FAO: Local WebLearn Coordinators in your department, faculty or college

  • Are you new in the role of Local WebLearn Coordinator?
  • Do you perhaps need a refresher about the do’s and don’ts of managing your unit’s WebLearn presence?
  • Did you  know that you must never add external accounts to the Administration Site, since this could cause a serious security breach?

A lunch time overview session as been scheduled for Local WebLearn Coordinators. Come along to find out more about your role and recent changes.

Date: Thursday 27 November 2014

Time: 12:30-13:30

Venue: IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

Booking: http://courses.it.ox.ac.uk/detail/TOVS

We hope to see you there.

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WebLearn upgraded to version 2.10-ox1.3 on 18 November 2014

WebLearn was upgraded on 18th November 2014 to version 2.10-ox1.3. 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 pop up help has been partitioned into ‘Student’ and ‘Instructor’ guides and has been reorganised so that tools have their correct names and there are no entries for tools that are not offered at Oxford
  • Humanities courses now appear in the Researcher Training Tool
  • Improved error message when an assignment cannot be routed via Turnitin
  • My Dashboard has been changed back to My Workspace (as users found it confusing)
  • The Contact Us Tool has been improved
  • Opting to hide yourself in a site (My Workspace > Preferences > Privacy) will prevent your name being listed as a site contact for content-related problems
  • The Quick Links menu now behaves just like the My Sites menu
  • Lessons tool can now include quizzes from the Tests tool
  • Improvements have been made to the top banner so that the height can be reduced if desired

Bug Fixes

  • Attachments are now correctly stored in the archive when sending an email with attachments to the Email Archive
  • The new(ish) WYSIWYG (rich-text) editor is now available for the Surveys Beta tool in Internet Explorer 11
  • The Researcher Training Tool (RTT) Module Administration page now works correctly with Internet Explorer 11
  • An email is no longer sent when a site is created
  • The problems with the Site Members tool should now be fixed
  • The Forums tool will no longer send out an email containing three identical messages
  • Appearance in Internet Explorer 11 of the work “Minimise” when you scroll has been supressed
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WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 18th November 2014 from 7-9am

It is planned to upgrade WebLearn to version 2.10-ox1.3 on Tuesday 18th November 2014 7-9am. There will be no service during this period.

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

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Customisable Branding of Sites

You can now customise the appearance of all your WebLearn sites, for example, your department, faculty or college can have a its own top banner on pages. (This is an enhancement of a previous post.)

One or more of the following aspects can be configured:

  • ‘backgroundColour’ – the colour of main banner (specified as #rrggbb colour, for example, #f133e6).
  • ‘backgroundImage’ – the URL of the background image of the main banner (will tile) – store this in a public folder in the department’s administration site.
  • ‘imageSource’ – the URL of a single image at the right end of the main banner (can be blank). This should be stored public folder in the department’s administration site. This should be of the appropriate size and if you want more than one image (for example, your department plus the square Oxford crest) then it is your responsibility to construct a composite.
  • ‘imageLink’ – the URL of a website that the image at the right end of the banner will link to
  • ‘message’ – the ‘site title’ which will be visible at the top of the page, if this is not set then it will always be the name of the current site
  • ‘fontColour’ – the colour of the font of the ‘message’ (specified as #rrggbb colour)

This customisation must be done by the central WebLearn team. If you require this service then please send an email listing the various values for the above attributes; ensure that you have stored any images in a public folder in your administration site and state the URLs in the email.

Examples of Custom Branding

The Said Business School: this has the ‘message and ‘imageSource’ attributes set


The Blavatnik School of Government who have set the ‘backgroundColour’ and have a composite image with their own branding coupled with the University’s square crest.


A site for ice cream lovers: this has the ‘message’, ‘backgroundImage’ and ‘fontColour’ attributes set; the ‘imageSource’ attribute has been blanked out.


