Tag Archives: live event

Micro interns with macro impact!

The Oxplore team were lucky enough to be joined by three fantastic Oxford University undergraduate students on ‘micro-internships’. These shorter placements are organised by the Internship Office at Oxford University and offer applicants the chance to contribute to a project within a team for a week at the end of term.

We were hugely impressed with the quality, breadth and depth of the work they each produced. Being such a small team, we were able to vastly increase the scope of our project for the week which had a direct and positive impact upon audience reach and engagement.

One of our interns, Molly, focused on creating new digital content for our upcoming Big Question on mental health. She independently organised, filmed and edited a series of short interviews with undergraduate students. Within the videos, students gave their top self-care tips on looking after their personal wellbeing, and they explained on what the concept of mental health meant to them.

Our other two interns, Olivia and Jessy (pictured below), were tasked with organising a Facebook live stream in a week! They approached this daunting prospect with calm professionalism, and pulled together three excellent speakers to discuss and debate the Big Question ‘Should we believe the history books?’

Check out the video here! 

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Thoughts from the students

We asked each of the interns to write a reflection on the week that they spent with us- we were thrilled to hear that they all found it useful and enjoyed being a part of the team. We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and energy that they brought to the role, and wish them all the very best in their future careers!

I found my week at Oxplore really exciting and insightful. It was lovely to work in the office alongside so many dedicated people on such a thought provoking and clever piece of Outreach work. One element that I really enjoyed was the freedom of seeing a project through from start to finish. Being able to dedicate the whole week to the live stream and pick our chosen question, create the promotional content and guide the academic discussion gave me lots of new skills in organisation and planning. I particularly enjoyed making the trailer for our live stream and it has encouraged me to put more time into video editing. Now I’ve learned what it is like to focus on outreach full time and how closely intertwined this is with video production and social media, it has shown me that two of my pre-existing interests can meld really well together. I will definitely be getting involved with more work like this in the future – Olivia.

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My week with Oxplore has been amazing! I’ve really enjoyed learning more about this platform and the University’s widening participation schemes. It’s been so beneficial to have the opportunity to plan a live stream outreach event from scratch; from choosing the question, thinking ourselves about how we would tackle the question, to gaining skills in event management by finding relevant academics and locations, as well as having to film, edit, and promote videos for the site. This microinternship has been fantastic because of all the different skills involved and subsequently all the experience gained in just 5 days! I hope to use these skills to take digital widening participation back to my College to ensure opportunities are there for students and schools that can’t make it to Oxford for a visit and equally to put a more academic-spin on access. Also, I’ve really loved working full time in outreach every day and hope to be able to do this once I graduate – Jessy.

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I have found my week as a micro-intern for Oxplore incredibly interesting and insightful. My passion for creating videos was always merely a hobby, and so I am really thankful for the opportunity to pour all my energy into producing these three videos without any other priorities and distractions. I have learnt about using professional video editing software like After Effects, been taught about different lighting techniques, and discovered what it is like to produce videos as a group. It has been really informative to see what producing videos is like in a professional environment. This experience has encouraged me to pursue more professional opportunities in video production and further develop my own skills in video editing software – Molly. 

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How schools are using Oxplore

While Oxplore can and is being used outside of school hours by independent users, encouragement from teachers and use within the classroom can be really instrumental in leading learners to our materials. We can see from our analytics on site use that for UK users, the site is marginally busier between 9am and 3pm – and within those hours it is fairly sustained and consistent use at all times throughout the school day.

We’ve interacted with many teachers in person and online who are excited by the ways they can use the site with their students. We’ve been really inspired by their creative approach to using Oxplore in their schools! Here are just some of the things we’ve heard about already:

Oxplore clubs

This has been a really pleasant surprise for the Oxplore team. We’ve heard that enterprising teachers have set up lunchtime or after school Oxplore clubs for their students. The first we heard about was in Southborough High School, but there are several now dotted across the country. We’ve recently heard that Christ Church College’s Schools Liaison Officer is using them as part of a sustained contact programme with 5 schools in one of their link regions. The clubs take the Big Questions as a starting point for debate and discussion both within individual year groups and across different year groups – making them an excellent space for peer-to-peer learning as well as a variation from the conventional debate club. (Not all of these are called Oxplore clubs – one school calls it Philosopher’s Tea Party which is also pretty charming!)

oxplore club

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Form time

Some schools are using Oxplore to replace ‘silent reading’ or other form time activities. This does depend on the class having access to either tablets or PCs, or on the teacher taking them through the learning journey. We think this is a great way to start the day! Sleepy Year 10s may disagree…

