1. Oxford’s iPhone and iPod Touch Competition 2009

Image of an iPhone

As part of Oxford University’s developing relationship with Apple, we are pleased to announce a new competition aimed at all members of the University, staff and students, to reward the best new application (‘app’) developed for Apple’s iPhone or iPod Touch that meets a specific need (academic, social, or administrative) of Oxford’s staff and/or students. The applications will be judged by a panel consisting of OUCS staff and senior Apple developers.

To become part of this, please register your interest in the competition. Once you register you will then receive an invitation which will allow you to access Oxford’s iPhone Developer portal and to download the SDK, etc.

You can enter as an individual or group under two categories:

1.1. Category 1

1st Prize - £750; 2nd Prize - £500; 3rd Prize - £150

This main category will require people to show a fully functional application at the judging meeting, though they can demonstrate proof-of-concept by using (for example) partial or test data.

1.2. Category 2

One prize only - £100

In this minor category (reflected in the prize) submissions are requested for the best ‘idea’ for an Oxford-targeted app. You will be asked to describe the app, what it would achieve, and submit mock-ups of the user interface.

1.3. iPhone University Developer Programme

OUCS has acquired membership of this programme for the University which will allow us to develop apps for the iPhone, test them on real devices and then distribute them through theApp Store. We know that there are a few groups across the University wishing to develop apps but who were concerned about having to get their own membership of the Developer Programme. If you are one of these groups, please drop a line to: erewhon@oucs.ox.ac.uk and we will let you know how it all works and get you added to our teams list which will give you full access.

2. New Apple Mac Room

Advert for Apple Mac room

The refurbishment of the new OUCS Apple Mac teaching space is in its final stages and we hope to start using it in Trinity term. The room will accommodate 10 students in a format that has an emphasison accessibility - more details will be published in a future OUCS News.It will be another example of the innovative teaching spaces for whichour Thames Suite here at OUCS is renowned.

We have carried out a survey to help direct us in deciding the mix of courses that we will offer. The schedule is still being planned, but we hope initial offerings will include:

  • Adobe CS3 applications for the Mac
  • Overviews of iLife 09 and iWorks 09
  • Creating podcasts
  • Final Cut Express/Pro
  • Logic
  • OSX technical courses for ITSS

We will shortly have a new teacher joining the IT Learning Programme team, and he has significant experience in such applications as Garage-Band and Logic - experience that we will be using to extend our Maccourse catalogue. If you have any queries about the courses or the room send them throughto courses@oucs.ox.ac.uk

3. The New WebLearn - Launch 30th June 2009

WebLearn: The Future

WebLearn advert

3.1. About the Changeover

The WebLearn service will soon undergo a major overhaul: the underlying framework which supports the WebLearn service is to be changed from the Bodington VLE to a Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE) called Sakai.

Both Bodington and Sakai operate in a similar way but the new service will have better usability and a larger number of tools applicable for Learning and Teaching as well as for Research and Administration.

Sakai is in use at Lancaster, Cambridge, Newcastle and Hull Universities in the UK and Yale, Harvard, MIT, NYU, Princeton, Stanford and UC Berkeley (plus many others) in the United States. There is a large user community which encompasses more than 100 institutions offering excellent support for sharing and development.

At Oxford, the service will be still known as WebLearn; a year-long pilot phase started in June 2008 and is known as the WebLearn Beta service. We have recruited a large number of early adopters of this service who are giving us feedback on required enhancements and documentation as well as trialling a number of the available tools.

The production service will begin in June 2009 and will initially comprise both systems running in parallel: this is to give users the options of migrating their courses, projects or other materials over a reasonable period of time. The dual service will run for two years. You can access the old service but not add content, for a further year before it is finally switched off.

OUCS will offer full support and training for the new service from June 2009 onwards, as well as providing tools to help with migrating content to the new system. We hope that staff and students will see this move as an opportunity to improve and rationalise material rather than moving all existing material wholesale.

We recognise that local IT support staff are vital to any innovation and are training them during the pilot phase. Training events are publicised on the front page of the new service and a ‘Getting started with WebLearn Beta’ guide is also available from the front page.

3.2. About WebLearn Beta

WebLearn Beta is an easy-to-use accessible web-based service which supports teaching and learning, research and other day-to-day activities. It offers protected spaces that can contain a searchable document store and tools such as discussion forums, calendars, email distribution lists, announcements, wikis, tutorial sign-up sheets, formative assessment tools and electronic pigeon holes.

