WebLearn: Allowing members of the University to create and store materials to support their teaching and learning activities. Easy to create and upload materials, easy to foster collaboration and easy to secure access.
"All of our course outlines, timetables, lecture notes, reading lists, and resources are available on WebLearn. [....] It makes communicating information and sharing resources extremely effective since anyone in our course, including the administrator, can provide or receive up-to-date information at any time of day." - a Medical Sciences student
Read the latest news and views in this blog centred mainly around WebLearn.
WebLearn is a web-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which can be used to both support and enhance teaching and learning. It provides tools to enable University members with very little web experience to set up a structured web site and provide an excellent resource for their students.
WebLearn is a free service offered to any member of the University - areas are available for all departments, faculties, colleges, schools and other administrative units to focus their electronic teaching and learning activity.
- make announcements;
- share, protect and search for hand-outs, course notes, presentations, podcasts, movies and other multimedia resources;
- set and submit electronic assignments (with optional Turnitin plagiarism detection);
- disseminate reading lists with live links to OLIS;
- promote groups discussion with forums and chat rooms;
- carry out online opinion polls;
- deliver course evaluation and feedback forms;
- perform formative assessments with multiple-choice tests and the like;
- publicise events via the course schedule (calendar);
- enable collaborative authoring within a wiki (which also supports mathematical notation);
- sign-up for tutorials;
- store private files online;
- work with collaborators from other institutions who can easily be issued with their own username and password;
- host surveys;
- and much more!
WebLearn areas can be made publicly available or restricted to specific individuals or ad-hoc and predefined groups. It is also possible to stipulate exactly what site members are allowed to do once they have entered a site. The system contains information regarding course and departmental affiliation for all staff and students, and it is this information that can be used to restrict access. As all areas are arranged in a hierarchy that matches the University's organisational structure, this promotes casual browsing.
Dr Stuart Lee, Deputy CIO of IT Services, who is also a National Teaching Fellow (2009) and Lecturer in Old English uses WebLearn as part of his teaching. At the new WebLearn launch event he spoke about some of the facilities that have caught his eye and put WebLearn into context with other University systems that support teaching, learning and research. His engaging talk was recorded and is available for download here. He gives a number of tips on how he made his Old English WebLearn site lively and engaging and shows how up-to-the-minute technologies such as Twitter and You Tube.
WebLearn is based on an open source Collaborative Learning Environment called Sakai. Sakai is used in many of the world's leading Universities such as Cambridge, Yale, UCB, Stanford, ANU and MIT. Ian Dolphin who is the Joint Information Systems Council International Director of the e-Framework for Education and Research, and former Sakai Foundation Board member gave an excellent talk about the international Sakai Community at the WebLearn launch event.
To establish a presence in WebLearn, your Head of Department or College will need to authorise somebody to become a 'Local WebLearn Coordinator' and complete the Request for an Administration Site form. Once your department has an Administration Site, it is worth consulting with colleagues and deciding on a mutually agreed structure for consistency, for example, information could be provided by year, by course, by year or by tutor: there are a number of options. IT Services is very happy to offer advice on good practice in this area.
If you are unsure as to whether your unit has requested a presence or want to find out who your Local WebLearn Coordinator is then please consult this list of Administration Sites.
The Request for an Administration Site form also includes a set of guidelines for use of the system. For example, heed must be paid to copyright issues and there is a legal requirement that all material posted for download by students should be accessible (SENDA). The University has written an accessibility standard which gives tips on how to comply with SENDA.
IT Services is happy to offer expert advice about building up an effective departmental presence. To request a one-to-one meeting please contact the WebLearn team by email. Unfortunately, IT Services is not able to actually create course material for departments, however, a commercial service is available from the Technology-Assisted Lifelong Learning Unit (TALL) which is part of the Department for Continuing Education.
Did you know that students can use their mobile phones to receive course announcements, sign up to a tutorial or seminar, listen to a podcast on the train, or access library, weather and travel information?
WebLearn mirrors the organisational structure of the University. The front page contains links to the 4 Divisions, the Colleges and the other top-level administrative units. Each Divisional area then contains links to individual departments, in much the same way the College area presents links to the individual colleges. This logical structure should make it easy to navigate to the desired target if the web address is not known. It also promotes casual browsing which can be a useful form of outreach.
Best results are achieved by using the FireFox web browser; Internet Explorer is also supported and can be used if FireFox is either not available or cannot be installed; FireFox is strongly recommended and using Internet Explorer will result in a slightly degraded experience. Apple Macintosh users should also use FireFox in preference to Safari.
