first years


Replete with wise maxims & admonitory hints, especially adapted to the times. Important alike to rich and poor

Today I have the very enjoyable task of reading the annual reports from each of the Academic IT  teams before they go forward for inclusion in the IT Services first annual report.

Last week we had our  staff awayday marking the beginning of our second year together as a group. The content of the day focused on managing risk and achieving mindful balance.

The team reports come in various formats and styles but each gives a picture of responsive and innovative services of which I think we can be very proud. The staff are very modest and do not mention the many publications and conference presentations they have personally achieved.

The ITLP programme continues to expand year upon year as demand for IT training amongst all members of the collegiate university increases. The University has a strategic commitment to developing students and staff in the skills they need for study and work. The team delivered more than 600 courses (22,800 contact hours) in addition to their online learning resources. Their report gives an overview of the people who use the services and the topic areas which are most in demand.

Our initiative to involve Oxford University in the national celebrations of ‘Learning at Work’ day 2013 was a great success. All the training providers across the University pulled together to contribute to a day of workshops at IT Services on Banbury Road. We had more than 250 people through our doors on the day (23rd May) and many more visiting our online training materials. Our Research Skills Toolkit also expanded we held 16 workshops each targeted at and tailored for, an academic division or discipline area.

As part of the Media Hub project work continued to extend and improve the main web media portal. A new showcase area was created for the presentation of Oxford’s open educational resource outputs (OERs). As we near the fifth anniversary of the launch of Oxford’s iTunesU site, we have seen 21.5 million downloads reaching a worldwide audience of 185 countries. Oxford on iTunesU includes more than 4,000 hours of material online from 4,780 academic colleagues. The annual report from the Educational Media Services team includes the recording, filming, live events, videoconferencing and project work they have achieved this year and reflect the growing demand across the university to make use of online media for global reach.

The newly formed Educational Enhancement Team formally launched a set of new services for the University this year: Running Community Collections and Crowdsourcing; Social Media and Digital Experience Research and Evaluation . In collaboration with Bodleian Libraries, we introduced Engage: Social Media Michaelmas  a full term of award-winning social media and digital communications events and online resources which explored tools and strategies for building online presence, academic networking, engagement and impact. Working alongside colleagues from the Bodelian Libraries and Research Services the team developed a programme for Oxford academic colleagues and librarians to raise awareness of the RCUK’s policy on Open Access. Several research and development projects with high profile and a significant digital presence are based within this team and their report gives detail of the ways in which Oxford continues to be innovative in the development of digital collections for public engagement.

For Ada Lovelace Day 2012 teams in Oxford University IT Services and the Bodleian Library joined with the Royal Society Librarians, and their resident Wikipedian to organise a day long Wikipedia edit-a-thon designed to improve and increase the information included in Wikipedia about women scientists. The event was a great success, gained international media coverage and greatly improved the quality of online information. As well as the face-to-face gatherings in London and Oxford hundreds of online editors joined in at a distance.

 The academic year 2012-13 was, as ever, a busy and productive one for the WebLearn team. Our old WebLearn (Bodington) was finally decommissioned and our new WebLearn (Sakai ) was upgraded a number of times. The team supported increasing levels of demand for use of plagiarism detection tools; completed projects looking at institutional processes for feedback and assessment and delivered innovative technical solutions to displaying information about all graduate training opportunities across the university in a common format and single place. The WebLearn team continue to provide support to individuals, groups, departments and colleges and actively engage with user groups and student focus groups to ensure an improved digital student experience. Their report shows the growth, spread and use of WebLearn in teaching and learning across the collegiate university.

The Research Support Team was created to bring together the services within Academic IT which specifically support Oxford University researchers in their work. The annual report from this new team covers their advice services, international summer school, agent based modelling services, TEI support and their many projects. The Data Management Roll-Out at Oxford (DaMaRO) Project concluded in June 2013 and the DIXIT project began. DaMaRO looked at the entire research data lifecycle, considering how the components of an institutional infrastructure could assist researchers meet their requirements at each stage of a research project, from planning to re-use, outputs from the project include new tools and training materials. DiXiT offers a coordinated training and research programme for early stage researchers and experienced researchers in the multi-disciplinary skills, technologies, theories, and methods of digital scholarly editing.

2012-2013 was the last year for OSS Watch as a fully externally-funded project. The team transitioned to a new model with a mix of internal and external funding, with more work supporting open source within Oxford. This year they produced ‘Open Source Options for Education’, a resource for use across all education sectors that helps identify potential open source alternatives to software used in the education sector. The team work closely with other teams in IT services and with ISIS Innovation, Legal Services and Research Services.

The year ended as it always does with the annual OxTALENT Awards ceremony. Awards were given to colleagues and students across the University who have made innovative use of technology in teaching, learning or research during the year. These awards, along with all our services, provide a growing set of case studies which we use to champion and showcase the innovative work being done in academic IT at Oxford University.

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