OxTALENT Roll of Honour

Celebrating the digital 2016The OxTALENT awards date back to 2002. Click the links below to take inspiration from winners of the more recent competitions:

2016  |  2015  |  2014  |  2013  |  2012  |  2011  |  2010

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Use of WebLearn to Support Teaching, Learning or Outreach

WebLearn is the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, used by colleagues across all divisions to support their students’ learning. However, it is also being used productively in outreach activities, and this is reflected in the 2016 awards.

Use of WebLearn to Support Teaching and Learning

Winner: Dr Heath Rose for Using WebLearn to Deliver a Part-Time, Distance Online course for Busy Learners

Dr Rose redesigned the MSc in Teaching English Language in UnHeath-Rose-webprofile-2-150x150iversity Settings in accordance with students’ needs. He explored the features of WebLearn, in particular the Lessons tool, which allowed him to integrate tasks and materials in one linear pathway. He used screen capture to record his own video lectures, and then embedded them into the lessons.

The judges remarked on the impressive level of student engagement, including students taking ownership for sharing their analysis of prescribed readings. The use of the Lessons tool, embedded recordings and existing multimedia resources is excellent.

Runners-up: Christina Hell and Martin Hurajt for Virtual Classrooms at the Language Centre

Lang_FrenchAt the Language Centre about 40 tutors teach approximately 200 different language courses a year. In WebLearn Christina identified a platform that could both make tutors’ work more efficient and engage students when away from the face-to-face classroom. With the insight gained from a survey of the tutors and her own language teaching experience, Christina and Martin created a WebLearn ‘virtual classroom’ site for every class taught at the Centre. The innovation lies in the wide-reaching effect of the project: the virtual classrooms have become an indispensable teaching tool and have added value to tutors’ teaching practice and students’ learning.

Use of WebLearn to Support Outreach

Winner: Emma Searle for OxLAT: Oxford Latin Teaching Scheme Online Learning Hub

Teaching Latin University of Oxford

Image courtesy of Emma Searle

The OxLAT programme makes it possible for students at state schools in Oxfordshire where Latin isn’t taught to receive free tuition ab initio through to the GCSE examination. Emma created an online learning hub in WebLearn that allows the team to store and distribute classroom materials and information on additional external learning and revision resources, and to receive homework submissions in an organised way, with pupils’ work filed automatically. It has made a substantial difference for their students to be able to access all class materials independently and take the initiative for their own learning.

The judges commented that this project demonstrates good use of a variety of WebLearn tools and activities to facilitate outreach within the local schools community in the teaching of Latin.


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Innovative Teaching with Technology

This is a general category in which we recognise people who have made creative use of digital technologies other than WebLearn in their teaching. It’s always an exciting category to judge because it reveals the many initiatives at the departmental and even individual levels that complement provision from the centre.

Winner: Professor Simon Benjamin for Flipped Classroom for First-Year Undergraduate Materials Students (Maths)

InnovTeach - Winner - Flipped ClassroomHaving taught a course on Vectors, Matrices and Determinants to first-year Materials students for several years, Simon came to realise that a substantial part of each of the lectures followed a simple recipe: the lecturer explains how to work out a particular mathematical result, and then goes through several examples while the students copy them down from the whiteboard. He decided that this material could be better presented to the students using short videos to be viewed before the lecture, along with some practice exercises. He made a series of 10 short videos and uploaded them to YouTube.

Simon then selected some of the more simple problems from the work sheets that students are given, and worked with a graduate student to convert them into a series of online multiple-choice quizzes. Each quiz allows the student to test their understanding of the preceding video by selecting answers from multiple choices. In this way, students can practise the techniques at their own speed, freeing up the lecture time for more interactive and interesting problem-solving discussions.

Simon has now taught the course in this new format twice. Feedback from students has been very positive, and Simon was asked to describe his work to colleagues in the Department of Materials. He has also noticed that the video lectures tend to be viewed again in the run-up to exams, which suggests that students are using them to brush up their technique.

