1. Beyond Borders – and Ash Clouds

Photo of the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano

Eyjafjallajokull Volcano - NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

The Beyond Borders conference was held in Oxford in April – just as the Eyjafjallajokull volcano ash cloud was disrupting travel.

Its aims were to showcase work done at Oxford University this year during our OpenSpires project and provided an opportunity for discussion and debate on different aspects of creation, use and re-use of Open Educational Resources (OER). The conference featured speakers from Oxford, other international research institutions and opinion-shapers in the open education community.

Three international speakers were unable to attend. So, this being a technology conference and a very fine venue we did our best. Here’s how.

We used -

  • Skype - to quickly chat with people whilst setting up and testing
  • Polycom/Tandberg hardware system, IP to IP for a Swedish keynote who used his local town service - this is best for audio/ video
  • WebEx - for a Seattle speaker - good for sharing screens, chats, multiple participants - web based so the poor guy didn’t have to travel to a commercial service at 4 a.m. his time - free to use
  • Simple webcam video recording for a speaker stuck in a hotel in Finland. Worked really well.

Find out more:

About the day and participants experiences

>Delegate blogs from the day

2. Stranded Students?

It wasn’t only international conference speakers who couldn’t travel. Many faculties and departments expressed concern about the start of term and assisting those students and staff who may not be able to make it back in time. OUCS run a number of services which were used:

2.1. Using WebLearn

WebLearn offers many facilities which are useful if students are not able to return to attend lectures. WebLearn can be used host to learning materials (e.g. handouts, slides, recorded lectures) and access can be controlled. It is easy to set up a site with all members of a course or tutorial group listed as participants. The Sign- up tool can be used to arrange a series of online tutorials in much the same way as it can be used to organise face-to-face tutorials and /or the site Schedule (calendar) can be used to indicate when a tutor will be present in the Chat-room to answer student questions.

If lectures have been recorded then they can be housed in WebLearn via the internal ‘Podcasts’ tool - this tool allows a sequence of recordings to be made available via a single URL (an RSS feed). This feed can optionally be protected behind Oxford SSO authentication.

Step-by-step guides are available. If you cannot find what you are looking for then please contact weblearn@oucs.ox.ac.uk and ask for help.

2.2. Recording lectures

Some lecturers expressed an interest in recording their talks in order to make them available to those that can’t attend. If you are considering this, we have clear guides to help you with this process and to place the digital material on WebLearn. Recording a lecture can be as straightforward as using a portable mp3 recorder or smartphone with microphone. You may have equipment and support available in your department. The OUCS podcasting team has a limited number of digital audio recorders which we can offer on a short term loan. There is also advice and regular training available for the free editing Audacity software available for both Mac and PC.

For further support and advice contact podcasts@oucs.ox.ac.uk or see the Podcasting website.

2.3. Video Conferencing at your desk

OUCS offers a desktop video-conferencing service - Webex - that can easily be used for meetings or tutorials. From one to 200 attendees can be invited into one Webex session, and participants just need a computer (to view material) and a phone or a computer headset (to hear the audio). You can share a presentation, an application (Word, Excel, etc), a whiteboard or your entire desktop with the attendees. You can control who talks (useful in larger meetings) and give control of the whiteboard, application, etc, to specific participants to enable them to demonstrate skills or illustrate points of view. The University is currently running a free trial of this service. How-to guides are available. Please contact webex@ox.ac.uk to ask about an account or to request a demo.

3. Top Tips for a Better Video Conference

  • With any video situation - audio is always the most important.
  • Test Early - Test often - Practice with the software on both sides
  • Death by PowerPoint still applies in an online conference - use pictures/music/shorten your talks
  • Use headphones for Skype type conferences
  • Turn off video if you don’t need it to conserve bandwidth
  • In WebEx - don’t screenshare to present PowerPoint - upload presentation into the system
  • Mute your microphones if the other speaker is doing a presentation (you can do this in WebEx/ Skype)
  • If it is a big group collaboration then ask everyone to mute during presentations
  • Keep all microphones well away from speakers and PC fans to avoid feedback/noise
  • Don’t use wireless if you’ve got wired connections.
  • Don’t use mobile phones to dial into systems (the sound is already clipped)

4. Nexus News

4.1. Nexus Sharepoint

Since the last newsletter the Sharepoint service has been released to over 130 different applications through 34 different site collections. Another call for users will be released in late Michaelmas term for provision in Hilary Term 2011.

