Archive for the 'launches' Category

Garden history, biblical archeology and mysterious numbers.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011
Martin Heemskerck Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Martin Heemskerck


Course launches have just completed and over 1300 students have embarked on another term of online learning with us.  This term we have launched 3 new courses: Archaeology of the Bible Lands The Number Mysteries and English Landscape Gardens: 1650 to the Present Day , and I am very pleased to have discovered an image which combines a biblical garden with a vaguely  Escher like (that’s mathematical!) ambiance.

Having been in involved in the development of all our courses, I do think that these are 3 of the most enjoyable courses we have ever created and the students on them are going to have a fabulous time.

Enrollments have closed for this term, but if any of these, or our other 50+ online courses look interesting to you, do come and visit to make your choices for January, when we will also have a new Macroeconomics course available to help you understand what economists think is happening to the world right now.

Image: Hanging Gardens of Babylon / Carla216 / CC BY 2.0

Link curation at scale

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011
The weakest link

In our report OER: The value of reuse in education,  we focused our attention on the reuse of online resources whether licensed or not .  There was no doubt that making no distinction between licensed OER and stuff on the web reflects the experience of the majority of HE practitioners, who use “stuff” relatively indiscriminately in low risk contexts.

However when not writing reports we develop and deliver a large portfolio of online courses  where we make extensive use of online resources.  These are mainly from large institutions such as other universities, or museums, but very rarely cc licensed.  As a result we mainly link out to these rather than incorporating them into course materials, as clearing copyright at that scale is not manageable as we know from our Mosaic project.

We are currently launching to over 1200 students, something that brings home the value of open licensing in purely pragmatic terms.  50+ courses a term, with between 5 and 300+ links per course checked 3 times in the lead up to  a course run  = a lot of work. Obviously we have tools that automate this up to a point, but they only tell you whether a link is live, not whether it ends up where you expect, and then there is what you do when a link is broken……This is a major overhead and it is getting worse.  A colleague suggested this post should be called “This has been a *@#! term for links”

So yes licensing is complicated and we should not see it as the be all and end all of OER, but when open licenses are  in place, by letting us bring resources into our course so we don’t have to check thousands of links each term, they allow us to design and deliver better courses. Long may it continue.

Image: the weakest link / darwin Bell / CC BY-NC 2.0


Maths in the City website re-launches with new features

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

As a prelude to announcing the competition winners, Maths in the City is happy to announce the launch of an updated website.

Visit the interactive map on our homepage and go on a mathematical tour of cities around the world. Join the adventure today and shine a mathematical spotlight on your city.

Amongst the top new features we’ve added are:

  • New homepage: find maths in your city and around the globe using the interactive map
  • Maths in the City competition entries: these sites are now visible. If you entered our competition, find yours and send the link to your friends and family
  • Snapshots: this is a new kind entry that you can add to the map, see this page for details
  • Rate Sites and Snapshots: you can now rate Sites and Snapshots using our new five star rating feature – log in to start rating your favourites
  • “Recommended” content: gold icons indicate a Site or Snapshot that has been approved by a Mathemagician because of its high quality, see this page for details
  • Improved image uploader: it is now easier to upload images into your Site or Snapshot
  • Improved equation display: if you’re including mathematical equations in your Site or Snapshot, they will display better. For those of you who like knowing this kind of stuff, we’re using MathJax to support LaTeX

The Maths in the City competition is open today

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Join Marcus du Sautoy on a mathematical adventure in the city. Enter our competition and you could win great prizes including a subscription to Nature and even naming a mathematical object.

Open to all ages, competition entries need to show:
•    an interesting example of maths in the urban environment, or
•    a clear explanation of some maths you see in your city, or
•    a great way of demonstrating your mathematical idea on the streets.

Entries will become part of a virtual mathscape of cities around the world.  And finalists will be invited showcase their entry at an event in Oxford and meet Marcus du Sautoy.

Anyone is welcome to enter the competition, you can either enter individually or in a group, and the stories can come from any city in the world.

Tell us your favourite stories of maths in the city by visiting

The competition runs until noon 3 May 2011.

