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Preview: News from Computing Services

IT Services News


Chorus cost model approved


The costing model for ongoing charges for the Chorus service was agreed at the November 2016 IT Committee meeting.  While licencing and equipment charges had been agreed prior to then, IT Committee approved the concept of an annual charge for phone numbers and a flat rate fee for call charges for all users.  The levels of the charge will be set at an audit in December 2017 and the costing arrangement will start on 1 August 2018, taking over fully from the current Telecomms service.    The call charge flat rate component is initially set at £5, but the levels of calls will be monitored and the rate is subject to change to ensure recovery of all external call costs. Therefore, it is recommended that a 10% contingency is added for in budget setting.

Please see the Service Implementation and Usage information for colleges and departments on the ICP website .




Freshers survey 2016 report now available


IT Services, and OUCS before it, has run a survey at Freshers’ Fair since 2004. The aim is to capture the prior experiences, and more recently, opinions and wishes, of freshers to inform IT Services’ strategy, focus and resources. The survey also provides a wealth of data for divisions and others to use as they see fit, for example, to explore the support requirements for students or assess what proportion would own the appropriate technology to access facilities divisions or colleges might provide.

The 2016 report is now available. Highlights include:

  • 77% of respondents have a tablet, either a stand-alone device or as part of a hybrid computer.
  • The majority of respondents (46%) brought 2 internet enabled devices with the average being 2.8; the same as 2015.
  • The number of respondents using Windows OS has continued to decrease and is now 55%.
  • 27% of respondents don’t have, or don’t know if they have, anti-virus software. This continues to increase.
  • While 65% of respondents use YouTube, only 8% follow the University’s YouTube channel.

See our Reports and publications page for Freshers survey report from 2016 and previous years.

New service catalogue launched


We have launched a new online service catalogue in order to facilitate our support and delivery of IT across the University: .  With a new user interface, user-specific views and more information about our services than before, this promises to be the hub for all central IT service information.

The catalogue has been restructured, services re-categorised and a new data store and website built in order to improve the service information available and the user experience. It will bring together contact, user and business information to provide a holistic view of each service, enabling users to discover key information, for example:

  • How do I raise an incident for a particular service?
  • Who do I contact for support?
  • Is there training or more information available?
  • Do I have to pay for the service?

Please take a look and if you have any questions or comments contact our Service Management Office


New WebLearn videos


Two new videos are available which inform WebLearn users about enhancements and new features following the successful upgrade to WebLearn 11 during Summer 2016.

Staff audience:

  • New mobile-friendly design of WebLearn, enhancements to the interface, and improved tools such as ‘Lessons’, which can be used to build learning pathways of content and activities for students.

Student audience:

  • Benefits and new features for students, including how to customise your profile and your favourite sites, and how to subscribe to your WebLearn calendar from other calendars.

A third video will tell the story of a tutor and a student using WebLearn to support Oxford tutorials and will be promoted at the start of Hilary term 2017.

We hope you enjoy watching the videos and trying out some of the new WebLearn features. Please provide any feedback or suggestions to

VLE Review survey: help to shape the future of WebLearn


WebLearn has been Oxford’s virtual learning environment (VLE) for some years. We want to find out if it still meets your needs today or if we should consider an alternative solution. To better understand requirements, we are consulting students and staff across the collegiate University, including people who do not currently use WebLearn. You are invited to participate in a survey to review our VLE: By completing the staff survey, members of staff could win one of four £25 Amazon vouchers; students completing the student survey could also win a prize.

We will use the responses, together with the findings from workshops, interviews and previous research to draw up a set of recommendations. Further information, including frequently asked questions (FAQs), is available from the VLE Review page.

In addition, academics and representatives of teaching and learning committees are also encouraged to contribute to a broader survey of the technologies they currently use in teaching. These results will be used to help the Education IT Board determine priorities for funding. For further details please visit


If you have any questions about the VLE Review, please refer to the VLE Review web page and FAQs, or contact us at

Top tips for using IT


Have you ever felt there were better ways you could use IT to assist with your work? That there must be some tool out there to do that thing that takes up so much of your time? That if only you could talk to other administrators to find out what they do?

If so then you will be pleased to hear that IT Services has put up a site full of advice and with a place for you to share your own short cuts and tips. This was a result of an internship over the summer, where over 30 administrators from UAS, departments, and colleges were interviewed to find out what areas they really needed help on related to general IT use, and any good tips they have that they were willing to share.

The Admin IT Forum site is open to any member of the University (via SSO)

In this you will find a guide based around tasks commonly undertaken by administrative staff (also available as single printable documents). An area to share tips and advice (just start a ‘new discussion’ to post your idea) already populated with handy suggestions. And rather than keep revisiting it you can set up the‘alert me’ feature.

New lunchtime talks scheduled in the Show: series


The IT Learning Centre has scheduled the popular Show: lunchtime talks for Michaelmas 2017. These free talks are open to all members of the University and focus on a variety of digital media. This year the talks range from composition and film-making to app design.

Full details are on the Show: blog, brief details and links to the course booking system are given below.

Show: Spare time filmmaker – Billy Jackson, Thursday 17th November, 12.30pm, Isis Room, IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

Billy Jackson works for the University full time, but in his spare time he likes to make films. In this session Billy will talk about his work, which ranges from music videos to short dramas to one stop motion animation pieces, one of which was shortlisted for a BBC short film competition. He will talk about how anybody can make a film and will cover the self-taught aspect and provide a brief overview of the tools he uses, such as Final Cut.

Show: re-sOUnd, bringing historic musical instruments to life with new technology - Ted Koterwas, Thursday 1st December, 12.30pm, Isis Room, IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

re-sOUnd turns your phone into a musical instrument from the Bate Collection or Ashmolean: blow into the phone to sound a trumpet from the Civil War and play an Amati violin by moving your arm in a bowing motion. Ted Koterwas will demo the app, discuss the underlying technology and the process of sampling the instruments, and how you can use the samples in your own projects.

Show: Using computers to score film music – Steve Eyre, Thursday 8th December, 12.30pm, Isis Room, IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

Stephen will give a short talk about his approach to scoring music for film using Logic on a mac. The talk will cover the creative process, tools used, and some examples of output.

New WebLearn site templates


Since April 2015 the WISE project (WebLearn Improved Student Experience) has been supporting departments, faculties and other academic units to fast-track the development and improvement of their WebLearn presence in order to deliver an enhanced (and consistent) student digital experience, as well as an efficient and satisfying experience for staff.

Some of the key deliverables are now available in the form of four new WebLearn site templates. These can be used by a site maintainer in the process of creating a new site. The templates are based on the popular ‘box’ design for a starting page, which links to other pages or tools in the site. The text, links, and placeholder images can be modified by the site maintainer according to the purpose of the site.

The templates attempt to mirror the University’s structure in terms of department (school or faculty), programme of study, course or module, and individual tutor sites.


Sites created from the templates can be mixed, matched and linked according to a department’s required structure. The templates can be found on the Templates page on the WebLearn Guidance site. Please contact the WebLearn team for more information

Newsletter from IT Services


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