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Preview: News from Computing Services

IT Services News


Newsletter from IT Services

2016-10-21T00:00:00 to 2016-11-04T00:00:00

The Michaelmas edition of News from IT Services has been published. The purpose of the newsletter is to keep you informed of the projects and services within IT Services, to provide examples of how we support the work of the University and to highlight forthcoming events. In this edition, you can find out about the changes within the IT Services' Academic IT group, our new service catalogue, guidance for using cloud services, our new web platform for developing your web sites and the many ways IT Services reaches out to its users.

You can subscribe to receive future editions by sending an email to with the subject line 'subscribe'. To stop receiving the newsletter you can unsubscribe by emailing with the subject line 'unsubscribe'. If you have any feedback, comments or suggestions, the Communications and Web Office would very much like to hear from you; please contact

Digital Education at Oxford – contribute your views


The University’s Digital Education Strategy aims to “ensure that in 2020 Oxford remains a premier institution for teaching, adopting the very best of teaching innovations that are made possible by digital technology”. The strategy is available on the new Digital Education at Oxford website (

The first step in the implementation of the Digital Education Strategy is to understand more fully the current patterns of technology use in teaching and learning, and to get a sense of the most important areas for resourcing from the perspective of academic staff and students. The Digital Education Strategy Implementation Group has launched a consultation to ask departments and faculties to review the strategy document and consider collectively:

a. how digital technology is currently being used within their subject area, both by individual teaching staff and on a course or subject-wide basis,

b. what the future use of technology within the course or subject area might be.

Full details on the consultation, including links to an online survey are available on the Digital Education at Oxford website. Responses should be submitted by Friday 2 December 2016.

New course booking system


The IT Learning Centre’s new course booking system (CoSy) is live and available for you to book your courses. CoSy replaces a system which was becoming difficult to maintain and also has the advantages of being mobile friendly and accepts payments online. All this and more allows us much greater flexibility in managing our large collection of courses, and we think you will find it easier to use and more convenient.

You can book at just as before, but you will see that the CoSy interface is very different to the old system. October’s courses are available now and as an extra incentive we are not charging for these. But hurry, places are limited!

To see the current list of courses, once you are logged in to the system:

  1. Click on the Course Search tile
  2. Select IT Learning Centre (AcIT) incl iSkills from the Training provider list
  3. Click on Search

Tips on searching for a course can be found at

The full list of courses for the rest of the term will appear in the booking system soon. From November, our new course fees will come into play; £5/hr for postgraduates and undergraduates, and £10/hr for other University members.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with the IT Learning Centre at

Oxford Research Archive (ORA) improvements


A collaborative project between BDLSS (Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services) and IT Services has resulted in the Oxford Research Archive (ORA) being successfully moved from the ageing hardware it had been hosted on to the more resilient Bodleian/IT Services joint virtual infrastructure (VIPR).

ORA is the service into which Oxford researchers and students deposit their research outputs, and provide public access to these. This is necessary to address the increasing importance of Open Access as a requirement to secure future research funding for the University.

The ORA service comprises a number of applications based on open source digital repository software that had been hosted in a way that would not meet future reliability, capacity and performance needs.  Since 1 August 2016 ORA has been reliably running on this new infrastructure.


Read our Annual Report for 2015-16


The IT Services Annual Report 2015-16 is now available.

The report provides an overview of our achievements in 2015-16. Our services, projects and programmes are numerous and diverse, and the examples selected in the report seek to demonstrate how IT Services supports the work of the University, its staff and students.

A PDF is available on our website (visit and printed copies are being distributed around the University. Some limited stock is available - please contact if you require a copy.

Chorus newsletter - September 2016


The September 2016 edition of the Chorus newsletter is now available to read online and download as a PDF from the Integrated Communications Project website.

This issue contains:

  • Pilot update

  • Focus on:  implementing Chorus

  • Costs & charging

  • Getting help

  • Upcoming events: ITSS pre-year roundup 23 September.

Please feel free to share the contents of this newsletter with your colleagues. You can contact the team with any questions at



WebLearn-Related Projects


WebLearn was upgraded on 6 September 2016 in preparation for the start of Michaelmas term. The latest software fixes and enhancements include improved usability on mobile devices and better tools to support teaching and learning. The WebLearn Upgrade page includes an overview of the changes and Frequently Asked Questions, and full details are contained in the WebLearn blog. The University is now beginning a longer-term initiative to review requirements for its core learning platform. The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Review will take place over the course of the 2016/17 academic year and forms part of the strategic approach to implementing the University’s Digital Education Strategy. In Michaelmas term, colleagues will be invited to share their experiences of using WebLearn and determine their ongoing needs. The upgraded version of WebLearn will then be evaluated, together with other leading VLE platforms, against Oxford’s requirements. Further information is available on the WebLearn-related projects webpage.

