Lena Zlock is researching the integration of digital technology into structures of teaching, learning, and education in higher education. Her particular focus is on the digital humanities and the potential for digital methods to transform humanistic study. She works with Professor Niall Winters and Dr. James Robson.
Lena’s research interests stem from her education as an M.St. student and Ertegun Graduate Scholar in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford, and as a B.A. student in History at Stanford University. As an undergraduate, she started the Voltaire Library Project, a digitally and data-driven study of the 6,763-book collection of French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire (you can read more about the project here and here). She has been interested in the application of digital technology to humanistic teaching since her days in Princeton Day School, where she developed an interdisciplinary curriculum on Mexico City (visit the course website here).
Her research on Voltaire led her to think more broadly about the place of digital methods in the humanities classroom, and how new technologies will revolutionise the liberal arts and higher education. As a DPhil candidate, Lena will examine the negotiation and implementation of new learning technologies within the University of Oxford at undergraduate and graduate levels.
Lena is involved in a number of digital humanities initiatives in Oxford. She previously served as the inaugural fellow of the Voltaire Lab at Oxford’s Voltaire Foundation. As a master’s student, Lena co-formulated the convergence agenda for Oxford digital humanities with Professor Howard Hotson, and is currently employed by the Humanities Division to assist with the development of an M.St. degree in Digital Scholarship (read more here). Lena set up and helps to run the History of the Book blog for the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages and the Oxford Book History Twitter account.
Lena welcomes inquiries from undergraduate and postgraduate students from Oxford and beyond seeking to get involved with the digital humanities in any capacity. The History of the Book blog also welcomes inquiries from prospective contributors.
Lara has been working in online education for the last six years, supporting universities and academics in their transition to blended and online learning.
Some of the notable projects she has worked on include:
- The development and presentation of the University of Cape Town’s first accredited blended postgraduate diploma.
- The creation of an online tutor training course for GetSmarter’s academic staff.
- A blended learning collaboration between the University of Namibia and the University of Cape Town to transform the current MSc in Civil Engineering to a blended format.
- The development and presentation of GetSmarter’s first international short course with Goldsmiths, University of London.
Lara completed her Masters in Higher Education at the University of Cape Town in 2019. In her doctoral study she plans to explore the affordances and limitations of online education with regard to different subject matter.
Her areas of interest are online education, higher education, pedagogy, digital literacy, and digital inequalities.
Isobel is a DPhil student in the Learning and New Technologies group at the Department of Education and research assistant for the ‘Climate Change Education Futures in India’ project. Alongside her academic work, Isobel is also an independent consultant and researcher for organisations including Plan International, DFID, and Save the Children.
Her thesis critically explores the ‘gender data revolution’ in international development through an in-depth case study of a smartphone-based data collection project working with young women in Bangladesh. During her time in Bangladesh Isobel was appointed ‘Visiting Researcher’ at the Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of Liberal Arts (ULAB) in Dhaka. She contributed to research activities at the CSD, including studies of Oxfam’s PROTIC project, which works with rural women to create smartphone-based information services on climate adaptation strategies; pro-poor technology schemes in the Teknaf peninsula; and the effect of climate change on fishing villages in the Sunderbans. Additionally, Isobel taught classes for the modules ‘Introduction to Sustainable Development’ and ‘Economic Grassroots Development’.
These experiences in Bangladesh motivated Isobel to seek out further opportunities to utilise her skills and experience to help fight the climate crisis and support the movement for climate and environmental justice. This led to her working as the research assistant for the Nuffield funded ‘Trust and Climate Change: Information for Teaching in a Digital Age’ project. This initiative brought together the Education Department and Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford with secondary schools and teachers to draft a research agenda to transform climate change teaching. She is now the research assistant for the ‘Climate Change Education Futures in India’ project, which seeks to develop and deploy a framework for Climate Change Education (CCE) in India and beyond to increase the effectiveness of large-scale online CCE programmes.
Previously Isobel was a researcher on the Goldman Sachs funded technology and educational inclusion project Go_Girl:Code+Create, which explores the ways learning to code might benefit disadvantaged young women in the UK. She holds a MSc in Gender from the London School of Economics, for which she was awarded a Distinction and the Betty Scharf prize for best dissertation. Isobel has worked as a consultant and researcher for numerous international development organisations from Plan International to CGIAR on topics such as: gender and diversity in STEM; social media and gender-based violence; gender and conflict; early marriage and pregnancy and school dropout in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); the effect of gender on early learning in LMICs.
In her free time Isobel likes to grow food and flowers, and volunteers at her local community garden and a regenerative farm. She is passionate about agroecology and food sovereignty. In the future she would like to work collaboratively with others towards the realisation of an environmentally and socially just food system, as she recognises that this is the foundation of an environmentally and socially just world.
Manal is a recipient of the Clarendon Scholarship. Her research is funded by a joint award between the Clarendon Fund and Brasenose College
Her research focuses on the links between social and digital exclusion in the learning of young people. Manal was awarded a distinction for her MSc. in Education (Learning and New Technologies) at the University of Oxford (2017) and is currently building on that work for her doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Rebecca Eynon and Professor Niall Winters. Manal holds an Honours BA in Global Affairs (Middle East & North Africa Studies) from George Mason University (2011) and has five years of experience working in the U.S. and the MENA region.
