When we asked students about their experience of Oxford, time and again the Oxford Talks website was lauded as a very useful service, and users supported its continued development. Even those who did not know of Oxford Talks articulated a clear desire for a single place listing all the talks and seminars going on within the University.
At our recent OxTALENT awards we gave a Student IT Innovation prize to Richard Hills, the founder of OxTalks. Richard is a DPhil Student at the Said Business School and Linacre College. He saw a problem and worked to solve it using open source software.
Oxford University is largely decentralised, and so departments and colleges often use different systems for advertising their lectures and events. This makes it difficult for students to find out what is available to them, they have to bookmark and regularly check multiple sites, and manually add dates to their personal calendar. OxTalks solves this problem by automatically pulling events data from multiple websites into a single search on the site, and then offering personalized emails and calendar synchronization.
Richard deserves a prize for persistence. He began with a demonstration website, on his desktop computer. After a few months, Linacre took an interest and offered proper hosting, then OUSU helped with advertising to students and the site started getting hundreds of unique visitors every month. The site was next adopted by Medical Sciences and then by the SSRP Student Advisory Group and then taken under the IT Services umbrella and offered as a service this year. It is now available for anyone in the university to add talks as they wish.
We started tracking hits on Oxford Talks in mid February, to date we have had 16,457 visits (just under half of these from the University network) 9,954 visitors and 69,600 page views.
Our visitors are 60.5% returning visitors, 55.71% from Oxford, 7% from London, 78% from UK.
Visits per week peaked during TT at 1,400.