Use of WebLearn to support a course or programme of study

It has been another good year for the WebLearn service at OUCS. We have seen take up across the university  and pilot projects with colleagues Exam Schools, Clinical trials, Said Business School and Blavatnik School of Government. We are delighted to give OxTALENT prizes for innovation again this year.

Winners in this category are identified from within the Weblearn User Group which has members from all across the collegiate university. Prizes are given  for innovations which support student learning or make use of  WebLearn across a group or set of programmes beyond a single course.

This years winners are Dr Catherine Walter (Lecturer in Applied Linguistics at the Department of Education and Fellow of Linacre) and Dr Imogen Goold ( Faculty of Law and Fellow of  St Anne’s College)  for their use of  tools specifically for community and feeedback. Both prize winners have worked hard to create a learning community where students learn not only from the tutor and the materials, but also from each other.  Dr Walter works with her students to develop peer discussion and chat forums; Dr Goold makes use of electronic submission and plagiarism education tools to share examples of good writing amongst her students.


The winners of awards for use of WebLearn beyond a single course or group go to Dr Robert Wilkins (Course Director , Biomedical Sciences and Fellow of St Edmund Hall) and Dr Claire Aland (Director of Anatomy).

The Biomedical Sciences degree course has undergone a complete overhaul in the past 18 months and to accompany this re- structure a new portal for students has been created in WebLearn for them bringing together all the resources and tools they need to navigate through the themes and years of the course. The course is truly interdisciplinary in nature, with a number of departments and units contributing teaching, including Biochemistry, Experimental Psychology, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics. Recognising that the interdisciplinary nature of the course presented a number of challenges which use of learning technology could address. Developed by the  MSD Learning Technologies team,  combining a number of bespoke and existing technologies,  the WebLearn ‘portal’ page for Biomedical Sciences is the key component of success for the course.

Practical anatomy teaching at Oxford relies on many volunteer demonstrators, who work in different, often remote locations. The demonstrators must be provided with teaching schedules, given the facility to book into classes and be able to access teaching material in advance. Practical teaching occurs throughout the academic year into several years and courses; thus there are many classes, with different subject matter. The success of the classes depends upon obtaining enough demonstrators who have adequately prepared for the class. Claire Aland created  her Anatomy Demonstrator WebLearn Site to support and assure quality across this teaching. The Sign-Up Tool in Weblearn has been used to create the teaching schedule, complete with links to accessible or downloadable teaching material, so that demonstrators can see very easily what each session entails, can book to teach and develop teaching materials collaboratively.

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OxTALENT Awards 2012

OxTALENT, in collaboration with the Learning Technologies Group at OUCS, organises an annual competition and awards ceremony for innovative use of IT in teaching and learning at the University.

The 2012 awards ceremony (by invitation only) will be held 4-6pm on Thursday 21 June 2012.

The OxTALENT annual awards recognise those who have made use of ICT to foster learning and academic practice at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Awards can be given either to individuals or to teams. Applications relating to the development of more effective links between teaching and research or to improving impact and outreach will be particularly welcome.

Awards categories

You can send in your own work or nominate someone else. The deadline for submissions: 21 May 2012.

We also give prizes each year for examples of innovation and good practice which have been identified by LTG staff and the OXTALENT Committee during the year through our programme of events, courses, usergroups, case studies, meetings, projects, services, consultancy, surveys and user engagement. If you would like to let us know about an example of innovation or good practice you think we should consider for an award please contact

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University Outreach Awards

European Competition for Best Innovations in University Outreach and Public Engagement

As part of the EC-funded ULab project, the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford is organizing an online competition to identify the most innovative outreach and public engagement activities carried out by European Universities. To vote, please visit the EngageU website (, click on an entry to read its description and then click the “vote for this entry” button if you think it represents the best innovation in university outreach and public engagement. For guidance, please review the judging criteria (

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Expenses paid trip to the USA?

Each year the Sakai Foundation runs a competition to recognise and promote innovation in using Sakai (WebLearn at Oxford) for teaching and learning. The winners have travel expenses and conference registration paid to attend and present their innovations at the Sakai USA Conference in June 2012.

 Online entry will be available from 1 January 2012, and the closing date for submissions is 2 March. The WebLearn team encourages you to consider submitting an entry and is happy to provide assistance.

Last year’s winners (including Shirley Bennett from the University of Hull, UK) 

Please  contact Jill Fresen to express an interest in submitting an entry.

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OER Case Studies Series

 In association with JISC, the Higher Education Academy is pleased to invite the submission of abstracts for case studies on a range of topics pertaining to Open Educational Resources. Funding has been provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to enable us to offer grants of £2,000 for the production of evidence-informed studies on the theme of pedagogical development from OER practice.

