WebLearn Improved Student Experience (WISE) project

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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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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 3 February 2015 from 7-9am

WebLearn will be unavailable for a short time on Tuesday 3 February 2015 between 7-9am for essential system maintenance.

We apologise for any inconvenience that this work may cause.

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Proposed Reading List Tool Improvements

This post has been made on behalf of the Social Sciences Library

Developing an Online Reading List Management System [ORLiMS] at the Bodleian Social Science Library

orlimsThe Bodleian Social Science Library [SSL] has applied for and received an award from the University of Oxford IT Innovation Group to support the creation and development of an online reading list management system [ORLiMS] for Social Sciences. This is one of four ideas that have recently benefitted from the ‘IT Innovation Seed Fund’ which has been set up to finance digital projects that can increase or enhance access to collections held by ASUC departments and/or help to create a digital community within the University.

Reading lists are fundamental to the majority of students and course convenors within the Social Sciences Division, as it offers eight undergraduate programmes and over 80 taught postgraduate courses. Purchasing resources for taught courses is a core service at the SSL, which currently supports more than 450 reading lists. This project seeks to improve the existing processes of reading list delivery and subsequent library provision, and ultimately improve student learning by enhancing access to the literature they need to read to excel in their courses.

The ORLiMS will benefit students, course convenors and library staff alike, as it will facilitate access to library resources and optimise the SSL’s purchasing activity. The system will provide a central location for students to access their reading lists. It will provide real-time information on the location and availability of texts, and a convenient place for teaching staff to update their course content. The system will also indicate where the provision of particular texts is low, informing the library’s decisions on purchasing additional copies.

This is a pilot project using reading lists received by the SSL from the academic departments it supports for courses running in Michaelmas Term 2015. It can be seen as a proof-of-concept with the potential for wider adoption across the University.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the project then please contact us via: weblearn@it.ox.ac.uk

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WebLearn is now using data from SITS

Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/kali-ma/123323729/

At 6pm on Friday 16th January 2015,  WebLearn  switched over to using “Course Groups” that originate from Tribal SITS instead of OSS; in other words, WebLearn has switched over to using Oxford’s new student record system. Due to circumstances beyond our control there are a very small number of changes in the membership of some of course-based Participant Groups.

The migration work involved mapping old OSS course codes to new SITS course codes and revealed that there is actually not a one-to-one mapping of courses between the two systems. As an example, where there used to be ‘Course X’ there may now be two courses: ‘Course X (full-time)’ and ‘Course X (part-time)’; there are also other more extreme examples.

If you couple this with the inevitable minor differences that have crept in when migrating course data between OSS and SITS, you can see how the membership of some of the new SITS-based “Course Groups” may differ from the groups that they replace. Most groups are identical; for groups which are not identical, the difference is only one or two group members.

Unit Groups, ie, members of departments, faculties and colleges are unchanged as they do not originate from SITS.

If any students make contact and complain that they no longer have access to one or more WebLearn sites, then we would urge you to check that the Participant Group(s) contain the correct members. If they do not then you should contact the WebLearn team and report the anomaly.

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WebLearn Transferred to New Resilient Hardware

wl-goldOn Saturday 10th January 2015, WebLearn was moved to brand new hardware which is distributed over two physical locations. This was a major undertaking and is the culmination of a number of months of work by both the WebLearn and Infrastructure and Hosting teams within IT Services.

WebLearn is now located in both Banbury Road and the University Shared Data Centre and will ultimately have duplicated database and search servers plus four worker nodes each running two virtual machines. The worker nodes are located behind a Citrix NetScaler Application Delivery Controller which ensures an even distribution of load across all workers – there are actually two of these machines in case the primary machine fails.

The WebLearn file store is also duplicated over two sites.

This new infrastructure will be more resilient than the previous set up due to the hardware duplication, co-location and move to a higher number of (virtual) workers each supporting a smaller number of users.

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Short WebLearn Downtime 6pm Friday 16th January (Today)

We are planning to restart the WebLearn service at 6pm today, it is
estimated that WebLearn will be unavailable for 10 minutes.

This is to transition the course based groups provided in WebLearn to
ones provisioned from SITS data.

Apologies for the sort notice and having to perform this outside the
normal maintenance window.

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WebLearn and Turnitin Courses Hilary Term 2015

A variety of taught courses are offered by IT Services 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 meetings:

Express an interest!

The following sessions can be arranged if there is sufficient demand for them. Visit the link to express your interest:

  • WebLearn Bytes: Assignments – Writing essays and receiving feedback on submitted work is an important part of the Oxford student experience. The WebLearn Assignments tool allows a tutor or lecturer to set up an assignment (essay), with instructions, attachments, a specified due date and marking options.
  • WebLearn Bytes: Tests and Quizzes – The WebLearn Tests tool provides a useful way to design and deliver informal tests to students for the purpose of ongoing formative assessment.
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WebLearn unavailable all day on Saturday 10th January 2015

wl-goldIt is planned to migrate WebLearn to brand new dual-site hardware on Saturday 10th January 2015. This is a major undertaking and will take most of the day (starting after 9am) but will result in a more resilient service when complete. There will be no service for most of the day.

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

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Improved Student Feedback Within WebLearn

After the successful trial in Michaelmas Term, the 2015 IT Innovation Seed Fund challenges are now live. The termly call for Staff focuses on student feedback which is of particular interest to the WebLearn community. (There is also an ‘Open’ category: innovative digital proposals that would improve the academic experience at Oxford.)

From https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com/: “Responding to student feedback: Through our institution-wide annual surveys, students tell us that they do not fully understand the criteria by which they are assessed, and do not have feedback that is useful in helping them to improve their work in relation to those criteria. We would like to see innovative projects that aim to improve these aspects of learning.”

This is your chance to get your idea funded. Projects can be of any size from a few hundred pounds upwards but cannot exceed £100k, and can last for up to 12 months.

We would be very interested in discussing possible projects with interested parties; if you are interested in submitting a bid to enhance WebLearn then please get in touch with us via the usual channels.

IT Services are using an ‘open innovation’ process so the first step is to register on the site, read the challenge, and submit your idea or comment on others. Even if you do not have a project idea in mind you can offer to help other people with theirs. The open innovation stage will be open until 14th February 2015 after which we will select a few ideas to go forward to formal project proposals and possibly funding.

IT Services are also launching the annual Student IT Innovation Fund in collaboration with OUSU (open to all Oxford students to get funding for digital projects over the long vacation) so please feel free to pass on this information.

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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 9th December 2014 from 7-9am

cisco-routerWebLearn will be taken off-line on Tuesday 9th December for essential system maintenance. There will be no service during this period.

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

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