The judges considered Simon’s entry a worthy winner for three reasons. First, it’s a pioneering example of the ‘flipped classroom’ technique in Oxford. Second, it shows that a DIY approach to video making can be highly effective. Third, Simon has contributed to the University’s mission for global outreach by releasing his videos under a Creative Commons Licence on an open Moodle platform hosted by the Department for Continuing Education.

Runners-up: Dr Kenny Moore, Jon Mason, Dr Aartjan te Velthuis and Professor William James for Viral Outbreak Online ‘i-Case’ Teaching Platform

InnovTeach - W - teVelthuis_Collage_1The Viral Outbreak i-Case is a major reworking of an online practical class for medical students first developed ten years ago. It addresses students’ tendency to ‘follow the recipe’ in such classes without engaging fully with the context and purpose of what they are doing. Viral Outbreak requires the students to decide which experiments to perform in order to uncover a key piece of information about an imaginary outbreak of influenza in two fictitious primary schools.

The revised version takes advantage of newer cross-platform technologies and addresses a number of the educational shortcomings identified in its predecessor. For example, the iCase requires the students to decide which experiments to perform in order to uncover a key piece of information. However, the results had previously been presented in an analysed format. In order to encourage the students to fully understand each of the techniques, teaching team decided to provide them with simulated data that required students to process the data themselves. This had the added advantage of being more visually appealing and more representative of real life experiments.

In their written work students are now demonstrating greater understanding of the key learning outcomes. They also report that they enjoy the iCase more than ‘normal’ practicals even though they find it more difficult.

The judges felt that the iCase represents a highly successful fusion of excellence in technology and creativity in educational design.

Honourable Mention: Dr Rebecca White and Dr John Ingram for Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning Programme (IFSTAL)

ifstal-colourThe Innovative Food Systems Teaching and Learning Programme is an ambitious multi-institutional initiative in blended learning. Spearheaded by Dr John Ingram of Oxford, the programme combines face-to-face teaching with a cross-university VLE to provide opportunities for students to engage with an interdisciplinary topic of global importance: food security. The blended model aims to meet two key criteria: cross-campus graduate student engagement and interaction; and a ‘systems’ perspective that draws on the strengths and different perspectives of each partner institution.

IFSTAL VLE cropped

The backbone of the IFSTAL programme this year has been a series of lectures delivered by different IFSTAL partners at their own institution and live-streamed across the sites. In the example below, a lecture live-streamed from the University of Reading is watched by students at the University of Warwick on the left, and City University on the right. The lecture was also viewed by students in Oxford, the Royal Veterinary College, the School of Oriental and African Studies, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

IFSTAL lecture 1 and 2

The programme includes a range of other interdependent ‘blended’ parts: use of Twitter and Adobe Connect for cross-campus Q&A; use of Twitter Storify; use of VLE-based forums for answering questions after lectures, including with voice-recorded answers; use of the chat-room function on the VLE to hold Q&A sessions across campuses; and the use of Adobe Connect to run webinars. The VLE (Moodle, hosted at the Royal Veterinary College and accessed through each institution’s single-sign on functionality) is also a flexible form of access for people who cannot participate in the face-to-face activities, such as distance learners.

The judges have been impressed by IFSTAL’s achievements in its first year and are pleased to award it an Honourable Mention.

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Student IT Innovation

This category of the OxTALENT competition is for students who have made creative use of digital technology in learning or research at Oxford. Winners have used or developed any technology (software or hardware) that has made a difference to the educational experience of other Oxford students as well as to their own.

Winner: Christopher Horton for The Anatomical Walkthrough

Studt - W - Anatomy DiagramChris developed The Anatomical Walkthrough app while on a summer fellowship in response to students’ feedback on existing computer-assisted learning materials for anatomy. The intention was to provide pre-clinical students with the opportunity to study discrete modules relevant to the anatomy syllabus in an interactive manner. Available on desktop and mobile platforms, the app is designed to help students build their knowledge of an anatomical structure from the inside out, progressively increasing the level of complexity until the entire structure is understood.

