For some time the University of Oxford had been exploring ways to sustain engagement and widen the reach of its outreach activity. This interest was the catalyst for the digital outreach portal – an online resource available to students regardless of their UK location.
This approach can enable us to carve out a new way of reaching young people by using the same digital and social technologies they use every day. It can also help us to reach students from Year 7 to Sixth Form and help to shape their aspirations and potential earlier than we do at present.
We agree that portal should focus making Oxford’s greatest asset, its academic strengths, more available to young people as super-curricular content. This type of content and intellectual enquiry plays to the University’s strength as a research and innovation power-house.
From a technical point of view, we feel strongly that the functionality and navigation of the site should be intuitive and inspire intellectual curiosity. The aim is to connect content across different topics, subjects and time periods to encourage an inquisitive approach to learning, grounded in the way young people navigate the online world.
We also want to enable outreach staff to use the site to host webinars and as a platform to develop and promote content to schools. As a venture we want to work in collaboration with Colleges, departments, students and academics across the university to develop engaging and innovative content that can be promoted and curated through a central accessible hub. A clear entry point for gifted students at schools across the UK to engage with Oxford’s outreach work.
We are hugely excited about the portal and the depth of sustained outreach contact it will provide. Our hope is that the hub will become a benchmark for best practice and innovative outreach in the digital space.