WebLearn Beta is a free service offered to the University, and areas (known as sites) are available for all departments, faculties, colleges, and other units. All sites are arranged in a hierarchy that matches the University’s structure and each site offers a variety of online tools designed to enhance the learning experience and / or promote collaboration.

WebLearn Beta sites can be made publicly available or restricted to specific individuals or groups. It is also possible to stipulate exactly what site members are allowed to do once they have entered a site.

Oxford University members can access the system today, all that is needed is a valid Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) (‘WebAuth’) username and password.

3.3. WebLearn Beta offers:

  • an effective way to share online multimedia resources with predefined course-based, departmental or custom groups (including non-University members);
  • a central place to focus electronic teaching, learning and research activity;
  • an online searchable file store for private use or to share with colleagues, research partners or students;
  • formative assessment, opinion poll and survey facilities;
  • a course calendar;
  • reading lists with live links to the libraries;
  • group communication, including discussion boards, chat room, announcements and an email list with web-based message archive;
  • tools for collaboratively writing documents;
  • on-line submission of electronic materials;
  • a tutorial / seminar sign-up sheet.

For more information contact: weblearn-beta@oucs.ox.ac.uk

3.4. WebLearn Beta: Recent Enhancements

The Tutorial Sign-up Tool produces a ‘sign-up sheet’ for meetings, seminars or tutorials.

The Search Tool has been improved; in addition to searching the current site, the search tool will now search over all the sites to which a user belongs.

Site access can be restricted by predefined Departmental, Faculty, School or Collegiate groups. On the ‘Add Participants’ page of the ‘Site Info’ tool, there is a new ‘Add Group’ button; this allows one select an automatically updated list to add to the site.

Lists of site members can be copied from one site to another. At the bottom of the ‘Add participants’ page of the Site Info tool there is an ‘Export Users’ button. Clicking on this will open a pop-up window containing a list of usernames which can be copied and pasted into another site. Use this facility to duplicate custom groups between sites.

Files accidentally deleted within the Resources Tool can now be recovered by using the ‘Restore’ link in the ‘Actions’ menu of the containing folder. Improvements have also been made in the area of Accessibility; screen readers will now relay far more information about page content.

3.5. Moving Content into the New WebLearn System

For existing users, a major part of moving to the new system is the migration of the content out of the current WebLearn service. Due to the differences between the two systems, a totally automated process to move material is not feasible, and we anticipate that a far better result will be achieved with some intervention by the resource owners. Moreover, a recent survey identified that most users expressed a desire to tidy up their material as part of the move.

For the change over to be as smooth as possible for both staff and students, we recommend that a cohesive approach be adopted, and that departments (or equivalent administrative units) move all their teaching materials at the same time or, if that’s not practical, in logical sub-sets. This will avoid the situation where students are unclear where to go to find their course material.

We’d also like to encourage resource owners to start thinking about a strategy, and to plan key dates in conjunction with the local Floor Manager. The first step in the migration process, which can be taken far in advance of the actual migration, is to start mapping out the structure of the new areas. The VLE team has a lot of experience to offer, and we recommend that you ask us for advice in this regard.

We have analysed the different types of content in the existing WebLearn, and have produced tools to aid users to move content. During this term we will be working with users helping them to use these tools to move materials. As a result of this, we will be developing case studies of good practice and producing associated (paper) guides for migration. We will also be holding regular ‘drop-in’ sessions in OUCS to give people face-to-face help – these will be announced in due course.

The current WebLearn service has been enhanced to provide two new tools:

Export content: allows content from one or more sites to be wrapped in a ZIP file which can be moved into the new WebLearn. Can include uploaded files (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDFs, multimedia files etc), Web documents, EasyWriter documents, Structured documents, Resource introductions, Resource descriptions.

Content can be moved to the new WebLearn by navigating to the appropriate site, uploading the ZIP file into the Resources tool and then selecting ‘Expand ZIP archive’ from the ‘Actions’menu next to the file.

Export group membership: this allows the members of custom groups to be copied from one system to the other. Centrally provided groups should not be moved as they are already available in the new service.

Custom groups can be recreated within the new WebLearn by pasting the exported list into the ‘Add Participants’ page in the ‘Site Info’ tool.

