IT Learning Programme – Advent Learning: Week 1

christmas-1015352_1920As we come into the season of Advent, counting down to Christmas, the IT Learning Programme team has picked out some seasonal videos that can help you get in the mood. Look out for our weekly blog up until Christmas. In our first week we’ll help you plan your time and hopefully carve out some quiet time over Christmas!

Learn to keep track of your time, with your work commitments, preparations at home and all those festivities, using a calendar as simple as Outlook. Keep aside some thinking space amongst the excitement and fun, to ponder what Christmas means to you.

Get some quick tips on how to organise meetings using Outlook

Or use more of Outlook’s tools to manage your own time.

Hear from a time management expert with some simple tips to becoming more intentional about the way you spend your time.

And if the holiday spending seems to be getting away from you, learn to create a simple budget using Excel.

Note: to watch these videos you will need to sign up to our new lynda learning resource. It’s free to sign up using your Oxford single sign (SSO) credentials.

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Are you one of the 2,535 University members signed up to

Since the launch at the end of September 2,535 people have signed up to our new lynda learning resource. If you’re not one of them you are missing out on high quality, free, any time any place, training. Over 22,000 videos have been watched, with the top ranking IT skills development courses being Programming Fundamentals, Matlab, R, Python, Excel and Illustrator.

If you are using lynda already, you will start to see some changes to the course page navigation design over the coming weeks.

If you’re not using lynda – you can sign up using your single sign (SSO) credentials.

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Learn more about lynda!

The IT Learning Programme has recently introduced access to, a huge library of video-based, online learning resources covering IT and Design skills and more.

From September 2015 all current University members have been able to access these resources for free to enhance their IT skills and their personal development. Access is by Single Sign On at

To date, over 2000 individuals have logged into the system and are making use of the high quality videos delivered by leading industry experts. However, we want to reach many more. The IT Learning Programme is working to blend these video resources with its classroom-based IT courses. Other UK Universities have started to integrate the learning resources into their taught programmes for both undergraduates and postgraduates, and their staff development initiatives.

Would you like to explore what is possible?
The IT Learning Programme is delighted to be hosting Silke Prodinger-Leong from Silke will give a one-hour talk on Friday 6th November to show how to create playlists and how other UK Universities have used within their programmes of study and training programmes.

The session will run twice, so please book on to the one that best suits you:

Venue: IT Services, 13 Banbury Rd

Friday 6th November, 11 am-Noon
Friday 6th November, 2-3 pm

Please book your place at:

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Show: A new series of lunchtime talks

show: is a series of lunchtime talks celebrating the intersection between art and technology in digital media. The series is an expansion and replacement of the successful Digital Media User Group that has run termly for the last 6 years. show: will cover music, film, still imagery and technologies such as 3D printing in the context of Oxford. Talks will address university business, research and creative uses of these technologies, providing a platform for university members and others to share the contributions they are making in this fast-changing arena.

This term we have four show: talks lined up (with a few more to follow):

show: Billy Jackson: Spare time filmmaker
2nd November – 12:30-13:30
Billy Jackson works for the University full time, but in his spare time he likes to make films. In this session Billy will talk about his work, which range from music videos to short dramas to one stop motion animation pieces, one of which was shortlisted for a BBC short film competition. He will talk about how anybody can make a film and will cover the self-taught aspect and provide a brief overview of the tools he uses, such as Final Cut.
Book a place

show: From Ferret Brains to Fashion – Creative Applications of 3D Printing
9th November – 12:30-13:30
For the last year the Radcliffe Science Library has run a 3D printing service. In this presentation we will provide examples of the creative applications the printer has been put to and highlight some of the useful design tools and practical pitfalls we have encountered.
Book a place

show: Pure Data – a musical programming show and tell!
16th November – 12:30-13:30
Pure Data is a flexible and accessible programming language widely used by musician because of its friendly “patching” interface. This talk will demo some entry level projects and give an overview of how the program is used to control and make sounds.
Book a place

show: Drawing and the Digital Ground
23rd November – 12:30-13:30
In recent years drawing has met with renewed critical scrutiny. New 3D printing technologies are joining the more established media of film and video to offer novel insights into the field. I will present a handful of my recent artworks to suggest some intersections between paper, screen, lens and modelling software as grounds for the figures they support.
Book a place