A group of first-year students took part in a pilot of the app while preparing for tutorials and essays. They gave Chris some very positive feedback, including:

  • It’s by far the best anatomy resource on the web or in our books.
  • …the questions at the end of every section are really useful in reinforcing what you have learnt [and] help to highlight what we may have missed out/not remembered.
  • The text and pictures are great and it really feels like the amount of informative information hits a nice sweet spot.

Studt - W - QuestionsThe success of the app has prompted Chris to consider encouraging other pre-clinical students to write more modules on topics in the syllabus. He hopes that ‘in this way, a comprehensive, interactive anatomy resource can be made, whilst allowing students themselves to learn and revise anatomy by making the modules.’

The judges considered The Anatomical Walkthrough to be an excellent example of an initiative to produce a valuable learning and revision resource that can benefit future cohorts. They particularly liked the simplicity in the structure of the learning materials and the flexibility of the navigation, which offers a choice between a directed walkthrough or free access to individual resources for revision purposes.

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Academic Podcasting

Since the release of our first titles on iTunes U and the Oxford Podcasts website in 2008, podcasting has become an integral part of Oxford’s outreach activities, both to disseminate research and to provide educational materials for schools and colleges. It also increasingly features as a communications channel for an internal audience, a development which is reflected in this year’s winning entry.

Winner: Kevin Halon for the University of Oxford Counselling Service Podcast Series

AcPod - Winner - student-life-oxford_0The University’s Counselling Service sees about 10% of the student population each year, but is keen to reach all students who might benefit from its advice. Kevin Halon came up with the idea of creating therapeutic podcasts created by members of the Counselling Service. They selected topics that, from experience, they felt would be helpful for students. Seventeen have been created so far and are available for students to download to their mobile devices from Oxford Podcasts and iTunes U as well as the Counselling Services’ own website. Downloads already number in the thousands, and OUSU is actively promoting them. The judges considered this well planned and sensitively implemented initiative to be a worthy winner in the Academic Podcasting category.

Runner-up: Dr Cynthia Srikesavan for High Quality Physiotherapy Evidence in Tamil

AcPod - HM - Cynthia SrikesavanThe judges wished to commend Cynthia for her dedication and enthusiasm in making high quality health evidence-based health care information available to Tamil-speaking physiotherapists in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia. Cynthia has translated into Tamil 14 short podcasts summarising the findings of systematic reviews issued by the Cochrane Collaboration and including links to translations of the articles referred to. She works on a voluntary basis and manages a team of volunteer Tamil translators and editors. Cynthia has received encouraging and positive feedback from her audience and from health-care organisations.

Honourable Mention: Clare Coleman and William Mills for Living in the Stone Age

AcPod - HM - living-stone-age_0The judges singled out Living in the Stone Age for an Honourable Mention. The Ashmolean Museum assembled experimental archaeologists, Oxford University lecturers and specialists in bushcraft to demonstrate a range of Stone Age crafts, skills, technologies, art and music. The judges found the series of 11 short films well designed, informative and engaging to watch. Although designed for the school classroom, they should appeal to all ages.

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Outreach and Public Engagement – General

Since evidence of impact is now a key requirement of many funders, and global reach is a major priority of the University, it is unsurprising that researchers are devising creative ways to ensure that their work reaches the widest possible audience.

The Outreach and Public Engagement category attracted far and away the greatest number of entries in this year’s competition, and we have subdivided it into general outreach activities and outreach activities which focus on ways of harnessing the power of the crowd.

Winners: Professor Mary Bosworth, Andriani Fili, Dr Ines Hasselberg and Dr Sarah Turnbull for the Border Criminologies Website and Blog

OutGen - W - BC BlogBorder Criminologies is an online platform on which the Centre for Criminology uses a variety of digital technologies to encourage academics, students and the interested public to publish and interact online about a contemporary issue.

The Border Criminologies website offers an intellectual space to a rich and global pool of expertise, and makes available data, research, teaching resources, and open access publications along with an events list of seminar series and conferences around the world.

The Border Criminologies blog is a particularly important feature of outreach, showcasing original research from around the world, first-hand accounts of border control, and book reviews. The blog appeals to specialists by creating interdisciplinary dialogue and gives the public at large access to a huge range of resources and information, developed with the general audience in mind.