In addition to the above, Questionnaires and MCQs can be individually exported from the current system; this is done within the tool itself. The corresponding import facility will only be available in the new WebLearn (in the Tasks, Tests and Surveys tool) from July 2009.

4. HFS Ups and Downs

HFS advert

The Hierarchical File Server Service (HFS) that provides the OUCS Backup and Archive services experienced a dramatic break in service recently. On 17th March, the HFS team discovered a corruption to the TSM Database. Then at about 7:30pm, in an independent incident, the system suffered a major fault with the Disk Server that hosts all the TSM databases. As a result, all HFS services were brought down suddenly. A Severity 1 support call with IBM was opened.

Initial diagnostics showed that both controllers in a Disk Server had crashed, with the data in an unknown state. A decision was therefore taken to restore all TSM server databases from tape backups. The initial hurdle was to find enough spare disk to host the restored databases – which after RAID mirroring require more than 1TB per copy. With a considerable amount of hard work by the HFS team, this was done, the databases restored and all but one rolled-forward to a point just prior to the crash. At the same time, the database suffering corruption was also restored.

All services were back on-line by lunchtime March 19th.A small number of people had manually backed up their systems between the last good copy of the database and its failure - these were contacted and asked to resend their last backup. We believe that as a result, no user backups were lost. This incident occurred in spite of a design of complete redundancy in the Disk Servers such that any one component can fail and not affect data access. The primary cause was a version of device code that effectively brought down both controllers. This will now be addressed by designing resilience around this possibility.

The HFS team would like to thank all those who offered us help and support during this time and to thank its users fo rpatience while we strived to return the service to operation.

More on the HFS services

4.1. HFS Tools for IT Support Staff

Two more HFS/OUCS Registration tools that ITSS may find useful have been created. You can set a new owner for an account whose owner has left (via ‘TSM Clients - no owner’) and you can register an account with another user as owner. Help on using the HFS.

5. OUCS Welcomes Three New Staff Members

5.1. David Birds

Photo of David Birds

David Birds joins OUCS as our Data Centre Manager. David will be managing the Operations Team, the Data Centre itself (formerly known as the Machine or Computer Room) and will play a key role in the two data centre capital projects (a new build and a feasibility study for the refurbishment of the existing OUCS room).

David says 'I've been working for JBrand Ltd for just under seven years, based in Margaret Street, London. I was their IT Manager looking after all aspects of in-house IT at the London Office and Runcorn Configuration Centre. Getting involved in projects such as managed wireless roll-outs in schools in conjunction with Research Machines, network configuration projects (Cisco and Extreme Networks), server management and roll-out for small businesses.

Prior to that I was the IT Manager at Oriel College for four years, and I worked at OUCS as an Evening Demonstrator while I was a student at Green College from 1995 to1998.'

5.2. John Ireland

photo of John Ireland

John Ireland is OUCS’s new System Development (Sysdev) Section Manager.

He says 'After finishing my Physics degree (1994-98) I took up my first full-time post as Computing Officer for Jesus College, and IT became a career rather than just a distraction from study. My first task there involved replacing the College's sole server - a Sun Sparc Station running Sun OS - and Linux was introduced at Jesus College.

Working in a College with a full range of IT services but only three IT staff meant that I was directly involved right across the board - servers, networking, software development, support, and as the systems and team grew, service and line management.

After 10 years working at Jesus College I found myself wanting a change of scene and a chance to focus on one area of IT rather than scratching the surface of too many different things, and this prompted me to apply for the post at OUCS. Having been a consumer of OUCS’ services and involved in several university groups and projects I had an idea of some of the activities going on, and could see that this was a perfect opportunity.'

5.3. Jill Fresen

Photo of Jill Fresen

Jill Fresen is the newest member of the OUCS WebLearn team where she will be working with VLE users in the areas of training, academic support, dissemination of best practice and general VLE and Learning Technology matters.

Jill is an internationally renowned Learning Technologist and joins OUCS from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She has experience as a Mathematics teacher and lecturer, a computer programmer, both in higher education and the corporate world, and an e-learning project manager. She has been involved in technology-enhanced education for 25 years.

For the past 8 years Jill has been involved in the management of web-supported learning projects, the co-ordination of a quality management system fore-learning, consultation with and support for academics interested in adopting learning technologies, academic staff training, and student satisfaction surveys.