If you have any queries or wish to join the mailing list, email

Completion of the Admissions project and Student Systems Programme changes


The Oracle Student System (OSS) has now been fully replaced with eVision, which marks the completion of the Admissions project. This is a significant milestone although improvements to Oxford’s Student Systems continue.

Over 2,800 undergraduate applications were processed in eVision during A-Level results week. In order to support this process, email notifications and a new confirmation checking report were added to eVision. Changes to Graduate Admissions include the integration of fee payment into the graduate student application form, and the new Graduate Applicant Self Service, allowing applicants to track the status of their references, manage referee details, upload supporting documents and edit their contact details.

The remit of the Student Systems Programme (SSP) has widened to include all projects commissioned by the Education IT Board. This includes work for Student Systems as well as new projects sponsored by Academic IT Services, such as the WebLearn upgrade and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) review. To reflect the change, SSP will be renamed the Education IT Programme. In Michaelmas term 2016 the website and email address will be updated to reflect this, in the meantime any queries should be sent to

Blavatnik School of Government join IT Services in their use of HEAT Software


The Blavatnik School of Government (BSG) has become the first University department to join us in our use of HEAT Software, our IT service management tool. Staff in IT Services have been using HEAT to facilitate the management of IT support and service operations for over a year. It offers many benefits for the management of incidents and making requests for services or changes to services. Initially, BSG will be using incident management, but in the near future will increase its use of the tool to maximise the benefits. The use of HEAT and the associated processes will allow the BSG IT team to be able to provide more joined up support, and via the HEAT’s self-service portal allow their users to submit requests and track issues online.

"It was a very easy decision to work with IT Services to implement HEAT as our in house service management tool. We have been able to quickly implement a cost effective tool, based on good service management principles, which lets BSG benefit from the customisation and integrations already developed by IT Services. Ian, Katherine, Sarah and Louise have offered professional, open and creative consultancy throughout the project and we look forward to continuing working with them to further develop this service for our Faculty, Staff and Students.” Matt Treavis, Head of ICT, Blavatnik School of Government

We hope this is the first of many new areas joining HEAT, and are keen to learn as much from this exercise as possible and refine our processes for bringing new units into HEAT.

For more information about using HEAT Software in your unit or department, please contact Ian Teasdale (

Hardware Repair Service


Our Hardware Repair Service is authorised by Apple Sales International to carry out warranty repairs on Apple Mac computers owned by the University or its members. After an interruption in Apple repairs, the Hardware Repair Service is now fully operational again. Details together with links to repair request forms are available on our Help site. We will also soon be providing lockers to enable laptop or iMac drop-off and pick-up at our Banbury Road building between 8.30am and 5.30pm. Details will be released when available.

IT Services offers a number of services for the repair and upgrade of personal computers. These range from the Computer Hardware Breakdown Service to the Apple Warranty Repair Service and general Repair and Upgrade Service.


Success of the Digital Humanities, University of Oxford, Summer School 2016!


This July saw the return of the week-long Digital Humanities, University of Oxford, Summer School directed by James Cummings (IT Services) and Pip Willcox (Bodleian Libraries). It is one of the most important international training events in digital humanities. Participants attended from all over the world and took one of our 8 week-long parallel workshops and supplemented this with additional lectures each morning. As with previous years, those additional and plenary lectures were recorded and are freely available at for those who couldn't make it.

This year there were 166 students attending the summer school and 76 speakers (42 of which were from the University of Oxford). The summer school is a collaboration between major digital humanities stakeholders in the university including: the Oxford e-Research Centre, IT Services, the Bodleian Libraries, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities, and the Oxford Internet Institute. Speakers come from all over the university and from outside as well. In addition to lectures and workshops delegates attended a wide range of social events each evening. These included a welcome drinks reception and research poster session at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, a public lecture organised by TORCH, a guided walking tour of Oxford, and an excellent banquet at Exeter College. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and next year the summer school runs from the 3-7 July 2017.

For more information on next year's event please see If you think you might want to organise a workshop, get in touch with one of the directors.

Guidance on using cloud or hosted IT services


Are you interested in using cloud or hosted IT services, or are you already using one of these services? There are lots of different providers offering these services, all with different terms and conditions which may not be acceptable to the University. You need to be clear about the implications with regard to data protection and information security before ticking a box to accept a provider’s terms and conditions.

The Cloud Services Toolkit has been prepared to assist members of the University when assessing the suitability of a service for processing and storing data controlled by the University. It includes detailed guidance together with particular aids relating to data protection and information security. 

Please refer to the full guidance before entering into any agreement for cloud services; examples of some key points you will need to consider include:

  • Check if there are existing solutions that meet your requirements: the University, your department or college may have an existing service or may have already negotiated an agreement with preferred providers. Your department or college IT manager may be able to advise, or the IT Services Service Desk.
  • Understand the terms and conditions: Be aware that if you sign-up to a cloud service in your role as a member of University staff, including with your University email address, for example, you may be binding the University, not just yourself, to the cloud service's contractual terms. The University permits only certain officers to sign contracts on behalf of the University (Statute XVI). If in doubt, consult with University Purchasing or Legal Services.
  • Assess your data: Is it personal? Confidential? Valuable? You may have legal obligations or responsibilities as an employee of the University to control and keep safe data in your possession. If in doubt, seek advice from the person responsible for information security in your department or college, or from the University's Legal Services.

The toolkit was created by the Cloud Services Standards and Legal Working Group, which included members from Legal Services, Purchasing, IT Services and OUP, and is intended to be applicable to the University, its constituent units, and its members (whether staff or student).

For more information about the Cloud Services Toolkit, please contact

WebLearn-related projects


A number of WebLearn-related projects will bring changes to WebLearn, the University’s virtual learning environment (VLE), over the coming months. They will result in long-term benefits to teaching and learning at Oxford.

Of particular note will be an upgraded version of WebLearn, available by the start of Michaelmas term. The upgrade incorporates the latest software fixes and enhancements, including improved usability on mobile devices and better tools to support teaching and learning. The WebLearn team will communicate with the WebLearn User Group and local coordinators as the upgrade progresses over the summer. Further information about the changes will be made available for all staff and students at the beginning of term, and WebLearn courses and supporting materials will be updated accordingly.

A VLE review is planned for the 2016/17 academic year, following the WebLearn upgrade. The review will identify Oxford’s evolving teaching and learning requirements and is part of a long-term, strategic approach to implementing the University’s Digital Education Strategy. Colleagues will be invited in Michaelmas term to share their experiences and determine their needs. The latest version of WebLearn will then be evaluated, together with other leading VLE platforms, against Oxford’s requirements.

Further information is available on the WebLearn-related projects webpage. If you have any queries or wish to join our mailing list, email



Replay Lecture Capture to be a full service from 1 August


Replay Lecture Capture is transitioning to a full service from 1 August 2016 following a successful two-and-a-half-year pilot project.

Replay includes software (called Panopto) and a support service to enable University members to make recordings of lectures, seminars, training sessions or supplementary ‘snippets of content’ for Oxford students to view again, for revision and reinforcement purposes. IT Services offers one-to-one consultation to discuss the needs of departments, academics and students, and make recommendations based on experiences and lessons learned from the pilot project. Our standard service also assists you to download the software and start using it.

The service is free, opt-in and surveys dispel the myth that students would skip attendance at live lectures. Confirmation of Education Committee approval, and guidance on the policy and usage of Lecture Capture will be distributed to all departments at the start of term.

For further information see:
o Replay Help site
o Lecture Capture (Replay) support site in WebLearn (join the site to register automatically on the mailing list)
o Replay case studies
o Contact Replay:

Developing our managers


For the past year, IT Services has been running a year-long personal development programme for a cohort of our own managers. The Leadership Skills Programme, developed and delivered with the Oxford Learning Institute, aims to prepare managers for more senior roles within the department and covers five broad areas:

  • The University and IT Services - A series of talks covering the key activities of IT Services and the wider University.
  • Skills Training - Sessions covering practical skills that are useful in the context of IT Services.
  • Away Days - Bi-annual opportunities to attend facilitated workshops on management and leadership topics.
  • Management Soft Skills Training - Workshops and courses that deliver management related soft skills such as ‘Handling Conflict in the Workplace’ and ‘Performance Management of Staff’.
  • Leadership Soft Skills Training - Workshops and courses that deliver leadership related soft skills such as ‘Strategic Planning’ and ‘Team Development’.

A mentoring process was a key part of the programme with each participant allocated a member of IT Services’ Senior Management Team to work with as a mentor.

Feedback from participants has been very positive, particularly with regard to the value of working with peers from across the department.