4.2. Nexus mail

Nexus now has over 50,000 mailboxes serving the whole university, and other mail systems are gradually migrating across to the central facility which allows for email, calendaring and Global Address List (GAL). For individuals the GAL now contains telephone numbers and core information of their departmental address.

A chargeable premium service for users who require additional mail storage is now available and can be purchased by registered local ITSS through the Register facility provided that a departmental / college cost code can be provided. Already 210 users are availing themselves of this facility.

5. WebLearn

5.1. An Improved Method of Migrating Content from Old WebLearn

We have recently introduced a much improved method of moving content out of Old WebLearn and in to New WebLearn. This method employs IMS Content Packages (IMS CP) as a transport medium. This has the advantage of preserving HTML descriptions from the old system.

All previous methods of migration still work as before, however, we would recommend this new way especially if the material is not to be reorganised before being added to new WebLearn.

We advise you move your material in chunks; login to old WebLearn and navigate to a suitable point in your tree and begin the migration process:

  1. Click ‘Export content’ in the ‘Resource Options menu
  2. Accept the default settings and click the ‘Export’ button on the next page – save the file on your desktop

Your material has now been moved out of old WebLearn.

To move into new WebLearn, create, or navigate to, a site and add the ‘Resources’ tool:

  1. Click on ‘Site Info’
  2. Click the ‘Import from file’ link
  3. Click the ‘Browse’ button and locate the file you just exported, then click ‘Import’
  4. Select all items in the left-hand list and click ‘>’ to move them to the right-hand window
  5. Click ‘Copy Materials’ – this may take a while to complete
  6. When all is complete, visit Resources and check that all is as expected.

You still have to move quizzes separately.

There are a lot more possibilities to consider when migrating you materials, we would strongly recommend that you attend our (free) course to find out more.

Book on the course.

6. Converting MS Word to HTML

Pasting text into WebLearn’s WYSIWYG HTML editor which has been copied from either Microsoft Word or Outlook is a hit and miss affair.

Pasting directly (via the ‘Paste’ button) is not recommended. Pasting using the ‘Paste from Word’ button does a better job but still leaves a large amount of unnecessary information interspersed within the text (use the ‘Source’ button to see this in action).

Pasting via the ‘Paste as plain text’ button is a good approach but nearly all the formatting is lost.

The best method I have seen is to use this website. Simply paste your text into the box and click the ‘Convert …’ button then click on the ‘Source’ button in the HTML editor and paste the resulting HTML into WebLearn.

7. WebLearn Courses Next Term

From Michaelmas term, we will be offering a new course WebLearn: Surveys which enables Oxford users to design and deliver online surveys at no charge.

If you have materials in the old WebLearn system (Bodington), come and attend the course WebLearn: Migrating your content so that you can move your material to the new WebLearn before the old system is de-activated.

If you have been using new WebLearn for a while and would like to make more effective use of the VLE, you might like to attend WebLearn: Making your site work to pick up some tips and tricks.

If you are a new user then WebLearn: Fundamentals is a great way to get to grips with the system.

Once a term we also run the course Learning and teaching: using technology tools, which focuses on your teaching philosophy and some low-threshold technologies you might like to explore.

Turnitin is a plagiarism detection service that can be used to scan formative essays and summative assessments for text that matches other electronic sources. Come along to the lunch time session on Plagiarism: WebLearn and Turnitin to learn how to use the system directly or via the WebLearn integration.

Do come and attend the termly meeting of the WebLearn User Group where we hear from WebLearn enthusiasts and share ideas and best practice.

8. Develop Learning Objects for Free with GLO Maker

GLO Maker is an authoring tool to design and develop learning objects (called GLOs). GLO Maker is a powerful and user friendly tool to create new learning objects, or adapt and repurpose existing learning objects.

