Influential Education Technology consultant and blogger Micheal Feldstein has written a fascinating and positive article looking at the relative heath of the Sakai (aka WebLearn), Moodle and Canvas projects based on “development activity”. To do this he has analysed statistics from Github which is an open source repository used by all three projects.
Michael also reports on the good impression that the new release of Sakai (version 11) is making. One great ‘take-away’ quote from Michael is “Folks who haven’t looked at Sakai in a while may be surprised by what they see in this year’s release. I was.”
Oxford will be releasing WebLearn 11 (which is based on Sakai 11) in time for the Michaelmas term 2016. In case you missed it before, here’s the community video showing some of the highlights of Sakai 11.
In addition to the upgrade, there are a number of other activities around WebLearn taking place over the coming months which will bring changes to WebLearn and facilitate long-term developments in support of the University’s Digital Education Strategy.
“The first Learning Management System (VLE) in the world to pass the soon-to-be-announced IMS Learning Tools Interoperability Content Item Message spec is Sakai 11.
This means Sakai 11 has formal certification in IMS Learning Tools Interoperability, 1.0 LTI 1.1, LTI 2.0, and LTI ContentItem in Sakai-11.”
Chuck is the “guy with the Sakai, Moodle and Canvas tattoos” and has been instrumental in developing the IMS LTI Content Item Message specification and has single-handedly implemented it inside Sakai.
This feature will be available for use in WebLearn 11 from Michaelmas term 2016.
What is IMS LTI Content Item Message?
“Content-Item Message 1.0 is an LTI specification for exchanging content between applications and tools. The types of content which can be shared includes a broad range of types such as static links, embedded images or other media types and files, extending the LTI toolbox and streamlining the process of setting up an LTI tool link. Content-Item Message enables external (LTI) tools to appear in the same way that internal tools do. Using Content-Item Message will eliminate a common need for custom integrations.” (from https://www.imsglobal.org/specs/lticiv1p0).
You might have noticed that WebLearn has a brand-new Welcome page, which was launched on 28 July 2016. It has a fresh new look, in line with sites designed by the WISE project, and it is now easier to find help and support material.
Feedback from both students and staff has shown that users prefer a cleaner, leaner look. A surfeit of information is rather daunting, resulting in people ignoring most of it. In particular, students want help material that is clearly for them, as opposed to help material that is aimed at site maintainers. The WebLearn Guidance site still exists, offering a collection of ‘least-you-need-to-know’ guides, ‘step-by-step’ guides and short video demonstrations. Relevant parts of the Guidance site are linked to from the new Help for Students and Help for Staff pages.
The new Welcome page has been designed in a responsive way, for optimal display on mobile devices. For example, on a small screen, the images wrap below each other. Responsive design will work even better on the forthcoming upgraded version of WebLearn (WebLearn11), which removes the left-hand menu altogether and displays instead a tools button at the top of the screen. Site maintainers should consider “mobile first” design for WebLearn pages, e.g. don’t use fixed-width images or fixed font sizes which will not scale down on smaller screens. More information about WebLearn11 will be communicated before the launch which is expected in early September.
The Help pages have also been improved, with up-to-date content and screenshots. They can be accessed from any WebLearn site by clicking on the Help icon in the left-hand tools menu: . If you are in a particular tool, click the question mark icon on the top right for context-specific help.
Contact the WebLearn team if you have any questions or suggestions about the new Welcome page: email@example.com
This year’s Sakai Virtual Conference will be help in the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016.
The conference will be held entirely online, and will have an emphasis on pedagogy and best practices. Join us for a faculty-friendly day of learning, sharing and community building with your fellow Sakai users around the globe, all without the need to travel!
More details coming soon.
Neal Caidin, Sakai Community Coordinator, Apereo Foundation
From Vinton Cheng, Clinical Research Fellow, CRUK/MRC Oxford Institute of Radiation Oncology: “The ConnectOx project aims to bring researchers together and promote collaboration through researcher profiling and smart algorithms. By providing another route for researchers working within disparate subjects to find each other, our vision is that opportunities for novel and interdisciplinary connections will become enhanced, which in turn will break down the barriers holding back the free movement of knowledge. We will be working with key players in this space, *Research and Apereo OAE, to bring this project to fruition.”
WebLearn will be unavailable on Tuesday 24 May 2016 7-9am. This is necessary because of the need to undertake essential maintenance of the underlying AFS file system. There will be no service during this period.
We apologise for any inconvenience that this essential work may cause.
IT Services offers a variety of taught courses to support the use of WebLearn and the plagiarism awareness software Turnitin. Course books for the formal courses (3-hour sessions) can be downloaded for self study. Places are limited and bookings are required.
Click on the links provided to book a place, or for further information. Bookings open 30 days in advance, but you can express an interest in a course and receive a reminder to book when booking opens.
WebLearn: Fundamentals – Tues 3 May (14:00 – 17:00); or Mon 16 May (14:00 – 17:00); or Wed 15 June (9:15 – 12:15)