Archive for the 'oersesame' Category

Open Oxford

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

open projects at Oxford

While MOOCs have been hogging the headlines in recent years, many universities, including Oxford are continuing to produce open content in other forms, such as OER (open educations resources), podcasts, research and even the odd freely available course…

This has now been brought together through the  new Open Spires home page, which also has 3 lovely videos explaining what this is all about. All of these have lots of Continuing Education goodness, featuring academics from the Department, those from other departments with whom we have developed online courses and OER with, and even me – possibly getting slightly over excited about the wonderfulness of Open.  So to hear more about what Oxford and Continuing education are doing in the open sphere check out the videos below:



OxTALENT Awards 2013

Friday, June 21st, 2013


Each year, the University of Oxford holds its OxTALENT Awards ceremony to recognise and reward excellence in teaching and learning supported by IT. This year’s event, hosted by Anne Trefethen, Melissa Highton and Dave Walters, was held on 18 June 2013.

It is always a pleasure to meet up with colleagues from learning technology teams around the University and to get the opportunity to see examples of how academic staff, researchers and students from across the University are making innovative use of technology and to have the opportunity to discuss their work with them. This year’s competition was no exception and saw prizes offered in the following categories:

Use of Technology for Outreach and Engagement
Use of WebLearn (the University’s VLE) to Support a Course or Programme of Study
Research Poster
Digital Image
Open Education Initiative
Use of IT in the Classroom
Student IT Innovation

We would like to pass on our congratulations to all the 2013 OxTALENT award winners and mention in particular the part-time tutors of the Department for Continuing Education’s Weekly Classes Programme and our colleagues in the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Centre who both won prizes.

The Weekly Classes tutors were runners up in the Open Education Initiatives category for their contribution to the Jisc-funded Sesame project. This project, which was led by TALL, saw over 150 part-time tutors learn about open educational resources (OER) for teaching and learning and the creation of the site, which contains a growing collection of over 2,000 online resources. The CPD Centre was runner up in the Use of WebLearn to Support a Course or Programme of Study category for their innovative use of the VLE to allow students to interact as peer reviewers on each other’s essay assignments.

For further information about all the 2013 winners and runners up, take a look at the OxTALENT blog.

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…


Sesame: talking to practitioners

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

In addition to producing Open Educational Resources (OER), one of the main aims of the Sesame project has been to embed open ways of working in the development and delivery of the Department’s Weekly classes programme. In particular we wanted to work with the large cohort of part-time tutors who teach these courses to improve their skills and confidence in identifying, using and creating OER. Now that we are just over half way through the project, we took the opportunity to talk to some of our tutors about their experience of participating in the project. This short video provides a brief introduction to the Sesame project and some reflections from tutors on the impact the project has had on their teaching practice.

To find out more about the project, and to browse the resources released so far, visit:

The video is published under a Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC BY NC SA)

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.

Open education week

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

We’ve been publicising open education week to our students this week, letting them know a bit more about what it means and what they might to explore further on our Departmental website.  While we took this chance to tell them about OER and open ed more widely, we also blew our own horn a bit too….

The Department for Continuing Education was one of the first departments to contribute to Oxford’s iTunes U site and Marianne Talbot, the Department’s Director of Studies in Philosophy, has had her lectures downloaded more than three million times with two of her podcasts – ‘A Romp Through the History of Philosophy’, and ‘The Nature of Arguments’ – being global number one on iTunes U. You can listen to Marianne’s lectures and other podcasts from the Department’s podcasts site.

As well as contributing to the University’s open education initiatives, the Department has undertaken research into the use of open educational resources by tutors and students and, where possible, releases the outputs of its teaching and learning projects as OER.

One example is the Course Design Moodle, which highlights examples from some of the Department’s online courses and aims to help teachers worldwide to develop their own high-quality online learning resources.

The Department is also embedding open practices across its work and has just started an exciting new project to create OER as part of the Weekly Classes programme. So far, the project has made available more than 150 online resources from 11 weekly classes and will be openly licensing these resources in the future. For a preview of the sort of material we hope to release see:

Learning from OER research projects

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
The iceberg of reuse

Another chance to consider the iceberg of reuse

I recently visited the OU to present on the OER Impact project for the SCORE‘s session on learning from OER research projects.

With proper social media credentials the entire day is on Cloudworks here  this contains both the slides and  a video of all the presentations of the day so you to can experience it as though you were there (although the video is not currently working for me).  If you already think you know enough about our study I would recommend in particular viewing the talks from Alison Littlejohn and Patrick McAndrew talking respectively on the findings from the OER Project evaluation and synthesis and the OLnet project.


Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Our new Introduction to Statistics in Healthcare Research course has been massively enhanced by the inclusion of  XKCD cartoons, stats courses require a bit of light relief.  All set to negotiate the copyright clearance when we discovered they are cc licensed.  I love Creative Commons. All I can say is anyone who is involved in developing a stats course should be using these.

Work found at / CC BY-NC 2.5

OER Sesame

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Genie in an oil lamp

I am delighted to report that we have received funding from the Higher Education Academy/JISC Open Educational Resources Programme Phase 3 strand for the Sesame project.

Sesame aims to  produce a rich and sustainable source of open educational resources (OER), aimed at adult learners and their tutors, but of use to all, across a broad range of subject disciplines.  The resources will be made freely available for others to view, download, re-purpose, and incorporate in to their own learning and teaching.

The specific aims of the project are to:

  • Embed open ways of working in the development and delivery of the Department’s Weekly Class Programme.
  • Increase awareness and knowledge of OER among staff and students.
  • Enable weekly class students to find and use appropriate, validated OER in their work.
  • Improve part-time tutors’ skills and confidence in identifying, using and creating OER.
  • Widen access to Oxford’s teaching to new audiences globally.

To achieve these aims the project will:

  • Create and release new open content.
  • Develop tools and processes that facilitate open practices.
  • Provide training to support part-time tutors to identify, use and create OER.
  • Develop infrastructure to enhance discovery of OER generated by the Weekly Class Programme.
  • Share lessons learned from the project with JISC and the wider community.

The project began in October 2011 and will end in October 2012.

For TALL this project is an exciting move from our work consuming OERs through projects such as Mosaic and our broader online course development work, and researching how others do this in the OER Impact reports.  It will also give us a chance to contribute to the wider work  producing OER at Oxford that the OpenSpires project has started so strongly.  I am hopeful our experience as end-users will help us produce more usable and useful OER and that is certainly something we will be investigating as the project moves forward.

Image: Genie in an oil lamp. / shannonzhang / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0