1. General Information
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?