Jill has an M.Ed and PhD in Computer-Integrated Education, focusing on technology-enhanced teaching and learning in higher education. Her research interests include client satisfaction, evaluation, and the use of storytelling, scenarios and anecdotes to enhance attention and motivation.

6. More from the First World War Poetry Archive

Photo of David Jones, poet

The First World War Poetry Archive is thrilled to release over 500 images relating to the modernist poet David Jones. The collection focuses primarily on Part VII of Jones’ epic masterpiece ‘In Parenthesis’, and includes manuscripts of early drafts, notes, and broadcast scripts. In addition the collections also contains a selection of Jones’ art work, service records, and correspondence. These papers, never before seen on-line, provide a remarkable insight into a man who continually rewrote his experience of the trenches.

7. Premium IT Support Services from OUCS

NSMS advert

OUCS offer a range of bespoke, professional IT services available to all colleges, departments, associated institutions, student societies and individual staff.

  • Server installation and management (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, NetWare, OES/Linux)
  • Test web sites hosted for web developers
  • Windows workstation management
  • Security audits
  • Firewalls installed and managed
  • Crisis handling and emergency intervention
  • Holiday cover for IT officers
  • Fully costed IT support for Research Projects funded under FEC
  • Shared calendars, public folders and contacts with remote PDA synchronisation
  • Anti-virus services
  • Mac OS X client management
  • Centralised purchasing of hardware and software
  • Advanced web hosting for .ox.ac.uk domains (Apache, Tomcat and IIS)
  • Extensive development software for hosted web sites (Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP, ASP, .Net, SSI, ColdFusion MX, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS-SQL, FrontPage 2002)

These and many more bespoke services are available. Contact the NSMS Team to find out how we can help you. Email: nsms@oucs.ox.ac.uk Phone: 01865 273209

8. Modelling4All Project Launched

OUCS are pleased to announce that their Eduserve-funded project Modelling4All has been launched.

Computer modelling is playing an increasingly important role in fields as varied as sociology, epidemiology, zoology, economics, archaeology, ecology, climate, and engineering. Currently, only researchers or students with sufficient programming skills are able to participate in this new way of exploring and understanding real-world phenomena.

The Modelling4All Project aims to greatly broaden this participation. We intend to explore three innovations that promise to make modelling widely accessible by:

  • Providing an alternative to computer programming that is based upon composing and customising pre-built code fragments
  • Providing a web service for building, exploring, analysing, and sharing computer models
  • Building Web 2.0 services to support the formation of an on-line community where models and model components are shared, tagged, discussed, organised, and linked to other resources.

The project will also explore the possibilities and benefits of providing an immersive first-hand experience of the execution of a model within a virtual space such as Second Life.

9. Awards

9.1. Two UCISA Awards for the Great War Archive

OUCS enjoyed a double success at the UCISA 2009 Conference. Stuart Lee, Director of OUCS, was presented with a Highly Commended certificate on the final day of the conference for the OUCS entry to the 2008 UCISA Award for Excellence, sponsored by Eduserv. The submission was on the Great War Archive. The judging panel noted that “The University of Oxford presented a novel crowd-sourcing approach in building a World War I document archive. The panel was excited to see the outreach of this project which invited members of the public to scan and tag family documents appertaining to the period. The methodology was transferable and extendible and potentially very cost-effective.”

OUCS also contributed a poster on the Archive. The poster session was held in the Conference Exhibition and delegates voted the OUCS poster as the best poster in the exhibition. Melissa Highton, Head of OUCS’s Learning Technologies Group, was presented with a certificate at the Conference dinner.

9.2. Times Higher Education Awards for itunes U

The iTunes U project has been short listed for not one, but two, Times Higher Education Leadership and Management awards!

iTunes U was submitted for consideration in the ‘Outstanding ICT Initiative’ and ‘Outstanding ICT Team’ categories and has been short listed for both. The winners will be revealed at a gala dinner on 9 June 2009 and the next edition of OUCSNews.

9.3. Oxford Teaching Awards 2009 Now Open

The Oxford Teaching Awards are a University scheme. The aim is to encourage applications, through the teaching awards scheme, for grants to support projects aimed at developing or investigating teaching and learning. A well-considered project proposal will be seen as evidence of commitment to teaching excellence. Any staff, including those who have previously received teaching awards, are welcome to apply. Project grants are being offered by all Divisions. Deadlines vary but all are in Trinity Term. Details of individual schemes and the names of people who can help with enquiries

Please note that using IT in learning is one of the grant areas. OUCS can help here. If you’d like to discuss a possible IT related teaching project, please contact fawei.geng@oucs.ox.ac.uk.