Marcus du Sautoy points up and mathematicians look up

Marcus du Sautoy and his mathemagicians

Enter our competition and join Marcus du Sautoy on a mathematical adventure of the city

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Our cities are filled with buildings, roads, cars, buses, trains, bikes, parks and gardens. They are crisscrossed with power, water, sewage and transport systems. They are built by engineers, architects, planners, doctors, designers and artists.

Our cities are shaped by our environment, our society and our culture. And each and every part is built on mathematics. To reveal the maths hiding in our urban surroundings we have just launched a new project: ‘Maths in the City’. The project is led by Marcus du Sautoy, Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science. Marcus and a team of volunteer mathematicians from Oxford will develop walking tours of Oxford and London taking the public on a mathematical adventure of the city.

Marcus du Sautoy and mathematicians looking at the Bridge of Sighs, Oxford
Bridge over troubled mathematicians

But we need everyone’s help! In April we are running a competition, open to all, asking people to share their mathematical stories of the city. It might be a piece of interesting architecture, mathematical sculpture or the maths behind something more mundane, such as traffic lights. We’re looking for:

• interesting examples of maths in the urban environment,
• clear explanations of some maths you see in your city,
• great demonstrations of your mathematical ideas on the street.



Winning entries will become part of our virtual mathscape of cities around the world and will help Marcus and his team develop their walking tours. And, of course, you can win great prizes! Including:
• a subscription to Nature, kindly provided by Nature Publishing Group,
• best-selling popular science books, including the ‘Last Word’ series kindly donated by New Scientist,
• having a mathematical object named after you,
• and showcasing your entry with other finalists at an event in Oxford in June with Marcus and his team.

Anyone is welcome to enter the competition — young, old, students, teachers, researchers, member of the public, journalists…— and the stories can come from any city across the UK or around the world. The competition is open for entries from 4 April to 3 May 2011 – you can find out all the details, including some ideas to get you started at

Course launches

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It is that time of year again and we are in the middle of our online course launches for another term.  We are offering  43 courses this term including our new courses in Writing Fiction for Young Adults, Writing Fiction, Elizabeth I, and Right and Wrong: an introduction to ethics, many are full, but there are still places on a lot – so if you would enjoy some intellectual stimulation over the next couple of months and are interested in Archaeology, Art History, English literature, Creative Writing, Economics, History, or Philosophy do take a look at what is available.

Course launches

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Once again we are in the middle of our course launch period with nearly 40 courses launching over the next few weeks.  Our new courses for this term are Shakespeare, Globalization (which I blogged about here a few weeks ago) and Writing Drama.  these are all currently sold out but there are still places on English Poetry of the First World War, Philosophy of Religion, and Pompeii and the Cities of the Roman Empire among others.  To see the full list of available courses visit our online courses website.

There is also always next term, when our new courses will include Greek mythology, Henry VIII and Ethics.

Online course launches

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

It is that time of year again when we embark on our online course launches for another term.  We are offering 31 courses this term including our new courses in Literary theory and History of medicine, many are full, but there are still places on a lot – so if you would enjoy some intellectual stimulation in over the next couple of months and are interested in Archaeology, Art History, English literature, Creative Writing, History, or Philosophy do take a look at what is available.

Open Educational Resources at Continuing Education

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Among our other record breaking recruitment this term we have also launched the Ancestral Voices course developed as part of the Mosaic project for the 3rd time, with the largest cohort yet – in fact our maximum of 32 students.

I am sure this is not statistically significant, but for us it is our first example of freely available content, and students who are still prepared to pay for the full tutored learning experience.   Definitely a good sign for persuading the Department to do more with OERs.

Record breaking online student numbers

Monday, October 5th, 2009

This term we have  a record breaking 1000+ students taking our online courses.   This is especially good in the face of the current economic climate, and  may be a consequence of it.  However I also think it is a great testament to the quality of our courses and the work of everyone in the Department and TALL.

It is  particularly  gratifying to see the high number of returning students, clearly a lot of people are having a good experience on  these courses, and one which they want to repeat.

We are taking enrollments for January already and will be offering two new courses, Literary Theory and our first ever 5 week course, Introduction to the History of Medicine, with new courses in creative writing, economics, literature, philosophy and history coming later in 2010.