Photo of refugees passing a child into a boat, photo by Salam Aldeem

Photo by Salam Aldeem

Border Criminologies has an extensive online presence on social media, with an active Twitter feed, posts on Facebook, and a private Border Criminologies research forum page on Facebook. The team is also collating images of border control on its Flickr and Instagram accounts. Other activities include regular seminars, conferences, and discussion group meetings, which are podcast on the team’s iTunes account and summarised on the blog. The platform also hosts the first open access journal on the intersections between criminal justice and migration control.

Border Criminologies has addressed the gap in communication and collaborative work in the study of border control, while reaching out to, and including, diverse groups of academics, practitioners, and those with lived experience. Website statistics indicate that the blog has more than 11,300 unique visitors per month (and growing!) from all over the world, nearly 4,200 followers on Twitter, 1,500 likes on Facebook, and almost 150 blog subscribers.

The judges commended the team for their use of social media channels in particular to engage different audiences, and for their admirable processes to source from their academic community intellectual contributions for the intellectual discussion of a topic that triggers such polemical outbursts.

Runner-up: Martin Handley for the UNIQ Virtual Learning Environment

The annual UNIQ summer school is a free one-week residential session at Oxford for high-achieving Year 12 students who meet one or more of the University’s goals for widening access. Unfortunately, the school is heavily oversubscribed, and so Martin came up with the idea of developing a virtual learning environment to allow unsuccessful applicants to gain a taste of Oxford and receive support from current students in confidence-building.

Student interviewed in front of halls of residence

One of the videos recorded by Martin

The UNIQ Virtual Learning Environment uses discussion forums, quizzes, videos and tools to support students as they work through 16 modules grouped into three stages: The City and University, Studying at the University and Applying to the University. In the first year of the initiative 119 students progressed to the end of the second stage, of whom 84 applied to the University and 26 received offers for places in Michaelmas 2016. Comments from respondents to a feedback survey include:

  • After hearing from current students at the University through the videos and chatting to other VLE users through the forums and private message, I realised the people were very real. Coupled with the useful advice I found the idea of applying much more achievable.
  • When I first started using the VLE I did not intend on applying to Oxford … The VLE made Oxford seem more down to earth and this was a key contributing factor that led to me applying to Oxford.

The judges commended Martin’s achievement in adding, with minimal resources, a digital dimension to the continuing efforts by the Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach Department to encourage applications from some of the ‘most able, least likely’ school students.

Honourable Mention: Jamie Hartmann-Boyce and Gavin Hubbard for OxFAB (Oxford Food and Activity Behaviours): Our Preliminary Findings

The Oxford Food and Activity Behaviours (OxFAB) study was launched in early 2015 and was widely publicised through links with a BBC Horizon TV programme. The study aimed to explore the different strategies overweight people use to lose weight and how their weight changed over time. Participants were asked to log in to a website on a semi-regular basis in order to answer questions about the different strategies they were using and to record their weight.

The OxFAB research team chose to share its preliminary findings with its 1,890 participants in a way they could easily understand. Rather than simply summing up their analysis in a short paragraph, or sharing an academic publication, they opted to create an infographic. Jamie and Gavin write:

In terms of the amount of weight lost by people in the study, we thought long and hard about how we could represent this in an interesting way – what could we use to show the equivalent weight? Ideas included pictures of tins of beans, 1 kg weights, a baby, and the needle on some scales, among others. Eventually we hit on the idea of using a Yorkshire terrier which – after some intensive Googling of different animal weights – we thought was an interesting, fun, unexpected and recognisable shape we could use to illustrate this.

Image of dog used to represent the amount of weight loss by participants 3.4kg after 3 months

The result is shown on the right.

The infographic was then shared with the participants in the OxFAB trial through an email newsletter. Although it was not possible to collect feedback (apart from the informal opinions of their colleagues), the judges commended the team for representing complex statistical analyses in an accessible manner to engage members of the public from a wide range of backgrounds.