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Copyright seminar (and others)

The following lunchtime seminars may be of interest to WebLearn users:

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Learning Analytics workshop

SAHELA (South African Higher Education Learning Analytics) Workshop

(In cooperation with the Stanford Learning Analytics Summer Institute)

Pretoria, South Africa, 15 September 2014

Learning analytics (LA) is becoming an increasingly important area of investigation – to recognise students who are ‘at risk’, to address the risks, and ultimately to improve student retention. Institutions are moving towards interoperability and most VLEs now build in LA capability. At Oxford we are investigating the Sakai Open Academic Analytics Initiative (OAAI) and participating in online webinars with other Sakai institutions.

Educause provides a collection of useful documentation – the Analytic Research Centre (academic analytics in higher education); a questionnaire to assess an institution’s Analytics Maturity Index; and a presentation at the forthcoming Educause conference (30 Sept 2014) about building institutional capacity to implement LA.

Questions to consider are: ‘What data is flowing in an institution?’ and ‘How can we harness it to improve student success?’ Similar questions can be asked about an institution’s VLE in terms of data about teaching and learning.

Among others, the following two case studies were presented at the workshop:

  1. University of Pretoria: first year Molecular Biology students (1600- 1800 students with three lecturers) – they use Turning Point software with ‘clickers’ for formative assessment in class, providing instant feedback to students, and reporting the statistics automatically in the VLE (clickers are preferred to mobile phones, due to poor network connectivity – students are required to buy their own clickers; in future this cost will be incorporated in student fees;
  2. Medical University of South Africa: the Student Support Referral System – a coordinated process to identify and support students at risk (academically, psychologically, socially), in collaboration with their Centre for Academic Excellence – all forms and documentation previously maintained in Excel were converted to interactive forms using Sharepoint workflows.

International activities

  1. Signals project – Purdue University – traffic light signals for three risk groups: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/studio/signals/
  2. SOLAR – Society for LA Research: www.solaresearch.org
  3. International Educational Data Mining Society: www.educationaldatamining.org
  4. Learning Analytics Masters programme (LAMP): Open Learning Analytics (OLA) initiative – see blog post by George Siemens: http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2014/04/11/open-learning-analytics/ and http://www.solaresearch.orgfor details.
  5. There are some MOOCs on LA.
  6. LACE (LA Community Exchange) – an EU project www.laceproject.eu: SOLAR Flare event, Oct 2014
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WebLearn Upgraded to v2.10-ox1.2

WebLearn was upgraded between 30th September and 3rd October 2014 to version 2.10-ox1.2. 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.

Bug Fixes / Improvements

  • The Home Tool once again displays its content in an iFrame
  • New Oxford users who cannot login to WebLearn because they aren’t yet found in LDAP should not be presented with the External Users login page
  • Researcher Training Tool: previous instances of a course are no longer displayed on the module information page
  • Roster is now correctly called Site Members and no longer fails if the site contains a subgroup
  • Contact Us tool has undergone a number of improvements
  • Announcements Tool:
    • Group-only announcements can now be accessed by participants with the ‘maintain’ and ‘contribute’ role
    • The message is now included in the email that is sent to site participants
  • HTML pages created in Resources without the ‘.html’ extension now work correctly
  • Lessons Tool:
    • The “Add comments Tool” link no longer causes the tool to freeze
    • All on screen text has been updated to UK English
  • TurnItIn is now working correctly
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Break in WebLearn service: 25th Sept at 22:00

WebLearn will be unavailable for a short period between 22:00 and 22:30 on Thursday 25th September 2014 whilst repairs are made to the faulty TurnItIn configuration: this should fix the problems that users are experiencing relating to the TurnItIn integration within the Assignments tool. We sincerely apologise as there will be no service to users during this period.

Note: TurnItIn-enabled assignments created before the move to WebLearn 10 will now have their backlog of Originality Reports processed, unfortunately TurnItIn-enabled assignments created after the move to WebLearn 10 will need to be recreated from scratch.

Please contact the WebLearn team if you have any questions or need help with this. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience that this mistake may have caused.

