IT Innovation Challenges Showcase Event – A unique opportunity to explore innovative digital projects at Oxford

The IT Innovation Challenges Showcase celebrates the innovative work done by staff and students on projects funded by the University’s IT Innovation Challenges. The event takes place on Wednesday 27th June at the Mathematical Institute, 17.00-19.00.

A phone with a castle coming out of the screen in 3D effect

Image by FunkyFocus via Pixabay

The IT Innovation Challenges support and fund innovative projects which enhance the staff or student experience at Oxford through digital means and bring a benefit to the University.

This Showcase event presents a unique opportunity to experience innovative digital projects at the University. Project members will be on hand to showcase their initiatives, providing first-hand insight into the development of their innovative digital solutions.

Among the many projects to explore are Inkpath, a skills tracking app for university students and administrators, Multisensory Access, a project bringing art to life through touch and sound, and VESPa, an interactive tool for learning sampling techniques in a virtual environment.

Come along and take part: demonstrations, flash talks, virtual worlds, competitions, interactive tools, discussion groups and more with light refreshments.

If you would like join us, please let us know by booking online.

 

 

 

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Challenges 2018 – April update

By Robida, Albert, 1848-1926, artist. (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hilary term has been busy for IT Innovation Challenges, with two calls for ideas published, one for students and one for staff. We were particularly pleased to be able to reintroduce the staff call, as it did not run last year. The theme for this year was ‘The Intelligent Campus’  and ideas that embraced emerging technologies, like virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence, were particularly welcome. As always, it was also possible to share ideas for projects that would benefit the University and/or enhance the staff or student experience at Oxford through digital means.

Artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality are technologies that have arrived and have the potential to tackle some of Higher Education’s big challenges.  This year’s IT Innovation challenge invites you to come with ideas for projects that improve the staff/student experience at Oxford through exploring these emerging technologies – the use of smart campus technology, AI to speed up administrative processes, AR to enhance our public spaces, VR to create immersive learning experiences.

Ideas were posted to the Oxford Ideas site, where any member of the University could read them, add comments and questions, and vote for their favourite. The IT Innovation Panel evaluated the ideas and drew up a shortlist of ideas that were to progress to the next stage: project proposal.

Student call

The Student call saw 14 very good ideas, and five teams were invited to submit project proposals where they show how they would realise their idea as a digital project. The proposals need to include a description of the proposed project and the benefits it would bring, as well as a description of technologies and methods to be used, with explanation of why this particular approach has been chosen. The teams are also asked to explain how they will make sure their project is a success, for example by describing what they will do to make sure that their project is useful to, or used by, its target audience. A budget and time line also have to be created.

The five ideas pitching for funding in this round are:

  • Benchshare: Platform for AR guided research collaboration at bench level
  • Common Room: Oxford’s Support Nexus for Cyberbullying
  • Oxford Accessibility Project – Mapping App
  • Oxford Looking-Glass: Interact with the City through Augmented Reality
  • Oxford Mental Health Network: Mental Health Search Engine App

The proposals are circulated to the IT Innovation Challenges Panel before the pitch event. At the pitch event, each project team gets an opportunity to present their project to the Panel by talking to three points (only): What is the project?; What are the benefits?; What would you do for half the budget? After the five-minute pitch, the Panel asks questions and there is an opportunity to discuss different aspects of the project, clarify certain points and receive feedback and suggestions. The funding decision is made by the Panel shortly after the pitch event, which this year is held on 2nd May. It is expected that successful projects will start from late June. More information about the funded projects will be published here once the funding has been agreed.

Staff call

The staff call had the same ‘Intelligent Campus’ theme as the student one, and 21 ideas were submitted. Eight of these were shortlisted and their project proposals are to be submitted by the 24th May. The proposals are very similar to the student ones with regard to the information that has to be included, and the pitch event (6th June) follows the same structure as that for students.

The shortlisted staff ideas are:

  • BAME pedagogic toolkit
  • Connecting the Multilingual Research Community
  • Enabling Research and Public Engagement with BabelVR
  • Instant video creation space
  • Open Cabinet: AR access to Oxford’s collections
  • Our Primate Heritage: A Multisensorial Digital Library
  • Oxford 101: Augmented reality tour for new Oxford students
  • Oxford Careers Compass for values driven career planning

We will feature the successful proposals here, once funding has been agreed with the projects.

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Project introduction: Reproducible Research Oxford

Guest post by Laura Fortunato (project lead)


Reproducible Research Oxford is a project based at the University of Oxford, launched in October 2016. The project aims to lay the groundwork for a culture of research reproducibility across the University, focusing on training in the effective use of computational tools in research. These tools are widely used in some disciplines, and they can enable researchers to easily track the process leading from data to results, so that it is fully reproducible. However, researchers often lack the opportunities, incentives and confidence to make best use of these tools.