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Outreach and Public Engagement – Harnessing the Power of the Crowd

Since evidence of impact is now a key requirement of many funders, and global reach is a major priority of the University, it is unsurprising that researchers are devising creative ways to ensure that their work reaches the widest possible audience.

The Outreach and Public Engagement category attracted far and away the greatest number of entries in this year’s competition, and we have subdivided it into general outreach activities and outreach activities which focus on ways of harnessing the power of the crowd.

Winners: Dr Sarah Deakin, Zoe Reich, Matt Wenham and Chris Hayter for OxReach – #crowdtogether

Crowdfunding has become a powerful way to raise funds for high impact, philanthropic projects. However, Oxford projects that fall outside the scope of research or commercialisation funds struggle to get off the ground due to limited financial resources. Furthermore, many existing platforms charge high fees for their use, their legal terms can be problematic for universities, and it’s difficult to leverage the University’s brand effectively.

OutCrowd - W - OxReachLogoThis state of affairs prompted the Isis Innnovation team to building an Isis Innovation/University branded platform that addressed the above issues. The result is OxReach, a rewards-based crowdfunding platform on which members of the University can source additional financial support for the innovative, entrepreneurial or high-impact projects that they are most passionate about.

The pilot campaign run on the platform was Life-saving Instruction For Emergencies (LIFE), a serious game originating from Prof Mike English, a KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Fellow in the Department of Tropical Medicine. The aim is to teach healthcare workers in Africa to identify and manage neonatal emergencies (see our recent article about LIFE in News from Academic IT). Through OxReach, Mike and his colleagues raised £63,111 from 177 donors to build and test versions of the game.

The judges commended the OxReach team for their development of a platform and use of digital communications technologies to successfully engage the public in funding the LIFE serious game.

Joint Runners-up: Dr Katharina Ulmschneider, Dr Sally Crawford, and Dr Janice Kinory for HEIR – Crowdsourcing and re-photographing old images to track global change

When Dr Katharina Ulmschneider and her colleagues came across a collection of lantern slides and glass-plate negatives in 2012, they were faced with a huge challenge: how to identify 15,000 images of sites, places, and monuments word-wide, keyword them, re-photograph them and trace their fate. Their solution was to draw on the help of citizen scientists worldwide, and so they developed a crowdsourcing platform, HEIRtagger, which allows people of all ages and from all backgrounds to look at, tag, and engage with the images through generating keywords, identifying sites and initiating discussions. The team also encourages people to search for and re-photograph sites using a custom-built app for iPhone and iPad, HEIR.

Screenshots from the HEIR app by Cristiano Bianchi, Keepthinking

The data collected feeds into the HEIR (Historic Environment Image Resource) database, an inter-disciplinary, open-access research resource, which brings together images from a number of  departments. HEIR was initially launched internally, and within six months 1044 images had been tagged by 141 separate individuals. The activities had also generated 753 discussions, provided the impetus for two new research projects, student theses  and internships. The HEIR team has worked with public heritage bodies and has been involved in various outreach activities and scholarly events.

The judges commended the engaging, simple design and ease of use of HEIRtagger and noted the impact of the project both for researchers and the public.

Joint Runner-up: Dr Fiona Whelan for The Medieval Text Translation Project

Med Texts Image - teacher and pupilsThere are countless texts which are currently untranslated and consequently under-utilised in scholarship. Through The Medieval Text Translation Project Dr Fiona Whelan sought to unite scholars, academics, students and amateurs alike in translating medieval texts and making the translations available to both the academic community and the general public. The project aimed to enable research collaboration through the crowdsourcing of translations with international scope, while making research easier through the development of an innovative online platform and the publication of new translations.

Medieval-Texts-poemFiona trialled three translations using free platforms. She expected that most of her participants would be mostly postgraduate students, but found that a number were in non-academic jobs and had a background in translations and medieval literature either from their studies or through personal interest. This revealed that the project had scope beyond the academic environment, and could act as public engagement and outreach by allowing the public to actively engage in translations and have ownership of the outcomes.

Since their completion the three published translations have been accessed nearly 200 times, and the associated Twitter account, @MedTextTran, has over 500 followers.

