‘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.

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Impact Awards – OxReach

We congratulate the OxReach project team – finalists in the ‘Project of the Year’ award category of the PraxisUnico Impact Awards. The Impact Awards celebrate”…the achievements of KEC [Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation] professionals and our volunteer community in delivering and developing best practice across the sector”. The team was recognised for the work with LIFE [Life-saving Instruction for Emergencies] – a smartphone based serious game training healthcare workers in Africa. The game could be created thanks to funding generated by the team using the OxReach crowdfunding platform, created as an IT Innovation Challenges project.

For more information about the OxReach project and their crowdfunding work, please read the OxReach – crowdfunding for University projects blog post.

The OxReach project team at the ceremony

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Self-Heal App Launch Event

(by Hadassah Buechner)

Photo by ‘It Gets Brighter’

Self-Heal teamed up with other mental health charities to host an event celebrating technology and communities in mental health. There was music, nibbles and wine in the beautiful surroundings of Rhodes house. More than 70 people attended and heard about the App, It Gets Brighter, Oxford Mental Health Support Network and listen to the keynote speaker, Nicole Gibson – the youngest mental health commissioner all the way from Australia.

Learn more about the Self-heal app:

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2016/17 student round – funded projects

The 2016/17 Student round of the IT Innovation Challenges attracted a record number of ideas (47). All ideas were evaluated by the IT Innovation Panel and 15 idea creators were invited to deevlop a project proposal based on their idea. We are pleased to announce that of the 12  proposals that were submitted, eight have been awarded funding. These are (click on title to see the project abstract):

  • Clinical Research Data Management Toolkit – identifying sound strategies for new projects
  • Interactomy – An interactive app for anatomy teaching and learning
  • Learmapp – An app that helps learners navigate and collaborate around learning resources
  • Oxford Restfulness Tracker – An app to help student athletes avoid over-training
  • Sanctum – A website allowing students and staff find places to study/work in Oxford
  • Studious – A networked knowledge platform allowing students to collaborate around reading list resources
  • VESPA – An interactive tool for learning sampling techniques in a virtual environment
  • Virtual Reality Oxford Network – Bringing together people, knowledge and resources related to VR

Further information about the projects and their progress will be posted here as the projects get starting (from mid-June).

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Pitch Perfect


“Japanese Dragon” [Sean Wilson 2005, Public domain]

On May 3rd and 4th, twelve student teams presented their project proposals to the IT Innovation Challenges Panel which had the difficult task to decide which of the projects were to be funded as part of this year’s student round.

The quality of the proposals and the presentations was very high this year, and the Panel was impressed and inspired by the presenters. At the end of two intense days, the Panel was happy to offer eight projects funding. Some of the offers came with some kind of condition, or request for modification, for example a suggestion that a stronger focus was put on a particular aspect of a project or that the budget or time plan was revised. We will be publishing a list of the successful projects once they have accepted the offer of funding.

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Pitch Practice

For this year’s IT Innovation Challenges, 12 student projects submitted project proposals based on ideas that were shortlisted in the Student 2017 round. Before the decision about funding allocation is made, the projects also have to ‘pitch’ their proposals to the Panel. In preparation for this, we held a ‘pitch practice’ event where the projects were invited to present their pitch to the other student projects. The practice event was in the same room and followed the same format as that used for the actual pitch event. Each project had 5 minutes to talk about their project, using no more than three slides, addressing three main points:

  • What is the idea
  • What are the benefits
  • What could be done for a reduced budget

The Panel (or in this case, the other student projects) then asked follow-up questions and provided feedback. After the pitches, participants had a chance to chat over tea and cake and talk to each other and the IT Innovation facilitators.

We have not run these pitch practice events for previous rounds, but based on the feedback from this one we will definitely want to do it again.

“This was really useful. I feel a lot more confident doing this in front of the Panel now”

“I learned a lot from seeing the other presentations”

“Having been in the room and done the presentation once means I now feel better prepared to meet the Panel next week”

“If we are successful in getting funding, will there be more opportunities like this to meet the other projects and compare ideas and experiences?”

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OxReach – crowdfunding for University projects

By the OxReach team: Philippa Nuttall, Sarah Deakin, Zoe Reich (Oxford University Innovation) https://oxreach.hubbub.net/


What is OxReach and why is it important?

OxReach is the official crowdfunding platform dedicated to philanthropic projects from the University of Oxford. OxReach allows members of the University to raise philanthropic funds for specific University related projects with tangible social impact. It is designed as an enabling tool for this community of staff, students and academics to translate the ideas they are passionate about and turn them into reality.

