WebLearn upgraded to v11-ox1.1 on 15/16 September 2016

wl-11-new-front-pageWebLearn was upgraded  to version 11-ox1.1 on 15/16th September 2016. This release addresses most of the known major issues with WebLearn 11. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience that these problems may have caused.

The 11-ox1.1 release has addressed a number of issues with the Lessons tool, introduced wider LHS buttons so that labels are no longer truncated, and fixed issues with adding multiple IMS LTI tools, uploading to Resources, Chat and Sign-up. We have also updated WebLearn’s content filters so audio and video from podcasts.ox.ac.uk can be embedded on pages.

Some users may experience display issues which can be cured by forcing a page refresh.  For Windows press Ctrl & F5; for Mac/Apple press Apple + R or cmd + R; for Linux press F5. This website will explain in more detail: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/.

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

Known Issues

The following are still known to be causing minor problems. We will be addressing these as a matter of urgency and hope to have fixes in place by the start of term.

  • the Contact Us tool is missing from most sites
  • the Site Icon is now a little oversized
  • images, tables and iframes when added via the HTML WYSIWYG editor are non-responsive, i.e. they do not shrink when viewed on a mobile
  • some HTML tables ignore the ‘cellpadding’ and ‘cellspacing’ attributes – we will address this as soon as possible
  • some pages, for example, Choose Login Route and Validate Your Account, do not yet display the WebLearn logo

There are also some known issues that only affect WebLearn when used on a mobile phone and these will take slightly longer to fix, one example is that some of the less well-used tools (for example, Tests and the Researcher Training Tool) are not yet optimised for small-screen usage.

In addition, Windows 10 seems to have a problem with its WebDAV implementation. When trying to map a network drive to a WebLearn site, it occasionally reports a “Network Error”. The problem is not apparent when using a dedicated WebDAV client such as Cyberduck (which can be downloaded free of charge) so we would recommend this approach to all Windows 10 users. All other versions of Windows seem to work without issue.

Full List of Changes

If you would like more details about these changes then please contact the Service Desk.

  • Lessons Tool
    • images and videos are now responsive when added to a Lessons page using the “Embed” option – note that images inserted via the WYSIWYG HTML editor do not yet shrink on a mobile phone
    • the problems with content not being saved to a page have been fixed
    • version information has been added to all JavaScript and CSS references which should stop problems with cached pages
    • it is now possible to embed a Resources folder listing
    • embedded Announcement and Forums summaries now display better
    • the “back” and “next” buttons are now present
  • Navigation
    • tool and sub-site labels are no longer truncated in the LHS menu and display better on a mobile phone
    • the LHS sub-site labels are now removed when the menu is collapsed and fly out upon mouse-over
  • Others
    • the Site Members tool now has the correct name and doesn’t give an error if you are not logged in
    • service-wide announcements no longer obscure the screen on a mobile
    • chat now displays correctly when the transcript contains a hyperlink
    • the problems which prevented participants with the ‘access’ role from uploading into Resources have been fixed
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What’s New in WebLearn 11?

front pageWebLearn was upgraded to version 11 of the underlying software (Sakai) on Tuesday September 6th.

This improvement represents years of work by the international Sakai community followed by months of work by the IT Services WebLearn Team.

We thought it may be useful to show some of the best features from this new release. We have also included a list of known issues – we will be working to address these over the next few weeks.

Responsive User Interface

The most obvious improvement to WebLearn is the completely redesigned user interface. This responsive-sakaiuses responsive design to offer easy access and viewing across all devices including desktops, tablets and smartphones.

WebLearn will automatically select the optimum display style based on the size of screen being used. (You will note that this redesign involves a new set of icons, known as “Font Awesome”, and a new default textual font that is better suited for use on a mobile.)

logout-11(My) Sites and Quick Links have been redesigned and a new personal navigation area has been added (which includes the Logout link). If you have set one up,  your profile photo will be displayed (this photo is also used in Forum posts and other areas within WebLearn). Please refer to this handy blog post entitled ‘How do I select a profile image?

Improved HTML WYSIWYG Editor

There is an updated and improved HTML editor, including ‘auto-save‘ facility, LaTeX mathematical notation and new file browser (‘elfinder’) which is used when linking to and uploading new files or images.