You do not have to login to look at WebLearn; however, most colleges and departments will have their course materials in areas that do require you to log in. To gain access you need your 'WebAuth' Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) username and password. (These credentials are the same as those used for Self-Registration, course booking and many other services around the University.) If you have never used your SSO account then you will need to activate it. If you have forgotten your password then you will have to reset it.
"It would be a lot more difficult to catch up on my work if I didn’t have WebLearn." Fresher, Biological Sciences.
Most departments and colleges have resources in WebLearn. Usually your tutor will provide you with a link or advise you where to find your course material, alternatively you may browse either system and navigate to the appropriate college or department area.
Your local IT Support Staff provide the first level of on-the-spot help. Links to local IT support pages, which includes a list of who to contact if you have a problem, are available for most colleges and departments.
- Click on the 'My Active Sites' tab (top right). WebLearn will list the sites of which you are a member. Click on the link to the site that you want.
- Click on 'Search my sites' in the menu at the left side of this screen. Then follow the instructions that appear.
- Click on the link to your division in the list of sub-sites which are displayed at the left side of the screen and in the left-hand box below. Then follow the subsequent links to locate your department and course.
There are a number of student guides available in the WebLearn Guidance site. These include:
- Getting started for students
- My Workspace
- Getting started for students
- Completing assignments for students
- Discussion forums for students
- Messages for students
- Resources for students
- Subscribing to a WebLearn Podcast
The WebLearn team has been working closely with the University Skills Group (USG - formerly the Graduate Skills Advisory Group) to move the former ‘Online courses’ (now called ‘Career Development Skills’) into WebLearn. The courses were previously hosted within a different VLE service (provided by Continuing Education) which required a special username and password.
Although the courses are aimed at graduate students and researchers, they are available to all Oxford users. Each course (with the exception of Avoiding Plagiarism 2) contains a test which has a pass mark of 80%; successful completion will trigger the dispatch of an electronic 'certificate' via email.
There are a total of 15 Career Development Skills courses. These are:
The Research Skills Toolkit is a special area of WebLearn where researchers can explore a variety of IT tools and online services. Although the site has been designed with research students in mind, it is open to any member of Oxford University.
The Skills Toolkit is a joint project from the IT Learning Programme at IT Services, the Bodleian Libraries and the Careers Service. It complements a series of live events held at IT Services. Groups of research students are invited to try out a selection of IT tools and online services, and to talk to specialist IT teachers and Libraries staff.
Please refer to the earlier section for details about how to establish a WebLearn presence for your department or college.
|In relation to the institutional VLE, WebLearn, lecturers within the same course should: Provide students with the same “base level” of service (i.e. in making PowerPoint presentations, lecture notes and so forth available), even if they do not all use the other tools and features provided. A key recommendation taken from the Thema project.|
The classic use of WebLearn is for supporting courses. There are numerous facilities that may be of use ranging from the storage of lecture notes and reading lists through to the organising of tutorials or meetings.
Departments may like to divide their presence by course, or have separate areas for undergraduates, postgraduates and staff. Colleges often have separate areas for tutorials, (where each tutor would have his or her own site(s),) subjects, the library, specialist study centres and learning-related administrative information.
WebLearn offers many facilities which will be invaluable should parts of the University have to close due to a pandemic.
WebLearn has many tools that will allow teaching and learning to continue in the absence of face-to-face meeting between students and tutors. The most obvious approach is to set up a site with all members of a course or tutorial group listed as participants. This site can then host learning materials in the Resources tool within a WebLearn site; any documents stored in Resources can be found by the Search tool.
The document repository can be backed up by the use of the Chat and Forums tools for synchronous and asynchronous communications respectively. The Sign-up tool could be used to arrange a series of online tutorials in much the same way as it can be used to organise face-to-face tutorials and /or the site Schedule (calendar) can be used to indicate when a tutor will be present in the chat-room to answer student questions.
The Email archive (mail list) and Announcements tool also facilitate easy communication within a course. The Assignments tool (with optional 'Turnitin' plagiarism checking) can be used for the on-line submission of essays, and tests can be conducted within the Tests assessment tool.
There are more details about the individual tools in the section entitled Tools in the WebLearn.
We would recommend that departments and colleges begin planning now; the first thing to do is establish a WebLearn presence and begin setting up and infrastructure that can be brought into play should there be a need.
We would like to recommend that all colleges and departments have totally public 'home pages' in WebLearn - this site can be used both for general outreach and to support the annual Open Day. The ease that one can upload documents and create or edit web pages will make the process of disseminating essential information painless.
One excellent use of such pages is to highlight teaching and learning activities. Example materials such as resource packs, podcasts, reading lists and course handouts could be made available on such sites to give a flavour of the quality of teaching in order to help with recruitment.
