Join us online!

If you’re unable to attend today’s award ceremony, @acitoxford will live-tweet the winners; the hashtag is #oxtalent2016. We will also publish short posts on this blog as the winners in each category are announced.

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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, 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 to express your interest.

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Join us in celebrating our 2016 OxTALENT winners!

The OxTALENT Annual Awards recognise members of the University who have made innovative use of digital technology in order to foster learning and academic practice, develop more effective links between teaching and research, or improve impact through outreach and public engagement.

The 2016 awards ceremony will be held on the 14th June, 5.15pm at the Oxford Martin School and will be followed by a drinks reception.  Attendance is by invitation only, however due to a larger capacity venue than in previous years we are delighted to announce that we are able to offer additional invitations to the event.

If you would like to join us in celebrating this year’s winners and explore the ways in which digital technologies are being used in teaching, learning and outreach please send an email to

We look forward to seeing you there.

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OxTALENT 2016: revised closing date – Friday 13th May

OxTALENT 2016 Logo - web versionIT Services is delighted to announce OxTALENT 2016, celebrating and rewarding the innovative use of technology in teaching, learning, research and outreach at Oxford. Once again, we have an array of categories for both staff and students to enter, whether you have developed a new tool, used existing technology in an exciting way, or designed an eye-catching research poster or data visualisation. In each category we are offering Amazon vouchers to the value of £150 (first prize) and £75 (second prize).

If you haven’t used technology in a novel way yourself but you know someone who has, you can nominate them for an award.

This website is the one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the competition, including instructions on how to enter or nominate someone else, and details of past winners.

Key dates:

  • Friday 13 May: closing date for entries
  • Tuesday 14 June: Awards ceremony

Tweeting about OxTALENT? Use the hashtag #oxtalent2016


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Coming soon: OxTALENT 2016

7754659726_64909c7e6b_zThis year sees the 15th annual OxTALENT competition. 2015 was a bumper year for both the quantity and quality of entries, and we’re hoping to top that in 2016. We will open for entries on 1st March, and applicants will have until 6th May to send in their forms. The awards ceremony will take place on the afternoon of Tuesday 14th June, so mark the date in your diaries now!

If you’re in search of inspiration or just curious about OxTALENT, read about the 2015 winners.

Image CC BY eltpics @purple_steph via Flickr.

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2015 OxTALENT awards ceremony: photo of the winners

The 2015 OxTALENT WInners

The 2015 OxTALENT Winners

On Tuesday 16 June Academic IT Services hosted the annual OxTALENT awards ceremony. This year we awarded 27 prizes from over 80 nominations, and more than 100 colleagues from across the University joined us to celebrate. The afternoon was a great success and enjoyed by all.  More information about the event, including speakers and winning entries can be found on this blog.

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OxTALENT 2015: Winners

Innovative teaching with technology

This category celebrates use of technology in the classroom. The winners demonstrate how any technology  (other than WebLearn) has been used to address a particular educational challenge in undergraduate or postgraduate teaching, supported by qualitative and/or quantitative evidence of impact.

Winner: Peter Judge (Biochemistry) for using electronic voting clickers in lectures to teach advanced thermodynamics topics to 1st year Biochemistry undergraduates.

Runner up: Damion Young and Jon Mason (Medical Sciences Division) for ‘PULSE – Pop-Up Learning Space Experiment’.

Honourable mentions: James Robson (Faculty of Theology and Religion) for his innovatiive use of smartboard technology in ‘New Life to an Old Language’ and Sandra Fredman; Meghan Campbell and Laura Hilly (Oxford Human Rights Hub) for the ‘OxHRH Webinar Series’

Read more about the winners

Use of WebLearn to support a course or programme of study

WebLearn is the University- wide Virtual Learning Environment used by colleagues all across the University in support of their teaching. Winners in this category are found from within the WebLearn User Group (WLUG).

Winner: Lucy Tallents (WildCru and Department of Zoology) for her exemplary use of the WebLearn Lessons tool and innovative use of other WebLearn features in the online course Conservation Statistics.

Runner up: Richard Harrington (Medical Sciences) for promoting on-line learning and collaboration in first year graduate-entry medical students through using WebLearn forums.

Read more about the winners

Academic podcasting

The winners in this category are selected from within the large community of academic podcasters at Oxford.

Winner: Helen Ward and Adrian Brookes (The Ashmolean Museum) for Digital Sketchbooks: Using tablets to support a museum art

Runner up: Thomas Woolley & William Binzi (Mathematical Institute) ‘A Mathematician’s Holiday’

Runner up: Daniel Maughan and Charlotte Allan (Centre for Sustainable Healthcare/Department of Psychiatry) for the Psychiatry Podcasts Series.

