Student Videos

To be eligible for this category, videos must have been created independently by students in support of their learning, research, or teaching. However, given recent form we are now wondering whether we should add ‘and in an unusual or exotic location’ to the judging criteria. In 2011 Cedric Tan won first prize in the international ‘Dance your PhD’ competition with a video shot in the gardens of Green Templeton College, while last year Sally le Page of St John’s College won a national competition run by the Guardian and OUP for a short film on evolution which she made in a shed. This year’s OxTALENT winners have definitely upped the ante, by shooting their video in the Arctic.

Eleni Wood & Anna Bidgood: Greenland Geological Mapping Project

Eleni WoodEleni and Anna are both undergraduates reading Earth Sciences, Eleni at Peter’s College and Anna at St Anne’s. They shot their video on location during a field trip to Greenland, using only an inexpensive consumer HD video camera (rugged and waterproof, of course!) and a ‘Gorilla’ pod, which had to compete for space in their backpacks with the rocks they collected. Back in the UK, they used iMovie to edit the footage and took care to ensure that all the third-party images and music clips they used in the video have an open (Creative Commons) licence.

Anna BidgoodThe video is intended to engage with pre-university students who might be thinking about Earth Sciences as an option, and who might be encouraged by seeing some of the field activities that are involved. The result, which can be seen on YouTube, is both impressive and inspirational.

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OxTALENT Awards 2014 – 18th June

IMG_1717Come along to our red carpet event to celebrate how we use digital technology to support learning and teaching.

At the ceremony we will showcase work done by staff and students this year. We will be giving prizes to more than 20 winners from across the collegiate University.

Our guest speakers include Professor Marcus Du Sautoy and Professor Anne Trefethen, and the event is hosted by Melissa Highton, Director of Academic IT.

We will be live tweeting as each of the winners is announced. Follow this blog and #oxtalent2014.

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Academic Podcasting

Podcasting plays an instrumental role in realising Oxford’s strategic objective to develop globally available teaching resources and collections for learners everywhere.

TES ConnectThe University is one of the largest producers of academic podcasts in the UK. Launched in October 2008, our iTunes U site goes from strength to strength. It has made available over 6,400 podcast items, comprising over 5,500 hours of material from 4,000 academic speakers and contributors. The site has a worldwide audience of 185 countries, with 31% of users from the USA, 17% from the UK and 7% from China. Now, as it approaches its sixth anniversary, iTunes U can celebrate a remarkable landmark: more than 22.5 million downloads so far.

Since autumn 2013 we have been partnering with the Times Educational Supplement (TES) to make selected podcasts available to schools as resources for their teaching, via the TES Connect portal. Colleagues across the university have now contributed 228 resources, which have been viewed more than 50,000 times by teachers all over the world.

This year’s OxTALENT awards for academic podcasting go to two colleagues in the Department of Physics, whose resources have been the stars of our partnership with TES.

Sian Owen: Physics Flash Talks

physicsflashtalks-acSian, the department’s Access Officer, works with graduate research students to develop their  communication skills. She encourages them to present 10-minute, TED-style talks in front of a live audience, preferably with interesting props to bring the talks to life. The sessions, which are open to the public, constitute a showcase of physics research at Oxford and include topics such as climate change, exoplanets, magnetism, the Higgs boson, and quantum computers. The talks are are live streamed over the internet, and subsequently are released as podcasts under the series title Physics Flash Talks.

Sian also gave a talk in our Engage: Social Media Michaelmas  series in 2013.

Dr. Robert Simpson: Stargazing

stargazing-acA postdoctoral researcher, Robert is one of the organisers of the live Stargazing events. These highly successful annual outreach events bring over 1,000 members of the public, including many families, into the Astrophysics department to get a glimpse of life as an astrophysicist. Robert has helped IT Services’ podcasting team to film all the talks at the last three Stargazing events, which means that we now have a total of 33 talks in the Stargazing series, with titles ranging from ‘A History of the Universe in 12 Minutes’ to ‘Galaxies as a Plate of Fruit.’

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Research Posters

The poster creation workshop is now one of the most popular courses offered by IT Services. Indeed, many departments are now asking us to run ‘closed’ courses as part of their curriculum, so that students can learn how to create eye-catching and informative posters to present their research.