Now that students are supplied with their Oxford SSO credentials before they arrive at University they will be able to access WebLearn in advance of starting their studies. Reading lists and documents can be circulated and formative assessment carried out so that new students are able to 'hit the ground running' when they arrive.
- links to other University systems including the libraries
- an outline of basic skills that will be needed
- an electronic welcome pack containing:
- links to departmental resources
- a link to the Student Union
- a link to the Newcomer's Club
- links to relevant societies
- things to do upon arrival
- 'catch up' materials (for students who have taken a 'gap year')
- a link to admissions
- information about English language courses (often useful for graduate students)
- reading lists
- an electronic copy of the handbook
- information about tutorials
- maps and information about accommodation
- an area for new students to converse with their peers; (obviously suitable volunteers must be identified to act as mentors):
As well as the ITLP training courses, IT Services can provide special training sessions located within a department so long as there will be 10 or more attendees. Please contact the WebLearn team for more information.
There is also a very useful WebLearn Guidance site which contains guides to most of the WebLearn tools.
There are a number of case studies which outline how different people are using WebLearn. Here are some of the highlights:
- Evidence-Based Health Care MSc
- Chinese Language
- Boethius Project (inter-institutional project)
- History of Art
- Conference of Colleges (Administration)
- Survey Tool
- Politics Tutoring
- Masters in e-Learning (Dep. of Education)
- Supporting students' learning and formation using WebLearn (Wycliffe Hall)
- Using WebLearn tools to improve teaching practice
- Electronic tools for teaching (Earth Sciences)
- Using WebLearn to support tutors and students (Dept. of Biochemistry)
- Supporting first year teaching: Physics tutorials and WebLearn
- Supporting tutorial teaching (Dept. of Biochemistry)
All University staff are entitled to an area within which to host teaching and learning material. To check if your department already has an area you should login to WebLearn and use the navigation menu on the lower left-hand side of the page to enter the division within which your unit is located. Similarly, use the 'Colleges' link to see which colleges currently have a presence. If an area exists, then enter it by clicking on the link, contact one of the owners listed in Site Info and ask to be given permission to create an area for your own material. Many tutors like to have area within their college site for material relating to their tutorials.
WebLearn also contains a comprehensive WebLearn Guidance site containing a variety of user guides, case studies, exemplar and showcase sites plus links to software packages that may prove useful when establishing a departmental presence. WebLearn also has a link to context-sensitive pop-up help on every single page.
Please refer to the earlier section for details about how to establish a WebLearn presence for your department or college; this website has a list of all units that have already requested an area in WebLearn.
There are regular briefing sessions for ITSS, these will be advertised through the usual channels and booking will be possible via IT Services ITS3 pages. There is a special 'Least You Need To Know' guide giving an overview of WebLearn for ITSS and there is lots of other useful information on the WebLearn Guidance site.
- A simple way to put material on the web Many staff put up their handouts, lecture slides, reading lists, and so on. WebLearn avoids having to rely on IT support officers mounting information, anybody who has been given permission to do so can easily create HTML web pages, upload searchable Word documents, PowerPoint slides, Excel spreadsheets, and so on.
- Easily control access to your material WebLearn contains information about affiliations of every staff member and student, these affiliations can be used to grant access to any area of the system.
- Reduction in paperwork Handbooks can be stored centrally, handouts do not have to be photocopied, internal documents can be circulated, and so on. WebLearn allows easy creation of student feedback forms online so feedback is automatically collated.
- Allows one to experiment with additional e-learning tools WebLearn comes with e-learning tools for you to use quickly and easily such as discussion forums, electronic pigeon holes, quizzes, and questionnaires - all set up with a few clicks. Common uses include formative assessment, surveys, essay submission via Turnitin, student feedback tools or tests to assist revision.
- Allows you to keep in touch with students out of class You can use the Announcement or Email Archive tools to contact students outside of class via email. Another idea is to aid last-minute revision by agreeing to be present in a chat room to answer questions at a set time in the days leading up to an exam.
- Helping the students WebLearn provides a single place for learning support material, which is all held in one searchable cohesive space, and students can browse outside of their disciplines.
- Saving your work WebLearn can be looked at as a central repository for teaching material. It is backed up regularly and archive snapshots of WebLearn are taken at set intervals.
- Providing an area for cross-institutional projects WebLearn allows you to control access to certain areas and documents. It lets you create usernames for external collaborators working on projects. Projects can create their own private intranets to hold important documents.
- Integration with other systems WebLearn is supported centrally and is integrated with a number of other IT Services systems including Oxford Single-Sign On (WebAuth), Oak access management services and Bodleian Library's SOLO.
- It's accessible The WebLearn team recently ran a project with the Disability Office to assess the WebLearn system. Users had very few complaints (although some minor changes were made) and most made the comment that it was "better than the old system". Interested parties may like to read the report about accessibility in Sakai (the software upon which WebLearn is based).
