Student ideas : Teaching and Learning category

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

A total of 47 student ideas were submitted to the latest round of IT Innovation Challenges – a record number for the scheme. As a means to celebrate the breadth and originality of the proposals, Laura Gonzalez Salmeron has written a summary of this creative brainstorming. So, without more ado, here’s the first part (out of three), collecting a list of the proposals within the Teaching and Learning category (shortlisted ideas have been marked with a *):

Category: Teaching and Learning

*Virtual Reality Oxford Lab: there is no doubt that virtual reality is going to be the next big thing, enhancing our experience in areas as varied as education, healthcare or entertainment. As an international reference of innovation, Oxford cannot lag behind! VR Oxford Lab aims to build the first VR Oxford University community by running workshops for students and researchers alike, organising events and supporting VR projects.

*Learmapp: there is no such as thing as “too many learning resources”… or is it? In a university like Oxford, in which even undergraduate studies are mostly self-directed, it isn’t rare to see students struggling to navigate the myriad resources they have at their disposal, be them  “social” (senior academics, tutors, course peers…) or of material nature (books, articles…). Learnmapp is a mobile application that seeks to solve this problem by helping students to outline, assess, share –and ultimately improve– their own learning journeys. Continue reading

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Shortlisted ideas : IT Innovation Challenges 2017 student round

The 2017 student round of the IT Innovation Challenges saw 47 ideas submitted – a record for the scheme. The IT Innovation panel have completed the first round of evaluations and selected 15 ideas to go through to the next stage. The idea creators are now invited to work up their idea into a project proposal and present this to the panel in early May. The panel will decide on what projects to fund shortly after this.

The shortlisted projects are (in no particular order):

  • Sustainable software development with Git and Gitlab – Pilot the development of a coding-culture and to deliver “coaching-kits”
  • Broaden  – Enable Oxford students to see the titles of lectures outside of their own subject
  • Studious: The Networked Knowledge Platform – Transforming the simple reading list into a collaborative environment for organizing and producing knowledge
  • Virtual Sampling Meadow – An interactive tool for anyone wanting to sample Oxford’s virtual meadow
  • Clinical Research Data Management Toolkit – An online tool facilitating the design of a data management (DM) strategy for clinical research
  • Oxford Indoor mApp – Give you turn-by-turn navigation to Seminar, Workshop, Toilets in every building
  • Oxford App ‘n’ Go – An interactive and real-time tour app for future might-be students
  • Sanctum: The Oxford Workplace Finder – A visually engaging and simple way to find the best place to work in Oxford
  • Scholarship Academy. Scholarship Planning Resource – A digital academy connecting disadvantaged students to content on the application process
  • Learmapp – An App that helps learners navigate abundant learning resources
  • Responsive Mood Journal/Peer Support Access – Interactive and responsive mood journal
  • Marginalia – Audio and video annotation tool for the lifelong learner
  • Arab Spring Digital Media Archive – Online repository of digital ‘artifacts’ from the revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa between 2011 and today
  • Interactomy – An interactive app for anatomy teaching and learning
  • Virtual Reality Oxford Lab – Building the first VR Oxford University community

Many thanks to everyone who has taken part in the Challenge. We will keep you updated on progress in this blog.

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Go_girl: code+create project secures external funding

Go_girl project pioneers Rosie and Chloe recruiting new participants in one of the youth clubs.

By Anne Geniets

The Go_girl: code+create project, which was funded in its first year by the University’s IT Innovation Challenges award, has secured funding from Goldman Sachs Gives.

Jo Hannaford, Partner at Goldman Sachs, said: ‘Providing young women from disadvantaged backgrounds with technical skills is an important mission and one that serves to level the playing field. Through taking part in the programme, these young women will gain highly sought after technical skills which we hope will empower them and open doors to greater opportunities.’

The interdisciplinary Go_girl project which originated at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, complements existing programmes aimed at widening access to the University of Oxford, but tackles the problem in a fundamentally new way by using technology and by working in direct partnership with the Early Intervention Hub of the Oxfordshire County Council through youth worker Melanie Jewell.

Rosie and Chloe talking to a prospective new go_girl participant

The generous donation from Goldman Sachs Gives will allow the Go_girl project to progress, enabling the scheme to extend to a second cohort of participants and work to commence on producing a model to be rolled out across the UK.

Recruitment for the new cohort is already under way. Youth worker Mel said: ‘I am so excited about rolling out the Go_girl programme for another year. The Go Girls from the pilot have progressed so much over the last 12 months, and it has been an absolute pleasure working with them all. Watch this space!’

Some of the young women who completed the programme last year (the Go_girl: code+create ‘pioneers’) will act as mentors for the new participants and will share their experiences and their newly gained coding skills through peer-to-peer learning. The weekly sessions of the programme will start in May.


For more infomration about the project and updates on activities and progress, please visit the Go_girl: code+create website

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Visualising data in 3D

Panama Heat Map

Our project (run within the Research Technology Consultancy in IT Services) looked at ways that IT Services could improve its support for managing and visualising 3D datasets generated by research here at Oxford. There are powerful free tools out there (for example Blender and three.js) both for offline and interactive rendering of this kind of data, but they tend not to work natively with the kind of data our research generates. Our project, along with the Live Data project looked at innovative ways to make datasets accessible to a wider audience, and make that access more impactful.


