Accessibility and WebLearn

The University’s Disability Advisory Service brought to my attention that Policy Connect, (who describe themselves as “a cross-party think tank improving people’s lives by influencing policy”,) have recently published a report on Accessible VLEs (Twit: #AccessibleVLEs). Apparently there has been lots of interest in the findings and recommendations, from both education providers and government.

In case you had missed the announcement, new accessibility regulations came into force last Sunday (23 September 2018). The headline of the new regulations is:

The new legal requirements build on your existing obligations to disabled people under the Equality Act 2010 (or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland). These say that all UK service providers must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for disabled people.

WebLearn’s WYSIWYG HTML page editor has a built-in accessibility checker. We strongly recommend that you use it so you can be confident that web pages authored within WebLearn are accessible to all users.

Summary of the Accessible VLEs Report

Here’s what Policy Connect say about their Accessible VLEs report

This report has been produced in advance of the new digital accessibility regulations becoming law in September 2018, to help the Government and FE/HE providers put in place the necessary guidance and practical provisions to turn the regulations into reality.

The new regulations, in improving equal access to higher and further education, can – if implemented well – make an important contribution to meeting the Government’s ambition to create a more prosperous and equal Britain by growing our domestic talent pool and closing the disability employment and attainment gaps.

The report’s recommendations are aimed at doing much more than simply achieving compliance with the regulations. They set out how the requirements can be met in such a way as to improve learning and education for all students whether disabled or not.

The report begins with with the context of why digital accessibility is important in education. It starts with the recent history of inclusion and sets out how digital accessibility can make virtual learning environments (VLEs) a key learning tool for all users. Chapter 2 sets out what the new regulations will mean for educational leaders, lecturers and teachers, and what kind of information and data is included or exempt. Chapter 3 describes how the Government and sector bodies can help higher and further education institutions deliver on their obligations under the regulations – implementing these recommendations will be cost-effective and help consistency of application across the sector. Chapter 4 is targeted at the higher and further education institutions themselves and provides a strategic ‘how-to’ guide to implementation, with the objective of using the requirement for digital improvements to make education and learning better for all students.

Free Booklets About Accessibility!

Contact the WebLearn team if you would like hard copies of the following JISC Tech-Dis books about accessibility and particular electronic formats:

  • Access all areas: disability, technology and learning
  • Making electronic documents more readable
  • Writing accessible electronic documents with Microsoft Word
  • Creating accessible presentations
  • Making the most of PDFs

Related Links

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Turnitin Maintenance: Sept 22 4pm – 12:30am (Sept 23)

A message from Turnitin.

To clarify, during the maintenance period (Sept 22 4pm – 12:30am (Sept 23))

  • it will not be possible to create or submit assignments via the Turnitin website
  • it will not be possible to create a new Turnitin-enabled assignment in WebLearn (although you can create a regular assignment and then enable Turnitin checking at a later date)
  • all submissions to Turnitin-enabled assignments made via WebLearn will be queued and checked once the maintenance has run its course

Dear Customers,

You may have noticed that some Turnitin customers recently experienced intermittent service interruptions or degradations. We apologize if you were one of the customers affected, and we are happy to report that our services are currently stable.

To prevent further issues of this nature, we will be performing some proactive emergency maintenance that will temporarily disrupt our services including:

  • Turnitin and TurnitinUK (including all integrations)
  • SimCheckOEM (TCA API)
  • Feedback Studio for iOS
  • iThenticate (including iThenticate via API)
  • WriteCheck

When will services be unavailable?

PDT Sept 22 8am – 4:30pm

BST Sept 22 4pm – 12:30am (Sept 23)

AEST Sept 23 1am – 9:30am

Is your time zone not listed? Click here to find out when you’ll be affected.

How will you be affected?

Users will be unable to submit and grade during this maintenance window, so please ensure that any submission deadlines are adjusted to fall outside of the window.

Thanks for your understanding and continued support of Turnitin.

Stay up to date with Turnitin system status by following @TurnitinStatus on Twitter.