PSE/Gifted and Talented cohort stretch and challenge

There are many schools who have been in touch to say they are using Oxplore either to include stretch and challenge activities with the whole school through PSE classes to achieve school-wide learning objectives, or to particularly engage with cohorts of those identified by the school are more able/gifted and talented (however or whatever they might define this as). For some schools in our target areas, we recently mailed out some classroom exercises that could inform these – and judging by recent site use and registrations this is being used. Sometimes, we see a number of registrations or comments come through from a certain school in quick succession. Just this morning this happened with a school in Jersey – this afternoon it was Llanidloes in Wales.image2

University preparation

We know of at least one enterprising teacher at a school in Milton Keynes who is using Oxplore as part of a university preparation activity. We’ve been lucky enough to see the PowerPoint she created, but essentially Oxplore is a part of the Y11’s action plan to engage in super-curricular learning that might inform their personal statement or help with subject choice, as well as the basis of a small discussion task.

Oxplore live streams

We held our second school-targetted live stream on the 6 February and schools from across the UK tuned in for discussion and debate around the Big Question ‘Would it be better if we all spoke the same language?’. The classes watching were able to submit questions for the panel and enter a prize draw – and we were glad to hear that some schools were also using the classroom extension activities we designed with their groups either before or after the session. Others reported the discussion going on well after the stream ended! We’re hoping to run another of these in May – and these events will be interspersed with our evening live streams that young people can watch from home.

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Reflecting on Oxplore Live

One aspect of the Oxplore launch that was new for the University and for Oxplore was an interactive live stream for schools that we ran on Monday 18th September. We saw this as a way to reach schools across the country and involve them in our launch activities – and also as a way to trial a digital engagement model for working with schools on a more regular basis.

As with the Oxplore website, the content was key, and we chose to discuss our launch Big Question ‘Would you want to live forever’ with a panel of experts from different disciplines. We needed to ensure when our academic specialists signed up they knew what they were agreeing to… We wanted to be open to questions from young people watching which meant they had to up for tackling whatever came their way! Thankfully Professor Alison Woollard, Dr Jonathan Jong and Dr Cressida Ryan were up for the challenge.

We were keen to ensure we had a ‘chair’ who was as comfortable with academics as they were with a camera. Former Oxford student and science YouTuber Simon Clark  was willing to take a bit of time away from the last weeks of his PhD at the University of Exeter to help us out with this. We were very grateful since even with the heat of the studio lights and a live broadcast he was unflappable!

Broadcasting live from Oxford to schools was always a risk since we know from our school visits that the technology in schools varies greatly… They don’t all necessarily have the most up-to-date browsers, they might block certain websites and social media, and how exactly their networks and hardware are set up seems different in every school. To give us the best chance of success in reaching their classrooms we worked with Educational Media Services at the University’s IT Services to broadcast through livestream.com (avoiding blocked social media domains) from their basement studio (to ensure connectivity was as good as it could be from our end). Of course, there was still a risk out of our control that the school might not have the right plugin or a patchy wifi – which we could only really mitigate by giving a link to test connection with our joining instructions.

While we were briefing our panel members and running through the technical requirements and a dress rehearsal, we invited teachers to register through Eventbrite. This was helpful to us to get an idea of interest, but also so we could send teachers extra resources in advance – some materials for the students to complete while the stream was live, and other ideas of extension activities for teachers to extend the session or run a follow up activity another day.

Since this was our first event like this, we did have some enquiries about how it would work and how best to deliver it. Some schools were able to have students log on individually or in pairs in PC rooms, while others broadcast through a projector with everyone watching the screen. From our point of view, it does make this kind of activity hard to measure because it isn’t clear how many people we are reaching, but for schools it is good to know it can work both ways.

As with every event, we did have a little bit of anxiety about how it will be received, and the technical requirements did add another layer of complexity. We did need two members of the Oxplore team to monitor comments on the stream and social media – not only to choose questions to put to the panel, but to watch out for any abusive comments too. And, once we’d gone live it was over in a flash!

Our analysis shows that we had viewers in over 50 different towns and cities in the UK. We also had around 200 comments and questions from our viewers, as well as 478 viewers tuned in live. We’re pleased with these statistics for our first go at using a live broadcast to reach schools in this way! The whole process was a learning experience for our team and we hope to build on this success and run more streams like this in the coming months.

You can watch our broadcast again here.

Oxplore live stream team
Danielle and Alex from the Oxplore team with Simon, Alison, Jonathan and Cressida off air.