Archive for the 'conted' Category

New courses for Autumn 2015

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Our new courses for Michealmas 2015 are Ancient Egypt: An Introduction and Public Policy Economics two excellent additions to our portfolio.

The first is possibly our most eagerly awaited Archaeology course ever, we have been wanting to offer a course on Ancient Egypt for a very long time, but it has taken us a while to bring it together (we blame Egyptologists preferring digs to course development).  This course is an introduction to the rich and vibrant civilization of ancient Egypt, from royal pyramids, court artisans and powerful pharaohs, to grandiose temples, mysterious gods and foreign invasions.    Full of glorious resources and great activities it is going to make a lot of students happy.

Our Public policy economics course has been written by Diana Coyle who is really great at communicating complex ideas clearly.  This course is for anyone interested in politics and the economy and provides a fantastic insight into the economic thinking that shapes why governments make the decisions they do. With claims and counter-claims dominating the news this course will give you the knowledge you need to evaluate these and work out who you really believe.

Very different topics but equally rewarding learning experiences.

Image:Work found at / CC BY 2.0

From the first civilisation to a global perspective on people and society

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Work found at /CC BY-ND 2.0


It is that time of the term where I blog about our new courses and this term I am particularly excited to share our two new courses for Trinity:  The First Civilization: Mesopotamia 3500-2000 BC  and  People and Society: A Global Perspective.  From the civilization that saw the first societies, to ways of understanding society and how it shapes our world today, these courses help you engage with the world in very different ways.  Both will stimulate your thinking and each case they are particularly timely with current news events.

Our Mesopotamia course was a revelation to me, as a normal British school child I knew a bit about Egypt, but I would now argue we should be all be studying Mesopotamia which is at last as fascinating and even more revelatory in terms of the amazing artifacts produced by civilizations so ancient the dates start to seem fanciful.  As stories are emerging of ancient sites being destroyed in the Middle East  this course will help you understand just how tragic this is.

People and Society is a very different course, but again tied to current events, if you live in the UK, by the election.  This course examines many of the sociological assumptions that inform political discourse and will give you new ways to think about the debate, as well as helping you situate it in a global context.

Both these courses were in subjects I did not think I had much of an interest in, but as a result of developing I now know I do – study them and you may find the same thing.


Social Anthropology and World Religions

Friday, July 19th, 2013

This Michaelmas term (as well as offering well over 60 courses you have had a chance to study already) we launch two totally new courses, Social Anthropology: an introduction and Introduction to World Religions.

Boys taking part in a ritual to mark the transition to manhood, Malawi Licensed by Steve Evans under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

Boys taking part in a ritual to mark the transition to manhood, Malawi
Licensed by Steve Evans under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence

The titles of the units in the social anthropology course alone are enough to make anyone with an enquiring mind consider studying it.  Among them – “Kinship: given or made?” “Witchcraft: is a belief in science any more rational than a belief in witches?” “Gift exchange: is there such a thing as a free gift?” “Ethnicity and globalisation: understanding hyperdiversity”.  I am not sure you will ever see the world in the same way again once you have been exposed to thinking anthropologically.

Our world religions course introduces you to a subject where even the term “world religions” can be controversial. Looking at the major faiths of both the east and west it will help you understand both insider and outsider perspectives and the ways that religions have adapted and changed to meet the challenges of the modern world.

Both courses have some great resources and activities which will really stimulate you, challenging you to work out what you believe and why – if from very different perspectives!


Are we living in an employee owned universe?

Friday, February 15th, 2013


We have just finished launching our courses for Hilary term (well we are Oxford), which has seen over 1500 students take 60+ courses.  Now we can start thinking about Trinity, for which we have a fantastic selection of online courses for you to enjoy, with two new courses to tell you about here.