In the judges’ opinion, The Medieval Text Translation Project demonstrates that it is possible to achieve real impact on a shoestring with freely available platforms. Importantly it shows that there is an appetite and enthusiasm for crowdsourcing text translation of the period, creating the building blocks for further work.

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Data Visualisation

Software is making it easier to create data visualisations that are interactive and can be shared via the web. For example, we can create maps with ArcGIS and QGIS, representations of networks with Gephi, interactive models of complex systems with NetLogo, 3D renderings of large datasets with Blender, statistical insights with RStudio and Shiny, and script libraries such as D3.js.

In this category of OxTALENT we look for visualisations that tell a story, provide an insight, make the complex simple or illustrate a beautiful pattern in a data set.

Winner: Dr Alfie Abdul-Rahman for Poetry Visualization on the Web

DataVis - W - image-2 croppedThe close reading of poetry was a novel area of study for the judges, concerning as it does the analysis of individual poetic features of a poem. Dr Alfie Abdul-Rahman created a stunning visualisation tool, Poem Viewer, which allows users to explore 26 poetic attributes from individual word assonance to vowel position. Despite the multi-dimensional nature of the data visualised, the interface has clearly been designed with the user in mind. The judges were very impressed by the ease of use of the tool despite its high information density and by the thorough documentation of the evolution of the tool (and visualisation designs) through the publications section of the Poem Viewer. It’s rewarding to see the use of interactive visualisation tools in unexpected disciplines, and this was definitely a worthy winner of the visualisation category.

Joint Runner-up: David Ruvolo for Airport Security

ruvoloDavid created a very clean and stylish interactive report on air marshal misconduct in the USA. The judges particularly appreciated the attention to detail (and impartiality) of the visualisation, and David’s release of the source code available via GitHub so that others can learn how to build these interactive visualisations with R and Shiny. Unfortunately as this is a very recently developed report it wasn’t possible to measure the impact or engagement of the visualisation.

Joint Runner-up: Robert McNeil for Explained: EU Migration to the UK

MigrationObservatory copyRobert McNeil produced a very informative video on EU migration to the UK with a view to the potential outcome of the forthcoming EU referendum. The video was extremely professional and designed to communicate bite-sized and balanced pieces of information to the audience, which the judges particularly appreciated. While videos do tell a story through visuals, the judges felt that the underlying data of the visualisations is difficult to interrogate and understand separately to the narrative provided by the narrator: hence the nomination for runner-up.

Honourable Mention: Raphael Leung for Oklahoma Demographics for Determining Lifeline Broadband Subsidiesraphael-leung

Raphael Leung submitted an entry visualising legislative changes in the allocation of broadband subsidies for low-income families in Oklahoma, developed using the R language. One of the judges contacted Raphael suggesting that he investigate the use of Shiny to convert static maps into interactive cartograms in the future. With only three days until the competition deadline, Raphael resubmitted his entry with a well-designed interactive cartogram allowing users to more easily understand the changing impact of the broadband lifeline subsidy on Oklahomans. The judges felt that the effort and aptitude that Raphael demonstrated in learning new visualising tools was more than worthy of an honorary mention.

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Research Posters

This category showcases some of the creative poster designs that are created around the University in support of teaching, research and outreach. The IT Learning Programme delivers poster workshops to many departments, and a number of entries were from workshop participants. The judges have noticed that over the years the standard of poster design has continued to increase, and with a wider acceptance of posters in all disciplines, including the Humanities, the designs submitted are very wide-ranging.

The poster exhibition is a fascinating feature our previous OxTALENT awards nights, but unfortunately it has not been possible in the space afforded by the Martin School, so online there is a digital exhibition of the shortlist.

Once again, it was thought appropriate to award prizes in two categories: Best Poster and Most Innovative Poster.

Winner – Best Poster: Arno Bosse, Miranda Lewis and Dobrochna Futro for Early Modern Letters Online

2302078 cofk_poster_lrJudges say: A key element to the success of this poster is the efficiency with which it communicates both the process and the technology. The colours are well chosen and the map motif invites exploration of the content.

