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Oxford wins award for new ways of learning
29 Oct 10
Oxford’s continuing education department is using new technology to allow distance and part-time learning. Now its work in this area has been recognised by an award.
The Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning (TALL) team works within Oxford’s Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE). Last month the team won the 2010 Learning Technologist of the Year team award from the Association for Learning Technology.
Sean Faughnan, Director of TALL, said: ‘We are delighted that the work of the team has been recognised in this way. The award is also a tribute to our academic colleagues across the Department for Continuing Education who have embraced the use of technology and worked with us over the past decade to develop more than 50 superb online courses, which are now studied by over 3,000 students each year.
‘Though it is not widely known, the University of Oxford has one of the UK's largest continuing education departments, and its operation is one of the most successful globally. For over 120 years the Department has enabled learners to engage with the University, and each year more than 15,000 students study with the Department.’
Starting with a series of short online courses, TALL has developed more than 50 fully online courses in a diverse range of subjects from creative writing to nanotechnology as well as a number of online-supported courses undertaken in partnership between OUDCE and other University departments.
All the online courses developed by TALL aim to emulate Oxford’s unique tutorial system, with a high level of interaction between students and tutors, as well as peer-to-peer contact. Some of the online materials developed are also made freely available on the web as open educational resources, many via Oxford’s iTunes U site.
Much of TALL’s work is aimed at making Oxford’s scholarship accessible to wider audiences and the community. One of the newest courses in this area is the ‘Maths in the City’ project, led by Professor Marcus du Sautoy, which is being developed with TALL and highlights the fundamental role that maths plays in society by viewing the urban environment in a mathematical way. The project will feature an interactive website that hosts virtual tours and explanations of mathematical concepts and examples of maths in the urban environment. These complement mathematical walking tours of Oxford and East London led by Marcus du Sautoy.
Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of
Science, said: ‘We are all really excited about starting on the new
project "Maths in the City". Using the innovative resources at
Continuing Education and the imagination of the cohort of Oxford maths
students we hope to create walking tours and an online resource that
will really bring alive the mathematics bubbling underneath the cities
Sean Faughnan, Director of TALL
Though it is not widely known, the University of Oxford has one of the UK's largest continuing education departments, and its operation is one of the most successful globally.
Other collaborative projects undertaken by the TALL team include helping to produce a CD-ROM on the basics of nanotechnology distributed to all UK secondary schools, along with a postgraduate certificate in nanotechnology. The team has also helped design an online-supported postgraduate diploma in Paediatric Infectious Diseases launched in 2008. The popular course draws on materials and contributors from across Europe.
Some of the online work undertaken by TALL is specifically targeted at international audiences, for example the Masifunde project, which involved the repurposing of an online study skills course for first-generation university entrants in Southern Africa, and a climate science knowledge transfer project called RECIPROCATE, which offers online courses on regional climate change making use of learning materials from Oxford’s climate prediction experts as well as Met Office data. The project also aims to build and support an international community of practice in climate prediction inclusive of countries where such expertise is not readily available.
TALL delivers online distance learning to more than 3,000 students each year while developing and researching new ways of providing online learning. It also develops content for Oxford’s iTunesU site and offers e-learning consultancy services, which are informed by its extensive range of research projects that focus on new ways of using technology to enhance teaching and learning at a distance. Popular courses with online compenents such as its postgraduate diploma in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and an MSc in Bioinformatics have been built with suport from the TALL team.
TALL has become one of the most successful and innovating e-learning groups in the continuing education sector since being founded in 1996. The team earned its prestigious national award in recognition of its excellent practice and achievement in the learning technology field.