10. Web Design

Web Design Consultancy advert

The OUCS Web Design Consultancy is here to help you produce web sites in a cost effective and accessible manner. Come and talk to us at an early stage and we can advise you on the many considerations when producing a website, including good design practice, accessibility, hosting options, technology choices, etc. Contact webdesign@oucs.ox.ac.uk

10.1. Web Design Templates Available

The Web Design Consultancy Service has produced a set of eight HTML/CSS templates for use by the University. the templates concentrate on achieving common page layouts with CSS. The templates also provide examples of best practice for marking up your content in HTML and some useful CSS styling techniques.

11. IT Courses news

Hiring Thames Suite  advert

11.1. Changing to Office 2007?

Ask the IT Learning Programme at OUCS about our Office 2007 Quick Start cards, which give a quick summary of the commands. Each title gives just enough to get you going with the new interface. These cards cost £2.50 each from ITLP administration - email courses@oucs.ox.ac.uk).

If the new Ribbon has you baffled, have a look at the new self-study materials 'Office 2007: What’s New'.

11.2. ECDL Update

At the end of May this year OUCS will end testing for the core ECDL. Although we will no longer be offering ECDL testing we will continue to offer free online training for all university staff and students for one more year.

OUCS will continue to run the Advanced ECDL if you want a higher level, internationally recognised IT qualification in Spreadsheets, Word processing, Presentations or databases.

11.3. Free Fundamentals Courses

The IT Learning Programme is now offering free IT Fundamental courses for University members. These Fundamentals courses give you a practical introduction to Access, Excel, PowerPoint and Word. During each three hour session there will be demonstrations and plenty of hands-on practice plus time to talk to the teaching staff as you work.

These courses can be followed using Office 2003 or 2007 – course books in both versions will be loaned to you for useduring each course. Further information.

11.4. Information Literacy Courses from OUCS

As highlighted at the recent UK Librarians’ Conference on Information Literacy (LILAC), all academic workers need high quality information literacy skills.

The following courses at OUCS are aimed at this area:

  • WISER: Workshops in Information Skills and Electronic Resource
  • Skills Toolkit for Graduates
  • Copyright
  • EndNote (Introduction and further skills)
  • Word for Your Thesis
  • Strategies for Research (Michaelmas inductions targeted for subject areas)

See the current course schedule to read about these and other courses on offer from the IT Learning Programme.

11.5. Four Key Quotes Sum Up Information Literacy Conference

Information Literacy, and the skills that researchers and students need in today’s information-obese world, were the themes at this year’s UK Librarians’ Conference on Information Literacy (LILAC09) in Cardiff, attended by OUCS Learning Technologies Group (LTG) staff.

'Today’s students are great at getting stuff from online but rubbish at selecting quality sources' (a conference delegate to LILAC)

'Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than knowledge' (Charles Darwin, 1871)

'Pedagogical theory is the dialectical relationship of learning.' (A Ireland - Murray State University)

'How to Manage Your Flamingo' (Melissa Highton, Head of LTG, Keynote address to LILAC)

Papers and informal conversations dealt with ways of helping students develop their critical thinking skills, and how Universities can help students learn to choose and evaluate quality sources for their research, and use them appropriately.

12. Research Technologies Service

RTS advert

Starting a new research project? Do you need help with costing IT, setting up systems, or IT generally?

OUCS have a new research service for projects:

Project Start up – Project planning, archiving and sustainability
  • Technical and staffing needs
  • Set up of servers, equipment, software and hardware
Running a project – Advisory services
  • Project management, sharing information
  • Storing data, data analysis software, infrastructure
Development services – Technical support
  • Technical support, web hosting, web sites, database design,
  • Evaluation, open source, internet services, communication
Project End – Archiving
  • Dissemination, storage, sustainability

All free for initial consultation

13. Turnitin

13.1. Enhancements to Turnitin

Turnitin is a tool that allows papers to be submitted electronically to find whether parts of a document match material which has been previously submitted, can be found on the web, or copied from published journals and periodicals.

New enhancements to Turnitin include enabling anonymous submission of work by students for an examination scenario, with their identity masked until the results of the exam are published. In addition a Revision facility allows students to submit material, review the feedback from Turnitin and then adapt their material prior to final submission. This is very useful in training students in good citation practice when used in formative assessment in cases like tutorial work.