As part of the project, we have set up a partnership between the University and Software and Data Carpentry, non-profit volunteer organisations focused on teaching researchers across disciplines the computing and data skills they need for effective and reproducible research. Since the start of the project, we have ran four Software Carpentry workshops, one Data Carpentry workshop — the first to be held in Oxford! — and we have hosted the first Oxford-based Software/Data Carpentry instructor training. So far, we have provided training to upwards of 100 learners from across the University who attended our workshops, in addition to 12 Oxford-based trainee instructors.

The project is supported by the IT Innovation Challenges scheme and the Social Sciences Division, with grants to Laura Fortunato. It is based in the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and the Oxford e-Research Centre, with members drawn from across the University. Additional funding has come from ELIXIR-UK, the UK node of the European infrastructure for life science information, who have identified a small number of institutions in the UK that they wish to support in delivering training in effective research computing. This has allowed us to extend the partnership between the University and Software/Data Carpentry for a year. We are extremely grateful to the Software Sustainability Institute for facilitating this opportunity!

Extending the partnership through October 2018 will enable four additional Software/Data Carpentry workshops open to staff, researchers, and students across the University (catering to upwards of 120 learners). It will also enable the training of an additional six instructors based in Oxford. This will help consolidate the local capacity built over the first year of the project, ensuring that activities are self-sustaining in the future.

We are now planning a series of workshops for the coming months, and coordinating instructor training — check the events page on our website, subscribe to our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter @RR_Oxford for announcements!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Staff Challenge – closing date extended

The closing date for submissions to ‘IT Innovation Challenges – Staff 2018’ has been extended to 25th March. This is to allow for time lost in strike action.

There will not be a separate discussion period so please ensure any comments on ideas are also posted by 25th March.

To submit an idea, see ideas shared by others or add comments and suggestions, please go to https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com.

 

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Staff 2018 Challenge launching!

By Robida, Albert, 1848-1926, artist. (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The IT Innovation Challenges 2018 staff round is open!

This call is open to all Oxford University staff* who have ideas for digital projects.  Successful ideas will receive funding of up to £50,000.

The theme for this year is The Intelligent Campus.

Artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality are technologies that have arrived and have the potential to tackle some of Higher Education’s big challenges. This year’s IT Innovation challenge invites you to come with ideas for projects that improve the staff/student experience at Oxford through exploring these emerging technologies – the use of smart campus technology, AI to speed up administrative processes, AR to enhance our our public spaces, VR to create immersive learning experiences.

As always, we also welcome other ideas for projects that bring benefit to the University, its staff and/or students through digital means.

Ideas can be submitted between 26 February-25 March 2018 at the Oxford Ideas site https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com. Any University member can see, comment on and vote for submitted ideas. [Update 13 March:] Please note – the submission period has been extended to allow for time lost in strike action. There will not be a separate disussion period so add your comments and suggestions before the closing date March 25th.

For questions about the scheme, the process of applying or anything else, please explore the FAQ or contact innovation@it.ox.ac.uk.

* Please note: IT Innovation Challenges are open to any member of staff within the University. Due to financial constraints we cannot fund college-only applications but we would encourage college staff to submit their ideas and to seek collaboration with University departments.

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

IT Innovation Challenges – Student 2018 update

The idea submission stage for this challenge has now closed and 14 ideas have been shared. All University members are invited to explore the ideas at https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com, ask questions, add suggestions and vote for their favourites. The ideas are open for comments and discussion until Feb 23rd. The IT Innovation Challenges panel will then evaluate the ideas and select the ones to go through to the next stage which consists of developing and presenting a project proposal based on the idea.  

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Student 2018 round launching!

By Robida, Albert, 1848-1926, artist. (Library of Congress) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The IT Innovation Challenges 2018 student round is opening on MONDAY 29th JANUARY.

This call is open to all Oxford University students who have ideas for digital projects.  Successful ideas will receive funding of up to £15,000.

The theme for this year is The Intelligent Campus.

Artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality are technologies that have arrived and have the potential to tackle some of Higher Education’s big challenges. This year’s IT Innovation challenge invites you to come with ideas for projects that improve the staff/student experience at Oxford through exploring these emerging technologies – the use of smart campus technology, AI to speed up administrative processes, AR to enhance our our public spaces, VR to create immersive learning experiences.

As always, we also welcome other ideas for projects that bring benefit to the University, its staff and/or students through digital means.

Ideas can be submitted between 29 January-15 February 2018 at the Oxford Ideas site https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com. Any University member can see, comment on and vote for submitted ideas.