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Presentation Zen: Developing your story – Garr Reynolds

Presentation Zen: Developing your story – Garr Reynolds
Tuesday 20 October
17:30 – 18:30

Garr Reynolds, an internationally acclaimed design and presentations expert, returns to Oxford to give another lecture here at Oxford. His approach challenges the conventional wisdom of making slide presentations and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr will share lessons and perspectives that will help you make remarkable presentations that are simpler, more visual, and far more compelling, engaging, and memorable.

This will be a repeat of his session from last year. For those who did not have the chance to attend last time don’t miss out this time!

Garr is currently Associate Professor of Management at Kansai Gaidai University where he teaches Marketing, Global Marketing and Multimedia Presentation Design. He is probably best known for his book ‘Presentation Zen’. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making “slide presentations” in today’s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr draws upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business, combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity. This session will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentation and designs.

The session is free you can book through the usual course booking system at:

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Online IT courses? You need to meet lynda… provides a vast online library of instructional videos covering the latest software. Taught by accomplished teachers and recognized industry experts, it is a high-quality resource for students, academics, and staff looking to develop skills in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, social media, and a wide range of other topics including data analysis, programming and web development.

There are new courses each week and the option to watch a complete course or bite-sized videos as you need them. sits alongside our classroom-based courses; it will enable us to reach more people and cover those topics for which we don’t have in-house expertise. It’s also available 24/7!

And it’s FREE to all University members!

You can sign up up to – all you need are your Oxford Single Sign On credentials.

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Open Toolkit

Last week we held another successful Skills Toolkit event here in the IT Learning Programme. This is where we give research students the opportunity to try out a collection of tools that they might find useful in their research and studies.

The tools were a mix of open source and commercial. It set me thinking as to what a personal toolbox of open source applications might contain. Here’s my list:

7-zip: for file compression

Audacity: for sound recording and editing

Blender: 3D animation

Chromium: the browser behind Google Chrome

Filezilla: for FTP uploading and downloading

Freemind: for mind-mapping

GIMP: the GNU Image Manipulation Program for image editing

Inkscape: for illustrations

LibreOffice: the office productivity suite that contains Writer (documents), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (diagrams), Base (databases), Math (equations)

Scribus: for desk top publishing, such as posters and leaflets

Texmaker: a LaTeX editor

Thunderbird: for email

All of these are available cross-platform.

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BETT 2012

I didn’t think BETT was as manic as in previous years, but I don’t usually go on the first day, so maybe it’s always like that. And Mr Gove was there to open it, so I’m sure he had a calming influence.

The economic situation is clearly having an impact: hardly any freebies this year. More interestingly, many exhibitors (even those with a heavy UK presence) had European staff on the stalls – looks like downsizing is happening and staff have to be brought in from all over for big events. There were significantly more Chinese exhibitors, mainly offering their own interactive digital whiteboard (IDW) solutions, and also more French, German and East European companies.

So, some things that caught my attention:

Classroom Virtualisation

We are due to replace our classroom PCs this summer. We will be looking at the possibilities offered by virtualising the classrooms. Hardware and energy costs are less and the salesman said (Yes, I know….) that the system would be much more flexible than our current PC/image based solution.
I spoke with

SharePoint as LMS/VLE

A number of companies were offering add-ons to SharePoint to either create a VLE, or to integrate with an existing VLE. I was impressed with what CORE had done with the integration of SharePoint and Moodle for a University (I forget where). Everyone (students, admin, academics) had a consistent SharePoint-like interface to the standard SharePoint/Outlook tools and to the Moodle environment. They have also developed tools that make creating project based SharePoint sites easy(er).