An author can prepare images, video clips, audio clips and then build activities by combining these resources. For example, display an image of a person, building, place or other artefact, incorporate audio commentary from experts, and build a quiz to text student understanding of the artefact.

Such learning objects can easily be imported and delivered via WebLearn. The tool was demonstrated at the Learning Design Bash held at OUCS on Friday 16th July, hosted by JISC. Content Authoring Tools Recent discussion on the Sakai mailing lists has highlighted three interesting free content creation systems:

Here’s what their websites say:

"MyUduntu is a FREE web- based tool which provides a user friendly platform to create highly interactive elearning courses quickly and easily. Anyone can design, build and implement online training courses without any prior technological expertise."

The eXe project developed a freely available Open Source authoring application to assist teachers and academics in the publishing of web content without the need to become proficient in HTML or XML markup. Resources authored in eXe can be exported in IMS Content Package, SCORM 1.2, or IMS Common Cartridge formats or as simple self- contained web pages.”

Xerte is a fully-featured e-learning development environment for creating rich interactivity. Xerte is aimed at developers of interactive content who will create sophisticated content with some scripting, and Xerte can be used to extend the capabilities of Xerte Online Toolkits with new tools for content authors.”

9. WebLearn Now Available on Mobile Phones

WebLearn is now accessible via OUCS’s Mobile Oxford service (m.ox).

The (Tutorial) Sign-up Tool is the first of many tools that will offer a special interface optimised for use on a smartphone. Other tools including Polls, Surveys, Announcements and Resources will be appearing in the next few months.

The current service will allow you to sign up for events via the Sign-up Tool, in the future you will be able to read announcements, complete surveys and view documents.

The Polls Tool will be improved to allow phones to be used as ‘Clickers’ or ‘Voting Pods’ (personal voting systems).

A poll can be set up by a lecturer during class and its web address, which is embedded within a QR Code – a visual representation of the poll URL, can be displayed at the front of a class using a projector. If the phone is pointed at the screen the QR Code can be used to launch the poll on the phone at which point a vote can be cast. As soon as the poll is closed, the results can be displayed to the whole class. This is an excellent way of engaging students and getting instant feedback on views and opinions.

A special long-lived method of Login is used when accessing WebLearn from a phone. This service is based on oAuth and will keep you signed in to WebLearn for a very long time with much reduced privileges in comparison to normal access. oAuth is also used by Flickr, Google and Yahoo.

The first time you log in via m.ox you will be asked for your Oxford SSO username and password and will be asked to authorise the m.ox service to act a go- between between WebLearn and your phone. Your phone communicates with the m.ox service and the m.ox service then accesses WebLearn on your behalf, reformats or builds special pages and then sends them back to your phone.

If you lose your phone or want to stop m.ox acting on your behalf then use a ‘proper computer’ and navigate to your My Workspace, click on the Trusted Applications link on the left-hand side and remove m.ox from your list of trusted applications.


10. Video Tutorial Guides for Site Managers

The WebLearn team employed a student intern over the summer to produce video screencast tutorials demonstrating the use of some of the most important tools in WebLearn. The 18 videos are now available on the WebLearn Guidance site listed as Video tutorials under the Guides and tutorials section.

Video tutorials provide users with short, just-in-time, visual demonstrations of particular tools. The topics have been subdivided into short sections covering two or three tasks within a particular tool, and lasting only two or three minutes.

We decided for reasons of accessibility to produce the videos using written scripts only. The script can then be read out by screen readers, and hearing-impaired users are not at a disadvantage. At a later stage, voice-overs may be added, if time permits.

The tools that have been covered:

  • Site info (manage site)
  • Resources (share documents)
  • Home tool (front page)
  • Web Content link
  • WYSIWYG HTML editor

Other tools will be covered later.

11. WebLearn Helps the IT Learning Programme Count Visitors

The ITLP Portfolio has had its first full year in WebLearn (Sakai). “We wanted to know how many university people were using the site”, says Kathryn Wenczek the team’s administrator, “so we used WebLearn’s Site Stats tool. When we found that around 1100 different members of the university had visited the site, many of them coming back several times, we knew we were providing a useful service.”