Arno says: Our poster showcases Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO], the union catalogue at the heart of the Mellon-funded Cultures of Knowledge  project in the Faculty of History. It explains the work being conducted with early modern correspondence, and illustrates the process by which in the course of their own research, early career scholars can contribute to it using the digital tools and standards developed by EMLO. Originally created for the poster session at last year’s Digital Humanities Oxford Summer School, it was designed to spread the word among delegates about the various possibilities of involvement with Early Modern Letters Online and Cultures of Knowledge, and the technologies used to build this resource. The poster highlights how work conducted in Oxford can feed into the foundations of an collaborative platform intended to unite archival materials scattered across Europe into one virtual location for easy access by scholars.

The poster was created on a Mac using Sketch. The background image is a map of Europe created by the early modern cartographer, Abraham Ortelius, some of whose correspondence is included in our union catalogue. The map was downloaded from the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection  and may be freely re-used and distributed for non-commercial purposes.

Runner-up – Best Poster: Edwin Dalmaijer for Life is Unfair and so is Speed-skating

2853188 Dalmaijer_2016_OxTalent_poster_submission_lrJudges say: The information density is high, but the attractive layout and eye-catching graphics invite the visitor to spend time engaging with the research. It has something both for the lay person and for those with an interest in sport science.

Edwin says: This poster summarises my work on how subtle differences in the starting procedures of racing sports can disadvantage athletes. Together with my co-authors (one of whom is a former Olympic athlete), I show that athletes perform better when the interval is shorter between the referee’s cue to get ‘Ready’ and the starting shot. We think this is due to the alerting effect: People’s alertness peaks 500 milliseconds after a general cue, and dissipates after that. The more time expired after the ‘Ready’ cue, the less alert athletes will be at the starting shot, and the slower they can respond; this will worsen their performance.

In our study, we showed that alerting effects occurred at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where they biased the 500-metre speed skating competition. My poster was designed to represent our study as clearly as possible. I used a cartoon that demonstrates the start in a speed-skating competition, to illustrate how variable its timing is. I added an image of a speed-skating track to clarify how a race happens, and at what point the athletes are timed (at 100 and 500 meters). Inside the track, I included information on the starting procedure in speed-skating and on how we obtained our data. The left side of the poster depicts the results for 100 metres into each race, and the right side depicts the same analyses for finish times (at 500 metres). Between the graphs, our analyses and results are explained. Finally, at the bottom of the poster, there is the theoretical background of the alerting effect, and our suggestion for a possible solution to the problems we flag up. We didn’t just want to point out how competitions are biased, so we also offered a constructive solution. My contact details are included in a banner at the foot of the poster, and a QR code links to a dedicated webpage with additional information. The work presented here was covered in this poster and in two scientific articles. It was also picked up by news media across the world, including the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail, Dutch national television, Australian radio and newspapers, and the German Süddeutsche Zeitung.

A few tools were used to create the poster. I used Python to do the data analysis and create the graphs, GIMP to edit the images and Inkscape to design the poster.

Winner – Most Innovative Poster: Ellie Morgan-Jones for DECisions

2259862 Boardgame A1 final_lrJudges say: There is no denying that this is a game board made into a poster, but as a way to lead people into discovering the process, it works! The colours are bold and the repeated hexagon motif make for an attractive design.

Ellie says: The poster is actually a board game which was designed as a teaching tool specifically for a public engagement event. It has now picked up interest from research groups related to the Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative.

DECisions was designed to help illustrate the evidence gathering and regulatory pathway that a new diagnostic test would have to follow in order for the device to be implemented in clinical practice.

The design was based on hexagons, as that is the branding for the Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative (DEC), the research group for which I work. I wanted the game to be visually appealing while still working within the confines of the branding guidelines specified by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which funds the DEC. Therefore, the colour palette was limited to navy blue, red, white and black. The look had to be clean, to give a ‘medical’ feel and to be simple enough for the general public to use as well as academics, researchers and industry professionals. As the subject matter is quite complex, I wanted the design of the game to be as clear and simple as possible and also to make it appealing so that people would be making sense of the content rather than the design. Anything too confusing in the design may have made the concepts within the game harder to grasp if the design itself is also complicated.

