Archive for the 'conted' Category


Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We are about to start the RECIPROCATE (REgional Climate International: PRoviding Online Climatological Applied Training and Education) project. Funded by the NERC Knowledge Transfer scheme, this  is a joint project between the Department for Continuing Education (CPD and TALL), the team at the Department of Physics’ Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics group and the UK Met Office‘s PRECIS (Providing REgional Climates for Impacts Studies) team.

The project aims to directly address the knowledge gap in developing countries about climate change, and the risks associated with it, by developing innovative online learning materials. These will enable scientists, climate practitioners and policy makers in non-governmental organisations (NGOs), industry and governments to understand and exploit regional climate predictions. As a result they will be better informed about the importance of climate and climate change and how they can engage in the mitigation of behaviour which could cause dangerous climate change and adaptation to the effects of climate changes to which have already been set in train.

Coupling climate prediction expertise from the University of Oxford and the UK Met Office’s PRECIS team with the University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education’s expertise in developing innovative and effective education and training solutions, the project will:

  • Create an online learning programme and community for sharing knowledge and practice for personnel working in government, industry and NGOs to understand and use regional climate prediction models and data;
  • Develop a global community that will provide support, information exchange, training updates and a communication network on climate modelling and the use and interpretation of climate model outputs in the developing world context;
  • Provide climate prediction training to more than 1,000 individuals worldwide over three years;
  • Build capacity for sustainable climate prediction communities of practice in both the UK and the developing world.

Only connect

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

In the last few months we have been laying the ground work for the Cascade project, but now that we have our research officer, Bridget Lewis, in place we are really moving forward with our work on this.

What is really apparent at this stage is how interconnected everything is, I appreciate that this is hardly a revelation, but when you are working on very tightly defined deliverables it is really easy to ignore the implications of your choices beyond the boundaries of what you are doing.  When a significant focus of your work is looking at the bigger picture things start getting tangled.

A positive aspect of this, is how much we are genuinely taking forward outputs of  other projects that we have done over the last few years, Mosaic, Isthmus and Phoebe in particular are proving to be directly relevant, and it is great to feel that we have achieved things with them that can really improve what we are doing now.

In particular:

  • Mosaic –  better understanding of OERs, licensing and staff development materials around reuse.
  • Isthmus – what we know about our online students (although Cascade is dealing with a much larger student body than Isthmus did ) and the implications of innovating on live courses.
  • Phoebe – the tool itself as well as what we know from it about course design.

There is also a lot of overlap between Cascade and the LDSE (Learning Design Support Environment) project that we are working on with several London-based partners.  With Cascade focusing on changes in the hear and now, while the LDSE is designing for the future, they each act as a sanity check on what we are doing on the other project.

Teaching awards – the photographic evidence

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

The photographic evidence of TALL at the teaching awards has now emerged – with more images of the ourselves and all the other winners, here


Cascade – Curriculum delivery project

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Cascade of Maqui

We have recently heard from JISC that we have funding for the Cascade project as part of their Curriculum Delivery call.  This is really exciting news as it gives us a chance to properly explore implementing the technologies that can transform a learning experience across the whole of the Department for Continuing Education.For the Department as a whole it will provide us a chance to really explore how technology can be used effectively as we confront the challenges we face due to the ELQ policy (which removes HEFCE funding for students studying an equivalent of lower qualification and for TALL it will give us a chance to build on the work we have been doing in the last few years, both in research and in course development.

Image by Whirling Phoenix AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved.

New courses this term

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

We are just in the middle of our termly  launch period for our online courses and it is looking like we are going to hit 700 students  this term, which is really amazing considering how recently we were pleased about having 100!

Most excitingly we are launching new courses in English Poetry of the First World War, Using the Victorian Census and Vikings: raiders, traders and settlers as well as the Postgraduate Diploma in Paediatric Infectious Diseases; developed in conjunction with the Medical Sciences Division here at Oxford.

The poetry course has been written by Sandie Byrne one of our most popular course authors and provides a great tie in with the exciting The Great War Archive project that our colleagues in OUCS are leading.

Developing the Victorian Census course has been an immense task, but I think we have created a great practical course to get people started with this amazing resource.  This course also provides access to for the duration of the programme  which is probably worth the course fee on its own.

