Apereo Open Academic Environment Seminar: 8 May at 12:30 in IT Services


We are pleased to announce a special seminar about the Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) presented by our colleagues from Research Research (Research Professional). The talk will take place in ISIS room, IT Services, Banbury Rd at 12.30 on Friday May 8th.

Please visit the following URL to reserve a space: https://courses.it.ox.ac.uk/detail/OUOU

Apereo OAE, which has been developed by Cambridge University, Georgia Tech, Research Research and others, is a new platform currently being evaluated at Oxford which aims to support academic collaboration and academic networking – a number of other UK universities also use OAE. It is being developed by the same organisation that oversees the Sakai CLE project which of course is the software which underpins WebLearn.

oae-logoThe easiest way to explain OAE is by analogy: Universities have always had classrooms. But recently, many have invested heavily in new buildings with a mix of informal break-out areas designed to draw people together – faculty, students and administrators. This is the idea behind the OAE. It’s an informal collaborative online space that sits alongside the highly structured Learning Management Systems such as Sakai CLE designed to deliver courses to students.

OAE supports many types of collaborations, including research projects, ad-hoc student groups, committees, collaborative projects, etc. It’s a network of people, content and groups, where files, links and collaborative documents can easily be created and shared with other people and groups, whilst being able to provide feedback and participate in discussions.

OAE is a multi-tenant system, which means that it can support multiple universities on the same physical installation. Each university has its own tenancy with its own branding, skinning and users and a sort of permeable membrane around it. It’s easy to keep things private to your own institution or research group, or to mix things up with the rest of the world. It has a modern architecture that will scale to millions of users and a simple, intuitive interface that does not force users to behave in a particular way.


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Change in WebLearn Email Support

From the 20th April 2015, IT Services will move to a new system for logging and managing IT support calls.

Users will notice the following changes:

  • When you send an email asking for help or guidance, the response will look different and will be sent by our the service desk software (called ‘FrontRange HEAT’) from the evening of Friday 17th April
  • You will be able to check on the status of your support request via a self-service portal. Details on how to access the portal will be contained in the acknowledgement email for each new support call and these will also be published on http://help.it.ox.ac.uk/

Later in the summer, IT Services will be introducing a dedicated telephone number for a new consolidated Service Desk. This will replace the general IT Services ‘Helpdesk’ number and may be used for any IT support matter.

What will not change?

  • Your existing points of contact within IT Services and the Student Systems Support Centre
  • The E-mail address(es) you already use to get IT support

Thanks to the Student Systems Support Centre for the original message which was used as a basis for this communication.

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Typical Daily Usage Pattern: 10 April 2015

I thought this chart showing the pattern of usage of WebLearn over a typical day (10 April 2015) may be interesting

Charts showing WebLearn usage on 10 April 2015

WebLearn usage on 10 April 2015

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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 14 April 2015 from 7-9am

On Tuesday 14th April from 7am, IT Services will be replacing the firewall that protects a large number of services (including WebLearn)  in order to increase capacity and enhance out ability to meet future network security requirements.

From 7am services will be shut down, and the firewall will be replaced at 7.30am. From 8am services will be coming back on line and we expect all to be back up by approximately 9am. This work will be followed by an at-risk period when any issues reported will be addressed.

Users are advised to save their work prior to the work starting and not to log in to these services until it is complete. An email will be sent to this list once the work has been completed, after which time any problems experienced should be reported through the normal support channels. In addition updates will be posted to http://status.ox.ac.uk.

IT Services apologises for any inconvenience this essential work will cause.

Rob Hebron (Operations Team Leader)

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Creating (WebLearn) content using Xerte: Webinar 8 April @ 17:00

Xerte_thumbXerte is an (ALT-C) award winning suite of browser-based tools developed by Nottingham University that allow anyone with a web browser to create interactive and accessible learning materials quickly and easily. Xerte is a new project to Apereo, currently working through the incubation process.

In this webinar, the Xerte developers will introduce themselves, and the software, to the Apereo Community. Julian Tenney will  say a little about where the project came from, and how it came to be an Apereo project; Ron Mitchell will provide an overview and demonstrate the software’s key features and Tom Reijnders will show some of the new developments currently taking place.


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You Tube Channel For Sakai (WebLearn) Showcase Webinars

longsightOver the last year or so, one of the Sakai commercial partners, Longsight, have been running regular Webinars about different aspects of Sakai (the software which under-pins WebLearn).

All of these sessions have been recorded and uploaded to You Tube in the Sakai CLE Channel, you may find these videos informative.

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WebLearn upgraded to Version 2.10-ox2.1 on 19 February 2015

WebLearn was upgraded on 19th February 2015 to version 2.10-ox2.1. If you want more details then please contact the WebLearn Team. For more detailed information and other minor changes, please looked at the detailed release notes.

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

The following list also includes some issues that were fixed on 10th January as part of the 2.10-ox1.4 release.

