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Preview: News from Computing Services

IT Services News


Michaelmas term issue of the Education IT Programme Update now available


The Michaelmas term 2017 issue of the Education IT Programme Update is now available. This issue features updates about all Student Systems and Academic IT projects within the remit of the programme, including:

  • Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Review – selecting a supplier and next steps
  • Graduate Supervision Reporting - replacing GSS
  • Tutorial Management System - replacing OxCORT
  • Research Thesis Digital Submission – rollout in 2018
  • Student Progression – moving forms online (including GSO forms)

To subscribe to future issues of the Education IT Programme Update, send an email to

Help to shape the University’s websites

2017-11-13T00:00:00 to 2017-11-17T00:00:00

We need Oxford University staff volunteers to help gather insights into how the University’s various websites could be structured and organised to help people find the information they need. You need to be a regular user of one or more of the University’s websites to participate. The research will take the form of an on-line ‘card-sorting’ activity which shouldn't take longer than 10 to 15 minutes to complete. If you’d like to participate just select the link below before Friday 17th November to begin the OptimalSort study:

 Optimalsort Oxford University Staff

Thank you for your support!

New Chief Information Officer appointment


Professor Anne Trefethen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Resources and Information Systems), has announced the appointment of a new Chief Information Officer for the University; Dr Sean Duffy will begin work on 5 February 2018.

Sean is currently Director of IT Services at the University of Birmingham, where he has led the development of IT since 2009. In this role Sean has had overall responsibility for the use of IT in support of academic research and teaching as well as business systems.

Previously, Sean has held a number of IT posts in both academia and manufacturing industry. He was responsible for revamping corporate systems and global infrastructure in one of ICI's global businesses. At Birmingham, he has been a key contributor to the implementation of a new virtual learning environment, and projects to transform HR, finance and payroll systems.

At the same time as welcoming the new CIO, Professor Trefethen thanked Dr Stuart Lee – who took on the role of interim CIO at the beginning of October – as well as the IT Senior Management Team who have supported him. Stuart will continue as the interim CIO until Sean arrives.



Secure your data with backup


Backing up your data is essential for maintaining data security. IT Services offer the centrally funded HFS backup service providing data backup and long-term archiving services to Oxford University staff, senior members and postgraduates. If you are unsure if your data is backed up please speak to your local IT support staff and refer to the introductory information on our Help site. There is also a short video available which provides a helpful introduction to the service.

Various courses are available to help you manage your data safely and securely using the HFS backup service, from the basics of installing and running the software to more advance training for those managing backups for a numbers of users or servers. Find out more on our Help site.

If you have any queries, please contact our Service Desk on Tel. (01865 6)12345, email

Introducing Workplace Finder


The University has over 150 workplaces, from college and department libraries to common rooms and cafés. Students are often completely unaware of this wealth of choice available to them, and often end up crowding into the flagship libraries or studying in their rooms.

Workplace Finder is a University of Oxford Innovation Challenge project which seeks to change this by providing a simple but comprehensive directory of the University's workspaces. Using the site, users can browse photographs of potential workplaces, consult opening hours and input search criteria in order to find somewhere which fits their particular needs and preferences. For example, you might need to find a quiet workplace where you can bring a hot drink and plug in a laptop. Another student might be looking for somewhere which will be open from 9am, has a livelier atmosphere and plenty of light.

Integration with Single Sign-On allows the site to know each user's college and/or department, and tailor the list according to which places they are allowed to access. All results are displayed on a handy map which also shows the open status of each workplace. The site was successfully pitched to the University's Innovation Challenge last Trinity term by DPhil student Joseph Poore, and was developed over the summer by the Web and Mobile Applications team in IT Services. The site is tailored for mobile or desktop use, and is powered by a variety of javascript-based technologies including React, redux, node and mongodb.


IT Services newsletter Michaelmas 2017


The Michaelmas 2017 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, In this edition, we review our achievements in 2016-17 as well as looking forward with the latest updates on Chorus, Nexus365 and the VLE replacement. We have news on the Live Data project, a new remote support tool and more.

