Interesting article about Sakai (WebLearn) development activity

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.



If you have any queries, please contact

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WebLearn 11 is coming: a new mobile-friendly version of WebLearn will be released for the next academic year

WebLearn will be upgraded to the latest version of the underlying software platform (Sakai 11) in time for Michaelmas Term 2016.

This upgrade will ensure that staff and students benefit from the latest set of enhancements, including a new ‘responsive design’ which enables optimal usability on mobile devices.

Benefits of WebLearn 11

  • Updated, modern look-and-feel
  • Responsive user interface for easy access and viewing across all devices including desktops, tablets and smartphones
  • A redesigned ‘Sites’ tab which enables you to organise, ‘favourite’ and ‘pin’ your most-used sites, providing ‘one-click’ access from the main menu bar
  • New-look Lessons tool, including multiple column, grid-style layout to reduce the need for scrolling
  • Improved Gradebook tool, with direct spreadsheet-style entry of marks, automatic saving and data validation, and student summary view
  • Anonymous posting to the Forums tool
  • Improved HTML editor, including ‘auto-save’ facility, LaTeX mathematical notiation and new file browser
  • Support for IMS LTI (v2.0) and IMS LTI Content Item (for enhanced functionality with third-party plug-in tools)
  • Latest underlying software support (Java and Tomcat) according to industry standards



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will I have to do anything so that my site still works as it currently does?

A: No – existing live sites will be automatically migrated to the new version.

Q: Will I have to do anything so my site works seamlessly on a mobile device?

A: Yes, check how the design and layout function on small screens. You may need to edit content so it is responsive, i.e., displays well on a mobile phone

Further information

  • Further information was provided at the WebLearn User Group on 27 June 2016.
  • Detailed information will be sent to all WebLearn staff users when the new version of WebLearn is available.
  • WebLearn support and training materials will be updated and promoted during the 2016/17 academic year.
  • We are also taking a long-term strategic approach to technology-enhanced teaching and learning at Oxford through the VLE Review, which will take place throughout the 2016/17 academic year.


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Sakai is leading the field!

Dr Chuck's ring of LTI complianceHere’s a note I just received from Chuck Severance.

“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


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New WebLearn Welcome Page

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.

Responsive design

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.

Help pages

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: help. If you are in a particular tool, click the question mark icon on the top right for context-specific help.


Contact us

Contact the WebLearn team if you have any questions or suggestions about the new Welcome page:

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WebLearn upgraded to Version 10-ox12 on 28 July 2016

WebLearn was upgraded  to version 10-ox12 on 28th July 2016. If you would like more details then please contact the Service Desk.

If you would like to suggest further improvements then please do so by contributing to the WebLearn User Voice feedback service.


  • The word “Meeting” has been changed to “Event” in the sign-up tool as this was felt to be more appropriate
  • We have removed the huge gaps between paragraphs in the Syllabus tool
  • One is now able to submit .PPTX (PowerPoint) files to Turnitin-enabled Assignments
  • Reading Lists (ORLiMS) – the SOLO ‘pop-up’ window which appears when one opts to search the library catalogue is now wider so there are no sideways scroll bars
  • Non logged in users can no longer see ‘publish (private)’ button on Calendars
  • New REST web service end point added to Hierarchy Service – this allows sub sites of the current site to be returned in JSON format
  • All Hierarchy Tools are now located in the main Tools menu – this is to prepare us for the move to WebLearn 11
  • Site Info now has a ‘search users’ facility (User Voice request)
  • Lessons Tool improvements (as part of the WISE project)
    • added a new component to show the latest Announcements (cf Home page Announcements display)
    • added a new component to display a Twitter Timeline (User Voice request)
    • added a new component to show a site Calendar (cf Home page Calendar display)
    • a Google document can now be embedded on a page within an iFrame
  • The Researcher Training Tool now asks for special requirements when signing up – these requirements are displayed to course administrators on the Module Management page
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WebLearn unavailable on Thursday 28 July from 8-9am

cisco-routerWe plan to upgrade WebLearn to version 10-ox12 on WebLearn unavailable on Thursday 28 July from 8-9am. There will be no service during this period.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this essential work may cause.

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Sakai Virtual Conference on Wednesday, November 2nd 2016



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

Wilma Hodges, Sakai Virtual Conference 2016 Planning Committee Chair

Ian Dolphin, Executive Director, Apereo Foundation

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Announcing the ConnextOx Innovation Project

oae-logoFrom 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.”


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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 24 May 2016 from 7-9am

cisco-routerWebLearn 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.

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WebLearn and Turnitin courses Trinity Term 2016

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 courses:

Plagiarism awareness courses (Turnitin):

Byte-sized lunch time sessions:

These focus on particular tools with plenty of time for questions and discussion

User Group meeting:

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