12. Sakai Award

Congratulations to OUCS staff member Matthew Buckett who has been elected as a Sakai Fellow for 2010. Selected annually, the Fellows are recognized for their leadership in the community in the areas of software design and development, pedagogical and teaching practices and community advocacy. It’s a great honour and is a way of the Sakai community thanking him for absolutely top notch contributions over the last few years.

This award means he will be presented with a Sakaiger at some point.

13. Dreaming Spires get Wired

In April 2009, the Learning Technologies Group received national funding from the JISC and HEA for the OpenSpires project, a one-year pilot project investigating the release of open educational resources.

The OpenSpires project built upon the success of Oxford on iTunes U by releasing more audio and video material from Oxford as Open Content. This means that the material will be free to re-use and redistribute provided it is used non-commercially and the creator is attributed.

In its first year the project successfully established a sustainable set of policies and workflows that would allow departments from across the University of Oxford to regularly publish high quality open content for global reuse.

  • Over 180+ Oxford academics and visiting speakers have contributed to OpenSpires
  • Over 400 items (audio, video, slides) are currently available as open content
  • Material includes complete lecture series, interviews, seminars, and panel discussions
  • Subject areas include politics, economics, environmental change, business, research ethics, medicine, physics, English, classics, art history and philosophy.

The project leveraged new popular open outreach channels such as the University video portal and Oxford on iTunesU. Through well targeted marketing and a clear communication strategy, we have helped the discoverability of the material which has lead to consistent download figures.

The material released by OpenSpires is

  • Openly available on the web.
  • Free to download by anyone, without restrictions or registration.
  • Promoted as free for reuse in education worldwide.
  • Clearly labelled with the popular Creative Commons licence allowing reuse in education.
  • Can be discovered through all University distribution channels including the web, iTunesU, the Oxford VLE and the mobile portal m.ox.ac.uk.

Open Educational Resources (OER) at Oxford University now continues past this pilot stage of the project thanks to sustainable processes and a standardised legal form for contributors.

Find out more.

14. LTG Members Share Their Great Ideas

Photo of delegates at the Sharing Great Ideas Conference

The LTG was closely involved in the 2010 European Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) and Learning Design Conference at Wolfson College on Thursday, 15th July. The conference was organised by the LAMS Foundation based at Macquarie University, Sydney, assisted locally by the LTG events team.

With a focus on “Sharing Great Ideas,” delegates explored technologies, applications and approaches that support sharing, collaboration and open access to knowledge and resources. Melissa Highton gave the formal welcome on behalf the University, and Liz Masterman presented the opening keynote jointly with Professor Diana Laurillard of the Institute of Education. The keynote brought delegates up to date with the Learning Design Support Environment (LDSE) project, which is using artificial intelligence techniques to help lecturers expand their pedagogic skills and knowledge, and in which LTG members are playing a major role. In addition Melissa, Jill Fresen and Lisa Mansell gave papers that highlighted aspects of the LTG’s work relevant to the conference theme: using open educational resources to support learning technology strategies, and a user-oriented approach to encouraging lecturers to engage with technology through WebLearn.

On Friday 16th July, the LTG played host to a “Design Bash” accompanying the conference. Delegates made use of the modern facilities of the Isis room to share not only their ideas for innovative teaching and learning, but also to demonstrate the exciting software that is currently being developed to support learning design – including a prototype of the LDSE.

The two events represent the latest in a chain of link-ups between OUCS and the LAMS community that dates back to the evaluation of LAMS by Stuart Lee and Liz Masterman in 2004 and the visit to OUCS by Professor James Dalziel, founder of LAMS.

15. Reading Lists are Set to Improve - The Sir Louie Project

Photo of a knight in armour

The Sir Louie logo photo is used under the Creative Commons Licence and was taken by the longhairedgit.

Sir Louie – System for Integrating Reading Lists within the Oxford University Information Environment.

This project will enhance two academic and administrative systems, the WebLearn (VLE), (based on the Sakai open source platform,) and the University’s library search interface SOLO, (based on Ex-libris Primo,) in order to provide much improved experience for both students and lecturers in the area of reading lists.

The planned improvements target the searching of library catalogues and the displaying availability information with a reading list.