"As academic colleagues we constantly discuss both the content of our research and research practices, but we rarely discuss exactly what or how we teach. Using WebLearn we can see each others' teaching materials and share our approaches to tutorial and class teaching, subject by subject. It helps us to exchange ideas and encourages each of us to reflect on our own teaching practices." Teresa Morgan
"WebLearn is a wonderful system with many features which benefit both teaching and the management of students' work. It is easy and fun to use. The most important thing is that you must stretch the imagination and try to explore the facilities to expand your teaching." Shio-yun Kan, a lecturer in Chinese Language.
"We believe the active engagement in the course is due to three factors: deep interest in the subject, engaging teaching methods, and the WebLearn Virtual Learning Environment." Dr Amanda Burls, Department of Primary Health Care
"I'm not an expert IT user but have found WebLearn easy to learn." Rita Rattray, Conference of Colleges
"Having worked my way through the basics, I have to say the New WebLearn is a great improvement over the old. WebDAV in particular will make life much easier. Thank you for all the work you have put into it." Rachel Crawford, IT Support Officer, Oxford Department of International Development
"It’s brilliant! I was up and running in half an hour. It gives you something you can start playing with instantly." Peter Darrah, Lecturer in Biological Sciences talking about site templates
"One of the reasons we are using the Wiki tool is so that we can put files up in this area that [...] members can edit without overwriting each other's work. At the moment we've managed to split our tasks in a way that we can keep track of the changes each of us makes, but once we've collected all the material we need and begin the editing process of the full corpus, we will need to work on a 'master' document that all of us can access and edit at different times. The wiki tool is perfect to meet this requirement." Dr Rohini Jayatilaka, Faculty of English Language and Literature
"WebLearn is bringing the whole of the Conference of Colleges together in a new searchable, legible, comprehensive and hierarchical series of sites and folders. On the Senior Tutors' site, facilities mean that new sets of information are now available - and can be readily used and shared. One small but powerful example of the greater access and control is the single click Senior Tutors' mail-list with archiving of correspondence. I'm sure that as it develops WebLearn will have beneficial effects on how the University does its business." Dr Nicola Trott, Senior Tutor of Balliol
"Using the drop box facility in WebLearn was perfect as a simple and secure way of allowing Exam Board Administrators to transfer the Results Spreadsheet to the Examinations team in Student Administration. It took one morning to set up. People in Departments have told us that this change to the process (they were using memory sticks before) was a huge improvement. They found it more convenient, easy to use (training consisted of a one page training HOW TO guide). It meant that time was saved in the process, staff didn't have to walk down to exams more than once. Everybody had access, it was easy to maintain, staff in the Examination Team found it ideal to manage spreadsheets coming in from 300+ exam boards." Victoria Clark, Change and Process Manager, Student Administration, Academic Administration Division
"Since the documents in our WebLearn site are essentially the raw material for our project, what WebLearn has enabled us to do is to make our work accessible to team members based outside Oxford, whilst keeping it secure until we publish it." Dr Rohini Jayatilaka, Faculty of English Language and Literature
"There are two important benefits of using WebLearn: 1. We can easily maintain and update it ourselves without having to ask a webmaster to change things on an intranet; 2. We can carefully control access to various areas and particular resources." Nicola Harvey-Cooper (Examinations Schools)
"The single most useful thing undergraduates in a tutorial group can do is to talk to each other. If they are not able to meet face to face over, for example, a cup of coffee, then WebLearn is the next best thing. I know very quickly which tutorial groups talk together as it shows in their work. By discussing the topics of lectures and tutorials they quickly discover alternative ways of looking at the subject by seeing it through the eyes of another undergraduate. I always encourage my tutorial groups to talk to each other, to perhaps divide up a reading list between them and then pool their resources and ideas, and also to share their essays. Anything WebLearn is able to do to enhance the undergraduate's learning experience can only be good." Anne Lee, social psychology tutor for the Department of Experimental Psychology
"It's easy to use and the fact that you are notified via email simplifies things." Sam Smith, Chinese Language student.
"I would say that the forums and resources tool has been really excellent and extremely useful for our Summer School students to use - we have a great amount of use particularly on the forums. Also, the Survey tool has allowed us to collect confidential data in a way which has substantially increased the productivity of our office. " Kathryn Spicksley, UNIQ Summer Schools Coordinator,
"I think that the fact it looks more 'grown-up' than [old] WebLearn is not irrelevant. The one thing I still miss about [old] WebLearn as it currently is, is the ability to group email every member of a class, so I am delighted that this is a key feature of the new WebLearn." Craig Clunas, Professor of History of Art
"We have found that WebLearn is a very effective way of communicating with our multitude of committees and is ideal for storing, protecting and distributing minutes, agendas and other important documents." Rita Rattray, Conference of Colleges
"The way assignments are set up is good, with the deadline and grade once it's been marked. Chat-rooms and announcements are a good way to communicate with teachers and classmates, and bring important things to our attention." Marie-France Johns, Chinese Language student.
"I have been pleased with the trial we did using WebLearn for lecture feedback last term. It saved me a great deal of time in processing the results for presenting to the tutors, as we carry out feedback requests to undergraduates for each lecturer each term. The different formats of report was also useful." Elaine Sherrott, Earth Sciences
[The WebLearn Poll session via Mobile Oxford was] "much better than normal CAL as this can be a waste of time, would be better to have a poll quiz like this every week during CAL time." 1st year Undergraduate Medicine student, May 2011
We were impressed at how enthusiastic those students with internet enabled mobiles were for the Mobile Oxford interface and observed that students were clearly engaged actively in the session. Helen Christian, teacher of 1st year Undergraduate Medicine, May 2011
The effective use of WebLearn to support teaching and learning in a face-to-face institution can be difficult to visualise. We see our students several times a week, in lectures and tutorials, they can physically access the library, they are digital 'natives' and are comfortable finding their own resources on the web, aren’t they?
- Information – providing organisational information and tools, such as Announcements, Calendar and Syllabus;
- Content – Resources tool (containing a collection of electronic documents), Reading Lists, Podcasts, links to external Web content (web pages, videos etc.);
- Communication – Discussion forums, Email archive and collaboration tools such as the Wiki;
- Assessment – Assignments (including Turnitin plagiarism detection), Tests, Tutorial tasks, assessed Forum discussions;
- Management – monitoring student activity, administering marks, course evaluation, sign-up sheets for meetings and tutorials.
Using this conceptual framework, one sees that the virtual learning environment, just as with the physical learning environment, demands thorough course design and planning. Once such a virtual site has been designed and created, it assists lecturers, tutors and students to collect course materials and access them in a structured, convenient and collaborative way.
More information:Step-by-step guide for Drop Box
More information:Step-by-step guide for Email Sender
More information: Video tutorial for Home tool
More information:Step-by-step guide for Polls
More information:Step-by-step guide for Reading List
More information:Step-by-step guides for Schedule
It allows either single or repeated meeting to be scheduled and will automatically partition time slots into any number of equal-length sessions with an optionally specified maximum number of attendees. All meetings will be added to the site calendar and potential attendees can be notified of the details. The meeting can be displayed on one or more WebLearn sites.
More information:Step-by-step guide for Sign-up
More information:Step-by-step guide for Site Stats
Questionnaire templates can be created from scratch, or existing templates can be copied and modified. Various question types are available, such as Lickert scales, multiple choice with a single answer, multiple choice with multiple answers, and free text questions. Detailed settings control open and close dates, how participants access the survey, and who may view the results.
A survey can be delivered to WebLearn site members, ad-hoc groups or the general public over a fixed time period. Although responses remain anonymous, the course administrator can track who has or has not completed the evaluation. The system can automatically notify users of upcoming surveys, and send reminders to complete an ongoing survey. The notification scheme is intended to increase the response rate.
More information:Step-by-step guide for Surveys
- The Assignments tool offers multiple grading options for submissions, but does not support automatic marking of objective questions.
- The Evaluation tool supports the construction, distribution and administration of template-based questionnaires with an emphasis on course based evaluation. Participants who have not yet completed an evaluation will receive reminders by email.
More information:Step-by-step guide for Tests
More information:Step-by-step guide for Wiki
There are many facilities in the WebLearn, these are partitioned into Primary and Secondary Tools. The WebLearn Service Level Description details which category each tool falls into, see section 2.12. Section 2.21 explains the difference between the two classifications. In short, if a Primary tool is withdrawn then IT Services will endeavour to provide instructions on how to move the content of the tool to a suitable alternative; if a secondary tool is removed then there is no guarantee that IT Services will provide support for the transfer of content. The Secondary tools are:
Before a department or college can use WebLearn they must have an Administration Site and an associated list of Local WebLearn Coordinators (local administrators or contacts). There follows a list of administration sites and Coordinators.
WebLearn User Group (WLUG) meetings are held every term in the Isis suite in IT Services. The meetings enable WebLearn users to come together to share ideas and practices and to hear about recent and future developments in WebLearn. It is an opportunity for users to voice their ideas and suggestions in order to inform the ongoing development and support of the system. Guest speakers are always invited to come and give a short informal presentation about how WebLearn works for them. The cream tea after the meeting has become a popular tradition. The three meetings of the WLUG in the 2009/2010 academic year were attended by a total of 85 staff members.
To listen to past meetings you may take advantage of the WLUG RSS feed display page in WebLearn. This page includes an in-page media player to make it easy to access a recording.
There is a special WebLearn site entitled WebLearn User Group which is used to support the User Group; if you are interested then we recommend that you join the WLUG site. The site contains past agendas, notes and other useful snippets; the associated mail list is a useful way of learning about upcoming events and recent news. Being a member of the site means that you will receive email notifications, and it will appear under your 'My Active Sites' tab for ease of navigation.
IT Services run regular training courses to help get started with WebLearn. These courses are run in conjunction with the IT Learning Programme, in order to attend you must book a place online. If any courses are scheduled then they will appear directly below; this list also includes WebLearn User Group meetings.
If you have already attended a WebLearn course then extra face-to-face help is available most Friday mornings by booking a place for the WebLearn Drop-in Surgery at Computer8.
There is also a special WebLearn Guidance site within the new system which acts as a gateway to all sorts of useful information including documentation and information about training courses.
|WebLearn User Group||Meet with members of the WebLearn team; give feedback; share ideas and practices; hear about developments.||2 hours||Once per term|
|WebLearn: Fundamentals||Orientation; navigation; roles; tools; basic site management.||3 hours||Twice per term|
|WebLearn: Design and Content||After having attended the 'WebLearn Fundamentals' course, and / or having used WebLearn for some time, site owners need to know more about the planning, structure and design of WebLearn sites and the effective use of WebLearn tools. This course builds upon 'Fundamentals' and highlights how to use some more advanced features of WebLearn||3 hours||Once per term|
|WebLearn: Surveys||Use of surveys; comparison of online survey tools; overview of the WebLearn survey tool; three steps to create a WebLearn survey; build your own survey using the WebLearn tool .||3 hours||Once per term|
|Learning and Teaching: Using Technology Tools||This workshop is aimed at academic staff who are interested in making more creative use of technology tools, to the overall benefit of student learning. There is some reference to WebLearn, among other possible tools.||3 hours||Trinity Term|
|WebLearn: Using Mobile Oxford||This one-hour course demonstrates the award-winning Mobile Oxford platform and a selection of WebLearn tools that can be accessed via a mobile device. Participants will have the opportunity to use their mobile devices to try out various WebLearn tools via the mobile platform.||1 hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn: Drop-in Surgery||One-to-one session available to all past course attendees.||2 hours||10am - 12pm every Friday during term-time|
|WebLearn: Tools to Support Teaching and Learning||The aim of this course is to explore WebLearn tools that are designed specifically to support teaching and learning in the electronic environment, as a supplement to face-to-face teaching and tutoring. Tools include messaging and mail tools, tutorial signup, syllabus, Oxford Podcasts, reading lists, timed release, tracking and reporting, surveys (brief overview) and tests (brief overview).||3 Hours||Once per term|
|WebLearn: Tools for creating interactive online resources||This one-hour session gives an overview of three free, open-source, e-learning authoring tools: eXe, Xerte and GLO Maker. It emphasizes the strengths of each tool and suggests where each might be applicable. A short demonstration of an aspect of each tool will be given.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn: Assessment and Feedback||Overview of assessment practice; Assignments; Tests; Markbook; Dropbox; Forums (to be assessed) Prerequisite: WebLearn Fundamentals||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn Bytes: Assignments||Writing essays and receiving feedback on submitted work is an important part of the Oxford student experience. Did you know that the WebLearn Assignments tool allows a tutor or lecturer to set up an assignment (essay), with instructions, attachments, a specified due date and marking options? Students submit their essay in WebLearn, which keeps track of all submissions. Tutors have found that using this tool enables them to provide more extensive and meaningful feedback to students.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn Bytes: Resources||What is the best way to make learning and organisational materials available to your students so that they can find them easily? Come and experiment hands-on with the Resources tool, using features such as creating HTML pages, reading lists, web content links, group-specific material and permissions.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn Bytes: Site Management’||Are you making best use of your site management tool, Site Info? Do you know how to control site access and prepare or duplicate sites for the new academic year? Come and experiment hands-on with the Site Info tool.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn Bytes: Surveys||Did you know that the WebLearn Surveys tool is freely available and can be used to create surveys for course or lecturer evaluation, research purposes, or general data gathering? Surveys can be delivered to site participants, ad-hoc groups, or the general public, with or without requiring login, and data can be exported for further analysis.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|WebLearn Bytes: Tests and Quizzes||The WebLearn Tests tool provides a useful way to design and deliver informal tests to your students for the purpose of ongoing formative assessment. Questions are entered into question pools, and you can create a test using manual or random selection of questions. Hints and immediate feedback can be provided to reinforce learning.||1 Hour||Once per term|