Favourite Sites

faves-11A redesigned ‘Sites‘ drawer (formerly ‘My Sites’) which enables you to change the order and ‘pin’ your favourite sites providing ‘one-click’ access from the main menu bar.

To set a site as a ‘Favourite’ simply click the star icon in the Sites drawer. You will need to reload the page to see the site pinned to the top bar.

Lessons Tool Updates

lessons-content-11Thanks to an improved tool interface and a number of functional enhancements, the Lessons tool in WebLearn 11 is more powerful and flexible than ever before. Content authoring /presentation is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of new, multi-column layouts. And with a host of additional features, it is easier than ever to develop innovative content, especially student-generated content. Features include:

  • synoptic Lessons elements, for example,
    • recent Forum posts
    • recent Announcements
    • site Calendar
  • Twitter feed display
  • split a page into multiple columns / rows for improved layout
  • choose a custom icon for embedded IMS LTI tool
  • link to Forum and Forum Topic
  • simplified menu bar with categorised menu items
  • enhanced student content areas and peer review rubrics

New Gradebook (formerly called Markbook)

gb-11Designed to provide faster, easier grade-entry capabilities, and fully compatible with existing Gradebook content, the new Gradebook tool provides a number of functional enhancements, including:

  • spreadsheet-style grade entry
  • automatic saving / score validation
  • individual student Grade Summary screens, with integrated Student Review Mode
  • simplified and consolidated Import/Export process
  • enhanced statistics for graded items
  • flexible display options for final course grades (letter grade, percentage, points)
  • improved accessibility
  • simplified settings screen

Mathematical (LaTeX) Notation

latex-11Designed to present mathematics natively, WebLearn 11 can now display LaTeX equations as mathematical notation on most pages.

Using new LaTeX options, user can simply write LaTeX in an enabled tool and the resulting equation will be displayed beautifully. LaTeX updates include:

  • identical output for all browsers and platforms
  • no images or special browser plugins required
  • accessible, with screen-reader compatibility
  • scalable font for different text sizes and zoom levels

LaTeX needs activating on each site via Site Info > Edit Site Information, then enabling for individual tools via Site Info > Manage Tools.

External Tool Support

Support for IMS LTI (version 2) and IMS LTI Content-Item Message (for enhanced functionality with third-party plug-in tools) has been added. This allows WebLearn to be a ‘hub’ into which ‘best-of-breed’ 3rd party learning tools can be plugged.

  • plug-11IMS LTI v2 offers:
    • the passing back of marks to Gradebook from a 3rd party tool
    • rich and complex two way communication between WebLearn and 3rd party tool
  • IMS LTI Content-Item Message 1.0 is an IMS LTI specification for exchanging content between applications and tools. (Sakai was the first VLE to support this new standard.) It:
    • enables external (LTI) tools to appear in the same way that internal tools do
    • adds a new message type allowing a 3rd party tool to be used to create content (including LTI links) within WebLearn
    • can return a hyperlink, a chunk of HTML (such as an ‘iframe’, cf YouTube ’embed’ code) or actual content such as a video, web page or ZIP file (eg, an IMS Common Cartridge)

We hope that external tools such as Panopto (Replay) and Xerte will support this standard in the near future.

Other minor improvements include:

  • an interface to select a custom icon for each LTI tool
  • the list of available IMS LTI tools (aka Plugins) are always displayed in Site Info

PA System

pa-11The PA System provides the WebLearn team with the ability to deliver timely alert banners and popups system-wide or to targeted sets of users. From simple banners at the top of the interface to fully customisable popup notifications, this system provides new and powerful ways to keep WebLearn users informed. Features include:

  • banner alerts, with three different levels of severity:
    • Low – blue (permanently dismissible)
    • Medium – yellow (temporarily dismissible)
    • High – red (not dismissible)

It is also possible for the WebLearn team to create a dismissable ‘pop-up’ that appears in the centre of the screen.

