Friday, 13 November 2009

Feedback from colleagues

Hi a number of partners have been presenting HumBox to their colleagues and are reporting a mostly favourable reaction. It would be helpful for us to share these experiences as getting more contributers and HB users by the end of the project is going to be quite important. So what are your top tips for getting people interested and engaged. What are the OER messages that your colleagues respond to and which aspects of HumBox seem to interest them both?
Answers anyone?

Friday, 2 October 2009

Reflections to date (II)

Hello again,

In addition to what I said in my previous post, I think the meeting was very well organised and, overall, we managed to keep our focus throughout the two days.

Regarding the peer-review, I am now feeling much more comfortable about it than when I first heard about the idea. Some of us had some fears about what reviewing would involve, but after the workshop I am delighted to see that there is a way forward. I obviously need to get to grips with it, but I think I now know how to review resources in a constructive way. In any case, I guess that one of the objectives of this exercise is to see what actual impact our reviewing has. Therefore, no matter what the authors of the reviewed materials do after the review, we will learn something positive out of it.

Finally, I was pleased to see how much coincidence there was amongst colleagues regarding technical changes and to see Patrick’s degree of understanding and responsiveness. I do look forward to those changes. I have not gone back to my Leeds colleagues yet to report about the meeting because I have been extremely busy and it was not the best time for them either, but once the teaching session is under way I would like to meet them and, hopefully, show them that the ball has started rolling on the technical side of the Humbox, particularly in terms of presentation of activities.

Thanks to all of you for your good work and high spirits and a special thanks to Kate, who was a helpful shoulder to cry on at the end of August and beginning of September, when I was struggling a little bit with the Humbox.


Some proposals and thoughts so far (I)

Dear colleagues,

I really enjoyed the Warwick meeting. I could sense throughout the two days a special professional and personal connection with colleagues. I would like to give credit to the Project Team for having brought together such a good group of teachers.

There are many things that I would like to report on and I will address those questions later in another post, but, in my modest opinion, there are some crucial questions that need to be addressed by the Project Team, the Subject Centres and all of us, sooner rather than later, as part of our dissemination and awareness-raising strategy.

I have been looking at the HEFCE consultation paper on research excellence, in particular the sections on impact, and I am aware that some academic units have been discussing the content of the document recently. Responses must be emailed before the 16th December 2009, by the way.

My questions are:

1. Are we sufficiently aware of the fact that publication and sharing research-based teaching materials can be one of the best ways for any underpinning research to achieve impact? (wider impact, as opposed to simply academic impact on other people’s research) This is particularly true in many disciplines within Arts and Humanities.

I think we need to show HEFCE that their definition of impact clearly includes successful dissemination of research-underpinned teaching materials across the student and teachers communities and across the world society in general.

In Modern Languages and Cultures, including English, but also in the rest of our disciplines, we have an immense potential to shape world public opinion and to enhance the profile of the work carried out in UK institutions, which in turn would bring of social, economic and cultural benefits (impact) to the UK.

2. How can we, Humbox Team, including Subject Centres, do our best to ensure that OER repositories (the Humbox or similar repositories in our case) are given sufficient status as "third parties" who would “corroborate” or “verify” claims made on the impact of research by units who submit their research for the new REF? (I am using the paper’s terminology).

And my answers are:

We need to encourage Subject Centres and the Project Team to take part in the consultation process about research impact, institutionally if possible;

and we need to make sure that we, the partners, can exercise some form of influence in our Departments or Schools within the next weeks, because now is the time when our Heads of School are discussing the consultation paper.

The easiest way for us to exercise this influence is to mention, in our dissemination events and in our communications with our more senior colleagues, the fact that the publication in repositories such as the Humbox may be one of the best ways to give tangible evidence of impact as defined by HEFCE in the new REF.

Thanks. Any thoughts on this are welcome!


Monday, 28 September 2009

Reflections to date

I too enjoyed the Warwick workshop and found it useful.

I would like to see some more of the technical issues with the HUMBOX resolved -e.g. the tab for uploading a zipped Learning Object ( so that it can be previewed) is still not functioning for us; on the HUMBOX front screen the left column with latest additions list is no longer visible without considerable scrolling down the page.

On the positive side, some English Lit PhD students here at Southampton, who are just embarking on part time teaching for the department are keen to be get involved and use HUMBOX, confirming our thoughts that new teachers especially could benefit from it.

And...the wider world is catching on : an EAP colleague ( not involved in the project) has heard about a resource in HUMBOX and has expressed an interest in using the Box when available.


Friday, 25 September 2009

Dissemination Events

Hi All.

I'm not sure whether I should post this on basecamp or here but I thought I'd make a debut post here to get the ball rolling.

I've been busy aranging some Humbox dissemination events and so far I've secured a slot to speak at this event on 7th Oct and to our librarians on 23rd October.

Once the url goes live I'm planning to hold an event with my research group


Friday, 18 September 2009

Reflections on progress to date

The project is moving on apace and we have just had the second meeting of our partners hosted by the Subject Centre for History at the University of Warwick. Personally I have been completely wowed by the enthusiasm and commitment to the project shown by all the partners who attended. I left the meeting exhausted but exhilarated my brain buzzing with ideas and feeling very proud of what we have achieved so far. I know that there is still a long way to go and a lot of work to do before we get to the end of our journey together but if this meeting was a taste of things to come we are really going make vast strides in OER community building.

What I have taken away from the meeting is a personal sense of delight in how everyone is playing their part with energy and considerable skill. In terms of progress with the project I can only repeat that we have made great strides in no time at all and I really feel that the team is taking real ownership of HumBox as a project group and as a community. As for the next stage our key challenges will be to keep going (especially with the beginning of term looming) and to work hard at spreading the word and communicating our enthusisasm to our colleagues and the powers that be!

Please post your thoughts on your personal response to the workshop, your views on progress so far and the key challenges for you over the coming months.

Friday, 31 July 2009


Welcome to the HumBox project blog! This is where we will update you on our progress, give information and advertise project events.

The Humbox repository for Humanities resources is currently undergoing some technical changes, but this has not stopped the steady uploading of lots of excellent resources. You can find HumBox at: Take a look at using discussion boards with language students (search under 'discussion') or get some useful files on creative writing (search under 'creative writing') or the history of early America (search under 'history').

We currently have about 100 resources uploaded, and this will steadily grow over the summer as we approach our next big project meeting in Warwick, on September 14/15th. At this meeting, the project partners will review the materials we have, and look for cross-disciplinary connections and explore issues arising so far from using HumBox.

While the project is running, only registered users can download resources. Contact the project team if you want further information or to join the HumBox community, by emailing

The Project team