For the Vikings course we have done some really innovative work with Google Maps about which we will be writing some more about soon.

Lastly with the Paediatric Infectious Disease programme we have worked closely with the  learning technologies group in Medical sciences whose expertise in e-assessment has allowed us to include some great self assessment opportunities for the students.

I think our ability to launch four such varied new courses in the space of a month is a real testament to the work of the whole team and everyone at Continuing Education and the rest of the University who has made each course possible.

Reaching into the Web

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

As part of our JISC funded ‘Isthmus’ project we have launched a pilot Facebook group for students on our short online courses. The overall concept is to encourage a ‘community’ of students that exists beyond the run of any single course. It’s been running for 6 days now and so far we have 45 members (about 10% of this term’s students) and around 20 posts.

Deciding to use Facebook and then deciding exactly how to set-up the group was complicated and generated a lot of discussion here at TALL. Our students are generally older than a traditional university student and many of them are retired. The recent OxIS Internet survey reported that 42% of students signed up to a Social Networking site last year but of those in the retired ‘life-stage’ category only 2% signed up. In contrast Saga recently launched a Social Networking site for the over 55s and claimed that ‘Silver Social Networking’ was on the rise. Surveys of our students revealed that not many of them were members of Social Networking sites (around a third) but that only 26% were not interested in communicating with other students after their course had finished.

As well as the difficulty in deciding to run the pilot it was also not clear exactly what form it should take because it cuts across technical, pedagogical, social and legal issues. Each area for consideration pulls the design and principle of the pilot in different directions. The core challenge was how to strike the right balance between supporting and structuring the group without ‘owning’ or managing it. This involved consulting JISC legal, Oxford University’s Legal Services Office and a range of stakeholders (including the students).

So far the group seems to be working, but it is early days. More significantly I feel we have made inroads into how to manage our relationship with third party services such as Facebook. If we can establish some principles in this area then we will be able to take advantage of the wider web much more efficiently in the future.

Online courses for the Autumn

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

This autumn we are offering more short courses than ever before, including 7 new courses

10th September

Brontës (NEW)
Learning to Look at the Visual Arts
New Economic Powers
Study Skills

12th September

Jane Austen
Learning to Look at Western Architecture
Philosophy Gym
Political Philosophy

17th September

Exploring Roman Britain
Islamic Art and Architecture (NEW)
Victorian Fiction: an Introduction (NEW)

19th September

Contemporary British Fiction; an Introduction (NEW)
Critical Reading
Durer to Bruegel: Northern Renaissance Art c.1480-1580
Learning to look at Modern Art (NEW)
Philosophy of Religion
Reality, being and existence: An introduction to metaphysics

24th September

Philosophy of Mind
Theory of Knowledge (NEW)
Visual Arts of India

26th September

Playing God: an introduction to Bioethics (NEW)

For more information on these courses or to enrol on a course visit Online courses at Oxford University’s Department of Continuing Education, email the online courses office or telephone +44 (0)1865 280974.

Oxford’s IT in Teaching and Learning Awards 2007

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

TALL and colleagues were recently runners up in two categories of Oxford’s IT in Teaching and Learning Awards 2007.

Administration, support services or research

Department for Continuing Education website
Matt Street, David Balch, Sean Faughnan, Michael Brooks

Special award for best Teaching and Learning project created with assistance

TALL – Good practice in citation
This course is an introduction to the issues surrounding plagiarism.

For further information on the awards go to

Hopefully the first of many…

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

One of the customisations we make to our Moodle installations has kindly been checked-in by Petr Škoda – thanks Petr!

Hopefully, we in TALL will be able to make lots of useful contributions to Moodle, giving a little back to this great project 🙂

ContEd website Revamp

Monday, March 19th, 2007

TALL have been working with everyone in the department to develop a new and improved website for the Department for Continuing Education, our parent organisation at the University of Oxford.

The new site went live on 19th March 2007, and features:

  • improved course catalogue integration,
  • online enrolments,
  • a new visual design,
  • improved organisation,
  • lots of behind the scenes improvements.

Thanks to everyone in the department who made this possible.

Visit the new website at: