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Cabinet: Digital Transformation of Teaching through Objects

Cabinet: Digital Transformation of Teaching through Objects


As well as its excellent academic reputation, the University of Oxford possesses extraordinary library and museum collections that document the history of the world and provide vital support to the University’s teaching. Cabinet aims to make these resources more accessible for teaching and research through digitisation (both 2D and 3D) and bringing these resources into a single intuitive and interactive interface. The main aim is to embed images and objects from collections in Oxford and elsewhere more seamlessly into teaching and learning, from tutorial to lecture room, enriching the sources available to students and tutors.

Cabinet platform provides tools for the exploration, annotation and discussion of collections from Oxford and externally. Designed from the beginning to work seamlessly with mobile devices, it can be used to zoom, spin, annotate and discuss sources, increasing the potential for fruitful individual and collective study. The ease of navigation between sources encourages new connections to be made and new insights to be shared by students and tutors alike.  In June 2017, Cabinet was the winner of an OxTALENT Award.

A major feature of Cabinet is the ability to explore full-colour 3D models of objects, ranging from minute artefacts a few centimetres across to entire monuments from the Oxford landscape. Access to artefacts is greatly improved for teaching and research, whilst simultaneously freeing up museum curatorial time and reducing wear on the original objects.  Oxford Internet Institute researchers are using Cabinet to learn more about the ways in which both staff and students interact with museum collections in the digital environment.

Cabinet is working across the University’s GLAM collections, and with academics from across all four Divisions of the University. It has been supported by funding from IT Innovation Challenges, the van Houten Fund and the GLAM Digital Strategy.

Oxford staff and students can access Cabinet via Single Sign-On. For more information, please contact us.

Explore Oxfords Collections in 3D

We are using digital photogrammetry to produce highly detailed full colour 3D models of objects from across Oxford’s museum collections which are used in teaching. These range in size from minute objects to entire monuments from the Oxford landscape.

Website screenshot showing a 3D rendering of a casket

View, Zoom and Explore HighResolution Images

Documents, maps and images on Cabinet have been digitised where possible directly from the original source. The result is an impressive level of detail with minimal quality lost between the original and online viewing.

Screenshot of a map on a website

Annotate, Comment and Discuss

Cabinet supports annotation of points of interest on 2D images and in 3D space. Simply click and add your text to create your annotation. The comment box allows discussion of your annotation with other course members.

Website screenshot showing a floorplan of the Bodleian

Flexibility for Course Users and Creators

Cabinet has been designed to be easy for Course Creators to create content. Structure your course by any category – Topic, Week, Artistic Movement – anything. And upload anything from one resource to several hundred.

Website screenshot of a list of courses

Compatible with Mobile Devices

Cabinet has been designed from the outset to work well on mobile devices. Use intuitive touchscreen controls to spin, zoom and annotate sources from anywhere with an internet connection.

Screenshot of a 3D rendering of a sundial

Key Information

  • University of Oxford’s IT Innovation Seed Fund
  • van Houten Fund
  • GLAM Digital Strategy
  • Project dates:
    October 2015 - July 2019


    • The Cabinet team has been working with the ‘Sensing Culture’ project, a collaboration between museums and the RNIB supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to use 3D scanning and printing to improve the accessibility of objects from Oxford’s Pitt Rivers and Natural History collections for blind and partially sighted visitors.
    • The Cabinet Project were invited demonstrators at Oxford’s Women in Computer Science taster day for female Year 10 and 11 students in June 2017.  With the help of a 3D-printed museum replica, the team showed how social science and humanities research can complement its counterpart in mathematics and the physical sciences.
    • In February 2018, the Cabinet Project will visit Cheney School’s ‘Iris Festival of Imagined Worlds’, to help schoolchildren discover why objects are important and how they help us study subjects such as History, Literature and Art.  The school is home to the groundbreaking Rumble Museum.
    • The Cabinet Project is helping to catalyse the digitisation of museum and library resources in Oxford to make them more accessible for research and teaching within the University, as well as for lifelong learning.  Experiencing objects digitally has the potential to improve the ways in which the public can engage with collections at home, or on the go on a mobile device, enabling them to get closer to the museums and their collections.



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