Follow @TurnitinStatus

 

 

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Improvements to WebLearn in version 11-ox12

WebLearn was upgraded to version 11-ox12 at the end of August: this was a small release.

Improvements

  • Lessons, the correct list of content providers is now listed on the More Tools > External Tool Import’ page – this is the page where IMS Content Item ‘objects’ are linked to or embedded
  • Lessons – embedded H5P objects now include a “resize script” which prevents scroll bars from appearing on the H5P item
  • The spreadsheet export from Gradebook now contains a user’s SSO (or email address for external users) in addition to their full name.
  • Resources can now export an IMS Common Cartridge (as well as a ZIP file) – this is useful for moving material to Canvas – more work in this area is planned

There is a separate blog post about using the brilliant H5P.

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Free Apereo OAE service to close

We recently received this from the people at *Research about the *Unity platform. (*Unity is another name for the Apereo Open Academic Environment)

Dear Colleague

*Unity will close down on 10 September 2018. After that you won’t be able to use it any more, so if you have any material you want to keep hold of, you need to download it before then.

We’ve taken this decision because, although *Unity was popular with many users, it wasn’t adopted by university IT departments. Without their support, we can’t make a success of it.

Our goal was to create an open platform for cooperation between academics everywhere with shared governance, so that academia could reclaim space that has been colonised by big technology players. This idea is explained here: http://oaeproject.org/2015/12/11/reintermediation.html. But, with some notable exceptions, it proved impossible to get university IT departments to buy into this vision.

An FAQ for dealing with practical issues has been posted at https://www.unity.ac/faq and you can also ask questions to support@untiy.ac. Please note that if we receive large numbers of queries it may take some time to reply.

Thank you for using *Unity and good luck with your studies.

With best wishes,

Martin Atkinson
Technology Director
*Research
 

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Replay (Lecture Capture Service) Downtime plus Mandatory Upgrade

From Steve Pierce (Replay Service Delivery Manager)

Dear Replay community,

  1. Mandatory client upgrade to 5.6 or above – July 21
  2. Downtime – July 24 18:00 – 21:00
  3. Downtime – July 28 23:00 – July 29 02:00
  4. Downtime – August 11 20:00 – 23:00

Mandatory client upgrade to 5.6 or above – July 21

On Saturday, July 21, we will require Panopto for Windows, Remote Recorders, and Panopto for Mac to be upgraded to version 5.6 or above. This change will be applied to the Panopto portal at 01:00 BST. For more information on the mandatory upgrade, see this article on the Panopto support site:

The latest versions of the Panopto for Windows and Panopto for Mac manual recorders (5.7) can be downloaded from:

The latest versions of the Remote Recorders can be downloaded from:

If you are updating an existing remote recorder you should not need to inform us, but if you are installing for the first time or on a new machine, please let us know via replay@it.ox.ac.uk so that we can assign correct permissions.

Downtime – July 24 18:00-21:00

On Tuesday July 24 at 18:00 BST Panopto will be performing essential updates to the ox.cloud.panopto.eu cloud database in preparation for integration with Oxford’s new Canvas VLE. The process will take up to three hours (21:00 BST). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

Downtime – July 28 23:00 – July 29 02:00

On Saturday, July 28, Panopto will update the ox.cloud.panopto.eu cloud database. This update will require downtime from 23:00 BST July 28 for up to three hours (02:00 BST July 29). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

Downtime – August 11 20:00 – 23:00

On Saturday, August 11, Panopto will be making a number of updates to the Panopto Cloud infrastructure to increase performance and scalability. These updates will require downtime from 20:00 BST August 11 for up to three hours (23:00 BST). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please e-mail replay@it.ox.ac.uk

 

 

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Testing IMS LTI Support

SaLTIre is a very useful “tool” for testing IMS LTI support. The site https://lti.tools/saltire/ provides a test Tool Provider and Tool Consumer which is great for quick checks of LTI support.

The website was originally developed as part of a JISC project.