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


Internal Research Application Management System Success


The IRAMS (Internal Research Application Management System) project has recently extended the old John Fell Management system so that it can host all internally managed research awards. Since going live in early May, more than 300 applications have been made to 15 different research funding schemes, with the number of schemes rising steadily.

IRAMS is a purpose-built system delivered by IT Services for managing internal research funds and external grants with institutional quotas. Working closely with divisional offices and Research Services, the project has aimed to improve, through the use of IT, the currently inefficient processes, tighten data security and reduce the associated institutional risks, contributing to the realisation of the University’s strategy of commitment to research by enhancing research support infrastructure. IRAMS facilitates grant applications, selections and post-award management giving researchers and research administrators a consistent and simple interface with all their internal funding applications and awards data kept securely in a single place. Divisional officers and Research Services can add and manage funding schemes through IRAMS, while departmental approvers can follow progress of applications and see final reports, as well as review extension requests.

For further information please see research support or contact

New Ashmolean website launches on the Oxford Mosaic web platform


The Ashmolean Museum became the first department within the Gardens, Libraries and Museums division to create a website on the Oxford Mosaic web platform, launching a brand new Ashmolean Museum website ( on 27 September.

The engaging new site is the home of the museum online, providing a rich virtual experience for the online visitor. The website’s ambitious brief envisioned a high-level of quality design and functionality to showcase the Museum’s exceptional collections and treasures, and engage the public in its calendar of exhibitions. It also highlights to the academic community and subject enthusiasts the range of the department’s research projects, and provides a gateway for the public to engage with its research.

Delivering the website to the challenging specification provided an exciting opportunity for the Mosaic Web Platform Team to extend the platform to deliver a range of enhanced designs and features, suitable for use by the University’s world-class museums. The Project brought together a multi-partner project team comprising the Museum’s digital content specialists, the Mosaic project team, and two external digital design agencies. Following an initial analysis and design phase involving the agencies, Ashmolean Museum and wider GLAM staff, the 5-month technical build was undertaken with the Mosaic project team working to the supplied design brief. Working in 2-week sprints, enhancements were regularly demonstrated to the project partners to ensure the delivery remained closely aligned to the spec.

Georgina Brooke, Web Project Manager at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology commented of her experience: ‘We worked with Oxford’s Mosaic team on a challenging project to radically develop the platform for a new and demanding audience in a short amount of time. … It’s evident that a huge amount of work has gone into the platform and I wish the team every success for the future.’

The changes added enhancements across many areas of the Mosaic product, meaning code from the existing platform needed to be refactored to accommodate the needed features – an effort well justified by the result. In contrast to usual, one-off web projects not using the platform, all these changes are implemented in the core Mosaic codebase, meaning they will also be available to other GLAM units adopting Mosaic to use in future website projects. Existing Mosaic users will also be able to benefit from these changes – for no charge – as they are rolled out during the course of Michaelmas Term.

Plagiarism awareness courses for Michaelmas term


IT Services offers a variety of taught courses to support the use of the plagiarism awareness software Turnitin. There is also one course for students, to raise awareness about plagiarism and how to avoid it. All sessions are free of charge.

Places at the face-to-face sessions are limited and booking is required. Click on the links provided to book a place, or for further information.

Plagiarism awareness courses (Turnitin):

Plagiarism: WebLearn and Turnitin

Thurs 2 Nov

12:30 – 13:30

Week 4

Plagiarism: Interpreting Originality Reports using Turnitin

Thurs 9 Nov

12:30 – 13:30

Week 5

Plagiarism: Awareness and avoidance (for students)

Thurs 30 Nov

12:30 – 13:30

Week 8


Staff User Group meeting:

Turnitin User Group (with refreshments)

Fri 10 Nov

14:00 – 16:00

Week 5


WebLearn courses for Michaelmas term


IT Services offers a variety of taught courses to support the use of WebLearn. Course books for the formal courses (3-hour sessions) can be downloaded for self study. All courses are free of charge. Places at the face-to-face sessions are limited and booking is required. Click on the links provided to book a place, or for further information.