For those of you who are interested in economics and business you may want to explore our new course Employee Ownership for the 21st Century which will help you explore the concept of employee ownership or cooperative businesses, and decide for yourself whether the Employee Owned Company is the most significant development in corporate life for 150 years and offers the chance to address the destabilising ills of capitalism?  This course takes a truly global perspective with contributions from leaders in the field from the Netherlands,  Australia, and the USA and in developing it we were certainly convinced it is a contender!

For those of you who want to look even further away then our new course Exploring the Universe should satisfy your requirements.  Co-authored by Chris Lintott from The Sky at Night, this course aims to answer the questions How old is the Universe? How unusual is the Solar System? How will it all end? and so much more.  By the end you will be able to talk confidently about Goldilocks planets and will have plenty of chances to participate in real astronomical discovery by engaging with projects from and more.

As with all our courses,these give you a chance to study with a small cohort of students, supported by an expert tutor, with access to the best information and resources to be found across the  web, books, journals and more, making for a rich and engaging online learning experiences wherever you are in the world.

New courses for 2013

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Image :student laptop / zen Sutherland / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Next term we are launching  five new courses in the online short course programme: Climate Change: Science, Leadership and Action, The Making of Modern Britain, History of Economic Thought, Civil War and Revolution: Britain Divided, 1640-60, and Middle English Literature.

Our history portfolio is expanding rapidly, with The Making of Modern Britain covering topics from Adam Smith and the enlightenment to CND marches.  This course gives you a chance to explore many of the historical trends that have shaped our modern world, but also provides a grounding in the basic historical skills that you need to seriously study history.   You also get to engage with Adam Smith in our new course on the History of Economic Thought, but I am most excited about the fact it also covers Indian and Chinese traditions for a more global perspective.

Back to history, all I need to tell you about our Civil War and Revolution: Britain Divided, 1640-60, course is that it has a unit titled “The return of the sword” and “A time of shaking forum”,  surely you want to know more now.  Middle English Literature. is the natural successor to our ever popular Ancestral Voices: The Earliest English Literature course and is also written by the amazing Sandie Byrne, one of our most popular course authors and tutors, if you have ever felt you should understand Chaucer and the other literature of this time better, this course is for you. Lastly our new course Climate Change: Science, Leadership and Action, not only teaches you more about climate change, but also helps you explore your leadership potential.

Currently there are still places available on all of these courses, but they are filling up fast.  Between them they offer something for all interests – or if you really think you want more choice visit our full online course catalogue, with 60 courses starting in January there really is plenty to choose from.



OUCS consuming and aggregating ContEd’s XCRI-CAP

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Adam Marshall posted a nice overview of the Data Flow in the OXCAP Project.

On the ContEd side, I made a basic searchable XCRI-CAP feed of the Department for Continuing Education’s courses. There are a few courses that aren’t in the course database that the feed uses, but most of them are there.

Cunningly, once the system had retrieved a bunch of data out of the database, it was easy to add a JSON feed of the courses as well, which I’ve used in the Sesame backend for looking up course data. I have a vague recollection of a standard JSON-based data schema that might be more useful than my home-grown structure, but will have to find it again before that’s an option…


First world war archaeology maps to help the world…

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Remembering the Forgotten Front (…is my best attempt to link our four new online courses this term, we are nothing if not diverse.

We are the in the middle of our course launch period once again, but there there still places in loads of fabulous online courses if you are interested.  In particular I should mention our four new courses for this term, The First World War in Perspective, Archaeology in Practice, Social Entrepreneurship, and Introducing Mapping, Spatial Data & GIS.

The former two are from our mainstream humanities strand.  Archaeology in Practice fills  the gap in our Archaeology programme for an introduction to the subject, so is the place to start if you have not studied archaeology before.  The First World War in Perspective course is monumental  – and provides the best overview to the subject you could imagine in 10 weeks.  In particular this is a visually stunning course with loads of great resources and images.  I also think our author has done a great job of showing the bigger picture of the war, rather than a UK centric view.