Open Source Whiteboard Software

A French government sponsored initiative, Sankore, was promoting its environment for the distribution of OER, primarily to schools in West African states. One of the offshoots of the project is an open source interactive whiteboard application that is cross platform and cross manufacturer. This could solve a lot of headaches in the sharing of IDW resources.

Studio in a Box

A company called PlanetPC were showing off their studio in a box; everything you need to set up a studio for recording videos and podcasts, including camera, tripod, mikes, chromakey lighting and backdrops, and a MacBook pro with FCP X, all in an easily transportable box.

Pocket Projectors

These have been around for a while, but the next generation are coming along with brighter (ie useful) lamps. Vivitek are releasing one that is ~500 lumens (cf 2000 lumens for a basic classroom projector) for about £500. Truly does fit in your pocket.

Interactive LCD Screens

Interactive whiteboards + projectors have almost had their day; costs of large (60 inch+) touch sensitive screens are dropping. A number of companies are now offering touch sensitive video walls.
For example

Smart Note Book

We use Smart interactive whiteboards. Their proprietary Smart Notebook software is very good, but has to be installed. There is now a (free) web-based version that lets anyone create resources for Smart Boards.

Payment Solutions

Enabling students to pay for ITLP courses online currently involves using the University’s heavyweight on-line shop. There are many companies offering payment software. This used to involve lots of infrastructure, but now there are solutions aimed at smaller independent units (such as nurseries and clubs) that we ought to take a look at.
I spoke to (who provide the Oyster card system for tfl)

Voting Systems

All classroom voting systems are now offering mixed mode voting, where handsets can be used alongside mobile apps, VLEs and web pages. An interesting chat with the European manager of Turning Point software revealed that Eric Mazur from Harvard, an evangelist of using peer instruction in a University context, will be at ALT-C this year.

See Eric Mazur’s Confessions of a Converted Lecturer video on You Tube (it’s quite long, but very thought provoking if you teach).


In tune with recent discussions in schools about the teaching of ICT and especially programming skills, I came across a new (free) programming teaching environment. It’s aimed at schools, but also at teachers who want to learn to program.

Sensory Pod

We need one of these. A self-contained ‘pod’ with comfy chairs, soothing lights and music, and multi-projectors, to create a de-stressing environment. Plenty of space for one in our Help Centre.

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Sell your research

Well, maybe sell isn’t the right word. Publicise perhaps.

So, how are you on the research Publicity Ps of Paper->Presentation->Poster->Podcast?


Well, it’s your research – can’t do that for you. However creating an academic document such as a thesis or dissertation will stretch your word-processing skills. We run courses on those…


There is more to a presentation than a series of bullet points; you need to use the features of your chosen presentation tool to the full – include images, animations, sound, video. We run courses on that… We also invite keynote addresses from industry and academia to show us best practice…


A poster is not a cut down version of a paper. It often has a different audience, but just as importantly it is a medium in its own right, with its own rules and conventions (and restrictions). I think we run a course on that…


Public engagement (and engagement with your sponsors!) is incomplete without a multimedia element. The skills needed are not as difficult as you might think. Ummm, we run courses on that… We also work with experts from the media world so that the skills you gain are backed up by real experience. And it’s not just podcasts – we can also show you how to create Pilms and Pocumentaries 🙂

Browse the IT Learning Catalogue and see what Ps we can help with.

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Taking the First Steps in Computing

With email, web sites, blogs, facebook, Twitter and all the other tools that are so ubiquitous in a student-oriented establishment, it is too easy to forget that there are some for whom even turning on a computer is a still an apprehensive moment.

Newcomers to IT, especially those out of formal learning for some time, need time and individual support. With our limited resources here in the ITLP, we often don’t have the time that is needed.  So, looking around and about the University we have found that a local training company TABS deliver IT training for beginners in IT under the Learndirect scheme. For those with no level two qualifications the training is free; the learners commit to attending the TABS training centre one afternoon a week, and to also spend some extra time of their own. Not only do they gain the confidence they need to use a computer, but they also gain a qualification that recognises their new IT competence.

If you are a University member with colleagues who might benefit from this type of support, please get in touch with us.

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