Development work on both systems will enable the SOLO search interface to be invoked from within WebLearn’s reading list tool, (also known as the Citations Helper,) and be used to find items to be sent back to the VLE for automatic inclusion in the reading list. The data will be transferred using the standard OpenURL encoding.

In addition, the project will develop a method of augmenting all reading lists with availability information when they are displayed in WebLearn.

This is achieved by ‘hiding’ OpenURL COinS meta data for each item within a reading list. This in-page data can then be used to determine current availability once the page has loaded (using DLF ILS-DI and / or DAIA).

The result is that the reading list will automatically contain links to ‘full text’ versions of journal articles, a list of (Oxford University) libraries where the item can be found and links to on-line stores where the item can be purchased.

The COiNS meta data can also be used to enable existing Open Source software such as Zotero and LibX (a browser plug-in) to interact with Citation Helper reading lists.

This kind of integration between Oxford’s VLE and Library systems was formally requested of the University by the Oxford University Student’s Union (OUSU) in order that students can save valuable time when dealing with their reading lists.

The project has been funded by within their Flexible Services Delivery programme and runs until the end of 2010.

16. EndNote X4 Hits the Streets - Works with Word 2010

16.1. Tame those Bibliographies

EndNote is popular with academics and researchers – it can bring sanity to your collection of references, journal articles and books. It works with your word-processor, so at a stroke you can insert citations into your own papers or thesis. You can instantly reformat all the citations in an article you are writing, including the bibliography, to follow a different layout and style.

16.2. New Version, EndNote X4

A new version of EndNote has been released this summer, which is compatible with Word 2010. Read about which versions of EndNote will work with your word- processor:

Read about what’s new with this version.

16.3. Discount Software

EndNote X4 is now available through the OUCS Shop. For computers that are owned by the university, EndNote can be installed without charge. If you want to install it on a computer that is privately owned, download it at considerable discount from the Individual Members area.

17. ITLP Portfolio of Downloadable Course Materials

The online Portfolio supports the range of IT Learning Programme taught courses by offering course handbooks, student exercise files and additional information such as how-to videos. All these useful resources can be downloaded by university members - around 1100 people have visited the site at least once during the year, and many come back to the site repeatedly.

People tell us this is a very useful resource for anyone who would like to follow up a live taught course by reading related course materials, or to practice the skills covered in a course, in their own time.

18. Michaelmas 2010 ITLP Schedule

The IT Learning Programme schedule for Michaelmas Term is online. This term as well as running our popular courses in Office, digital imaging, web publishing and statistics we have a number of new courses such as:

  • Apple Mac – iWorks fundamentals
  • Multimedia: Screen capture –assessing student learning
  • A new lunchtime series entitled “Secrets of…”

And updated courses including:

  • Matlab
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5 (Dreamweaver, Illustrator,InDesign and Photoshop)

See our course catalogue for details:

Please note we no longer run courses using Office 2003 (we use Office 2007). However our 2003 course materials are still available in WebLearn through our Portfolio.

19. Get Focused on Digital Media

Our multimedia courses are growing in popularity and we recommend that you book early. You might be interested in:

Final Cut Pro 101 - Monday 6 - Wednesday 8 December
This three-day, hands-on course teaches students to perform basic editing functions while becoming familiar with the Final Cut Pro user interface. It is also suitable for those aiming to use Final Cut Express.
Digital film making – 3 day course - Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 December
A 3-day workshop, run by the Oxford Academy of Documentary Film, aimed at preparing you to use digital film in your research or project. The workshop is taught by expert tutors who have made films professionally and for research purposes. There is a strong emphasis on practical film production techniques.
Multimedia: Podcasting - The secrets of presenting to camera - Thursday 16 December
One of the great joys of the podcast revolution is the ease of creating video and audio podcasts, but producing one that your audience will want to watch or listen to takes a bit more know-how. Learn how to be professional and confident in your video and audio presentations! This one-day workshop provides tips and techniques for creating effective podcasts that will engage your listeners.

20. HFS News

20.1. HFS Changes

On 1st June, we will be making some changes to the HFS Desktop Backup Service which will alter what is included for backup. The aim of the change is to further limit the backup of system files for desktop class clients.