I really enjoyed the programme overall. It was an excellent opportunity to network with other leaders within the Department and to understand their work better. The content of the sessions was really varied and though I have worked in the Department for a number of years I learnt a number of things about IT Services and the University, which I wouldn't have learnt elsewhere.” Lyn Waddington, Head of Enterprise and Applications Group

The programme is currently being evaluated following successful completion of the first year, with a view to repeating it in future.

Chorus update


The Chorus telephone service will replace the existing system by mid-2018.

A pilot of the service has been conducted with a range of departments and two colleges.  After a full review of the technical issues and lessons learnt, the main implementation will deliver a replacement phone alongside access to the Chorus Web Portal.  This Portal will provide access to additional functionality for those that want it eg:

  • Accessing your Voicemail.
  • Accessing your Call History.
  • Searching the Directory, and placing calls through your desk phone directly.

Chorus will be implemented on a building by building basis and the Chorus team will be engaging with Departmental Administrators, Bursars, IT managers and other key contacts well in advance to ensure they have all the information they require.

Look out for emails about Chorus from your Unit and from the Chorus project team.  For more information about the project see  or about the Chorus service see  Please direct any queries to

Introducing Odin – the new University network


Without most of us noticing it, the Oxford Network Evolution (TONE) project is replacing the University's backbone network hardware as well as upgrading the fibre network that connects the backbone with University units. The new network service is called Odin.

More than 320 sites (departments and colleges) will be migrated to Odin by the end of 2016. The TONE project team is managing a complex implementation, working closely with local IT Support Staff, scheduling an average of three groups of fifteen sites every month. At the end of July, 80 sites will have been migrated to Odin. The project team are receiving praise for efficient planning and excellent communication throughout the process of migration.

On completion of the project, all colleges, departments and units throughout the University will have access to a backbone network to suit their needs, along with the appropriate service agreement that will underpin their IT requirements for the forseeable future. There will be greater bandwith as standard, improved reliability and resilience, and a reduction in internal maintenance and support costs.

More information is available from the project website (requires Oxford Single Sign-On authentication).

OxTALENT 2016: Winners Announced


The 2016 OxTALENT awards ceremony was held at the Oxford Martin School on Tuesday 14th June. We were honoured by the presence in our midst, not only of three Pro-Vice-Chancellors (including Anne Trefethen who presented the awards), but also the Vice-Chancellor herself. Professor Richardson offered her warm congratulations to the winners, runners-up and honourable mentions. In her brief address she also re-emphasised the importance of technology in scholarly activity at Oxford, and in sharing the wealth of the resources in the University’s libraries and collections with the wider world. To find out about the winners, visit the OxTALENT blog.

Over 5000 users


As we reach the end of the academic year the IT Learning Programme (ITLP) is delighted to announce that over 5,000 University members have registered to use If you have not signed up yet, you’re missing out!

All University members have free access to a vast online library of video-based courses at There are over 4,000 courses available on a range of topics, including IT, management and business skills, as well as guidance on career development. The resources on can be accessed anytime, anywhere (and you can even watch videos offline).

Visit and register using your Single Sign-On.

If you would like to publicise in your department or college please contact the ITLP team on the email address below and they will be happy to send you posters and postcards. Or, if you would like to find out how to set up a playlist of specific videos for a group, please get in touch.

IT Learning Programme,

IT Services collaboration wins 2016 CASE Grand Gold Award for Interdisciplinary Advancement projects


The illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe in July 2015 sparked international outcry culminating in over £1.6m of donations from 13,375 donors for the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) at the University of Oxford. The process of securing this support and maximising the interest required quick thinking, planning for the short, medium and longer term and effective team working across advancement disciplines and across a range of teams and departments.

The 2016 CASE (Council for Advancement of Support of Education) Grand Gold Award for Interdisciplinary Advancement projects recognises the work across WildCRU, UODO, the North American Office, Public Affairs and IT Services to make the most of what was a singular event in wildlife conservation. They are highly competitive and the Grand Gold award is the highest accolade. To put this in perspective, this year there were 3356 entries from universities around the globe, 323 awards, and only 17 Grand Golds.

IT Service’s DARS Functional Support Team work closely with colleagues in IT Support to ensure the smooth running of Oxford University’s fundraising campaign website, Oxford Thinking. Following the surge in web traffic and the subsequent failure of the site, this team, alongside colleagues in IT, were able to identify that the main issue was being caused by memory not being released by the servers. In response to this, Technical Services added additional memory to the webservers that host the Oxford Thinking site.

For further information view our entry summary on the CASE website.