|Plagiarism: How to avoid it (for students)||Academic integrity requires authors to accurately record and acknowledge the source of words, ideas, diagrams, images, research results (all forms of output from others) that they use or refer to in their own work. This course supports students in learning how to avoid unintentional plagiarism. A customised version of the course can be delivered in colleges or departments, on request.||45 minutes||Once per term|
|Plagiarism: WebLearn and Turnitin||This lunch-time session is aimed at examiners, tutors and supervisors who need to use Turnitin plagiarism detection software to check assessed essays for originality and also for general formative purposes to improve student academic writing skills.||45 minutes||Once per term|
|Plagiarism: Turnitin Fundamentals||Accessing Turnitin; creating a class; advanced settings; enrolling students; submitting papers; originality reports; other tools in the Turnitin software suite||Once per term|
|Plagiarism: Interpreting Originality Reports using Turnitin||Lunch time session including overview of Turnitin originality reports; similarity index; viewing options; detailed look at originality reports||Once per term|
|Name||Topics||Length||Frequency (during term time)|
|WebLearn: For ITSS||Demonstration for technically astute ITSS.||45 minutes||Once per term|
The above are supplemented by the following documentation which is available on the WebLearn Guidance site:
- Video tutorials - short 2-3 minute guides to tools
- 'Step-by-step' tool guides developed specifically for Oxford, (MS Word originals,)
- 'Least You Need To Know' guides brief and to the point, (MS Word originals,)
- 'How To' Guides, (MS Word originals,)
- Case studies and exemplar sites, (MS Word originals).
The Sakai Foundation and PACKT publishers are proud to announce the Sakai CLE Courseware Management book. This is the official guide to the Sakai CLE.
This book is the officially endorsed Sakai guide and is an update to the previous book, Sakai Courseware Management: The Official Guide. From setting up and running Sakai for the first time to creatively using its tools and features, this book delivers everything you need to know.
The Logo uses Minion Pro font for the word "WebLearn" and Foundry Sterling (Book) for the 'strap line' underneath.
- Annotated .PNG 200KB, 637px × 610px
- 'Favicon' .ICO 1KB, 16px × 16px
- Tiny .JPG 2KB, 16px × 16px
WebLearn uses the Creative Commons licenced 'Silk' icons. Before you ask, these are not available in any other sizes! On occasions, it may be useful to display these images on a WebLearn page, for example to give instructions on what buttons or links to click on, or to add a dash of colour to written instructions. As these images are stored in a public area they can be used in all contexts. They will never be removed from the system.
This is the latest list of implementation time scales; the tranches of work should be in production by the first week of the stated term (or vacation). We will do our best to meet these deadlines but it is often difficult to estimate the amount of work required before actually starting. In addition, some of these milestones are based on work being undertaken by other members of the Sakai community, obviously we cannot predict when their deadlines will slip!
- MT 2012 Assignments 2 tool pilot (with improved turnitin integration)
- HT 2013 Collation of all graduate training courses within the Student Enrolment System (SES)
- HT 2013 Reading list improvements
- HT 2013 Mobile Oxford integration with SES tool
- 2013? Store ad-hoc groups in Oak Groups Store (& reuse in WebLearn, Nexus etc.). This has had to be rescheduled due to circumstances beyond our control. We are very sorry for the delay.
- MT 2012 OXAM service hosted in WebLearn - now live
- MT 2012 Improved search
- MT 2012 Sign-up tool enhancements including Nexus integration (based on user feedback)
- HT 2013 Student Enrolment System improvements
In 2005 the erstwhile Head of LTG Dr Stuart Lee wrote an interesting article on this topic entitled Finally a free lunch: the benefits of an open source VLE/LMS; even though he wrote about Bodington, (which is the software underpinning the original WebLearn,) most of the points pertaining to the open source nature of the product he made are as relevant today, to Sakai, as they were then.
- flexibility: Oxford's IT infrastructure means that 'one size certainly does not fit all'; commercial VLEs do not support Oxford's model of devolved administration.
- responsiveness: the central VLE team can respond very quickly to performance problems, bug reports and requests for new functionality.
- customisation: of terminology, interface and tool set.
- no licensing restrictions: there are no restrictions on the number of users allowed to access the service; in a research-intensive institution such as Oxford it essential that external collaborators can have an account and work within the VLE without us having to worry about licencing restrictions.
- integration with other Oxford IT systems: it is easy to modify the software and follow the recommended Service Oriented Architecture approach recommended by the JISC; for example, we have integrated Sakai with the Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) service (WebAuth), the new Oak Authorisation service and various library systems; in the future we are committed to embrace the Oak Groups service, the institutional RSS service OxItems, Nexus (SharePoint / Exchange) and Mobile Oxford.