The poster was designed using InDesign.

Runner-up – Most Innovative Poster: Susila Davis for Are We There Yet?

2808892 Poster small owls October 2015_lrJudges say: It wasn’t until the judging was complete that some of the judges realised that they had seen some of Susila’s owls before! (Susila was runner-up with another Owl-themed poster last year). The ‘primary school’ layout will appeal to its intended audience, and the riot of colour will attract the passer-by to at least give it a second glance.

Susila says: This poster attempts to communicate my research design and preliminary findings as a kind of infographic or data visualisation, which for a study heavy with qualitative data and teachers’ narratives was quite a challenge.

Starting in the middle column, I describe the methodology of the research and my study ‘sites’: five primary schools, my department (Education) and the Oxford University Press, all represented by the building icons. I am investigating teachers’ use of an online system for school improvement purposes. This online system, Pathways, was built by the Oxford University Press (represented by the factory icon). The factory icon also attempts to symbolise the design-based framework of the project in which feedback between the OUP and schools is communicated via me and my department: for example, suggested improvements to Pathways from school users and new developments, and research or redesigns within Pathways itself, in line with changes in education policy.

The right-hand column describes the framework used to investigate Pathways and school improvement activities in the five schools, Guskey’s Five Level Model of CPD Evaluation. One of my central arguments is that Pathways can be viewed as a kind of online CPD programme for primary school practitioners.

The small owls represent the levels I am able to investigate with the particular research design employed. That is, a more experimental type design would be required to investigate changes in student outcomes and cost effectiveness for example.

Lastly, the left-hand column displays some preliminary findings in a tablet type device (commonly used by practitioners and the OUP). One of the central arguments here is that ‘use’ means different things to different participants and care and attention need to be exercised in the choice of ‘lead user’ in each school.

The overall design is meant to appeal to, and communicate with, primary-school practitioners and researchers with its use of eye-catching colours, icons and ‘infographic’ style layout. There was a delicate balance between making the presentation visually appealing while still putting across my main arguments and the potentially far-reaching implications of the study. The research brings together the fields of teachers’ technology use for daily work and school improvement practice, two topics previously (surprisingly) unconnected in educational research literature.

The poster was created using Canva.

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Announcing the OxTALENT 2016 Speakers

The annual OxTALENT Awards Ceremony takes place at 5.15 tomorrow (Tuesday 14th) at the Oxford Martin School, and we are delighted to announce our guest speakers.

Professor Louise Richardson (OU Images/John Cairns)

Professor Louise Richardson (OU Images/John Cairns)

Professor Louise Richardson FRSE was installed as the University’s 272nd Vice-Chancellor in January 2016. In her admission speech Professor Richardson singled out advances in technology as one of the three principal challenges facing the University from the outside, commenting that ‘technology will transform how we operate … We must always remain open to the potential of new technologies and have the agility to exploit the opportunities they present us.’


Professor Anne Trefethen

Professor Anne Trefethen

Professor Anne Trefethen is the University’s Chief Information Officer and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Services and University Collections. She will award the prizes to this year’s winners and runners-up.


Professor Timothy Garton Ash

Professor Timothy Garton Ash

Timothy Garton Ash is Professor of European Studies, a historian, political writer, and commentator for The Guardian. In 2014 he was the recipient of the OxTALENT Award for Open Practices for his thirteen-language global online project, freespeechdebate.com. His recent publication Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World draws further on this work. He will reflect on the ways in which technology can foster more and better freedom of expression.

The event will be hosted by Kate Lindsay, Director of the OxTALENT Awards, Academic IT Services.

Once again, the awards ceremony will showcase our winners’ creative use of technology for teaching, learning, outreach and public engagement, celebrating the impact of their work and the inspiration it has provided to others. The temporary move to a larger venue while our IT Training Centre is undergoing refurbishment means that we are able to extend our invitation to colleagues at large. If you have not received an invitation and would like to attend, there’s still time to let us know. Please email events@it.ox.ac.uk to express your interest.

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