Our GIS and Social entrepreneurship courses come from our growing range of more applied subjects.  Introducing Mapping, Spatial Data & GIS is a great hands on introduction to what GIS can do accross a swathe of subjects, with guidance on using freely available tools to complete your own real life project – it has given me loads of ideas I would love to follow up.  Lastly our Social Entrepreneurship course introduces this fascinating topic and helps you explore how you could become more engaged in this area.

As usual all are taught by our expert tutors and put you in a global classroom with students from everywhere, giving you a perspective  on the subject you could never get in a locally based course. So investigate if you are interested in any of these or anything else from our portfolio.

Image: Remembrance Day 2009 – The Forgotten Front 1918 / Cross Duck / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Book boxes to OER: opening up Oxford

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012
A mountain of book boxes from Rewley House library

A mountain of book boxes from Rewley House library

A couple of months ago while filming a video about our work on the Cascade project with JISC we visited the  mountain of  book boxes that are in the basement of our library.  These are  legacy from the days gone by of the department, when opening up access to Oxford meant traveling around the UK by train, with your TRAVELLING LIBRARY  and giving lectures.

The interior label from an early book box

The interior label from an early book box

It is worth noting that although we now offer many online courses this does actually still happen, with the occasional church hall still hosting a book box as we speak.  There is more about the history of the department on our website, acting as a reminder that exploring how best to open up education is not a new pursuit, and that projects such as Sesame and the generation of OER are just the latest evolution of this work.

Investigating politics, microeconomics and the Victorians

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

Cartoon of a Victorian politician - who was surely interested in microeconomics.

For once thought I would seize the chance to tell you about our new courses when there is still time to enroll on them.  New for Trinity term we have Investigating the Victorians, Politics: an introduction and Microeconomics: an introduction.

Investigating the Victorians is a course bursting with amazing resources about Victorian lives and great activities to help you explore them.  Many of the themes this course explores are surprisingly relevant to the world today and you also get to do a quiz which has the possible choices….

…..Presence of dunghills, Filth, Slaughter houses, Dampness, Decomposing refuse, Open sewers and drains, Accumulation of refuse, Homes with no flooring, Inadequate diet and clothing, Overcrowding….

Remember modern life is not so bad.

The next two courses are possibly even better for holding forth on the state of the world today – justify your opinions with political and economic theory and impress your friends.

Microeconomics follows on where our Macroeconomics course left off, looking at economics on the smaller scale of firms and individuals, and helping you understand  what economic theory has to say about where we are now.

Our new Politics course is fabulously clear and straight forward entry into a huge topic, covering a vast amount of ground from ancient Greece via Machiavelli and J.S. MILL to the Japanese Tsunami and the War in Iraq.

So if you fancy an bit of intellectual stimulation in the spring check these out, or any of the other 50 courses we have to choose from.

Image:14 Pluto – Politician / Carl Guderian /

Churchill, Vikings and writing for teenagers

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Churchill bust











Not my predictions for the next wave in teen novels, but 3 of the courses that still have places for this upcoming term.  We are just about to embark on our course launches for this January with nearly 50 options to choose from, and these are 3 of the most interesting.

Vikings: Raiders, Traders and Settlers  contains some amazing Google maps resources which you can access here: . In particular the tour of the viking presence in modern day Wallingford is worth exploring especially if you know the town.

Churchill had already had an amazing life before WW2 even began and Churchill: Soldier, Politician and Statesman will help you discover it. But one of my favourite activities is the one that helps you understand why he lost the election in 1945, this is a great example of what you can do with the fabulous primary sources now available online.

Lastly Writing Fiction for Young Adults will give you all the skills you need to be the next JK Rowling with hands on activities such as this one on getting to know your protagonist to help you go from thinking about writing to actually writing.

This term we are only launching 1 new course – Macroeconomics to give you a chance to better understand the economy at a global scale, for those interested in the smaller scale issues, the partner course Microeconomics will be available next term.

Churchill Image: 03-churchill / Jon Culver / CC BY-NC 2.0

Viking image:  Viking / erikki / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0