Archive for the 'news' Category

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

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.


Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

TALL is part of a team, led by Oxford University Computing Services, that has recently been awarded funding from the JISC/HE Academy Open Educational Resources Programme for the Open Spires project.
The project has two purposes: to increase the amount of learning content (especially audio and video) released from Oxford and to enable the University to investigate the implications of making some of this material available as ‘Open Content’ under a Creative Commons or other suitable license. This means that quality educational content will be available for reuse and redistribution by third parties globally, provided that it is used in a non-commercial way and is attributed to its creator.
This funding will enable the University to build upon the Oxford iTunes U service launched in October 2008, which has widespread participation from Oxford academics. Oxford podcasts currently include recordings of guest lectures, interviews with researchers and conference presentations. The project will have a global impact, as the free-to-download resources are in many cases from speakers, researchers and visiting lecturers with high international profiles.
The project hopes to benefit the University by:

  • Enhancing Oxford’s global reputation – enabling the production of more material that has international impact and places the University in a leading position within the UK Open Content movement.
  • Ensuring expert legal scrutiny – the complex licensing and IPR issues associated with Open Content will be investigated by the University’s Legal Service office.
  • Enhancing current provision and accessibility – text transcripts will be produced to accompany existing podcasts.
  • Enabling the University to produce more audio and video content that brings the modern day University to life for its many alumni.
  • Improving admissions by enabling the production of more podcasts that will reach and inspire the key 16-18 age group.

The project started on 30 April 2009 and will last for one year.


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.

Launching Ancestral voices: the earliest English literature

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

After months of work we are finally launching our Ancestral voices: the earliest English literature course today with actual students!  This course has been developed using almost entirely existing content as part of the Mosaic project funded by JISC.  The course as a whole learning experience with tutor will be running for the next 10 weeks, and hopefully for many terms to come.  However as part of the Mosaic project, all the course materials will be made available more widely in the near future as well – more information about that to come.

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.

Find out about Phoebe

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In recent months we have been doing a lot more work with video content and as part of this we have recorded me giving an overview of the Phoebe tool.  This is basically the demonstration of Phoebe we usually give at the start of workshops – hopefully all you need to know to get stared using the tool.  I can’t vouch for the quality of the presenting, but if you want to get a 23 minute overview of Phoebe this is definitely the place to start. You can see me talking without the screen capture here, or the get the full version here.

Award winning Phoebe

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Today we found out that Phoebe won an award at Oxford’s IT in Teaching and Learning Awards awards, OxTALENT.

This is particularly gratifying as for a long time, while awareness of Phoebe outside Oxford has been high, it has been a real challenge to get the word out in Oxford itself. There was a lot of interest in Phoebe and it was good to see many new faces at the event.

Finding the real need for planning tools

Monday, February 25th, 2008

The concentration needed to develop our pedagogic planner tool Phoebe has necessarily brought our gaze inward during parts of the project. Over the last few weeks we have returned to looking outward, and have been talking to various people from other projects in the same space, particularly Jeff Earp from the ReMath project, Andrew Brasher from Compendium and Helen Walmsley from the Best practice models of e-learning project . It has been interesting to catch up and see where we all are, and to get a sense of how the themes that seem to be emerging from Phoebe resonate (or not) with other projects in this area. Added to this is an on going dialogue with our “sister” D4L funded Pedagogic Planner the LPP.

A key focus of all the current projects has been to develop tools that are fundamentally informed by the needs of our future users, rather than implementing a vision that is divorced from actual practice. Our current evaluations have been focusing on the practitioner level, but as our two projects come to the end of this phase of funding JISC are using this as a chance to address these questions more strategically.

As part of this Phoebe and the LPP will be at the centre of a review meeting that the JISC are organising in Birmingham on the 4th March. This will provide an opportunity to share and discuss our work with key stakeholders, and to explore how they might use the planner tools in their communities.

CPD online courses for Autumn

Thursday, September 13th, 2007

We are launching a number of Continuing Professional Development courses, this Autumn including 2 new courses.

24th September

Introduction to Electronics

Patient-Based Evidence (NEW)

1st October

Perl for Bioinformatics

22nd October

Key Concepts in Health Care for People Experiencing Homelessness

5th November

Effective Online Tutoring (NEW)

For more information on these courses or to enroll on a course visit