- Feminist Studies
- Critical Approaches in Educational Research
Owen’s research focuses on large-scale assessments of early-stage literacy in low-and-middle-income countries and how recent advances in communication technology and artificial intelligence can be used to improve them.
Few countries currently administer rigorous, granular and reliable assessments of early-stage literacy, despite their widely acknowledged importance and the relative wealth of existing methods explicitly designed to address the challenge of accurately evaluating learners before they can independently read passages. While, in recent years, assessments such as ASER, UWEZO, and EGRA have been created which are explicitly designed to measure basic literacy skills in a context appropriate manner, on closer inspection they still fall far short of the rigor, granularity and reliability of already existing early-stage literacy assessments commonly used in classroom and research settings. This raises the question of why more robust early-stage literacy assessment techniques have not been incorporated in large-scale assessment in low and middle-income countries.
This is likely because, until recently, conducting systematic, high-quality, early age literacy assessments were infeasible for resource-constrained governments to conduct, due to the logistical challenges and cost. However, the combination of the plummeting price of smart-phones and tablets, rapidly expanding cellular data coverage and advances Natural Language Processing might potentially allow for the creation of a computerized, adaptive and highly sophisticated assessments to be deployed by non-specialists. Low-cost tablets would enable computer adaptive testing techniques and asynchronous testing.
Mobile data coverage would allow results to be immediately easily scored and uploaded to improve predictive models of student performance. Rapidly improving Natural Language Processing, specifically speech recognition, could make feasible the automatic scoring of oral fluency, which is both an extremely strong predictor of reading comprehension and extremely time intensive to administers as it must be conducted by highly trained reading specialists.
Professionally, Owen has worked as a classroom teacher in New Orleans as part of Teach for America, as a consultant to ed-tech startups in Latin America and currently as Director of Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) where he is continuing his role while be pursue s a DPhil part-time. PALF is an impact investing fund that backs innovative educational start-ups in low-and-middle income countries. In addition to monitoring the business performance of the portfolio companies by serving on their various board, he work with the teams to measure, report and improve student learning outcomes.
Dr Anne Geniets is a Research Fellow with the Learning and New Technologies Research Group
She is a medical doctor, developmental psychologist and communications & media scholar, with a research focus on health, social justice, training and technology in low- and middle-income countries.
Anne’s main research interest is in exploring the links between health, training, inequality and technology. Anne has carried out health care- and media-related research projects in the UK, Africa and South Asia.
From 2014 – 2016, Anne has been the research officer and post-doctoral researcher on the ESRC-DFID funded mCHW project, a learning intervention to train community health workers and their supervisors in the assessment of developmental milestones of children under five in two marginalised communities in Kenya.
She is leading the Go_Girl: Code+Create Project (with Niall Winters) and collaborates on a number mHealth training research projects.
Current doctoral students
Isobel Talks (co-supervised with Niall Winters)
Sophie Booton is a research officer working on the LiFT project.
The Learning for Families through Technology (LiFT) project is a collaboration between Ferrero international and three research groups in the Department of Education: Applied Linguistics, Learning and New Technologies, and Families, Effective Learning, and Literacy. The project aims to examine key questions about children’s learning with technology, with a focus on language and literacy skills.
Within the project, Sophie is investigating vocabulary development in children with and without English as an Additional Language. Sophie’s research interests lie in children’s cognitive and emotional development, particularly in in how areas of development interact to affect children’s learning and well-being.
Before joining the Department of Education, Sophie studied for her PhD in Psychology at the University of Sheffield. Her doctoral research in collaboration with Dr Daniel Carroll focused on the impact of emotional states on children’s self-control. Prior to her PhD, Sophie gained a MEd on the Mind, Brain and Education programme at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford.
Niall Winters is Professor of Education and Technology at the Department of Education, University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College.
His main research interest is to design, develop and evaluate technology enhanced learning (TEL) programmes for healthcare workers in the Global South. He mainly works in Kenya, in partnership with the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme and Amref Health Africa. Niall also has a strong research interest in the role technology can play to support social inclusion in the UK. He is co-Director of the Learning and New Technologies Research Group and was formerly Deputy Director for Research at the Department and Director of the MSc Education (Learning & Technology).
Niall is on the Visiting Faculty of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA), Sciences Po, Paris and co-editor of the British Journal of Educational Technology (BJET). He is a member of the ESRC Peer Review College, a Trustee (former Chair of the Board) of the Restart Project and has consulted for UNESCO, DFID and the NHS.
Niall holds a PhD in Computer Science from Trinity College Dublin and has been a visiting researcher at the Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon and MIT Media Lab Europe. Before joining the Department of Education in 2014, Niall was a Reader in Learning Technologies at the UCL (previously London) Knowledge Lab, UCL Institute of Educationand Deputy Head of the Department of Culture, Communication and Media.