Over the past year, OxReach has hosted two projects which both happen to feature Africa. The first is focussed on saving newborn lives and the second on treating clubfoot in children. Together these projects raised a total of £146,223. Crowdfunding raised awareness of the types of impactful projects within the University and facilitated  engagement outside of Oxford.  It will enable the project creators to apply their expertise to make a difference to the lives of children in Africa. OxReach is not just limited to life-changing interventions but rather for any philanthropic project that could have a tangible social benefit. If in doubt please give the OxReach team a shout!

Continue reading

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Take 5 for Exam Panic

— By Dr Tim Knowlson —

Take 5 is a mobile exam panic website for University of Oxford students developed by psychologists from the University of Oxford Counselling Service. The interactive website provides a wide range of tailored, succinct, practical, accessible and informed information and exercises taken from evidence-based research including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

The main focus of Take 5 is to have access to reassuring key information and exercises quickly, efficiently and on demand utilising a friendly and welcoming format and tone. Take 5 helps students to Take 5 minutes and use their 5 senses to help manage exam panic and exam stress by taking a journey through the body and understanding exam panic from a normalizing biological perspective. An Ohmmm button produces two mindfulness exercises, one visual and one orally guided to help students find a mindful and grounding space. There is also a bespoke informational video that normalises and introduces exam panic in a fun and approachable way.

In its current form Take 5 remains a pilot, future improvements could include more experiential exercises, enhanced mobility and user-feedback including exercise ratings.

Take 5 is available online, free for anyone to use: www.exampanic.co.uk

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Project Proposal workshop

How do you turn a good idea into a feasible digital project, with a realistic aim and scope, manageable time line, and budget to match? That question is facing the people behind the 15 shortlisted ideas for the IT Innovation Challenges 2017 Student round.

The IT Innovation Challenges 2017 Student round attracted a record number of ideas – 47 in total. 15 of these have been shortlisted to proceed to the next stage where the people behind the ideas have to prepare a project proposal based on their idea and present this to the IT Innovation Challenges panel.

To help with the development of the ideas into projects, IT Innovation Challenges organised a workshop to introduce the teams to the process of preparing and writing their project proposals. After an introductory presentation, the projects were invited to start working on their project plans and make use of the opportunity to link up with the people who were there. ‘Collaboration’ is one of the criteria on which the project proposals will be assessed so it was encouraging to see how the teams talked to each other, shared ideas, and exchanged information. The IT Innovation facilitators and staff from IT Services were also available, ready to help anyone who wanted to talk about any aspect of their project. Continue reading

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Student ideas : Student welfare category

— By Laura Gonzalez Salmeron (IT Innovation Challenges volunteer assistant) —

This is the second, of three, presentation of the ideas submitted to the IT Innovation Challenges for the 2017 student round. 47 ideas were submitted, and Laura Gonzalez Salmeron has kindly provided these summaries of them. This list includes the ideas submitted in the ‘Student Welfar’ category. A separate post presentes the ideas in the  ‘Teaching and Learning’ category.

Category : Student Welfare

*Oxford Indoor mApp: We’ve all been there: struggling to find a seminar room in spite of having already asked the porter for directions three times. Where are the closest toilets? Where is the MCR? Oxford Indoor mApp to the rescue! This application utilizes the sensors of our smartphones to create a heat-map of the geomagnetic footprint of every building, superimposing it then on the architecture map. Speaking plainly: it will create an indoor map of the building you’re in, along with a navigation path to reach your destination. Where GoogleMaps end, Oxford Indoor mAPP begins.

*Sanctum: Oxford has a vast choice of workspaces, including the old Bodleian library, various department libraries, not to mention all the college libraries and college rooms… Still and all, many students don’t want to take the risk of leaving their rooms only to find that other places are too busy, too noisy or too distracting. Sanctum offers a visually engaging and informative way to find the place that suits best your needs. Are beautiful surroundings a must for you to trigger your inspiration? Do you need complete silence to focus on your reading? Where can you work together with your friends? Where can you enjoy a coffee while writing your essay? Sanctum will collect all this information and make it available for students to optimise their study time.

*Responsive Mood Journal/Peer Support Access: sometimes you just need to rant. Writing down your feelings can be a great way to let them go or put them into perspective, but also you may want someone to listen. However, reaching out can prove to be a mental and emotional challenge, be it to a friend or a professional counsellor. The Responsive Mood Journal offers a platform in which students can write about their day or any concerns or problems they may have. These thoughts can be kept private as a private mood journal, or shared anonymously with someone (e.g. a peer supporter) who could then comment on them and offer advice. The choice is up to you! Continue reading

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