Continue reading

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New record for IT Innovation Challenges

IT Innovation Challenges logo(Also posted in News from Academic IT)

The latest round of the IT Innovation Challenges has just closed for submissions with a record number of ideas being shared. This round, which was open to student only, invited ideas around the two themes ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘student welfare’. Other ideas that bring benefit to the University, its staff and/or students through digital means were also welcome. As the ideas submission stage closed, 47 ideas had been shared on the Oxford Ideas platform ( The ideas had then been viewed over 3,700 time and nearly 200 people had engaged with the ideas, signalling their support and adding comments or questions. This is a considerable increase on previous student rounds, and the number of ideas is even higher than the most popular staff round (45 ideas, Hilary 2015).

The ideas will now be evaluated by the IT Innovation Challenges Panel who will draw up a shortlist and invite the successful students to present a project proposal based on their idea. The shortlist will be revealed at the end of February. Academic IT staff will then be available to help the students by providing advice on how to develop their ideas into a project; identify the resources needed, draw up a schedule of work, prepare a budget, and write the project proposal. Project proposals will be submitted to the Panel in mid-April, and decisions on what projects to fund will be made in May after a ‘pitch event’ where the students get to present their ideas to the Panel.

This is the only round of IT Innovation Challenges that is planned for this year. The staff rounds are currently suspended (see post from April 2016) but the IT Committee will review the decision during 16/17 after the level of funding for overall IT Capital investment going forward has been decided, and based on any other feedback it receives.

The ideas that have been submitted to the current student round can be viewed on the Oxford Ideas platform (

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Student 2017 challenges now live

Innovation Fund imageIT Innovation Challenges are looking for innovative ideas for digital projects to be run by students. Successful ideas will receive funding of up to £15,000.

For this round, we particularly welcome ideas related to teaching and learning and student welfare, but any ideas for projects that bring benefit to the University, its staff and/or students will be considered. We welcome collaborations involving staff and students, and any member of the University can put forward an idea, but projects must be led by a student.

To take part, submit a brief description of your idea as soon as possible at You can then edit your submitted idea and incorporate any comments or suggestions received up until 29th January.   Sharing your idea early allows others time to comment, offer advice and support your idea giving you a greater chance of success.

For more information about the call, see the IT Innovation Challenges 2016/17 post. General information about the scheme can be found in our FAQ section Feel free to contact us if you can’t find the answer to your question there

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IT Innovation Challenges 2016/17

The next round of IT Innovation Challenges will launch on the 10th January 2017. 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.

This year we are looking for ideas matching the following themes.

  1. Think of one thing in your learning that could be made better using digital technology.
    We invite ideas for projects focussing on teaching and learning, and are keen to see collaboration between students and departments/colleges. (Key document: Digital Education Strategy).
  2. “We believe that maintaining and promoting positive wellbeing is critical to an individual’s academic and personal success” (OUSU Welfare Vision 2016). 
    We’d like to see ideas for projects that consider how student welfare / wellbeing can be supported through digital means.
  3. We also welcome other ideas for projects that bring benefit to the University, its staff and/or students through digital means.

Key dates and activities:

Process Flowchart

Ideas can be submitted between 10-29 January through the Oxford Ideas site

If you have any other questions please contact


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New project: SHOAL

The SHOAL project is up and running!

SHOAL stands for SHaring Online Activities for Learning. The SHOAL project aims to make it easier for staff and students to try out innovative online learning developed here at Oxford, and re-purpose activities for their own use.

So if you would like us to feature your own online learning, or recommend an academic whose work we should include in the showcase, please contact the team leader Lucy Tallents ( We’re also keen to hear from both staff and students who want to adopt more online learning in their own work and study. You’ll get the chance to try out the portal, preview the activities, and provide us with feedback to ensure the portal meets your needs.

The SHOAL team are Lucy Tallents (Zoology), Jocelyne Hughes (Continuing Education) and Adam Marshall (IT Services), supported by WebLearn code developers and Marion Manton at TALL (Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning). The project will run until the end of March 2017.

To find out more, please visit

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New app released: Self-Heal

A new app has been created by one of the student IT Innovation Challenges projects. Self-Heal is a free tool that guides the management and reduction of self-injury. It can be used anonymously and independently, to enable users to take recovery into their own hands.

The app provides crisis management suggestions, relevant links, information, phone numbers, as well as a gallery of images selected to inspire, motivate and provoke. It has been developed in collaboration with students and professionals.

How it works: The science behind the AppSelf-Heal

Distraction tasks are inspired by techniques used in dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), which is the frontline psychological therapy used in the UK to treat self-harm. Imagery has been known for a long time to affect our emotions, thoughts, and outlook – Just think about the amount of money that gets spent on advertising and graphic design! Self-Heal contains more than 750 pictures each carefully selected to motivate recovery. More than half of these images are captioned to provoke thought and engage the user.

The free Self-Heal app is available for Android and Apple.

More information:

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go girl : Changing people’s lives

The IT Innovation Go_Girl project has been working with young women from non-traditional educational backgrounds, introducing them to website and app design. In this short video, researchers and participants talk about how the project helped to improve the confidence and educational opportunities for the young women involved.

The project was run by Dr Niall Winters and Dr Anne Geniets from the Department of Education in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council’s Early Intervention Service.

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