If you require more details on use of Turnitin email Turnitin@oucs.ox.ac.uk

13.2. Turnitin Expands Databases

In addition to Web crawling and other publicly available material, Turnitin report that comprehensive material from the following publishers is in the database: ABC-CLIO (history resources), Emerald (management research), Gale GeneralOneFile (over 11,000 periodical titles), and SAGE Reference (over 80 encyclopedias). Currently being added are BioMedCentral, McGraw Hill and PubMed.

13.3. CrossRef progress

Membership in this project, known as 'CrossCheck', which aims to provide a mechanism to enable publishers to verify that content is original, and to provide electronic journal content to the Turnitin database, is voluntary, and in the next 6 months 70% of the total ejournal content which will be made available will have been indexed by the developers.

Publishers currently participating in the project include BMJ, Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, Nature, Oxford University Press, Springer, Taylor and Francis, and Wiley Blackwell. Further details on this project.

The Turnitin content team encourage librarians and tutors in universities and colleges to push publishers to deposit their content in the Turnitin database via their sales reps. Pressure from institutions in this way has led to publishers directly approaching the Turnitin developers in some cases.

14. Twittering From Conferences

The Learning Technologies Group hosted two sold-out conferences on 2nd and 3rd April.

14.1. The Shock of Digital Literacy

Shock of Digital Literacy examined the concept of digital literacy and how it had been supported at institutions. Keynote speakers gave perspectives from Duke University (US) who were at the forefront of using iPods before podcasting was even a phrase, and Ravensbourne College where they are doing away with centralised computer facilities and selling students their own laptops for a nominal sum.

14.2. Beyond Walls

Beyond Walls showcased podcasting across a number of institutions who are collaborating on the global OpenCast project, the UK Steeple project and the European Matterhorn project. A handy podcasting booklet was distributed free to all attendees.

14.3.

This year a number of people “attended” the conferences remotely and a question was asked on behalf of one of them.

There was a significant presence of “Tweeters” publishing items at regular intervals on a Twitter feed. Twitter has a maximum of 140 characters per post, so information is concise, and is used by attendees to highlight specific items for later reference and also to expand on the speaker’s comments or references. If you want to follow the threads created, go to twitter.com and search on Shock09 or Beyond09 as the tags.

15. Computer Hardware Breakdown Service

Breakdown Service advert

Can you cope without your PC, Mac or iPod?

The Computing Services runs a breakdown service for a wide variety of computers and peripherals which, for an annual fee, can ease the pain of hardware failure.

  • On-site service by next working day
  • A loan machine, in most cases, if repair not completed on site.
  • Replacement hardware, in most cases, if your equipment is beyond repair.
  • Single annual fee. No additional costs for repair or replacement!
  • Available for privately-owned hardware of both staff and students.
  • Machines can be located anywhere on mainland UK.
  • Apple iPods from£15pa - Accidental damage included
  • Desktop Computers from £19pa
  • Laptops from £28pa
  • Scanners from £26pa
  • Printers from £19pa

HALF PRICE COVER FOR NEW APPLICANTS

Prices detailed are discounted student pricing

See website for full pricing information

16. Conceptual Model for Web-Supported Learning

The effective use of a virtual learning environment (VLE) to support teaching and learning in a face-to-face institution can be difficult to visualise. We see our students several times a week, in lectures and tutorials, they can physically access the library, they are digital ‘natives’ and are comfortable finding their own resource on the web, aren’t they?

Past experience has shown that it helps to develop a conceptual framework to visualise a VLE and the types of things it can do. Any VLE provides the following five main areas of functionality:

  • Information – providing organisational information and tools, such as Announcements, Calendar, Lecturer profile and contact details, sign-up sheets for meetings and tutorials;
  • Content – Resource tool to build a collection of electronic resources, readings, links to existing Web content (web pages, podcasts, videos etc.);
  • Communication – Discussion forums, Email archive, and collaboration tools such as Wikis and Blogs;
  • Assessment – Assignments, Tests, Tutorial tasks, marked discussion contributions;
  • Management – monitoring student activity, administering marks.

Using this conceptual framework, one sees that the virtual learning environment, just as with the physical learning environment, demands thorough course design and planning.