- external funding: open source software is generally more amenable to the use of open standards and thus allowed IT Services to pursue external research grants through the JISC and the like.
- clear exit strategy - no product lock-in: content can be imported and exported with comparative ease.
- free from commercial risk: ironically because there is no company backing the system there is thus no risk of the company being taken over by one of its rivals and us being forced to move to a new platform against our wishes!
- be modifiable / extensible (for example, open source);
- not be tied to a course-based content structure;
- offer fine grained access control and flexible group definition to support Oxford model of learning;
- have devolved administration;
- offer equivalent tools and services as those supported by Bodington;
- have distinct advantages over the incumbent system.
- Proven scalability / reliability: Sakai is used in vast institutions with tens of thousands of concurrent users.
- Other comparable UK research-led and Ivy League institutions use Sakai, for example, Cambridge, Hull, STFC (formerly CCLRC), Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkley and ANU, meaning that there is already a strong community who have very similar goals to Oxford.
- Sakai's strengths lie in its collaborative features whereas others concentrate more on pedagogy; it is felt that the former is more appropriate for an institution such as Oxford.
- The Sakai community have expressed a real desire to incorporate key Bodington features into the core code base, for example, site hierarchy, reusable groups, and fine-grained permissions. (Sakai 3 will embrace many of these ideas.) In addition, the process for ensuring that Oxford's additions to the code base is better defined for Sakai than for other comparable open source systems.
- Sakai is similar in nature to Bodington, but has a modern service-oriented architecture (SoA) with a simple interface for plugging in new tools or third-party web applications. (This architecture is recommended by JISC).
- Sakai is built using Java which maps very well to the core competencies within IT Services.
WebLearn and Nexus (SharePoint / Exchange) are complementary systems, both provided by IT Services. WebLearn is primarily focused on Teaching and Learning whereas Groupware is aimed more at administration and research groups. It is also true that Nexus SharePoint part of the service is only just becoming available to early adopters (late 2009), so if you are looking to get started now putting documents up for selected groups to see (and haven't signed up to be a SharePoint early adopter), WebLearn can help with that. When SharePoint is available, IT Services will provide clear advice on which system to use; nobody will be 'forced' to use either system against their wishes.
WebLearn contains Teaching and Learning focused tools such as assessment and tutorial booking; Nexus SharePoint will support version control and work-flow. Which system you use will be partly based on what you are trying to achieve but may also depend on which system your department and its users are most familiar with. In order to help clarify the situation, the Office of the Director of IT have produced a very useful paper entitled WebLearn and Nexus - which tool for which activity?.
We are happy to answer any specific questions that people may have, drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Integration / Interoperability: IT Services is taking the issue of integration very seriously, indeed the Nexus project has a whole work package dedicated to ensuring that it will talk to other IT Services systems. IT Services is well represented on the Nexus Project Board, so we are confident that the WebLearn user's voice is feeding in loudly. (As a point of note it is the Project Board who are driving the project with IT Services implementing their recommendations.)
It is also possible for a naïve or careless site owner / maintainer to manually grant access to the general public or to a user that should not have access. Care needs to be taken in providing access to materials; maintainers are strongly recommended to attend WebLearn training delivered by IT Services.
WebLearn is hosted on a secure server administered by IT Services. All transactions are encrypted so, in general, the biggest risk again is a user revealing their account details to a malicious third party.
The University is a member of the Sakai Foundation. As members, Oxford University staff are entitled to a number of benefits including a reduced rate for attending the annual conference. The Sakai Foundation also publish a regular newsletter, run a number of community services such as discussion groups which University members are encouraged to join, administer a YouTube video channel run a yearly international conference (with additional regional conferences including one in Europe) and hold an annual Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award.
Sakai usage in UK Higher education is steadily growing. The universities of Oxford, Hull and Cambridge use it as their institutional VLE. It is widely used at Lancaster, Newcastle, Bath and STFC (Daresbury) as either a VLE or a VRE (Virtual Research Environment); other institutions such as Warwick and Bath are also interested.
If you are interested in this or the European Sakai community then please take a look at the Sakai in UK Higher Education blog.
For general WebLearn enquiries please send an email to email@example.com; this is group address and is a safer (and more desirable) option than contacting an individual team member.
WebLearn Service Manager
Adam's WebLearn Blog
Sakai in UK Higher Education Blog
Senior VLE Developer and member of the Sakai Maintenance team.
Senior Learning Technologist
Turnitin At Oxford Blog
Senior VLE Developer .
||Fawei Geng (50%)