4. Project Reports

4.1. EAwareness (Europeana Awareness)

Workshop speakers and attendees

http://pro.europeana.eu/web/europeana-awareness

The team from the former RunCoCo project continue to work on "Europeana 1914-1918" in a large consortium (of over 48 partners representing every country of the Union) called "EAwareness" (Europeana Awareness). EAwareness is a "Best Practice Network", funded for 2012-2014.

  • In February in OUCS the team delivered face-to-face training to 30+ librarians and museum curators etc. from across Europe (about 12 countries represented). Then the team travelled to support those national librarians, etc. to run "Europeana 1914-1918" family history roadshows in their libraries (in Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, UK, Slovenia, Denmark, etc.) This has brought Oxford’s name into more than 300 press articles and news broadcasts this year, and collected 48,000+ digital objects from the public to the project website Our next campaigns are based locally (Banbury, Oxfordshire) and also Preston (Lancashire), and Belgium and Italy. Further campaigns are being negotiated, e.g. Cyprus, Malta, Switzerland, Israel, Austria, France. More information about the Europeana 1914-1918 project is available from http://pro.europeana.eu/web/europeana-1914-1918.
  • The open source software "RunCoCo" which the team has developed and distributed from 2006 onwards was re-purposed in 2012 by Europeana and continues to form the online collection mechanism for the contributions the public upload to the project website.
  • The team took part in technical/expert meetings including: Europeana Awareness meeting, The Hague (Jan 2012); Culture for Digital Innovation, Brussels (May 2012); the Europeana Plenary, Leuven (June 2012).
  • The team continue to answer the frequent online and telephone enquiries about online community collections and the First World War Poetry Digital Archive (another OUCS site) and from the media on a best effort basis.

4.2. Information Security

http://www.it.ox.ac.uk/security

InfoSec (the information security project) is a continuation from the Information Security Best Practice projects (ISBP) based at OUCS. A new team has been put together under the Director of IT Risk Management responsible for helping the collegiate University to be compliant with a set of IS policies, to serve as a bridge to permanent information security (IS) activity for the University to be based in IT Services.

The project began in February 2012 and the InfoSec team’s major achievement to date has been to prepare an Information Security Policy which has been endorsed by University Council (on 9th July 2012).

An IS policy is a fundamental requirement for any organisation today and is essential in order to help the University and its members meet their legal obligations. This policy officially confirms that information security is a priority for the University, and the new IS policy has full divisional and college support, and is the product of consultation and research by the project team with staff from the Medical Sciences Division, the Computer Science Department, the Oxford University Cyber Security Centre, Legal Services, Council Secretariat and Personnel. The InfoSec project is driven in close collaboration with the Internal Auditors.

Jonathan Ashton (Information Security Officer) said: "Information security is not just about locking systems down, it is about making informed decisions and providing all members of the University with the tools needed to carry out their work efficiently and securely. Whilst everybody has responsibilities for security, the InfoSec team are here to help and responsibilities start from the top down. For example, heads of department are responsible for information security within their department."

While staff resource allocated is sufficient for the project objectives, these same staff members are experts who are responsible for advising the University on its response to business-critical issues. The University achieved compliance by the end of May 2012 with the new EU cookie law, (after The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (PECRs)).

Information security is a broader issue than just IT and compliance won't happen overnight. In the next year all of the necessary guidance will be provided by the InfoSec team and they will start to educate staff to work more securely. Security awareness work begins with 'proof-of-concept' risk assessment activities within units in the University, identifying those whose informational assets are most valuable or most at risk. InfoSec will also undertake the work necessary to create a permanent enterprise-wide activity that will deliver best possible information security for Oxford.

For further information see http://www.it.ox.ac.uk/security.

4.3. WebLearn Projects

4.3.1. Turnitin Service

http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/turnitin/

Turnitin is an external (JISC supported) product for which the university has a site-wide licence. The Turnitin service is supported by the WebLearn team which provides a help desk, creates Turnitin instructor accounts (turnitin@it.ox.ac.uk), and offers consultation and training for staff and students.

4.3.1.1. Information about the Turnitin Service
4.3.1.2. User Support

The OUCS Help Desk (turnitin@it.ox.ac.uk) is the primary point of contact for Turnitin queries and handles the creation of Turnitin instructor accounts on request. Procedures have been put in place to check the credentials of requestors in order to comply with the Turnitin licence (which covers only the work of registered Oxford students). Over the reporting period 138 RT tickets were created and addressed, although this includes newsletters and notices from the national Turnitin service providers.

The TurnitinUK (direct) site contains detailed help and support materials in the form of user guides and video demonstrations. Where necessary, additional guides have been developed and made available in the staff support site in WebLearn (e.g. Quick Guide to GradeMark).