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Add Interactive Video Content to WebLearn

Those wonderful people at H5P have made some improvements to their interactive video content type. (This allows one to embed a You Tube video in an HTML page or Lessons pages and overlay quizzes, pop-up text or other types of interactions.)

Improvements include

  • Submit screen in Interactive Video – The new Interactive Video submit screen will give the learners an overview of what they’ve done and achieved in the video, and let the submit their scores and answers when they are ready. Authors can make the submit screen pop up when they want it to pop up in the video, and learners may also open it whenever they want to check their progress.
  • Free Text Question in Interactive Video – Many questions don’t have an answer that is either right or wrong. The author may want the learners to reflect and write down their thoughts instead. This is now possible in Interactive Video

To use H5P, all you need to do is visit the H5P website, register, create your interactive element and then paste the “embed code” into your WebLearn page – use the “source” view of the text available in the WYSIWYG HTML editor.

H5p includes

  • Interactive YouTube videos (annotate, ask questions etc.)
  • Image juxtaposition
  • Drag and drop / Drag the words
  • Hotspots
  • Many many more content types

Useful Links

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WebLearn Usage Over The Last 6 Years

I thought it would be useful to present some of the WebLearn usage figures that we used to supply for the annual report. Many apologies for the missing unique visitors data.

2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18
Unique visitors 12,385 15,108 14,685  17,421
Requests / hits per 1,000 12,846 11,449 12,484  16,049  23,418  23,776
Bandwidth in GB 260.27 273.93 305.36  346.91  459.39  370.62
Pages served 338,738 316,537 427,600  695,360  7,127,123  572,980
Usage statistics for the first week of Trinity Term

The number of unique visitors over the first week of Trinity Term

The number of user requests is slightly up compared to last year:

 

However, the total amount of data transferred has decreased slightly:

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WebLearn Upgraded to Version 11-ox11

WebLearn was upgraded on 19th June 2018 to version 11-ox11. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the disruption.

The main focus for this release was ‘behind-the-scenes’ improvements required as part of the move to Canvas, however, there are some noteworthy improvements.

Bootstrap Library

The Bootstrap Library which is (apparently) the most popular HTML, CSS and JavaScript library in the world, is now available for use in WebLearn. (There was a bug that was preventing it from working correctly.)

Bootstrap can be used on any HTML page in WebLearn including Resources, Lessons and Announcements.

There is a dedicated blog post entitled ‘Liven up your WebLearn pages’ which gives some examples and explains exactly to to add Bootstrap elements to your pages.

This sort of thing is easy to do:

Others

  • When a new version of a file is uploaded in Lessons the filename is now corrected generated as filename-1.pdf instead of filename.pdf-1.
  • Surveys: the preview of a template is now shown in a new tab – this is on the  ‘Start a New Survey Step 1’ page.
  • CSV import into Calendar should now pick up the event type – if you are going to use this facility then please read this important note about importing event types first.
  • All JavaScript / CSS files should now be ‘versioned’ this means that there should no longer be errors stemming from cached files after a WebLearn upgrade.
  • Email templates in the Surveys tool are now verified before allowing them to be saved – this should prevent garbled email notifications being sent.
  • The Resources tool now allows selected files / folders to be excluded from a ZIP file export.
  • In the Assignments tool, an alert is now shown if the ‘Visible Date’ is set to be after ‘Open Date’
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Liven up your WebLearn pages!

It is a little known fact that WebLearn now contains Twitter’s Bootstrap library. Bootstrap is world’s most popular front-end component library and can be used to make amazing-looking and fully responsive dynamic web pages.

Bootstrap allows you to easily add the following components to Lessons pages or HTML files in Resources

Plus a whole host of other techniques to make your pages more interesting. The w3schools.com Bootstrap site is a great place to start but there are a number of other places such as Tutorial Republic Bootstrap Examples, TutorialsPoint Bootstrap Tutorial and Bootsnipp.

How To …

To add Bootstrap page components all you need to do is open the WYSIWYG HTML editor, click on the “Source” button and then paste the HTML code snippets into the editor window.

The switch back to the WYSIWYG view

And hit ‘Save’!

 

 

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