Miscellaneous Changes

tool-order-11The following minor changes are worth mentioning:

  • My Workspace is now called My Home
  • the Home tool on each site has been renamed as Overview
  • site URLs now use colons (:) as a separator instead of slashes (/), old style URLs will still work
    • old style URL: /portal/hierarchy/info/wlug,
    • new style URL: /portal/site/:info:wlug)
    • there is an issue with URLs that mix the old and new styles, such as /portal/site/info/wlug - you should not have URLs of this form but if you do then please get in touch
  • My Sites has been renamed to Sites
  • Markbook has been renamed to Gradebook
  • Page Order has been renamed to Tool Order
  • Switch To Access Role (formerly Preview site) has moved from the top bar (on right) to above the list of tools on the left hand side
  • for an unpublished site, the Publish Now option has moved to the centre of the page from the left hand navigation area

Other New Improvements

  • anonymous-11redesigned Tool Order page (formerly know as Page Order)
  • barnd new version of the Tests tool
  • ad-hoc groups in Surveys can now be deleted (User Voice request)
  • Web Content links and External IMS LTI links can have custom images
  • individual Forums can be configured so that all postings are anonymous
  • brand new News (RSS) tool
  • more detailed information in the Site Members (Roster) tool
  • latest underlying software support (Sakai, Java and Tomcat) according to industry standards

If you wish to make any new suggestions for improvement, then please visit  the WebLearn User Voice Forum.

Known Issues

The following issue are known about and are actively being addressed – fixes will be included in a new release (version 11-ox1.1) of WebLearn before the start of term (planned for 15/16 September):

  • some users will experience display issues which can be cured by forcing a page refresh: Windows: ctrl + F5; Mac/Apple: Apple + R or command + R; Linux: F5. This website will explain in more detail: http://www.refreshyourcache.com/
  • the Lessons tool sometimes loses new content additions – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • one cannot embed a folder listing in Lessons (that was actually broken in WebLearn 10) – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • there seems to be an intermittent problem with Windows 10 when trying to map a network drive to a WebLearn site using WebDAV – therefore, if you are using Windows 10 we recommend you use a (free) WebDAV client such as Cyberduck
  • the Next and Back buttons are missing in the Lessons tool – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • Contact Us tool is missing from most sites
  • sub-sites (and some tools) have truncated titles in both desktop and mobile views, e.g. Department of… , Faculty of … – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • some images, especially in the Lessons tool, are non-responsive, i.e. they extend beyond the borders of the Lessons ‘box’, especially when there are multiple boxes on a row – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • some HTML tables look different from WebLearn 10, in particular the ‘cellpadding’ and ‘cellspacing’ attributes are ignored – we will address this as soon as possible
  • The Site Members (Roster) tool doesn’t display correctly for non logged in users – fixed in 11-ox1.1 release, 16 Sept 2016
  • some of the less well-used tools (for example, Tests and the Researcher Training Tool) are not yet optimised for display on a mobile phone
  • some pages, for example, Choose Login Route and Validate Your Account, do not yet display the WebLearn logo

Please email weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk if you come across any other issues.


The WebLearn team has been communicating with the WebLearn User Group and local coordinators over the summer about the changes, and Frequently Asked Questions for site maintainers are now available. WebLearn courses and supporting materials will be updated accordingly in September and a series of events and courses will be available in Michaelmas term.

If you have any queries or wish to join the mailing list for updates, email weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk.



Some text has been copied from the Sakai website

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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 6 Sept 2016 from 7am-1pm

front page

The WebLearn 11 Upgrade will take place on Tuesday 6 September 2016 – the system will be unavailable from 7am–1pm.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience that this essential work may cause.

The enhanced version of WebLearn will enable us to make use of the latest available software fixes and enhancements. This will include improved usability on mobile devices, and better tools to support teaching and learning.

Details of the changes are included on the WebLearn 11 Upgrade web page, which now includes a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Preparing for Michaelmas term

Although you will not need to make any changes to your WebLearn pages for them to work on the new version of WebLearn; it is advisable to reserve some time after Tuesday morning, to check your existing material. You may like to view your pages on a mobile phone to check how they look. You may also wish to refer to the FAQs, Will I have to do anything to ensure that my sites work on a mobile device? and What should I do if my site does not work well on a mobile device? (FAQs are linked from the WebLearn 11 Upgrade page.)

Further information

The WebLearn team will offer a series of events and courses on WebLearn 11 in Michaelmas term, and details will be provided soon.

We recommend referring in particular to the FAQs: How can I find out more about the changes? and How will I find out how to use the new features?

If you have any queries, please contact weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk.

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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 weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk.

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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 https://www.imsglobal.org/specs/lticiv1p0).


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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: weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk

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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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