Improvement / New Features

  • Surveys can now be transferred to a new owner (User Voice request)
  • Lessons Tool: new Forum Topics can now be created (User Voice request)
  • Direct Tool link (Short URL) to a Lessons tool page is now present (User Voice request)
  • Google Analytics support has now been added – we intend to use this to report on how WebLearn is being used
  • The ‘Contact Us’ tool email now includes the URL that the user was trying to visit – this is important when the user has been given an incorrect URL or is not a member of the site at the end of the URL
  • Softly Deleted Sites are now retained for 400 days – the Recycle Bin for deleted sites is available in My Workspace > Worksite Setup
  • Deleted files in Resources are now retained for 400 days – the Recycle Bin for Resources is available via a link at the top of the Resources Tool

Bug Fixes

  • The “Lock Tool” icon has now been removed and tools which have previously been hidden via the “Light Bulb” icon can now be unhidden.
  • New lines are no longer being auto-inserted in the description of a Resource
  • Assignment Tool: Turnitin reports will now not erroneously show the blue (0%) icon for resubmissions
  • Poor formatting of Forum posts is now fixed
  • Direct Tool (Short) URLs will now work correctly for all tools
  • Problems with accessing files using Internet Explorer 8 should now be resolved
  • The ‘Contact Us’ tool should now work for sites where a maintainer has apostrophe in their name
  • Foreign characters are now correctly saved by the WYSIWYG HTML editor
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A recipie to display a Google Calendar in WebLearn

It is quite easy to surface a Google Calendar within WebLearn – you may want to do this if you find that the default WebLearn calendar doesn’t quite do what you want. The Conference of Colleges use this approach, they have decided to use the “Agenda View” rather than the more traditional view.

confoHere is what you could do – this will create a link in the LHS “page menu” which is a web page displaying your calendar.

1/ Create a Google calendar – you may like to create a new Google account which you share amongst your colleagues so that if you’re off, somebody else can update the calendar.

2/ Add one or two events but don’t add everything just in case you decide the abandon this approach.

3/ Click on “Share this calendar” in the drop down list next to the calendar name (LHS of the page), select “Make this calendar public”.


4/ Back in WebLearn, in the Resources tool (in a folder if you like) create a new HTML page which will be called “calendar.html”.

5/ Click on “Source” (top left) then by following the instructions on this page: https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/41207?hl=en grab the embed code for your Google calendar (click on “Calendar settings” alongside the calendar then copy the HTML code in the “embed this calendar” row. (By default, the size is 800 x 600 – you can change these dimensions if you like.)



6/ Paste this code into the WebLearn HTML page that you’re editing then save and give the page a name.

7/ Alongside the file in Resources select “Make Web Content Link” from the “Actions Menu” – call this link “Schedule” (or Calendar) and save. There will now be a link in the LHS “page menu”, you can use Site Info > Page Order to move the link’s position in the list.

8/ You can now edit the calendar.html  page to add some explanatory text and if everything is good, return to your Google calendar and add all your events.

If you want to use the agenda view then have a read of this page: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/make-embedded-google-calendar-show-agenda-28685.html

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WebLearn unavailable on Thursday 19 February 2015 from 7-9am (date change)

It is planned to upgrade WebLearn to version 2.10-ox2 on Thursday 19 February 2015 7-9am. There will be no service during this period. Please note that this is a change in date.

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

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WebLearn Improved Student Experience (WISE) project

left_right brain

The WISE project will support departments, faculties, colleges and units to fast-track the development and improvement of their WebLearn presence in order to deliver an enhanced (and consistent) student digital experience, as per recommendations from previous projects.

The project aims to increase the uptake and optimise the use of WebLearn by units across the university, to support teaching and learning. Specific objectives of the project are:

  • To promote staff engagement with the tools and features offered by WebLearn to enrich teaching and learning
  • To enhance the student WebLearn experience
  • To work closely with selected units to fast-track their use of WebLearn for teaching and learning
  • To facilitate the use of WebLearn according to best practice
  • To provide improved tools and templates to support best practice
  • To establish a peer community of WebLearn champions (enthusiasts)

The funding will allow the central WebLearn team to employ two fixed-term learning technologists to work closely with departments, as well as developer resources to focus on technical enhancements and unit-specific templates.

The proposed package of dedicated support will encompass the following (at no cost to departments):

  • Day 1: fact finding to get the know the unit and existing teaching and learning needs that may be met via WebLearn
  • Day 2: meeting, white-boarding, planning, with input from stakeholders and experts in the unit
  • Days 3-4: WebLearn team produces a prototype of the design and a template WL site for  the unit
  • Day 5: present and discuss the prototype with stakeholders and experts in the unit
  • Days 6-8: WebLearn team develops the site/s with required features and content provided by the unit
  • Days 9-10: Evaluation of and adjustments to the site/s, together with stakeholders and experts in the unit, and signoff.

Please contact weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk with the subject line ‘WISE project’ to express your interest in participating in the project.

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