Once such a virtual site has been designed and created, it assists lecturers, tutors and students (as well as researchers and administrators) to collect resources and access them in a structured, convenient and collaborative way.

To discuss structuring your material, email jill.fresen@oucs.ox.ac.uk

17. Energy and the Networked Computing Environment

Friday 22nd May 2009 at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University.

In March 2008, the University of Oxford hosted the ‘Towards Low Carbon ICT’ conference to stimulate discussion on the practical measures that can be taken to build ICT services that both reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and mitigate the effects that higher energy prices will have on our institutions.

Much happened over the months that followed: electricity prices sky-rocketed, plans for carbon pricing under the Carbon Reduction Commitment were finalized, and there is now the recession. The incentive to minimize costs has never been greater

The JISC funded low-carbon ICT project at the University of Oxford has developed tools and techniques to reduce energy consumption and costs in networked desktop computing environments. At the time of last year’s conference, it was policy throughout most of the University departments to leave desktop computers switched on, all day, every day of the year. This need no longer be the case: the tools developed through the project allow desktop computers to be switched off when not in use with, importantly, no inconvenience to the user nor their IT support teams.

You are invited to join us to learn more about our work as well as the work of others in this important field.

18. Red Nose Day Run

Photo of OUCS's Red Nose Day Runners

On Friday 13th March, a gang of intrepid and slightly silly OUCS members and friends left 13 Banbury Road to run 8.7 miles, taking in everyone of the 44colleges and PPH of the University. The runners had pestered colleagues, friends and family for sponsorship and sold “advertising” space on their T shirts to raise money for Comic Relief. The route had be carefully planned out, with the aid of Google maps, and two runners carried GPS devices which fed data back to record the position of the runners on a map, updated every 10 seconds. The team were accompanied by one of OUCS’s unofficial photographers poised to gather incriminating evidence and proof that the gang had actually visited every one of the 44 colleges and halls, and The Turf Tavern.

Over £1,800 was raised so thanks to everyone who sponsored them, cheered them on or sat inside out of the rain and were glad it wasn’t them. Other events at OUCS raised £368.05 for Comic Relief.

The route

The track recorded by the GPS devices

Photos outside each of the colleges and halls

19. Can OUCS Save You Money?

In this current cost-cutting environment, could using OUCS services help your department work more efficiently?

  • NSMS services offer outsourcing to departments, virtualization, desktop/server management, etc.
  • OUCS’s specialist software licensing team can direct you to better deals, help negotiate, assist in finding people elsewhere in the University who are buying the same product, or even take over managing your software license management server.
  • Are you getting research bids ‘wrong’ in terms of accurate funding requests for IT? NSMS and the RTS can advise on writing the bid, costing the bid, and can provide a range of services for research projects.
  • Reduce expenditure on expensive commercial web designers by getting free consultation with OUCS Web Design Consultancy and direction to value for money, competent designers.
  • WebLearn VLE has tools to assist with surveying or feedback or online assessment. Reduce paper use and photocopying costs by having handouts, notes, lecture lists, etc. offered in WebLearn for free.
  • Are you paying to use or have services hosted elsewhere? Have you considered talking to the OUCS Learning Technology Group (LTG) or Information Services or looking at the LTG online guides which point to (more often than not) free tools which we recommend?
  • OUCS can offer free, or a low-cost renting of our lecture rooms and meeting rooms if specialised IT teaching suites are required.
  • Are you paying for expensive 3rd party trainers? Could the IT Learning Program (ITLP) do it for free, or cheaper?
  • If you are willing to make content available via iTunes then OUCS can assist with the recording, editing, and storage, saving you paying to hire specialised equipment and people.
  • Are you paying to have IT rooms open to conference delegates or getting in third-party ISPs when you could use OUCS facilities, or the OWL visitor service, or Eduroam?
  • Could the OUCS computer hardware breakdown service or the OUCS repair facility help reduce your maintenance costs?
  • The OUCS print service (posters, colour printing, etc) or the OUCS Printer (monographs, brochures, etc) may be able to print your work cheaper than external printers.
  • Are you spending a lot of resource getting IT staff to sort out student machines when they could be directed simply to the OUCS backup/restore service?
  • OUCS Telecoms can offer advice and cost effective pricing on all manner of telecommunication systems, including advice on the agreed Government contract for procuring iPhones.
  • If you find you are spending considerable amounts of money on back-up systems or archiving research data then why not make use of the free or competitively priced central HFS service?
  • OUCS staff can give advice on procurement of IT equipment that provide better energy savings, or point people to good consultants who can audit energy use
  • OUCS has a well worked out policy on flexible working but we can also advise or provide facilities on easing the ability to work from home (freeing up space, travel budgets, time).

