the main awards who were honoured for their use of digital technologies in support of their students’ learning, including:

  • Dr Jonathan Prag (Merton College) and his colleagues for their project Digital techniques in the study of ancient epigraphy, which aims to embed the teaching of essential technology-based skills into Master’s-level training;
  • Dr Martin Ruhs (Kellogg College), who has designed the InfoMap tool to support interactive analysis and debate in his online course on international labour migration (the tool itself is being developed by staff in TALL);
  • Dr Janet Dyson (Mansfield) and Dr Richard Earl (Worcester), who are working with the University’s online media producer to develop videos showing how tutorials work, with three different target audiences in mind: prospective students, graduate students training to teach and new faculty members who are experienced teachers but are unfamiliar with the Oxford tutorial.

The presence of such initiatives in the list of awards tempts us to suggest that technology-enhanced learning has now entered the Oxford mainstream, and we trust that the examples will help to inspire academics who might still be cautious about dipping their toes in digital waters.

Finally, congratulations also go to Dr Joanna Barstow (Physics), who received a new award for public engagement in science, for her work on the Oxford Sparks website. We can’t resist noting that some of the Oxford Sparks resources have now been made available to schoolteachers additionally through the TES Connect platform, with help from EET’s own Sarah Wilkin.

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Jon Stallworthy

Those of us in the Education Enhancement team have worked in collaboration with a great number of academic colleagues over the years. Few collaborations, however, have been as meaningful and enjoyable as those which we formed when developing our First World War digital collections.

Jon StallworthyfinalWe were greatly saddened to hear the news that Professor Jon Stallworthy had passed away. An admired poet and critic, renowned for his scholarship on War Poetry and Wilfred Owen, Jon was a great friend and mentor in the development of The First World War Poetry Digital Archive. His work with us back in 1994 to guide the selection, digitisation and cataloging of Owen’s Manuscripts formed the heart of the archive. As the trustee of the Owen Literary Estate, his support and encouragement in making the manuscripts digitally available to all has given so much to the the study of First World War Literature and encouraged many other literary estates to follow suit. Jon was always available to to give a captivating lecture or lead a discussion at our workshops and teaching events, most recently The English Faculty Spring School: “British” World War One Poetry.

Whether someone needed support in teaching War Poetry in the classroom, writing a monograph, or indeed developing an online archive, Professor Stallworthy’s generous and meticulous guidance was invaluable. He was a brilliant scholar and a wonderful gentle man. Personally I remember the tour he gave me of the Owen archives that sat beneath the English Faculty Library; this very much brought to life the importance of the digital in preserving and sharing rare and precious documents, as well as giving me the pleasure of being able to hold literary history in my hands. I also remember giving Jon a tour of the online archive, after we had added other poets to keep Wilfred company. He had a great deal of enthusiasm for the project, and was thrilled to be able to cross-search the poet collections to bring up manuscripts side-by-side, see how easily new discoveries could be made, and guess at the possibilities that the digital could bring to tomorrow’s War Poetry scholars.

He will be greatly missed.


We have made available the following two podcasts featuring Professor Stallworthy

Wilfred Owen (British World War One Poetry, April 2014)

War Poetry (Teaching World War One Literature, May 2008)

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