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The new WebLearn Lessons tool enables a better user experience

WebLearn 10 has brought with it the brand new Lessons Tool. This tool allows one to set up a step-by-step learning exercise which students can be asked to work through in a structured manner.

Consider this example: without leaving the page, you can ask your students to read instructions, take part in a discussion, watch a video clip and finally answer a few questions to assess how well they understand what they have just learnt.

In the past it was not easy to link a number of WebLearn tools on one page to create a smooth web experience.   The Lessons Tool has now solved this problem!


lessons-what-to-addLessons is a new tool that allows you (as a maintainer/contributor) to organise resources, activities, and media on a single page. Each Lessons page can be customised to suit your needs, including links to other WebLearn tools, conditional release of items and content, etc.

Content from a number of WebLearn tools can be added to a Lessons page including Assignments, Polls, Forums, etc. We will be adding support for Tests in the next few weeks.

The “Add content to the Lessons page” section (see blow) shows the full list of what you can have on a Lessons page.

How it works

If the Lessons tool is not in your site, you can easily add it via Site Info.  Go to Site Info, click Edit Tools, select the Lessons tool and follow the screen instructions.  As you can have more than one Lessons tool in a site, you are allowed to customise the name of the Lessons page.

Once Lessons is added to a site, it appears in the menu on the left hand side.


Develop a lesson

Click on the Lessons page link on the left hand side.  You can rename the lesson or add content to the lesson.


To rename a lesson you should click the ‘Settings’ icon.  Note that you can also configure other things here, for example, the time when the page is available.


Add content to the Lessons page

Go to a lessons page, clicking on “Add Content” allows you to add the flowing content.

  • Add text:  the HTML editor enables you to add text, links, images, video/audio etc. to the page
  • Add multimedia: embed an image, video, Flash file, web page, etc. on the page
  • Add Resource: upload a file or use an existing file in Resources tool and link to it, or enter a URL to another site
  • Add Assignment: link to a WebLearn assignment
  • Add Quiz: link to a WebLearn test – not yet implemented
  • Add Forum Topic: link to a WebLearn forum topic
  • Add Question: created embed multiple-choice or short answer question.  The site maintainers/contributors can view the results displayed using a bar chart
  • Add Comments tool: allow Access users to add comments to the page
  • Add Student Content: add a section where students can create their own pages
  • Add Subpage: add a child page on which you can create content, or links
  • Add Website: upload a ZIP file with web content
  • Add External Tool: add a tool using IMS Basic LTI

View a Lessons page as a Student

lessons-student view lessons-student-view2

Photos credit: the two Creative Commons licensed images are produced by Longsight company (http://longsight.screenstepslive.com/s/sakai_help/m/26029/l/252627-what-is-the-lessons-tool#!prettyPhoto).

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How to move the Home Page text into Resources

If you want to move the text of your home page into the Resources tool then you can follow this ‘recipe’. (You may wish to do this if your home page contains JavaScript code or other page elements that are only available in Resources HTML pages.)

1 Go to your site and click on the ‘Edit’ icon (pencil and paper)


2 Within the editor panel, select all text with your mouse and press CTRL-C (or equivalent) to copy the text. Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page to get all text. (You may find it easier to switch to “Source” view to do this.)


3 Click ‘Cancel’ then navigate to the Resources Tool.


4 Create a new HTML page. You may want to create a special folder for this.


5 Paste the copied text into a new HTML page in Resources by clicking in the editor panel and pressing CTRL-V (or equivalent) then save the page (click ‘Continue’).


6 Give the page a sensible name. It is good practice to keep the “.html” extension


7 Complete the Save process


8 copy the URL of this page


9 Edit the Home Tool again, paste the URL into the box marked “Site Info URL” (underneath the editor panel) then save by clicking “Update Options”


10 Your page should look the same as before but will behave better. Check that there is nothing missing and check that the links work. If anything is wrong then repeat the process.

11 If you are happy you may like to remove the original text from your Home page but this is purely optional.

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