We invite submissions from across the University for this category, and this year we had a record number of entries. The standard was even higher than in 2013, which gave the judges a difficult task.

Winner: Laura Pritchard. Poster title: The HIV-1 Glycan Shield as a Target for Vaccine Design

PritchardPosterConference poster sessions can be an intimidating place to try something new; you don’t want people to focus on your poster design and not notice the research. This poster succeeds in maintaining the poster ‘tradition’ while at the same time introducing an element of creative design. Laura, a DPhil student in the Department of Biochemistry, created her poster in PowerPoint after attending one of the ITLP’s poster design workshops. She writes:

The poster was designed to be eye-catching yet readable, using a blown-up version of the structural model shown in the introduction as a background. The text and figures were then placed on a white background for maximum contrast. The structure of the poster was intended to help guide the reader from start to finish, reading top-to-bottom and left-to-right. The results were divided and numbered into four boxes, reflecting the logical progression of the experiments.

Winner for innovative design: Natasha Hui J Ng. Poster title: Unravelling the Mysteries of Diabetes

Ng PosterIn 2013 we introduced a second prize in this category: innovative design. Natasha is carrying out her doctoral research at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism in the Radcliffe Department of Medicine. She created her poster in Photoshop and Illustrator, for OCDEM’s public engagement event, “Unravelling the mysteries of diabetes” in June 2014. The event aims to present the department’s research to patients, and this poster provides basic information about the disease. Natasha explains the rationale underpinning her design:

As it is meant to be visually engaging and not content-heavy, it contains visual aids to direct the viewer to read the poster in a logical flow. … It has a soothing colour scheme comfortable for the eyes, and has a somewhat light-hearted and informal feel. These elements help the infographic to bring information about a serious disease across in a manner more amenable to families and children.

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Use of WebLearn for Learning Support and Outreach to Students

WebLearn has been specifically developed and tailored to meet the needs of the Oxford teaching model, giving flexibility to colleagues and students who wish to find and share materials online for a supported and blended approach to teaching and learning. It has been another good year for the WebLearn service, and so we have split the WebLearn category in two, awarding prizes for innovations that make use of WebLearn across a course or programme of study or use WebLearn to support student learning in new ways.

Lucile Deslignères & María Barragán-Orte: Providing Resources for Modern Languages Finalists

The listening comprehension and discourse topics examinations in Modern Languages finals consist of articles taken from foreign newspapers. Realising that, this year, the examinations were to take place on the day the Language Centre reopened after the Easter vacation, librarian Lucile Deslignères felt it was unfair that students would not have any exams on which to practice during the closed period. In addition, for a number years students had complained about that there were no online resources for them to practise on.

MagazinesProviding newspaper articles online – particularly foreign-language ones – is fraught with copyright difficulties, and so Lucile decided to turn to the newspaper databases to which the University has access, such as Nexis UK and Factiva, and provide the students with links to suitable articles. She decided also to trawl the web for openly available materials.

Aided by María Barragán, a newly arrived ERASMUS student, Lucile found links to articles in all of the romance languages, as well as Irish, Greek, Czech and Russian and added them to WebLearn. An email to all Modern Languages finalists alerting them to the presence of the links in WebLearn not only generated impressive statistics of WebLearn visits but also expressions of gratitude that included, in Lucile’s words, ‘a chocolate box and a card… and a nice mention on Twitter.’

Ian Chilvers: The Social Sciences Library eReadings Service

Social Science Library eReadingsLike many libraries in Oxford, the Bodleian Social Science Library can only afford to buy and keep a limited number of books for every reading list that it supports. This means that the available copies for students to borrow are limited and can only be accessed during library hours. The availability of e-books to purchase is also limited. SSL eReadings was created to make essential readings available to all students on the course at all times, by providing digitized copies of chapters and articles scanned under the CLA HE Licence. Students can read online, search full text, download and print all of the digitized readings uploaded to WebLearn.

SSL eReadings currently comprises just under 700 full text searchable PDFs across 17 degree programmes, including PPE which alone has a cohort of 748 students. The service is one more way in which the SSL is able to increase access to essential course readings alongside its other electronic collections (e-journals and e-books), thereby easing the demand on its print collection. Feedback from staff and students includes this enthusiastic testimony from a course convenor:

[O]ur students have found the service to be a huge time-saver, allowing them to devote their energies to reaching their learning aims, rather than searching for reading materials. Also, as a course convenor, it is wonderful to know that students have immediate, legitimate access to the materials they need.