4.3.1.3. Case Studies

Case studies in the use of Turnitin at Oxford are being developed and made available in the staff support site (https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info/plag). Three case studies were completed during the reporting period:

  1. Blavatnik School of Government: Pilot of Turnitin Admissions
  2. Oxford Brookes University: Trial use of GradeMark
  3. Department of Education, Oxford University: Use of Turnitin in identifying a case of plagiarism (includes a video podcast available on the LTG blog and on YouTube)
4.3.1.4. Turnitin Usage Statistics

Submissions can be made either to TurnitinUK (direct) or through the WebLearn Assignments tool. The WebLearn-Turnitin integration uses a single admin account, so no instructor accounts are reflected for WebLearn alone. The figures in the table below are presented in the three graphs which follow.

Table 52. Turnitin figures as at 31 July
20112012
Instructors Students Submissions Instructors Students Submissions
Turnitin direct 71 125 1873 110 132 2907
Via WebLearn [admin a/c] 607 1140 [admin a/c] 1093 2266
Totals 71 732 3013 110 1225 5173
Figure 38. Number of instructor accounts (as at 31 July)

(WebLearn uses a single admin account in the Turnitin interface)

Figure 39. Number of students with accounts in Turnitin (as at 31 July)
Figure 40. Number of student pieces of work submitted to Turnitin (as at 31 July)
4.3.1.5. Turnitin Courses

Several courses on Turnitin and WebLearn assessment tools are planned as part of the SIPA project. The following courses were developed and offered for the first time during the reporting year:

Table 53. Turnitin courses
Course title Attendees Frequency
Plagiarism: Turnitin Fundamentals 14 Three-hour course, once per term
Plagiarism: Interpreting Turnitin originality reports 13 Lunch time session, once per term
Plagiarism: WebLearn and Turnitin 22 Lunch time session, once per term
Plagiarism: How to avoid it (for students) 27 Two-hour session, once per term, plus customised courses on request
Turnitin User Group 23 Two-hour session, once per term
4.3.1.6. Turnitin User Group

The Turnitin User Group was established and held its first meeting on 30 April 2012. The purpose of the User Group is to disseminate information about institutional policy and practice and to enable interested parties to come together to share ideas and to hear about recent and future developments. Guest speakers are invited to come and give a short informal presentation on their experience in using Turnitin. The speaker at the April 2012 meeting was Michaela Graham who shared the Blavatnik School of Government experience in piloting the separate product ‘Turnitin for Admissions’. As a result of the pilot, the University authorities are considering purchasing a ‘Turnitin Admissions’ licence to scan submissions from prospective students.

All divisions and units such as the Bodleian Libraries and the Proctors’ Office were approached and asked to nominate a representative to serve on the User Group. There is a site in WebLearn (https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info/plag/tiiug), which is open to any staff member who wishes to join it. There are currently 67 members of the group. The site includes a mailing list so that members can pose questions and share ideas with each other. Audio recordings of the presentations at the face-to-face group meetings are made available in the Podcasts tool on the site.

4.3.1.7. Pilot Projects

Pilot projects are underway to test the use of other products in the Turnitin suite, namely GradeMark (online marking and annotations) and PeerMark (student peer marking and assessment).

A new pilot project is planned for Michaelmas Term 2012 to test the new WebLearn Assignments2 tool, which has improved integration features with Turnitin. The improved Assignments2 tool will enable the WebLearn team to promote this route to using Turnitin, rather than the direct TurnitinUK route.

4.3.1.8. Conferences and National Turnitin User Group

The Turnitin licence allows two staff members to attend the bi-annual, national Turnitin User Group meeting which is held at different institutions. Two team members attended the meeting at the University of Edinburgh in February 2012, and one representative attended the meeting in Newcastle in July 2012.

The Turnitin learning technologist attended the 5th International Plagiarism Conference in Newcastle during July 2012. A presentation is planned for the next conference (2014), when we will have some results to report from the SIPA project.

4.3.1.9. SIPA Project (Supporting Institutional Practice for feedback and Assessment)

The Learning Technologies Group was awarded PICT funding to appoint a learning technologist on an 18-month contract running from November 2011, to focus on feedback and assessment practice across the University. The project includes support and training for Turnitin and allied products GradeMark (online marking and annotations) and PeerMark (student peer marking and assessment).

Training courses, and support materials have been developed. See 4.3.5. SIPA (Supporting Institutional Practice for feedback and Assessment) for details.

4.3.2. SES II – Further Development of a Student Enrolment System Tool

The SES II project is an extension to GTimes and was completed successfully in December 2011. The tool provides an interface for students to enroll in graduate skills training courses and guides courses administrators and tutors through the workflow associate with this process.

