e-learning support at Oxford

e-learning support at Oxford is co-ordinated between a number of different units.

Learning Technologies Group (LTG) – As part of central OUCS providing a suite of online tools for academic staff to use in teaching and learning with their students. The WebLearn virtual learning environment (VLE) has been developed at Oxford to include tools to support traditional teaching models. Staff can easily gather online handouts, reading lists, lecture notes, essay plans, feedback forms etc, and use communication tools for online discussion, sharing, testing and marking. It supports online project/group work, tutorial booking and collections of learning resources. The VLE also includes new ‘web 2.0’ tools for learning and teaching such as blogs, wikis and podcasting. Staff and students can use WebLearn for any types of media such as online video, images or datasets.

LTG staff offer advice and guidance to members of the University in making use of the tools in the virtual learning environment or in producing digital media or modeling software. Advice is also available with regard to planning and evaluating the use of technology and the pedagogical or student support issues which may arise. An extensive programme of training is offered to ensure that staff have the opportunity to develop IT skills for their work. LTG also run an annual survey for Freshers and their knowledge of IT.

Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL) – In the Division of Continuing Education the Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning group includes a web development team for adult and continuing education short courses offered online and by distance learning. These courses are popular and regularly updated. Students who study on these courses are supported in their online study by TALL and the study support teams within Continuing Education.

Oxford Learning Institute (OLI) – Oxford University’s central educational staff development unit offer support for all areas of academic practice such as skills for teaching and assessment, course design and student support.

Oxford Internet Institute (OII) – A research institute in the Division of Social Sciences which studies and publishes international research into the effect of the Internet on all aspects of society.

Department of Education– Academic and teaching department in the division of Social Sciences which delivers research and courses in education. The Department supervises research projects in e-learning and offers an MSc course in e-learning which attracts international and local students to study at Oxford.

Divisions/Department/College learning technologists – Most units have a local IT officer who provides a range of IT support. OUCS work hard to ensure that any of these local IT support officers who is giving advice or supporting academic staff and students in their use of e-learning are able to make use of centrally provided e-learning tools offered by LTG. LTG/OUCS reps sit on department/college IT committees or have informal links with colleges. LTG runs user groups for key services such as WebLearn and podcasting. The Medical Sciences Teaching Centre has its own technology unit aimed at pre-clinical teaching. Other faculties have, in the past, had learning technologists (joint posts with OUCS).

Oxford University Library Service (OULS) -In many units the promotion of the use of IT in teaching and learning falls to OULS librarians, mainly due to the reading and resource based learning approach of the University. OULS staff offer workshops for students and staff information literacy skills via the LTG training programme.

E-learning at Oxford falls under the wing of two important university committees. The first is the Education Committee and the second is the PRAC ICT sub-committee. These guide the activities of OUCS and the LTG. The LTG advisory committee OxTALENT has divisional representatives and guides the activities of the LTG to promote awareness about e-learning within the Divisions.

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