These changes will provide various improvements to the service for end users including: lowering the probability of failed backups due to locked system files; reducing the amount of data sent with each backup thus reducing backup duration; and ensuring more backups can occur without hitting the HFS daily backup limits.

Full details of what will now be excluded can be found on the web pages.

If you use the HFS Desktop service, you will have been contacted with a message explaining the changes. All changes are being implemented on the server-side: so there is no need for you to do anything.

This only affects the Desktop-class service, no changes are being made to the Server-class service.

Please note: The HFS is not designed to offer full-system restores due to the issues that pertain to ensuring backups are complete and to restoring systems on dissimilar hardware. Restores to dissimilar hardware are also not supported by some operating systems. See OUCS News from Trinity 2010 for information on how to recover your entire system.

20.2. Out-of-Oxford Backup Service Over VPN

The HFS has opened a new service for those wishing to ensure that their data is appropriately secured using Oxford-run facilities but who work outside Oxford (off the university network) for long periods. Previously, backup services were limited to the university network and to the University’s eduroam wireless network; this new pilot service provides backup and restore functionality worldwide, via the university VPN service.

To use this service, all you need to do is: install the university VPN software; register a TSM account on the HFS VPN service; and then install the HFS TSM software.

Further details.

21. Costing IT Services

As part of JISC’s Flexible Services Delivery programme, OUCS attracted modest funding to investigate the costing of IT services. Although our present model stands us in good stead for the purposes of reporting back to the Divisions, and implementing the 1-2-3 funding model, we wished to investigate whether the system could be improved by utilising the TRAC methodology. Throughout the year staff from OUCS worked closely with Melanie Burdett (JM Consulting Ltd) to develop a costing toolkit. The project took a step-by-step approach to costing IT services in the light of TRAC’s approach to considering the full economic cost. Once the toolkit had been developed it was then test-run on three services - the Help desk, WebLearn, and the HFS, plus an instantiation of Microsoft Exchange in a college. We then fed back our findings into the toolkit for further refinement. At the point of writing the final report is near completion to be sent to JISC.

This short project has proved to be very beneficial. Not only has it allowed us to explore a much more detailed costing model (which we will consider, if resourced, applying to all our services) but it also revealed some interesting findings. The most important of these is the recognition that IT systems are highly dependent on each other, and thus serious attention needs to be given to how the true costs of a service should be allocated. For example, if one service makes higher than usual use of another service where should the costs reside? The toolkit proposes a process to help answer this and similar questions. The toolkit also guides an IT provider through the recognition of other costs involved in services both at a local and central level, and the drivers that might be considered.

22. IT Regulations Changes

The University Regulations Relating to the use of Information Technology Facilities have changed with effect from 18th June 2010. Full text of the regulations.

The changes are important, for example on file-sharing (paragraph 5) which moves the onus to determining appropriate use locally.

23. IT Security - Notifying OxCERT

Starting on 4th May OxCERT will be making a number of changes to processes for dealing with incidents to provide a more consistent service to IT Staff, and to meet a number of the recommendations of the University Auditors. Many of these changes have been prompted by the large increase in numbers of information-stealing malware samples we are seeing and the need to streamline our processes to deal with this.

The changes that you may see are as follows:

  • Automated notifications when blocks are removed
  • Automatic reminders to supply affected username(s) in keylogger incidents
  • Notifications to all relevant ITSS of users affected by keylogger incidents (even when the incident occurred in another unit)
  • No changes to our block notification mails, these are not automated
  • If you run a service using an authentication method other than SSO for users outside your own unit, you may wish to make contact to enable us to send you appropriate notifications if users of the service are affected by a keylogger

You can find more details about the motivations for these changes and some of the behind the scenes changes we’re making in our monthly reports.

24. Crowdsourcing with RunCoCo

RunCoCo ran two very successful training events in May. About 40 delegates attended, representing universities, local authorities, museums and private enterprises interested in harnessing the public’s enthusiasm to add to their work - ‘crowdsourcing’ is one word for this. The RunCoCo team received many complimentary comments both during and after the workshop.