Read more about the winners

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.

Winners: Jean Petreschi & Anders Krohn  (Harris Manchester College) for ‘Ublend’a platform and mobile application that enables students to find local talks and events relevant to their interests.

Runner up: Marco Haenssgen (Department of international Development) for Low-Cost Survey Sampling in Low- and Middle-Income Contexts Through Satellite Maps.

Honourable mention: The OxVlog Project. A group of students video blogging to give an insight to prospective students on what it is like to study at Oxford.

Read more about the winners

Data Visualisation

A new OxTALENT category in which the judges look for visualisations that tell a story, provide an insight, make the complex simple, or illustrate a beautiful pattern in a data set.

Winner:  Will Allen (Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society (COMPAS)) for ‘Migration Observatory project – Seeing Data: Are Good Big Data Visualisations Possible?’

Runner up: A team from the Bodleian Libraries and Public Affair Directorate for ‘Bodleian Libraries in Numbers’.

Read more about the winners

Outreach & public engagement

This category covers activities supported by digital technologies in pursuit of the University’s strategic priority for global reach and/or its core strategy for widening engagement with the local and regional communities. Entries for this were very strong and the category has been divided into general outreach and one which focuses on the delivery of materials to schools through TES Connect.

General Outreach

Winners: Kinan Muhammed and Louwai Muhammed (Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience) for their eLearning Platform ‘Syria Scholar’, providing virtual teaching and support from Oxford tutors to medical students in Syria.

Runner up: ‘Big Questions’ from Oxford Sparks. Short talks answering some of science’s ultimate questions, adapted for a general audience and made available as audio podcasts online.

Schools and TES Connect

Winner: Jane Dyson (School of Geography and the Environment) for ‘Lifelines: Creating Impact through documentary film’.

Winner: Lizzie Burns (Medical Sciences Division) for ‘CSlide: Nobel prize winner inspires science, art and creativity’

Read more about the winners

Conference Posters

Staff and students are invited to submit posters they have created which reports on research, teaching/learning or outreach activities, and which has been peer reviewed for a conference or research-related event. As in recent years posters are awarded under two headings.

Best Poster

Winner: Milton Barbosa da Silva (Zoology) for  ‘The role of an abundant species in food web structure’.

Honourable mentions: Kanta Dihal (Faculty of English) for ‘Nerd-on-Nerd violence’. Giuseppe Del Gobbo (Department of Engineering Science) for ‘Improving the seismic performance of non-structural systems using viscous fluid dampers’.

Most Innovative Design

Winner: Jill Boggs (Department of Education) for ‘Why do students make the same mistakes again and again?’.

Honourable mentions: Susila Davis (Department of Education) for ‘Are we nearly there yet? A study of Oxford University Press Pathways to School Improvement’. Amina Ismaeel (Green Templeton College) for ‘The battle between cancer and the immune system’ .

Read more about the winners

Open Practices

This category overs openness in teaching, learning and research as well as the creation of open educational resources (OER), and using and creating materials licensed as ‘open for sharing’ (using creative commons licensing).

Winner: Stuart Basten and Francesco Billari (Department of Social Policy and Intervention) for ‘ A Collaborative Blog on Global Population Issues’

Runner up: Liz McCarthy and David Tomkins for the Early English Books Online Hackfest.

Read more about the winners

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OxTALENT 2015 – Thanks to all

FullSizeRenderThanks to all those who made OxTALENT another fantastic success this year – our team in IT Services, our prize winners, our speakers and our guests. We had over 80 nominations and awarded 27 prizes to colleagues across the University. Look out for a new set of case studies published on our case study site detailing the innovations showcased at yesterday’s event.


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Academic Podcasting

Podcasting is now an established, integral part of Oxford’s outreach activities, both to disseminate research and to provide educational materials for schools and colleges. Indeed, this year podcasts have overspilled their own category and feature among our winners for outreach as well.

Winner: Ashmolean Museum for ‘Digital Sketchbooks’

Helen Ward sketchbooks-iTunesU-1Podcasting isn’t only about slick production techniques and eye-catching graphics; concept, content and structure are easily half of the story. The Ashmolean team achieved an admirable combination of both criteria with their video podcasts. These form part of a guide for school teachers to using tablet technology to support art and design visits to museums, based on their own experiences. The impact of the podcasts also impressed the judging panel: over 40,000 views and downloads on iTunesU since August 2014. The podcasts have also been promoted by the National Society for Education in Art & Design.