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Use of WebLearn to Support a Course or Programme of Study

WebLearn has been specifically developed and tailored to meet the needs of the Oxford teaching model, giving flexibility to colleagues and students who wish to find and share materials online for a supported and blended approach to teaching and learning. It has been another good year for the WebLearn service, and so we have split the WebLearn category in two, awarding prizes for innovations that use WebLearn to support student learning in new ways or make use of WebLearn across a course or programme of study.

Dr. Sharon Mickan and team: Using WebLearn to Support Continuing Professional Development

Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences

As Director of Studies for the MSc in Evidence-Based Healthcare, Sharon has been the academic lead, ensuring that WebLearn is used to support part-time students before, during and after their residential weeks in Oxford. In particular, she has championed a paperless approach to making module learning materials available.

sharonTo prepare students before the residential week, Sharon organises WebLearn forums for introductions and exchanging information. During the residential week she makes presentations available before each lecture in order to encourage students to use their laptops in the classroom to make their own enhanced notes. She also makes journal articles available for download from WebLearn so that students can manage their own set of resources on their laptops. Once the students have returned home, Sharon runs online activites to keep the group working together. She encourages other module leaders to adopt similar practices, in order to promote consistency in students’ learning experience.

The Cyber Security CDT Team: WebLearn and Panopto: Capturing and Distributing Lectures

Prof. Andrew Martin – Director; David Hobbs -  Project Administrator; Maureen York – Administrator;  Manu Apostolidis – Deputy IT Manager
Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security, Department of Computer Science

CDT Cyber SecurityDuring Trinity Term 2014 IT Services have been testing a new technology linked to WebLearn, which allows students and lecturers to capture lectures and presentations quickly and easily. David Hobbs and his colleagues have been keen to explore how the technology can enhance the activities going on in their classroom and give feedback to students. They worked with colleagues in ITLP to design a day-long course on presentation skills. The course focused on the planning, design and delivery aspects of presentations, after which the students were guided in creating a presentation that they then delivered to their peers. The presentations were captured using the Panopto system, which made them available through the students’ WebLearn area.

The students received immediate feedback on their presentations from their peers and the course leader. Each student was asked to revisit their presentation by watching their video in their own time and critiquing their own performance. Students then had the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with the course leader to discuss their observations and create an action plan for the future. The team leader was also able to refresh his memory about each presentation by watching the video ahead of the meeting with the student.

Watch out for more case studies from IT Services on the use of lecture capture, which will be published over the summer.

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OxTALENT 2014: Celebrate the Digital

IMG_1717IT Services is delighted to launch the OxTALENT Competition 2014, 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 conference poster or infographic.

We have additional categories for innovations that we have discovered during the year or that have been brought to our attention. So, if you haven’t designed or developed a technology yourself but you know someone who has, please tell us!

This year, we have made the OxTALENT blog the one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the competition. You can find instructions on how to enter and details of past winners to give you inspiration, and you can follow this blog to keep up to date with developments as they unfold.

And don’t forget two very important dates:

  • Friday 16th May – entries close
  • Wednesday 18th June – the OxTALENT 2014 Red Carpet awards ceremony
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OxTALENT 2013 – Winners

Each year we give the OxTALENT awards to staff and students who have been innovative and talented in their use of technology to enhance teaching and learning.

Feedback from the event includes:

‘what rays of sunshine the Oxtalent awards are’; ‘last night at the (wonderful) OxTalent Awards’;‘ you have made me feel good about IT’; ‘It is always an impressive event and I know that comes with effort’; ‘The whole event was really well organised and it was great seeing the range of projects that were up for awards’, OxTalent2013 was wonderful. Good speakers, warmly presented, innovative and inspiring projects and some yummy hors d’œuvre”; “Lots of thanks to @ltgoxford, and the canapé lady for a fun evening at #oxtalent2013.”

See you,  same time,  same place,  next year.