WebLearn courses (3 hours each):

WebLearn: Fundamentals (once per month)

Tues 17 Oct


Week 2


Wed 1 Nov


Week 4


Thurs 23 Nov


Week 7

WebLearn: Design and content

Mon 6 Nov


Week 5


Byte-sized lunch time sessions:

These focus on particular tools with plenty of time for questions and discussion

WebLearn Bytes: Site Management and Resources

Tues 24 Oct

12:30 – 13:30

Week 3

WebLearn Bytes: Assignments tool

Tues 31 Oct

12:30 – 13:30

Week 4

WebLearn Bytes: Lessons tool

Tues 7 Nov

12:30 – 13:30

Week 5

WebLearn Bytes: Surveys

Tues 21 Nov

12:30 – 13:30

Week 7


Staff User Group meeting:

WebLearn User Group (with refreshments)

Wed 8 Nov

14:00 – 16:00

Week 5


Chorus implementation nears completion


The Chorus implementation project is now coming to a close with the completion of tranche 4 at the end of September.  More than 80% of phones have been installed (c16,000) and the remaining 3,200 should be deployed by Christmas. 

Decommissioning of old telephony systems is now underway and information on timescales can be seen on the project website at   Telephone administrators have been made aware that phone numbers that need retaining should be transferred to Chorus in advance of decommissioning

Following the Integration Communications Programme’s (ICP) consultation with undergraduate and postgraduate student focus groups, the University’s student services, divisional representatives and Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), the ICP board has agreed that the Chorus service will not be offered to students because they already have access to similar functionality through other services.  In addition, they will receive alternatives for collaboration with the delivery of Nexus365* and the future new virtual learning environment (currently WebLearn).  Should postgraduate research students require Chorus, it will be made available to them on the same terms as a member of staff and can be requested through their associated department. [*Nexus365 is the University’s offering of Microsoft’s cloud- based Office 365 service.]

For general enquiries about the project (ICP) and implementation of Chorus service:
Chorus service information and support:
IT Service Desk (include 'Chorus' in the subject line) or (01865 6) 12345

More units using the CONNECT managed desktop service


CONNECT forms part of the managed desktop service providing secure, managed, Windows-based PCs and laptops for staff in UAS and the Bodleian Libraries. Over the last year the IT Services Desktop Services team have been bringing more units into the CONNECT service.

Oxford University Sport and the Oxford Learning Institute were both keen to benefit from the CONNECT service once they became part of UAS. The Sports department had IT systems and support that had developed piecemeal over a long time, not necessarily delivering what they required. Rolling out CONNECT delivered the consistent desktop support shared by other UAS departments: access to our central IT Service Desk (24/7) and the Desktop Services team, and the reassurance of a 5-yearly refresh of hardware. In addition, they have their networks managed by the IT Services networks service.

The Oxford Learning Institute also felt that CONNECT offered the consistency of support that they required. A further benefit included freeing up the internal resource of an IT officer to work on more appropriate priorities for the unit. Staff within both units are also able to experience other benefits of the service, for example enabling users to log into any managed workstation at any building which is on the CONNECT service, particularly useful for staff who work across a number of departments.

The Desktop Services team are now running a pilot to roll out CONNECT to the Gardens and Museums (part of GLAM). Specific benefits for GLAM include making collaborations between the Bodleian Libraries and the museums easier, and providing consolidated shared data storage and managed application servers as some of their server hardware is out of support. The pilot has completed the work for the Botanic Gardens and Harcourt Arboretum, with the Museum of the History of Science planned for October. The remaining museums will be migrated during a second phase of the project.

Museums and Gardens begin using HEAT Software


The Museums and Gardens have become the second University department to join us in our use of HEAT Software, an IT service management tool. Staff in IT Services have been using HEAT to facilitate the management of IT support and service operations for over two years, and the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG) began using it a year ago.

HEAT Software offers many benefits for the management of incidents and making requests for services or changes to services. Initially, the Museums and Gardens IT team 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 IT team to be able to provide more joined up support, and via HEAT’s self-service portal allow their users to submit requests and track issues online.

“The use of HEAT is a pivotal step in the transition of previously separate IT support units into a single IT team, covering the University’s four Museums (Ashmolean, History of Science, Natural History, and Pitt Rivers), and Botanic Garden and Arboretum, all together comprising 600 staff. HEAT is increasing the visibility and knowledge sharing of the work being undertaken by the team, allowing us to work towards providing a more robust and resilient service for our colleagues.” Haas Ezzet, Head of IT for Gardens and Museums.

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


Uptake of exceeds expectations


The University is entering the third year of its subscription to the online video library of IT courses (and more). Over the last year, nearly 10,000 hours of training videos were followed by members of the University; user habits vary from a quick dip in to find a short 5 minute video to solve a problem to following through a longer course of several hours. is also used extensively by the IT Learning Centre to provide basic digital skills training to the University and blended with our classroom-based courses and workshops.

The uptake of the platform has far exceeded our expectations, and at one point we had used 9,600 of our pool of 10,000 licences. After a clear out of leavers and unused accounts, we are back to around 6,500 users ready for this term’s new arrivals. The majority of users are staff and postgraduates, however there are a growing number of undergraduates who realise the potential of the resource. One of our key objectives is to get the majority of undergraduates to enhance their digital skills through, and we are considering how we might accommodate an extra 12,000 enthusiastic users!

Michaelmas IT courses schedule now available


The schedule of IT classroom-based courses and workshops for Michaelmas term (Sept-Dec) is live and waiting for you to book!  Online courses are available instantly through the University’s subscription to – see the Lynda website for details.

A full list of courses can be found on the IT Learning Centre web pages or login (using your Oxford Single Sign On) to our course booking system and see what's available. Tips on searching for a course can be found here

We have courses covering a wide range of topics and this term we are launching a new series of programming courses, starting with VBA, JavaScript and PHP. These ‘Kick-off’ sessions are designed as a hands-on introduction to a programming language for non-programmers.

For more information or advice on which courses would be beneficial to you, email


Picture credit: John Cairns Photography

New organisational structure for IT Services


During the first half of 2017 IT Services undertook an organisational change programme to better position itself for future service delivery to meet the changing requirements of the University and the evolving landscape of IT over the next five to ten years.

After extensive consultation with staff, the IT Services Senior Management Team has agreed a new departmental structure guided by four principles:

  • Simplification – consolidation of teams and processes (admin and technical), reducing points of contact both internally and externally
  • Efficiency – grouping teams around platforms, making teams more resilient for improved service delivery
  • Increasing our capability – in strategic planning, resource allocation, IT architecture, and vendor management
  • Assurance – bringing together our oversight of projects and services, to ensure proper ownership of our regulations and policies

There have been changes to teams, roles and reporting lines to ensure the anticipated benefits for our customers are realised and, as such, there are new points of contact for some core services and technologies. The key changes can be summarised as:

  • A major reorganisation of the Infrastructure group, namely:
    • the Network and Data Centre Services section will expand the existing managed firewall and network services offered to departments and colleges
    • a new section, Platform Services, has been formed to consolidate teams and expertise supporting core services, including the former Network System Management Services (NSMS) and Systems and Databases Management Group (SDMG)
    • a new section for Technical Architecture and Projects to increase our expertise in technical architecture as well as clearly delineating resources for service delivery and service development where required
    • There has been be no change to the Enterprise Applications section (Nexus, HFS and Chorus/Telecoms) to avoid putting large strategic projects at risk.
  • Increased remit for the central Service Desk, now including the former NSMS help desk and some other smaller, generic applications.
  • Two new senior appointments in the Office of the Chief Information Officer:
    • A new grouping under a Director of Planning, Governance and Assurance to oversee the planning, monitoring and assurance of services and projects
    • An Enterprise IT Architect to have strategic oversight and governance of the University IT architecture.
  • The IT Learning Centre and Projects Training have been brought together within the Customer Services group.

Service managers will be in touch with their specific user communities to inform them of any new contact details and our online service catalogue ( will be updated in due course. In the meantime, if you are unclear how to contact a particular service, our central Service Desk will be able to direct your enquiry to the correct team; please contact or telephone (01865 6)12345, available 24/7.

Picture credit: TheBlowfishInc via

IT Services Annual Report 2016-17 is now available


The IT Services Annual Report 2016-17 is now available and provides an overview of the department’s achievements in the past year. The examples selected for inclusion demonstrate how we continue to deliver the activities in the collegiate University IT Strategic Plan, supporting the work of the University, its staff and students.

Fascinating facts for the year include:

  • 103,475 IT support calls were received by our Service Desk
  • 940 information security incidents were responded to
  • 27% increase in network traffic comparing 2015-16 with 2016-17
  • 349,297,112 emails were delivered

A PDF of the full report is available on our website (visit and printed copies are being distributed to key contacts around the University.


Picture credit: John Cairns Photography

Improved content on our Help site to support new students


The first thing many new students to Oxford want to do is connect to the WiFi so they can let friends and loved ones know they’ve arrived safely. Our own evidence as well as feedback from students and local IT staff is that information on how to do this can be confusing and difficult to find.

In order to address this we have revamped our Help site in time for the new academic year to include a home page with links to the areas likely to be of most interest to new students. The underlying content has also been rewritten to make it easier to use and simpler to understand, with new or updated instructions being created for getting connected to the WiFi, managing passwords, accessing email, as well as useful information on free or discounted software and what training courses are available.

The site also now includes contact information for local college and departmental IT staff who, in many cases provide first line support for staff and students. This work has prioritised the information most useful to new students, however work will continue over the coming months to update or archive out of date or unused materials to further improve the site.

Professor Anne Trefethen elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering


Professor Anne Trefethen is one of four University of Oxford researchers elected as Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering this week in a stellar list that includes some of the world’s leading innovators and business people.

Professor Anne Trefethen is Chief Information Officer and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, and a distinguished Professor of Scientific Computing. Her work has been largely on numerical algorithms and software development, including libraries and software frameworks to support the development of science and engineering applications on high-performance computer systems.

She was one of the pioneers of massively parallel algorithms and an important leader in the field known as e-science. As CIO of the University of Oxford, she leads a major information technology enterprise that supports leading-edge research as well as critical business systems. 

Professor Trefethen said: "I am delighted to have been elected to the Royal Academy of Engineering – it is a great honour to be selected and recognised in this way.  I am very much looking forward to getting involved in the activities of the Academy."

Others honoured include Professors Eleanor Stride and Roger Reed of the Department of Engineering Science, and Ursula Martin, Professor of Computer Science.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Since 130 engineers were first called together in 1976 to form the Fellowship of Engineering, our Fellows have come together to advance and promote excellence in engineering.  I’m so proud to welcome our new Fellows, who represent the very best of UK engineering. From technology giants to our universities’ finest minds, our new Fellows demonstrate how engineering is tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the world.  I look forward to working with them as we continue to make the UK a leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses.”

For information on the full list, visit the Royal Academy of Engineering website.

New undergraduate emails stay on existing Nexus service


The plan to set up all new undergraduate emails accounts on the cloud-based Nexus365 service ahead of their arrival in Michaelmas 2017 has not been possible due to technical issues.  Therefore, new undergraduates will have their email delivered via the existing Nexus service and their accounts will be migrated to the cloud-based Nexus365 service along with existing staff and student accounts.  The project is currently re-planning the migration to Nexus365 and further information about the schedule will be published in due course.

Please see the project website at and, if you have any queries, contact the project team at