This second phase of development was to:

  • enhance functionality for existing users: students, academic staff, and administrators
  • develop the inter-operability of the system, enable data to be transferred to other systems, and enable the WebLearn front-end to interact with other databases
  • provide for the particular needs of the Humanities and Medical Sciences Divisions, so that all divisions could adopt the SES as their enrolment tool for suitable training and teaching
  • provide for most of these needs from Michaelmas Term 2011, until such time as the needs were fulfilled as part of the Student Systems replacement project
  • document the technical requirements and processes of phases I and II, and provide a blueprint, based on the experiences of both phases, for a future Student Enrolment System as part of the Student Systems replacement project
4.3.2.1. Impact of the Project

The SES has been used since the start of 2010-11 by the MPLS Graduate Academic Programme (GAP) for all its graduate training. In Social Sciences, following pilots in 2010-11, it is being used by the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre for graduate training that is shared across departments, and by some departments for all graduate training. During 2010 -11, there were over 3,000 visits to the MPLS SES site and nearly 4,000 to the Social Sciences site. In 2011 -12, there have been 3821 and 5336 visits respectively. In Hilary Term 2012, SES was piloted by the Humanities division for their divisional training and by the Social Science Library for their DPhil research training workshops.

4.3.3. OxCAP – Oxford Course Advertising Project

Oxford cricket cap
Figure 41. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oxforduniversitycricket/5786649005/

OxCAP is a JISC funded initiative to expose data (as an XML feed) about all graduate skills training courses available to graduates at Oxford – it is due to complete in March 2013. This project has the explicit backing of the PVC for Education and the Registrar.

Individual training providers across the University will supply details about their courses in electronic format (either via a Share Point site or as an XCRI-CAP feed or CSV feed) to the Oxford Open Data platform which is managed by IT Services. Information about the courses will be stored and made available as a series of data feeds; there will be an authenticated feed for internal use (via WebLearn’s SES tool) and a OGL licensed public feed (containing slightly fewer courses) which can be used by anybody that finds a need.

When complete, this will mean that graduate students will have a ‘one-stop-shop’ (in WebLearn) of available training modules with a search facility and links to book a place. The project will enable us to demonstrate the excellent training available to our graduates and help to attract the best students to Oxford from around the world.

4.3.4. OXAM Migration

The OXAM database of past exam papers has been rewritten as a WebLearn tool. It is an online repository allowing students and staff access to previous exam papers. Students can search by keyword in paper title, exam title or exam code; or by a drop-down search on examination title and year. The papers are retrieved as PDF files. The system has many thousands of requests per day during the pre-exam period in Trinity term.

The new service matches the functionality of the old service and importantly adds much needed improvements:

  • improved search interface
  • improved logging during bulk upload process
  • improved administrator access including the ability for administrators to correct erroneous data online

The new tool will go live in time for Michaelmas Term 2012.

4.3.5. SIPA (Supporting Institutional Practice for feedback and Assessment)

Two artists, one copying the other
Figure 42. Photo credit: Bridgeman Education; artist Honore Daumier

The SIPA project (run by the WebLearn team) works with academic and administrative staff members across the University to investigate assessment and feedback practices and to invite user input. The project promotes and supports the use of the external Turnitin plagiarism detection and prevention service and allied products GradeMark (online marking and annotations) and PeerMark (student peer marking and assessment). Turnitin is integrated into the WebLearn Assignments tool (version 1) and system improvements will be recommended after piloting the new Assignments2 tool during Michaelmas Term 2012.

We are investigating current institutional processes and policy in terms of academic writing and plagiarism prevention in collaboration with the Education Committee, the Proctors' office, Continuing Education, the Bodleian libraries and the Oxford Learning Institute. A Turnitin User Group has been established, which meets once per term and has a site in WebLearn (https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info/plag/tiiug). Case studies and help guides are available in the Plagiarism (Turnitin) support site for staff (https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info/plag). A student support site has also been created (https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/skills/plag) as part of the Skills Hub. It offers a collection of plagiarism tutorials, videos and useful links for students.

New training courses for academic staff have been developed, including ‘Turnitin Fundamentals’, and ‘Interpreting Turnitin Originality Reports’. The course ‘Plagiarism: How to avoid it (for students)’ includes guest presenters from Continuing Education and the Bodleian libraries. The course promotes academic writing and study skills and supports students in learning how to avoid unintentional plagiarism. It has proved to be very popular, and has been requested by particular departments as a customised course for their students.

A Turnitin Service Level Description (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/internal/sld/turnitin.xml) has been developed, as well as a web page ‘About Turnitin’ (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/turnitin/).

  • Duration: November 2011 - April 2013
  • Funded by the University of Oxford PRAC ICT Sub-Committee

4.4. CLAROS and Metamorphoses

http://www.clarosnet.org/, http://data.clarosnet.org

Claros logo
CLAROS is an international research collaboration using modern computing technologies to enable simultaneous searching of major collections of cultural heritage material in university research institutes and museums. It is led from Oxford (Classics, OeRC, Zoology, OUCS, Engineering Science, and Ashmolean Museum), with partners in France, Germany, Italy, and Greece.

The Fell Fund have supported work for CLAROS at OUCS which is creating a geolocation co-reference service, to link disparate data together by means of common place names, and links those place names to standard gazetteers and locations. This Metamorphoses has completed the mapping and geosearching component of CLAROS, and established a gazetteer of c.7000 places, of which 5500 are geolocated, 4300 linked to the geonames resource, and 560 linked to the Pleiades ancient world gazetter.

A substantially new data interface was created for Claros, at http://data.clarosnet.org/, incorporating a SPARQL endpoint, mapping, free text searching, and browsing.

Members of the team worked on two large EU funding bids for CLAROS, neither of which were funded.

4.5. Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE)

http://www.ldse.org.uk

In the LDSE project six institutions* collaborated on researching and developing an intelligent tool, the Learning Designer, which was intended to enable lecturers to experiment with innovative approaches to the curriculum and the creative possibilities opened up by digital technologies. By the end of the project in November 2011, we had developed a working prototype of the tool and evaluated it with over 40 academic staff and learning technologists, including members of the LTG.

Members of the Oxford-based team continued to be active in disseminating the research findings from the project, including conferences and workshops in London, Birmingham and Sydney. A team member also participated in a Learning Design ‘summit’ at Macquarie University in Sydney. In terms of publications, LTG staff contributed to a collaborative article which has now been published in the Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, and had data included in a chapter for the 2nd edition of Rethinking Pedagogy. At least two further journal articles are in preparation.

A slimmed-down research team, received additional funding from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills. In collaboration with the Learning and Skills Improvement Service we explored the potential value of the Learning Designer to teachers in Further Education (December 2011–April 2012).

Although the LDSE project did not result in a robust tool for everyday use, outcomes for the LTG have been:

  • a deeper understanding of lecturers’ practice that we obtained in the research phase,
  • an increased expertise in conducting software evaluations,
  • the development of a theory-informed approach to these evaluations, and
  • valuable outreach into the FE sector.

* Institute of Education, Birkbeck University of London, LSE, Royal Veterinary College, London Metropolitan University, University of Oxford.

4.6. Modelling4All

http://modelling4all.org

The Modelling4All Project is developing a web-based tool designed to support teachers, learners and researchers, including those with little or no programming experience, to build, share, and discuss computer models. Using only a web browser users assemble model components, run interactive simulations of their models, and analyse the results. All of this is tied together within a Web 2.0 community where models, components, guides, and tutorials are shared.

Together with members of the Zoology Department, we developed an on-line guide for biology students to build models of epidemics that spread over social networks. The students built different models of epidemics, executed the models, and collected results in a single practical session.

We have worked with the Säid Business School to develop an on-line guide for building and studying an artificial society called Sugarscape. MBA students and MSc students with no programming experience built a series of models in from the book Growing Artificial Societies by Joshua M. Epstein and Robert Axtell. The students' understanding of the process of computer modelling was deepened by having a first-hand experience building models.

We offered introductory and advanced agent-based modelling courses to entire University community. We co-organised University-wide meetings on agent-based modelling.

We have closely collaborated with Explaining Religion Project members in the design and construction of a model of the dynamics of divergent modes of religiosity. We co-authored and submitted a journal paper on this.

We have provided support and training to staff in the Department of Politics and International Relationsefforts to build a model of the possible dynamics resulting from a ban on wearing Burkas in public. Together we wrote a proposal to the ESRC on enabling domain experts to build models of the Arab spring rebellions.

We have co-authored two research proposals with Anthropology staff.

We collaborated with the Stockholm Environment Institute on a project involving agent-based modelling to support artisanal fishers in the developing world.

We have had meetings with many other University researchers to provide guidance in building agent-based models. This includes a model of medieval populations by an archaeology researcher and a model of international migration with a researcher from the International Migration Institute.

Together with the World War One Centenary Project we built an agent-based model of the Spanish Flu Pandemic. We authored both student and teacher guides to this simulation.

Screen shot of the Spanish Flu model
Figure 43. Screen shot of the Spanish Flu model

We built upon our web-based tools an Epidemic Game Maker and displayed it at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in collaboration with the Zoology Department. This software permitted visitors to build models and games (models with interactive interventions to counteract the epidemic) in just a few minutes. During the exhibition over a thousand epidemic models and games were created by visitors that ranged from Royal Society Fellows to young children. We published a paper about the design and use of this software.

4.7. Nexus Projects

4.7.1. Nexus Exchange 2010 Upgrade (Phase 2) Project

The Nexus Exchange 2010 Upgrade (Phase 2) project followed on directly from the Nexus Exchange and SharePoint 2010 Upgrades project that ran in 2010/11. The phase 2 project ran from August 2011 to July 2012 and involved replacing all of the infrastructure (storage and servers) underpinning the Exchange 2007 service and migrating mailboxes from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010.

The intended benefits of the project were:

  • Long term savings on storage infrastructure
  • Cement utility in a central Groupware service available to all members of the collegiate University
  • Long term savings on storage infrastructure
  • Various Management benefits

From the end-users’ viewpoint the benefits were:

  • Exchange 2010 functionality available to all Oxford Nexus users
  • User benefits in cross-browser compatibility and general performance

Our overall project objectives were to test and prepare the hardware infrastructure required for a move to Exchange 2010; and migrate the Nexus service from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 with as little user disruption as possible.

We had design assistance from HP, as well as a great contribution towards the hardware cost of the project. A major benefit in terms of cost was the use of relatively cheap direct attached storage (DAS) in preference to a storage area network (SAN), something which Exchange 2010 is ultimately designed to take advantage of. Infrastructure was ordered in late summer 2011 and was largely configured by the end of 2011. However, there was a great deal of work to be done in order to ensure a smooth transition from Exchange 2007 to Exchange 2010 and to support the wide range of email and groupware clients used across the University. A great deal of testing was performed throughout the winter of 2011/12 and some strategic options given to the Project Board. Migration schedules were published to IT Support Staff in January for comments/amendment.

Migrations to Exchange 2010 began with a few early adopters in January and larger groups in February. There was noticeable impact to very small numbers of users of particular client software (Apple Mail, Davmail and NTLM in particular), but most people were notified of their overnight migration and presumably did not notice any change, apart from a vastly improved Outlook Web App (webmail) interface the following day.

The first mass migrations began on 4th March, averaging 2,500 mailboxes per night. By the end of March 2012 over 99% of Nexus mailboxes had been successfully migrated. We ended up with a few problem mailboxes (to be expected for a migration project of this size) but these were resolved gradually before the end of May 2012. Background work took us up to July to complete, including looking at service packs and considering anti-virus options, but the project was seen as a great success, given the extremely large scale of the migrations

The greatest challenges had been:

  • Planning for minimal user impact in the sense of avoiding people having to re-configure software
  • Avoiding a change of name space
  • Involving local IT support staff (both a challenge and a benefit)
  • Planning for co-existence (when some users are working with Exchange 2010, but others are still with Exchange 2007)
  • Controlling the stress on the backup service (HFS): migrations generate logs which must be backed up, and whitespace in the Exchange 2007 databases created as accounts were moved is also backed up
  • Migrating without loss of data (including deleted items) and negotiating the best way forward with users where corrupt content was found
  • Migrating the final 13 users who had hidden corruption in their mailboxes

4.7.2. The SharePoint Best Practice Project (Phase 1)

https://sharepoint.nexus.ox.ac.uk/

This project is funded for 12 months and began in June 2012.

The SharePoint Best Practice (Phase 1) project aims to:

  • develop tools and provide support to enable SharePoint to be used across the University of Oxford to support the work of committees
  • develop tools, templates and best practice regarding site design to meet key business needs
  • take the knowledge output, and to apply this more widely for use in exemplars, templates for other committees and purposes across the University
  • document knowledge as to how to use particular software clients and mobile hardware with the SharePoint service

The project began well in June and productive meetings with the Social Sciences Divisional Office and the Council Secretariat followed shortly after that.

4.8. Open Education Projects

4.8.1. Great Writers Inspire

http://writersinspire.org

part of great writers website

Great Writers Inspire, a JISC funded Open Education project, is formally ending in October 2012. It brings together thousands of open literature resources which are made freely available for reuse, remixing and repurposing for the benefit of teaching and learning worldwide. Working with staff and students in English the project new and existing open educational resources (OER) have been curated into thematic collections.

Key facts:

  • 185 full lectures from podcasts.ox.ac.uk
  • 3030 ebooks; of which 2724 are from the Oxford Text Archive, 156 from the Oxford Google Books Project, 115 from ebooks@Adelaide
  • 115 OERs from external sources
  • 41 new audio recordings
  • 32 new video recordings from over 30 academic staff
  • 87 new scholarly essays.

Project blog: http://blogs.oucs.ox.ac.uk/openspires

4.8.2. SPINDLE – Indexing Media by Automatic Speech Recognition

http://blogs.oucs.ox.ac.uk/openspires/category/spindle/

SPINDLE – Using Automatic Speech to Text Technology to generate better cataloguing of our open media, has recently completed. It was funded by JISC as part of their Rapid Technical Innovation in Open Educational Resources strand. SPINDLE has released a series of 20 reports on Automatic Speech to Text cataloguing applications and a set of prototype software tools to help automatically generate keywords from media files, to batch generate captions and to correct text transcripts. The prototype software was successfully tested against the OpenSpires media repository at Oxford.

Show process from speech to automatic transcription and keyword
                                generation
Figure 44. Process from speech recording to automatic transcription and keyword generation

4.8.3. Student Digital Experience (DIGE)

Project report: https://sharepoint.nexus.ox.ac.uk/sites/SSP/dige/

The investigation into the Student Digital Experience (DIGE) was carried out between October 2011 and May 2012, and was a collaboration between the LTG and the Student Systems Programme (which provided the funding). Our aim was to define the Oxford student online experience that appropriately supports Oxford’s traditional teaching methods, graduate skills expectations, and the social dimension of student life. We also sought to construct a vision for the systems and services needed over the next five years to ensure that our students enjoy a world-class digital experience worthy of their world-class academic experience.

The project was divided into two broad areas: ‘Mapping the Architecture’ and ‘Mapping the Landscape’. In the first, we created and analysed an overview of the technical architecture – the interfaces and applications that make up the student digital experience. In the second, we gathered data from over 700 students and over 100 staff by a number of methods. This work was supplemented by an investigation into other universities and by a review of the use of technology in secondary schools in the UK.

Our findings show that Oxford offers a good range of digital services in support of teaching, learning, and administration. It provides online information throughout the student life cycle, from prospective applicants through the three main levels of study – undergraduate, taught postgraduate, and research postgraduate – to the alumni community, and underpins these services with an expanding set of infrastructure services that include the wireless network and Single-Sign On. The University strives to cater for the digital needs of students with disabilities and of an ever-growing number of international students. It has also made good efforts to provide support services such as IT training and mentoring to all students and staff. In some areas, Oxford provides services that other UK institutions either do not offer or are only just beginning to offer, such as Mobile Oxford and the podcasts released through iTunes U.

In summary, Oxford equals – and in some aspects outpaces – equivalent HE institutions in the UK, as well as some overseas ones. Nonetheless, our work with students and staff indicates some complexity, uneven distribution, and gaps in support: hence the 43 recommendations which are made in the project report.

The Education Committee approved the report and recommendations at its meeting in June. The LTG is currently preparing proposals to implement at least three of these: developing a portal-style gateway; enhancing students’ experience of WebLearn; and investigating how academic staff can best be supported to develop their IT skills and optimising the use of digital technologies in their teaching.

4.9. The OER Engagement Study

The OER Engagement Study was conducted between September 2011 and July 2012 as part of a SCORE fellowship. Its remit was to investigate the ways in which higher education institutions, individual faculties and academic support staff foster engagement with reuse of open educational resources (OER) among lecturers. Specifically, the following questions were addressed:

  1. What are the main approaches that higher education institutions, individual departments and support staff adopt to promote the reuse of OER among lecturers and what motivates their choices?
  2. What is the optimal level of engagement with OER reuse from the perspective of different stakeholder roles, and what steps must lecturers go through in order to reach the optimal level?

Qualitative data were collected from a total of 17 participants: a) promoters of OER engagement initiatives, b) lecturers who participated in training on OER, and c) faculty OER champions.

The major outcome of the study is the OER Engagement Ladder which models progression stages in lecturers’ engagement with OER. Each stage describes the barriers that lecturers are likely to encounter on the way towards the optimal level of OER engagement and the kinds of institutional support they might need to move things forward. The model is of high relevance to anyone who seeks to strategically encourage open practice in their institution. Main beneficiaries include: academic librarians, staff developers, learning technologists and staff responsible for implementation of graduate attributes into curricula.

Stepped diagram showing OER Engagement Ladder: no to full
                            engagement
Figure 45. OER Engagement Ladder

4.10. RunCoCo: How to Run a Community Collection Online

http://runcoco.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

Discussion meeting
Figure 46. One of the many discussion meeting with our European partners

Although funding for the RunCoCo project ended in 2011, the team continue to disseminate findings from the project (OUCS 2010-2011) about how to run a community collection online and The Great War Archive (OUCS 2008), in line with LTG strategy, and with expenses covered by conference organisers or on a consultancy basis, e.g.

  • Devised a social media strategy for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (consultancy Sept 2011)
  • Took part in technical/expert meetings including: Digital Strategies for Heritage, Rotterdam (Nov 2011).
  • Delivered papers to international and UK conferences including: Anfrage Konferenz der "International Society for First World War Studies" Innsbruck (Sept 2011); ETech, Vienna (Oct 2011); Norsk Kulturrad, Lillehammer (Nov 2011).
  • Helped run family history roadshows for Europeana 1914-1918 in Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland, Slovenia and Denmark (consultancy Nov 2011 – April 2012, as well as involvement as part of the EAwareness project).
  • Contributed to bids for further community collections relating to the First World War, including successful collaboration towards the University’s participation in the large consortium called EAwareness (January 2012 onwards )

In addition, the team continue to answer the frequent online and telephone enquiries about online community collections and the First World War Poetry Digital Archive (another OUCS site) and from the media on a best effort basis.

Filming at a collection day event
Figure 47. Filming at one of the European collection day events

For further information please see http://runcoco.oucs.ox.ac.uk/.

4.11. Research Data Management Infrastructure Projects

4.11.1. Virtual Infrastructure with Database as a Service (VIDaaS)

http://vidaas.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

The JISC-funded VIDaaS Project ran from May 2011 to March 2012 and involved the creation of ‘Database as a Service’ (DaaS) software designed to be hosted on Cloud infrastructure, specifically the VMware cloud infrastructure offered by Oxford’s new data centre.

The DaaS is an online tool that enables researchers to build, edit, search, and share databases online. We had already started work on a pilot DaaS during the earlier Sudamih Project, but this software was intended to be hosted on conventional servers, and was built as a proof of concept rather than a full enterprise-level service for researchers at the University. By March 2012 we had essentially completed the DaaS with its planned initial functionality but not with the requisite levels of security in place to go live.

The service based upon the DaaS will be called the Online Research Database Service, and will form part of the portfolio of services run by OUCS. The additional work to ensure that the service is fully robust and secure is now being undertaken by a follow-on project (The ORDS Maturity Project), and the service should be ready to go live by the end of 2012.

Besides developing the software, the project involved user requirements gathering, service design, and establishing the costs and benefits of the planned service. All of these aspects are covered in the VIDaaS final report, which is available from http://vidaas.oucs.ox.ac.uk/docs/VIDaaS_FinalReport.pdf.

Database creation form
Figure 48. Database creation form
Database table diagram showing links between tables in
                                database
Figure 49. Database table diagram

4.11.2. Data Management Roll-out at Oxford

http://damaro.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

Data Management Rollout at Oxford (DaMaRO) is a collaborative project involving staff from OUCS and the Bodleian Libraries working alongside researchers and research support staff from the academic divisions. It is creating a research data management policy for the University and the infrastructure to enable researchers to comply with it.

We will be taking the outputs of the various research data management projects that the University has been engaged in over the last few years and combining them into a better-integrated suite of tools and discovery mechanisms that will support researchers throughout the data life-cycle, from planning to re-use.

Of particular note is the 'DataFinder' tool that DaMaRO will be developing. This will enable the discovery of data hosted in various places around the University and beyond, including the Bodleian Libraries' 'DataBank', the Online Research Database Service (ORDS), departmental and other local data stores, the Web 2 research management network 'Colwiz', and hopefully the 'LabTrove' system developed by the University of Southampton. In time it will also connect this data with research papers and publications held in the Oxford University Research Archive (ORA).

Besides software development, the DaMaRO Project will develop data management training and documentation for researchers, expanding and adding to the materials developed during the Sudamih Project and the other projects funded by the JISC Managing Research Data Programme. A long-term business plan for providing and maintaining the DaMaRO enterprise environment will also be developed during the course of the project.

Poster showing how damaro works
Figure 50. Poster showing how damaro works

4.12. Text Encoding Initiative

http://www.tei-c.org/, http://tei.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

TEI logo

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Consortium is an international project creating detailed guidelines and XML schemata for the encoding of texts. The University of Oxford is a partner of the Consortium, through the Oxford e-Research Centre. Martin Wynne at OeRC is a member of the TEI Board of Directors, and represents Oxford's interests.

The TEI experts at OUCS have supported, actively participated in, and helped to implement the final decisions of, the TEI Technical Council (of which they are elected members) during 2011-12. They have taken a particular lead in work on the family of XSL stylesheets for processing TEI documents and helping to maintain the TEI's technical infrastructure. James Cummings was appointed Chair of the Technical Council in November 2011.

The TEI team have presented and taught TEI and related topics at a number of conferences and meetings around the world. A number of bespoke TEI-training workshops were taught for research projects within the University. They also organised a more general week-long Digital Humanities summer school with nearly 100 delegates in Oxford in July 2012, which included substantial coverage of TEI, and included teaching by staff from OUCS, OeRC, Bodley and OII.

All the TEI conformant texts in the Oxford Text Archive are now being made available in XML, HTML, ePub, Kindle and plain texts formats using locally developed tools.

4.13. OSS Watch

http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/

Osswatch logo

OSS Watch is a JISC-funded service providing advice, guidance, and support to UK Further and Higher Education on using, developing and contributing to open source software. OSS Watch has been hosted by OUCS since its inception in 2003.

We offer support to open source projects on three levels. This work ranges from reactive support, consisting mostly of replying to queries, to full hands-on guidance on open development projects. This year we're working with a range of projects, including Rogo and Xerte at the University of Nottingham, DataFlow at the Bodleian, BeBop at the University of Lincoln, as well as looking to work soon with new projects such as ORDS here at Oxford. The Openness Maturity Model (aka Openness Rating) developed at OSS Watch is also now well established as part of our project support process.

In 2012 we produced a lot of new briefing notes, particularly on open source communities, governance and processes, aimed at helping projects establish the structures and practices they need to put in place to become more sustainable. In the next year, we plan to publish further high quality briefing content, however, we will focus more on the procurement of open source solutions and helping institutions evaluate open source alternatives when procuring software systems.

We are developing new resources, training and consultancy based around the Software Sustainability Maturity Model (SSMM) developed by OSS Watch in partnership with several external companies as a core part of this work. This will also form the core of our engagement with other public sector agencies and government departments.

Last year saw the creation of a spin-out company from the OSS Watch services, Open Directive. This year we've been working in close partnership with OpenDirective, and also with other companies active in promoting open development, including running a training course for CENATIC in Spain. We also worked with OpenDirective on the VRE Synthesis Project for JISC.

We started a programme of extending our work with further education colleges through the network of JISC Regional Support Centres; this will be a particularly important audience for information and services relating to procurement.

Last year we again ran our successful Open Source Junction events, focussed on bringing together academia and business and identifying potential partnerships for open innovation; we held two events, on mobile and cloud computing, with participants from both industry and universities well represented. In the coming year we'll hold two more of these events; the first of these, on Open Source Hardware, will be in March.

4.14. UCISA

http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/

UCISA, the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association, is a membership organisation representing those responsible for delivering information management systems and technology services in universities, colleges and other institutions. UCISA membership is institutional and has almost 100% coverage within the higher education sector in the UK. UCISA also has over 90 corporate members. The Association is based in Oxford and is hosted by OUCS.

Peter Tinson giving conference talk
Figure 51. Peter Tinson giving a talk at the UCISA conference

UCISA's aims are to promote best practice through events, awards, and publications, and to represent the interests of its members through lobbying, responding to consultations, and building relationships with other groups (typically through UCISA’s active involvement in committees and working parties).

UCISA ran 20 events last year. These ranged from one-day seminars on encouraging academic use of technology enhanced learning, the increased presence of mobile devices in higher education and the implementation of customer relationship management systems, to multi-day conferences for directors of information services, heads of corporate information systems and user support staff. Resources produced by UCISA include a briefing paper on cloud computing aimed at non-technical senior managers, and an information security toolkit which 15 universities have used to derive policies from.

Sue Fells chatting with attendees
Figure 52. Sue Fells chatting with attendees

During 2011-12 UCISA represented the community in discussions with Government departments and agencies. UCISA staff and UCISA special interest group members were called on throughout the year to advise many different groups from the Student Loans Company to Universities UK’s panel on Modernisation and Efficiency. UCISA’s Corporate Information Systems Group contributed to initial review work on admissions processes, and informed the response UCISA submitted to UCAS on the technical considerations required for a post-awards qualifications system (UCAS’s Admissions Process Review consultation). On this occasion UCISA also championed the interests of suppliers of student records systems alongside higher and further education institutions. UCISA’s special interest group for networking liaised closely with Janet, the UK’s research and education network, to produce guidelines for dealing with standard copyright infringement notices. The group also worked with Janet to promote the use of eduroam throughout the academic sector.

In the coming year UCISA will continue to invest in resources that help members to demonstrate the strategic value of IT in their institutions and put information technology at the forefront of the student experience.

4.15. World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings

http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

In January 2012 the Learning Technologies Group was awarded a grant under the JISC World War One Commemorations Programme to develop an Open Educational Resource (OER) to support new directions in teaching the First World War and challenge existing misconceptions about the conflict.

Map showing important war places
Figure 53. Map shows the places named in the the blog posts contributed to the site

World War I Centenary: Continuations and Beginnings is an open-access online platform that provides materials for free reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Sharealike Licence. Materials are presented through thematic collections that have been developed by an academic steering panel.

Centenary advertising poster for the project
Figure 54. WW1 centenary advertising poster

Highlights include:

  • 70 blog posts from 28 contributors who are experts in the field, including topics such as Memory and War, Communicable Disease, Gender and Intimacy, Conflict Culture, and Material Culture.
  • 15 interactive maps including ‘Military Engagements of World War I’, ‘Commonwealth Cemeteries of WW1’, ‘Terrains of World War I’ and ‘Military Maps of Arras 1917’.
  • Three virtual world simulations, including an underground excursion into the tunnels of the Western Front,
  • An agent-based model that requires no programming knowledge to explore the relation between the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and the First World War.
  • Six new podcasts from leading members of the International Society for First World War Studies including titles such as ‘The Historian and the Centenary’, ‘The Indian Sepoy on the Western Front’and ‘Surplus Women: the First World War and its impact on Emigration, Work and Marriage’.
  • @Arras95 - a crowdsourced teaching collection drawn together via real-time tweeting over the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Arras (1917).
  • Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the British Library to improve articles relating to World War I.
  • A searchable resource library surfacing over 600 items selected from the World Wide Web. Materials include video and audio podcasts, ebooks, articles, photographs and images that can be downloaded, repurposed and republished under the project’s license.
  • Developers Area, providing access to code, widgets, RSS and an API.

The project was led LTG staff and worked closely with a team of academics and student ambassadors from across the country in the selection and development of content. To embed the resource in Oxford, in September 2012 the project hosted a workshop attended by academics, librarians and teaching graduates from across the University. Together with a series of interviews the workshop fed into an evaluation report which, whilst specifically addressing the projects value, also has wider relevance for the use of OER in teaching and learning in the Higher Education sector.

Up: Contents Previous: 3. Review 2011-12