Engage Event: Launching & Using the Great Writers Inspire Website

The Great Writers Inspire project evolved from the University of Oxford’s OpenSpires project, which published podcasts and academic materials from all different academic departments. Other open projects include Ripplethe Triton ProjectOER Impact, and World War One Centenary Continuations and Beginnings.

The Writers Inspire project has online audio resources, ebooks, and background contextual materials, intended to provide an engaging introduction to an undergraduate education curated by subject experts (such as Oxford’s Dr. Emma Smith, who curates the Renaissance Theatre section of the website).

As well as appearing on the Writers Inspire site, University of Oxford podcasts are also available on ItunesU and the University of Oxford podcasts site. Podcasts can be downloaded to your mp3 player and listed to at any time (I’m a big fan of learning via podcast while on the bus or at the gym- you’d be amazed how much a podcast about The Roaring Girl can pump you up while on a cross-trainer).

We have just launched the (still under construction) Great Writers Inspire website. Do take a look, though be prepared for occasional downtime or issues. Writers Inspire is a one year project, and the website will continue to be developed over the next six months.

All the materials on the website are licensed under the Creative Commons license, so you can use them in the classroom or for your own personal use, so long as the material isn’t used for commercial purposes. The ‘Share-alike’ aspect of Creative Commons means that whatever you create from our material, you in turn make available under the license for others to use.  You may even cut, edit, and adapt individual sections of essays or podcasts so long as you attribute the material’s source, which many online licenses will not allow.

School teachers found the site of particular value since even material which is not explicitly on the A-level curriculum provides students with materials they need to demonstrate they have an awareness of a given literary period for essays and examinations: Great Writers Inspire leads students to make connections between different works and authors, allowing for a greater understanding of the scope of literary history.

It’s also a site that provides materials which you can lift and textualise in a way that suits your needs: it’s not just somewhere to send your students. Rather, it’s a library of materials that you can use alongside other resources.

Concerns were raised about our neglect of links to resources like the Dictionary of National Biography: so you know what we’re thinking, the reason we don’t include the DNB and its ilk is because it is only available for those who pay for a subscription to the website. We want to collect only open sources which you can use and reuse however you would like. However, we’re definitely looking into providing deeper, more detailed original resources as the site expands, and we’re also eager to put academics in dialogue with one another. And our feedback so far suggests we need to add more context for students of a specific period, discussing themes or linking authors.

The purpose of the Engage workshop is to make sure we tailor the website to your needs, so please send us your feedback. Who do you think would find the site useful? Teachers? Students? Independent learners?

We’d also love to engage the community in finding resources for the website, so if you know a great open resource on a great writer, please let us know!

Visit the website at http://writersinspire.podcasts.ox.ac.uk

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About Kate O'Connor

Kate O'Connor works as Publicity & Outreach Director for Post5 Theatre, Literary Assistant and Office Manager for the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival, and Dramaturgy Intern for the Profile Theatre. She earned her M.St. in English Literature 1550-1700 at Lincoln College, University of Oxford and a BA in English from Stanford University. As an undergraduate she worked as the research assistant to Prof. David Riggs and as Literary Intern for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
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