RunCoCo is based in the LTG at OUCS and has received JISC funding until the end of February 2011 to tell people about how they could run something like The Great War Archive or tap into the hundreds of thousands of users of the Zooniverse (e.g. Galaxy Zoo) as explained by Chris Lintott. We will be holding further workshops during 2010, and you can read more about RunCoCo on our website or on the project blog. Both of these include presentations and audio from events.

25. Podcasting with iPad

iPads started appearing in the iTunes U Podcast Download statistics in the figures for the week ending 16th May (so presumably these were US bought models). There was just shy of 1200 Oxford podcasts downloaded to iPads directly in that one week!

In context, for the same week:

  • iPad downloads ~1200
  • iPod downloads ~5000
  • iPhone downloads ~14000
  • Macintosh downloads ~30000
  • Windows downloads ~285000

A quick analysis suggests that iPad downloads have affected the number of items downloaded by iphones and ipods negatively by 2000 downloads, with no noted difference to those using desktop clients.

For those keeping score, around five million podcasts have been downloaded since the launch of Oxford on iTunes U.

26. Digital Medievalist

OUCS staff member Dr James Cummings has been re-elected to the position of Director of Digital Medievalist. Digital Medievalist is an international web-based community encouraging good practice in digital resource creation for medieval studies. It was established in 2003 to help scholars meet the increasingly sophisticated demands faced by designers of contemporary digital projects. Digital Medievalist runs a website, open access peer-reviewed journal, email discussion list, wiki, newsfeed, and is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Membership in Digital Medievalist is freely open to anyone with an interest in Digital Humanities or Medieval Studies, without regard to skill or previous experience in these areas. Participants range from novices contemplating their first project to many of the pioneers in the field. The email discussion list is the perfect place to ask any questions of a Digital and Medieval nature.

Digital Medievalist is hosted at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, and overseen by an international executive of medievalists with extensive experience in the use of digital media.

27. New Staff? Sign up for Breakfast at OUCS

New members of Oxford University staff are warmly invited to join us for breakfast at the Oxford University Computing Services. Over croissants and coffee, we will introduce you to the many important services at OUCS that are available to you for your work or research. The next Breakfast at OUCS is Friday 5th November. Book online.

28. Using TV Shows for Teaching

Did you know you can show material from the main TV channels in any teaching activities in the University? Have you ever missed recording a television programme you wanted to use in teaching? The British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC) run an off-air recording back-up service which holds an extensive recordings library.

29. Printing Service

The OUCS print room has recently been upgraded with a plate-making machine which allows direct production of printing plates from a computer. This replaces many different operations involving creating film, then transferring this to plates. This means that printing has become more affordable for larger and medium sized runs, and dependent upon workload can now be turned around more quickly. There will be an opportunity to view the new systems in Michaelmas term when a number of open days will be held for potential customers. If you would like to be invited please email tony.hunter@oucs.oxac.uk

30. LTG and the Royal Society

During the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition last week over a thousand children, teachers, scientists, and curious adults built models of epidemics using a software service developed by the Learning Technologies Group in conjunction with the Zoology Department. Visitors turned their models into computer games where the player can make various public health interventions to try to stop the epidemic. Over 1100 games were made during the ten day exhibition at the Royal Festival Hall. And since the exhibit closed web visitors have created an additional 130 games in less than a week.

Queen Elizabeth came within ten feet of the OUCS stand but sadly did not stop by to build a epidemic game.

31. Congratulations TALL

OUCS sends warm congratulations to its colleagues in the Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning unit (TALL) in the Department for Continuing Education, who won the Learning Technologist of the Year team award at the 2010 conference of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). The LTG has partnered TALL in a number of successful projects over recent years and is particularly proud to be associated with them at this time.

32. Retirements

OUCS will be saying farewell to several long-serving colleagues this autumn – Lou Burnard, Grazyna Cooper, Paul Davis and Roger Treweek. We wish them all well.