This year’s winners:

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OxTALENT 2013 – Global Reach

The 2013 OxTALENT Awards theme is ‘Global Reach’

As it says in the University of Oxford Strategic Plan  2013-18

 ”Digital technology is revolutionising the manner in which knowledge is created, collected, and communicated across the globe.

The University will position itself so that it can engage speedily and effectively with digital initiatives generated by our staff, students, alumni, and those outside the University. We will create a strong and coherent online presence in order to direct those seeking knowledge about any area of academic study to relevant work carried out at Oxford. We will further develop our globally available teaching resources and collections for our own community, for our distance-taught students across the world, and for learners everywhere”
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Open Education Initiatives

In a year in which there has been much discussion of how Oxford might respond to global phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), it is wonderful to see so many thriving open education initiatives which continue to push at the boundaries and innovate in their approaches to openness online.

Sophie Kershaw, Department of Computer Science for The Open Science Training Initiative

The Open Science Training Initiative (OSTI) is a dynamic new educational scheme devised and piloted this year at the University of Oxford. It aims to address the problem of reproducibility in modern scientific research, by training upcoming young researchers in the integrated use of concepts and techniques such as digital awareness, data management, version control systems and the role of the publisher. The goal, as Sophie Kershaw explained, is to train graduate students not just to be research producers, but to be research users as well.

OSTI achieves this aim through a combination of first-hand learning and mini-lectures. The course is designed to be highly portable and adaptable, with its 20-30 minute “lightning lectures” designed to slot into any existing course in the sciences. The learning process adopts a novel, rotation-based structure, in which small groups of students work in isolation on separate scientific problems. Groups must fully document their findings through releasing code, data and a written report online before handing over the problem to a successor group who must build on their work. This approach is designed to provide a simulated research environment at a pre-doctoral stage, enabling students to encounter the challenges of modern collaborative research and hence understand the need to provide the scientific community with a coherent research story that provides a sound basis for further scientific investigation.

OSTI is the first scheme of its kind in offering fully integrated training in open science as part of a subject-specific taught course and is helping Oxford to lead the way in educational provision in the field. Course materials are being released under a CC-BY (Attribution) licence as open educational resources for other institutions to use, develop and benefit from.

The course has drawn great interest from the Open community and is poised for its official launch outside Oxford in early May 2013. It has also been showcased at the following universities in California: UC Berkeley, Stanford, San Francisco State, UC San Francisco, and UC Davis.

Cleo Hanaway, Humanities Division: OpenJoyce

OpenJoyce is a collection of resources and a community around the author James Joyce. It began in Oxford and grew out of the successful Great Writers Inspire project. Cleo Hanaway is a former student ambassador on Great Writers who has recently been appointed Knowledge Exchange Officer for the Humanities Division at the University. She explained:

Our title quotation is taken from James Joyce’s 1922 novel, Ulysses: ‘A great field was to be opened up in the line of opening up.’ Following Joyce’s lead, our OpenJoyce project  is geared towards ‘opening up’ all things Joycean. Thus, being open is inherent to our development process.

Cleo combined her research on Joyce with open education and worked with programming experts to create a series of striking visualisations of Ulysses, based on word patterns, line length, and so forth. The visualisations have captured the imagination of the James Joyce community and are now being used in research and teaching across the globe.

Continuing Education Tutors Dr Steve Kershaw, Dr Pete Wyss and Dr Kate Watson: Sesame

The part-time tutors who teach on the Weekly Classes Programme of the Department for Continuing Education have been working to identify and create open educational resources (OER).

This initiative has produced a rich and sustainable collection of OER and other online resources. These are primarily aimed at adult learners and their tutors, but may also be of use to anyone who wishes to use high quality internet-based scholarly resources across a wide range of disciplines.

The work by Steve, Pete, and Kate supports the under-represented group of part-time sessional tutors in their engagement with open educational practices, and the project saw over 150 part-time tutors learn about OER for teaching and learning. However, the Department would particularly like to recognise the ongoing engagement of its weekly class tutors in creating and curating materials. The site continues to grow and now includes over 2,000 resources associated with 50 courses and 25 subject collections. Even more pleasing is the growth of the number of unique visitors to the site, which more than trebled from 4,700 in October 2012 to 16,300 in May 2013.

Other OxTALENT awards in other categories also recognised projects which produce explicitly open educational resources (OER):

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