 In these case studies, individuals or teams from higher education in England are invited to share their experiences of OER practice, situate these within the wider context of OER and offer a model of best practice for the Higher Education sector.

The OER case study series aims to create high quality, publishable, open material to support, inform and guide the HE sector in the creation, use and re-use of Open Educational Resources under the following topics:

o     OER and student as producer

o     OER and student satisfaction

o     OER and staff development

o     OER and teaching quality

o     OER and distance learning

o     OER and public engagement

o     Changing the OER culture of your institution

o     Barriers to OER

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HEA travel fund

HEA launches UK travel fund

 The HEA has launched a travel fund to help UK staff and students attend conferences, network meetings and special interest groups that are being run in the UK. The fund is open to individuals or teams wishing to attend events which related to the HEA’s seven priority themes of: assessment; education for sustainable development; employability; internationalisation; flexible learning; retention and success; reward and recognition of teaching.

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Strategic Content Alliance Funding Opportunities 2011/12

 The JISC, on behalf of the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) invites tenders to create a syllabus of open digital resources and related training courses. This syllabus is intended to foster the development of a new generation of “digital entrepreneurs” within institutions and organisations who can support the long term sustainability and exploitation of cultural, educational and not-for-profit digital content.

   The JISC, on behalf of the Strategic Content Alliance (SCA) invites tenders to research the techniques and strategies being deployed by grant-funded digital content project leaders (e.g. project managers, senior responsible owners, collection developers) in eliciting host institutional decision makers (e.g. Provosts, Vice Chancellors, ICTHeads) support for the long term (post grant) development and sustainability of cultural, educational and not-for-profit digital content.

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JISC OER phase 3 – embedding and sustaining change

Information about this call for projects is  now available .All projects will involve the collection and release of OER. In addition, each will demonstrate the application of this activity in responding to identified opportunities and challenges for the sector.

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Use of technology for Impact and Outreach

 This is a category of  three awards for this year highlighting examples of best practice identified by the OxTALENT committee.

Julia Richardson received an award for the  audio admissions tours. The tours are a mobile learning and podcasting initiative by the admissions team to provide walking tours of the University suitable for applicants and their families. There are currently 6 audio tours available with accompanying map handouts. Prospective applicants can download podcasts and listen on their own portable audio players. Each tour covers a different subject theme and set of landmarks is narrated by an admissions staff member and recent Oxford graduate, allowing those who use them to wander Oxford guided by the voice of a recent student providing useful information.

Victoria Nash of Oxford Internet Institute won her  award for making use of synchronous online technology and live webstreaming for their Virtual Open Day. Virtual open days are often static web pages or videos to watch online. OII chose to  take the risk of doing it live on the web, taking questions from those watching all over the world.

The University College Alternative prospectus has received much interest and acclaim this year for being innovative in rethinking how an alternative prospectus should look. Although the result is a paper document, it is far from traditional and has been very popular amongst students. Anne-Marie  Canning won her award for her use of Facebook, Flickr and other social digital media to crowd-source her content from students and distribute her completed publication.

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Best Use of Student IT for Learning

Showing creativity, originality, impact and sustainability the Best Student Use of IT award went to Helen Ginn for her CMol iPhone and iPad application designed for easily viewing 3D renditions of biological molecules. The app enables undergraduate students, PhD students and researchers alike to analyse proteins on the go. CMol aims to deliver beautiful, colourful and interactive depictions of proteins downloaded from the Protein Data Bank. CMol is the first application on the iOS App Store to provide in-depth tools to analyse the structures of biomolecules and has sold over 450 copies to date in 35 different countries.

There were two runners-up prizes. The first was awarded to Oleksandr Zhurakovskyi, for his Organic Chemistry Reference Resolver tool. Currently used by 140-360 users per day. The tool is designed to facilitate reference retrieval from chemical literature. It recognizes a citation presented in a number of formats and redirects the user to the corresponding article webpage. The overall search time is reduced to about 15 seconds per reference. In addition to the web interface, there are browser extensions for Firefox, Safari, and Chrome as well as a small HTML-widget.

The second runners-up prize was awarded to Hannah Kirby for the design of the Hyper-Literary Oxford Map, an easily interfaced web-based software available to all on Google Maps, mapping each Oxford college to a list of literary figures to have studied there, hyperlinked to examples of work by or about each. Three walking routes additionally guide those interested in particular genres. The map has proved a great success already with both visitors to the city and students accustomed to its sights. It will form a part of the launch of Oxford’s bid to become the UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014, and has also been requested for embedding on the University Admissions and OUCS sites.

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