Joint Runners-up: Thomas Woolley & William Binzi for ‘A Mathematician’s Holiday’

mathematicians-holiday_1It’s an educational truism that if you want to teach a difficult concept, link it to something with which students will be familiar. Thomas Woolley and William Binzi have done just that with their video podcast series ‘A Mathematician’s Holiday’.  The judges’ imagination was caught by the way in which Thomas and William string together a series of mathematical concepts and weave them around the narrative of planning and going on holiday. For example, abstraction and graph theory are illustrated with the scenario of planning a tour to several cities, but never using the same transport method between two cities more than once.

The videos have been deposited in the TES repository for schools and have been viewed over 400 times since November 2014, with ‘Abstraction and Graph Theory’ and ‘Logic and Decision Trees’ being the most popular. The University’s podcasting site reports that the series has been downloaded 700 times since October.

Joint Runners-up: Daniel Maughan and Charlotte Allan for Psychiatry Podcasts

psychiatry-300-ac-cc_0_1_1Daniel has been responsible for building up a collection of short podcasts on various aspects of psychiatry research which have been released as open educational resources with a Creative Commons licence. The judges praised the conversational tone of the interviews and, in particular, Daniel’s warm interview style which make these podcasts pleasurable to listen to, as well as informative.

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Open Practices

This is the second year in which we have offered an ‘open practices’ category in order to capture all of the exciting initiatives that are going on around the University under the umbrella of openness in teaching, research and outreach. The common thread is that the initiatives should be directly discoverable through a general-purposes search engine (such as Google), that they should be available free of charge and that they should carry an open licence (usually Creative Commons) which permits others to reuse them.

Winners: Stuart Basten and Francesco Billari for ‘’

stuart basten hires logoOpen practices in education are underpinned by the powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good. The problem is that much of this knowledge is not only locked away in subscription-only journals, but is also presented in a way that is comprehensible to trained academics.

Stuart and Francesco’s blog tackles head-on the challenge of making complex academic research accessible to a global audience in the critically important area of population change. In less than two years the blog has had nearly 40,o00 views, with an average of 150-200 views per day. To place these figures in context and to demonstrate the extraordinary impact that open access can have, Stuart writes: ‘if one looks at the analytics for one of the world’s leading population journals, the most viewed article online was viewed online 3,610 times. As such, to say that we have had ten times as many views of the site as the most read article in one of the most read journals is something of an achievement.’

In the judges’ view, is a deserving winner in the open practices category.

Runner-up: Bodleian Libraries for ‘EEBO Hackfest’

Bodleian HackfestIn January 2015, over 25,000 texts from the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) were made freely available as open data. However, it was difficult for anyone – researcher or member of the public – to access these texts without technical experience. The Bodleian’s Hackfest in March introduced researchers to the enormous potential of data mining and computing tools to give them new opportunities for research and analysis. It demonstrated what can happen when you bring together academics from a range of disciplines and technical experts, and showed the range of uses to which a digital resource can potentially be put, both academic and non-academic. But the day wasn’t only about outputs; it was also about the way in which it stimulated participants to start thinking about what they want to do and how they can achieve it.

The Hackfest team:

  • Bodleian Libraries:
    • Liz McCarthy, Communications & Social Media Officer
    • David Tomkins, Project Manager and Digital Editor
    • Michael Popham, Head of Digital Memory and Collection Services
    • Judith Siefring, Project Manager
    • Pip Willcox, Curator of Digital Special Collections
  • Kathryn Eccles, Oxford Digital Humanities Champion

Special mention: Jenni Nuttall for ‘Stylisticienne’

Nuttall image 3Dr Jenni Nuttall was motivated to start up her Middle English Poetry Research and Teaching blog by a desire to communicate her research interests and findings more widely and in a more publicly-accessible fashion. She also wanted to share her strategies for teaching and writing Middle English commentary with the wider academic community, and so additionally provides an open access ‘Poetics Primer’ through her blog. The primer is designed to show students how to close-read Middle English poetry and how to adapt the close-reading skills which they have been taught during their time at school.

The judging panel gives Jenni a special mention for the impact that she has achieved both in academia and among the public at large. Since January 2014 the blog has received 15,000 page views from 5,662 users worldwide.  Her Twitter feed earns on average around 50,000 impressions per month, and in April over 107,000 impressions, thanks to a retweet by Margaret Atwood. A recent post on a medieval poem describing a migraine prompted lots of interest, especially from migraine sufferers themselves!

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