For questions about the scheme, the process of applying or anything else, please explore the FAQ or contact innovation@it.ox.ac.uk. A similar challenge for staff members will launch at the end of February.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Embedding Innovative use of Wikimedia across the University

In this gues post, Dr. Martin Poulter describes his work on the IT Innovation Challenges project ‘Embedding Innovative use of Wikimedia across the University‘ 


Map of hillforts, coloured by type, generated with data from the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland By MartinPoulter [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia is the top search engine hit for millions of topics; Wikidata is the largest authority file ever created and Wikimedia Commons has more than 40 million digital images with potential use in research or education. Wikimedia projects overlap with all the work done across the university, whether in research, education, or curation. Spending a year as the university’s Wikimedian In Residence, I worked with various researchers and projects, tailoring the work to their goals.

The Electronic Enlightenment/ Oxford Text Archive team were interested in biographical dictionaries of booksellers and printers, and getting these from page scans into a more usable format. We used a combination of Wikisource, Wikidata and Google Sheets to produce a digital text version of one of these books, a data set representing the book, and the book’s text as a data set, with crowdsourced help from the Wikisource volunteers.

This team also wanted to explore getting more incoming links to the EE biographical dictionary. We arranged for Oxford University Press to give free access to EE for active Wikipedia editors who request it, and publicised this to the Wikimedian community. So far, 48 Wikipedia editors have been given free access to the service. We matched thousands of identifiers from EE with Wikidata, then used these data to identify people in EE with no Wikipedia article.

With the Atlas of Hillforts, the interest was in getting incoming links to this newly-launched web site. We imported selected data fields into Wikidata, with links back to the Atlas for the full information. We matched Atlas records against Wikidata records where they existed, and tagged images in Wikimedia Commons with links to the relevant entry in the Atlas. We created a project page to tell the Wikipedia community what was happening, and used a tool to generate list articles in Wikipedia from the imported data.

The Cultures of Knowledge group (who run Early Modern Letters Online) are interested in combining data about notable people and locations from historical sources, and having those data used in research and education. I have advised on how these data sources (including EMLO identifiers) are reconciled with Wikidata. Wikidata already has thousands of EMLO links and I was able to use these to find other sources about people in EMLO.

The Oxford Research Archive had digitised thousands of doctoral theses and made them openly available. I created a new property in Wikidata to represent the institution to which a thesis had been submitted, and added data about the Oxford theses in a bulk upload. We then added thesis links to Wikipedia articles about notable thesis authors, such as John Vickers and H. A. Berlin.

With the Voltaire Foundation, we worked on describing Voltaire’s most important works in Wikidata, including the non-fiction books that were subject of a project funded by the AHRC. These data were used in two custom interactive timelines, using the Histropedia software library.

With Prof. David Zeitlyn, a cultural anthropologist whose work covers people and archives in Cameroon, we found that a limiting factor on coverage of this topic in Wikipedia was the lack of published secondary sources. I recommended a way to adapt existing open-access journal articles into Wikipedia articles.

The Ritual Modes research group in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology had tried to add articles to Wikipedia about their topic, but had been discouraged because an article had been deleted. I got the article undeleted and gave them advice on getting further articles accepted.

The Women In German Studies group wanted training on how to improve Wikipedia articles in their field. In a training workshop, they learned about the behind-the-scenes efforts to improve coverage of women and to facilitate translation between different language versions of Wikipedia.

For IT Services, I documented two kinds of event using Wikimedia platforms to engage the public in research, including instructions that would be given to participants. I also provided training workshops for two different groups of staff in IT services.

There was a lot of interest in using Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikisource and related open platforms. Queries continue to come in and I am working on using Wikidata to help the discoverability of objects in the university’s collections.

Posted in Completed projects, Projects | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

IT Innovation Challenges 2018

We have just received confirmation that we will be able to run both a student and staff round of the IT Innovation Challenges in 2018. The student round will launch first, in Hilary Term, and we will be inviting ideas for student-led digital projects to start in the summer.

Exact dates and details will be announced here as soon as they are confirmed.

Photo credit: “Money” is licensed by CheapFullCoverageAutoInsurance.com under CC BY 2.0.

Posted in News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

‘VR-AR Hub’ launch event

Colleagues from Academic IT attended the launch event of the VR-AR Hub at the Cohen Quadrangle, Exeter College on 26 October 2017. The VR-AR Hub is a student project winner of the IT Innovation Challenge award 2017 and is designed to bring together people, knowledge and resources related to VR and AR technologies.

The event was presented by the team of Gustavo Quino, Maria Lissner, Mattia Montanari and Richard Smith. An enthusiastic audience of more than 30 people listened to some fascinating VR case studies, and also had the opportunity to try out the latest VR technology. Further meetings and events are planned.

For more information see the project webpages. For an introduction to VR and AR at the University see the Digital Education Strategy webpages.

Group of researchers and students try the VR technology.

The audience try out the VR technology.

Man with VR headset stands in front of computer monitor with VR controllers in hand.

Trying out the VR controllers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment