Oxford University Computing Services has employed a talented group of Oxford students on summer long internships in 2010 and 2011. Here's information on the projects they worked on in 2010.
1. Developing E-learning Case Studies
1.1. Isis Hjorth
Figure images/IsisHjorth.jpg [Isis Hjorth]
1.2. Project outline
This internship is to write and record e-learning case studies which will form part of a growing collection on the LTG website. It is an opportunity to work closely with a group of learning technologists and with academic staff who use the technology. During the 8 weeks Isis will develop interviewing skills, be supported in her use of recording and videoing equipment and be trained in a variety of graphics and publication tools. Isis will have opportunities to choose appropriate tools and strategies to produce the best case studies. Her work on this project will make a real impact and may achieve a national or international profile.
1.3. Project Outcomes
Isis wrote six e-learning case studies drawn from across the collegiate university and developed a strategy document for LTG suggesting ways in which we can focus and organise our case studies to support our marketing, promotion, outreach, reward and recognition activities. She worked closely with members of LTG and presented both the strategy and the case studies to the group at the LTG departmental awayday in September.
2. Upgrading our Mailing List Service
2.1. Krzysztof Iłowiecki
Figure images/KrzysztofIlowiecki.jpg [Krzysztof Iłowiecki]
2.2. Project outline
This internship is to explore requirements and options for an upgrade of the Linux-based electronic mail list service. Krzysztof will work alongside members of the Systems Development and Support Section, who are a largely Linux-based team responsible for running many of the University's central IT services.
In this 8-week project Krzysztof will liaise with selected University members to gather user requirements, investigate available mail list management packages, and develop a demonstration install of a preferred solution.
2.3. Project Outcomes
Krzysztof Iłowiecki joined the Systems Development and Support Section for 8 weeks during the Long Vacation 2010 to undertake the first stage of an upgrade to the University email list service (maillist.ox.ac.uk).
Krzysztof gathered input for the revised service design from a number of sources and then looked at services and software products that offer email list capabilities and which would be suitable for use within our infrastructure. Mailman, Sympa, and SubEtha were shorlisted with Sympa finally being chosen as the software used to build a demonstrator. Building the demonstrator allowed Krzysztof to identify any opportunities and pitfalls during the application deployment and configuration, and carry out development relating to a key unsupported area - integration with Oxford's identity and access management services. He gave a detailed technical report to the Systems Development and Support Section who will be tasked with carrying out the service upgrade in 2011.
Both Krzysztof and the Systems Development and Support team felt that the internship had been a great success. Krzysztof had been able to meet all of the original project objectives, exceeding expectations of the breadth and depth with which each task was covered. It had been a good opportunity for Krzysztof to gain experience of working in an University IT service team, and to work with a variety of people within OUCS and the wider University. The project had produced tangible and valuable results which will form the basis of the email list service upgrade.
3. Making WebLearn Video Tutorials and Guidance Sites
3.1. Kitty Tong
Figure images/KittyTong.jpg [Kitty Tong]
3.2. Project details
OUCS has produced a collection of written support materials for WebLearn, and through the services of Kitty, will enhance this by the addition of visual demonstrations. These video tutorials will demonstrate aspects of WebLearn such as a ‘tour’, ‘Getting started ‘, ‘How to use the Forums tool’, ‘How to create a survey’, and so on. Kitty will help to redesign the existing WebLearn Guidance support site, to make it more aesthetically pleasing and engaging.
3.3. Project Outcomes
Kitty Tong was employed over 8 weeks to produce video screen cast tutorials to demonstrate how to use some of the most important tools in WebLearn. Over the period Kitty produced 18 videos which are now available on the WebLearn Guidance site. Scripts were completed for a further 6 videos and work will continue to build additional video tutorials.
Another important outcome of the project is a set of Guidelines documenting the process of producing screen-cast videos which will benefit LTG in the future. It takes a significant amount of time to write scripts, test and edit the scripts, and do the technical production of the screen casts. We now have a blueprint in the form of sample scripts and a useful planning format.
We found the experience of employing a student intern to be a really effective way of producing a tangible outcome in a fixed period of time.
4. Oxgarage: Developing a Document Conversion Web Service
4.1. Lukas Platinsky
Figure images/lukas.jpg [Lukas Platinsky]
4.2. Project details
The aim of this short project was to set up, as a production service for Oxford University, a REST-enabled document conversion web service. This enables documents created in Word, OpenOffice, TEI XML, and Docbook to be metamorphosed to and from the other formats, and for all of them to be converted to ePub ebook format and PDF.
This work is based on Java servlet code developed by the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, and XSLT transformations written at OUCS.
Lukas gained experience of developing on an open source project, contributing to code written by others, helping to create a new public service, and setting up rigorous testing.
4.3. Project outcomes
Lukas Platinsky successfully enhanced, tested and redesigned the "ENRICH Garage" web service for translation between document formats, and took it to the stage where it now runs as a trial service called Oxgarage at http://oxgarage.oucs.ox.ac.uk. This new version includes ePub generation, and incorporates Open Office to manage a very wide variety of translations. The OxGarage service will now be considered as a fully supported OUCS service.
5. Hierarchical File Server (HFS): Porting TSM client to Microsoft Installer
5.1. Mohamed Mowafy
Figure images/MohamedMowafy.jpg [Mohamed Mowafy]
5.2. Project details
The HFS is a site-wide service allowing users across the University to backup their critical data to a central site. To do this requires the installation of a client software package onto the user's local machine.
With nearly 4,000 separate Windows systems using the HFS, we are now looking at investigating robust, standard package delivery mechanisms on Windows. The primary purpose will be to allow the easy installation of highly-configured software 'readymade' to use Oxford's HFS backup systems.
A secondary product may be the ability to allow local IT system managers to automate deployment of the configured software across hundreds of machines. In this way, clients’ machines will more easily keep their software uptodate, be ensured a working configuration and therefore be assured of working backups of their important work.
To this end Mohamed will investigate, evaluate and develop a method of delivering such a product on Windows systems.
5.3. Project outcomes
In the eight weeks of his internship, Mohamed fully investigated alternative packaging methods for the OUCS TSM client for Windows and recommended the use of Advanced Installer. This can be used to create an MSI wrapper package that can be used for a silent upgrade. He successfully developed and demonstrated this and created a template project for future use. Mohamed also prototyped the use of signing tools and additionally investigated and evaluated alternatives to VB6 for writing the OUCS TSM client package. We were very satisfied with Mohamed's work and plan to implement his recommendations when packaging the next version of the OUCS TSM client for Windows.