32.1. Paul Davis

I started at OUCS in September 1997 as Computing Teaching Officer, having applied to an advert for a one year temporary position which seemed to describe basically what I had been doing for four or so years in Kiribati - for the geographically challenged try an atlas or globe with latitude 1°28’N, longitude 173°02’E

Having been a Morris dancer for a while, my secret escaped fairly quickly when I found that I was a temporary replacement for another dancer. That year’s Christmas party featured a special couple of dances featuring the then Director and others from within OUCS. My apologies to Malcolm who since has become hooked! We practiced in what was the conference room, only to be told by Tony Hunter that the ceiling was shaking and bits of plaster were falling on him below.

After I’d been here about 6 months the BCS launched the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) which I was asked to explore to remedy a criticism from the North report that we didn’t send our graduates out with recognised IT qualifications. That turned into quite a focus for about 5 years, involving secondment to BCS 90% for a year to promote the Advanced ECDL qualification, membership of the syllabus board for ECDL and it’s International ICDL counterpart. As part of the promotion of the qualification I had a number of visits to the Middle East for training and examinations. On one particular trip to Dubai I got hit by a wing mirror on a truck that was rat running to avoid traffic, flew back overnight and went immediately to Nottingham to advise on exam results as the external examiner. Very jet lagged, black eye, elastoplasts holding the cut together - I looked and felt rough! Not all trips went horribly wrong and I received some superb hospitality in Egypt, Jordan, and Dubai including a trip to Petra and a VIP, behind-the scenes tour of the pyramids through the good offices of UNESCO who were the local ICDL licensee.

Reorganisation within OUCS resulted in the creation of the Learning Technologies Group, of which I became Deputy Head. Well that was the theory as I was asked after a little while to fill in as Acting Head while Stuart had 3 months in the US, and again for 3 months when the IT strategy was being planned. That second stint actually stretched to over 3 years with seemingly endless short extensions. This included the time that the original WebLearn was introduced, and then the start of it’s replacement.

And then onto the Groupware project which morphed into Nexus. A high-profile service across the whole University with a great team driving the implementation along and overcoming all the various obstacles along the way. But I’m not putting my feet up yet - we’re moving to Shropshire to a smallholding with some land and the possibility of becoming self-sufficient. With rental accommodation - the views are absolutely fantastic. Book early!

32.2. Roger Treweek

Roger Treweek joined OUCS in 1978 when networking consisted of two external links to the ULCC and UMRCC Supercomputing Centres which managed to reach speeds of 9600 bits-per-second. Much has changed since then and Roger has been involved with most of the networking changes at Oxford.

His early work has long been assigned to the annals of history and included much low-level programming in projects such as the linking of the University central ICL 2900 to DEC VAX(s) and developing the national FT- RELAY protocol conversion facility for file transfers that assisted JANET in its move from the Blue Book Protocol to the familiar Internet protocol (ftp) in modern use.

Perhaps the most important development was the introduction of a University Backbone Network. Initially this was based on FDDI technology which started out connecting together a modest number of departments but soon grew to cover all departments and colleges. As demand increased this changed to a gigabit ethernet technology, followed by an upgrade to the 10 gigabit backbone that we now all use.

More recent developments include the introduction of the FroDo network distribution units which enabled, amongst other things, the subsequent provision of a managed wireless service across the University.

The transfer of Telecoms into the (now) Network and Telecoms Group did much to advance the introduction of modern networked technology into this area with VOIP telephones now being the first choice where telephony is concerned.

All good things come to an end and Roger retires at the end of October. Technology still marches on - and there are lots of interesting things still to do - but it will be with someone else at the networking helm.

33. Learning Technology in Practice Seminar Series

Michaelmas Term 2010 - Tuesday Evenings - 17:00 - 18:30

Oxford University Computing Services, Evenlode Seminar Room

All welcome

9th of November - Personal learning environments (PLEs)
Candidates for Masters in E-learning, Dept. of Education Studies. A wine reception will be held after this session
16th November - Blended learning approaches in undergraduate Bioscience teaching
Dr Neil Morris (Leeds)
23rd of November - What is the role of fun in learning?
Dr Nicola Whitton (Manchester Metropolitan)
7th of December - hapTEL(TM) project: using simulations with tactile feedback to develop the skills of dentistry students
Dr Jonathan P. San Diego (London Knowledge Lab)

For further information please contact Melanie Tritz (melanie.tritz@oucs.ox.ac.uk)