Note: Your primary support for IT issues comes from your department or college. Your first port of call for questions or advice should always be your local IT support.

20. Posters as Big as a Horse From as Little as £9.00

Printing Service advert
Matt finish
  • A0 – £20.70 (£18.00 ex VAT) per sheet
  • A1 – £10.35 (£9.00 ex VAT)
Satin Paper
  • A0 – £40.25 (£35.00 ex VAT) per sheet
  • A1 – £20.13 (£17.50 ex VAT)

For more information, see the website, contact Job Reception on ext 73271 or email ops@oucs.ox.ac.uk

21. Brief but Important

21.1. Departmental Name Changes

The Nuffield Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has changed its name to the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedic, Rheumatology and Muscloskeletal Surgery. Email addresses for the department have changed to @ndorms (from @ndos).

The Centre for the Environment (OUCE) has changed its name to the School of Geography and the Environment. Their email address has not changed.

21.2. Green and Templeton Email Addresses

Green College and Templeton College have merged and the overlap time for email addresses has ended. Email addresses using either @green or @templeton no longer work. If you send an email to such an address, you will receive a failed message explaining what has happened and asking you to use@gtc instead.

21.3. Annual Report and Five Year Plan

The OUCS Annual report and Five Year Plan are available online. Check out what OUCS have been up to and what they plan to do next.

21.4. Locations for OWL Phase 2 Site Surveys

A list of the sites which will be surveyed as part of the Oxford Wireless Lan (OWL) Phase 2 deployment is available. The sites have all been suggested by the divisions in the University. General OWL Phase 2 documentation. If you have any queries about this project please email wireless@oucs.ox.ac.uk

21.5. Geolinking with OXPOINTS

The OXPOINTS dataset now contains locations for all colleges, most departments, and all libraries. These can be queried by OUCS unit code and OLIS code (where applicable).Data feeds can be provided in HTML, XML, KML, JavaScript and JSON.

21.6. OSS Watch National Software Survey 2008 Report Published

During 2008, OSS Watch once again conducted a national survey to assess the state of software policies and usage in HE and FE in the UK. This was the third time that the software survey has been conducted and so the report is able to identify trends and draw comparisons with data from previous years.

For anyone involved with strategy and policy this a must-read document to see what is going on in the UK today.

21.7. Bootable USB version of Linux Desktop

Would you like to make a bootable USB key with Ubuntu Linux on it? An image is available. The setup is tailored for Oxford, and the software (e.g. VPN, Kerberos) is configured for local use. The distribution should run on any modern Intel-based desktop, laptop or netbook.

21.8. Teachers and the Web

During March, OUCS hosted a workshop for teachers. Ten school teachers attended and saw demonstrations of a range of Web 2.0 applications which would help them make teaching packages drawn from the First World War poetry project. They saw how to use an on-line tool to make annotated paths through a collection (soon to be open sourced), and uses of resource packs.

21.9. New Google Search Appliance

A new Google Search Appliance was installed in February, with an improved version of the software. Staff at OUCS are exploring ways of making better use of the facilities available, including keyword searches. We are very happy to assist webmasters who want to use the GSA to provide local search facilities.

21.10. Earth Hour

What’s the connection between the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House and OUCS?

OUCS turned all it’s lights off for Earth Hour on 28th March. The Building Manager and the team of Eco Reps in the department asked all staff and students to turn everything off before they went home, and then did a final ‘sweep’ of the building when everyone had gone, to make sure the lights were all off.

Kate Aydin, the University Sustainability Officer, said 'I'm really pleased that at least one of our departments took part in Earth Hour - the staff in OUCS are dedicated to energy saving and they are setting a good example for the rest of the University.'

22. Email Updates from OUCS

Would you like to receive termly updates from OUCS via email? We have set up a new email mailing list to send out brief news reports and important information once a term to subscribers. To subscribe yourself to the mailing list, send an email to: oucs-news-subscribe@maillist.ox.ac.uk

You will be sent a confirmation request, and once you reply to it, a message confirming that you are a subscriber with information about the list, including how to unsubscribe.