WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 19 May 2015 from 7-9am

It is planned to upgrade WebLearn to version 2.10-ox3 on Tuesday 19 May 2015 from 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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Introducing Replay – Lecture Capture

*Educational Media Services is running a pilot project, called Replay, using Panopto lecture capture software to record lectures as a revision aid for Oxford students. Panopto is easy to use and unobtrusive. It captures audio and slides, automatically synchronises them, and makes them available via WebLearn to students on the course. Video recording using a webcam or network camera is also possible. Academics and/or local support staff can view each recording through a simple online editor before releasing it to students. The option to release the recordings to the general public via iTunes U can be discussed as a separate service.

Surveys suggest that Oxford students value recorded lectures as a study aid; they can listen and concentrate during lectures, without having to take substantial notes. Students can review the recording on demand, particularly to go over difficult concepts and to revise for exams. They can search for particular words within the text on the slides, as well as in the audio track. The option to access the recordings after the lecture and view/listen to them as often as necessary promotes inclusive education practices, particularly for students with disabilities or special learning needs. Research conducted in the HE sector more widely suggests that the availability of recorded lectures does not adversely affect student attendance at face-to-face lectures.

Benefits for lecturers include the fact that the recording equipment is inexpensive and non-intrusive (usually only a microphone). A level of informality is acceptable, as opposed to a professional recording for public consumption. A lecturer can record supplementary lecture material in their own office, simply using a webcam and a microphone.

Departments who are interested in becoming involved in the pilot project, should contact replay@it.ox.ac.uk. There is no charge for participation during the pilot, although shared costing models are being considered for a future service.

More information and useful links:

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WebLearn user Dr Lucy Tallents wins 2015 Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA)


Dr Lucy Tallents from the Department of Zoology has won the Higher Education Online/Hybrid category of this year’s Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA). TWSIA, which is a worldwide competition, has been running since 2008 and recognises excellence in teaching and learning using Sakai (which is the software upon which WebLearn is based).

LucyTallents_WildCRUHeadshot_Apr2015Winning this prestigious award is a stunning achievement especially considering that Lucy only started her course in earnest from October 2014 and has only been using WebLearn since June 2013. What is even more impressive is that the whole course is constructed using the brand new Lessons tool which has never before been exploited to this extent at Oxford.

After receiving the award Lucy said, “Amazing news! I’m thrilled that the judges like my work! [....] I found the application process really useful to reflect on how I design my courses, and what I can aspire to in terms of better student engagement.

What the judges thought about course 

The judges assessed the TWSIA entries based on five aspects of a Sakai site: community-building and collaboration, communication, learning materials and strategies, learning outcomes and assessment, and learner support. Lucy’s course was judged ‘excellent’ on all five aspects.

The judges remarked that Lucy’s course was well-designed and soundly implemented in order to support a group of full-time professionals from countries around the world. They were impressed by the innovative course design – integrating technologies and tools with sound pedagogy. For example, the course encouraged students participation, intersection and self-reflection.

Through the WebLearn Lessons tool students were  given opportunities to negotiate their learning contracts by developing consensus on the responsibilities of themselves, tutors and peers.

Lucy has been invited to attend the upcoming Open Apereo 2015 conference in Baltimore to talk about her winning entry; she plans to deliver her presentation using the Lessons tool.

The Conservation Statistics Course

Lucy teaches a 9-week on-line WebLearn course called Conservation Statistics.This engaging course is centred around the newly added Lessons tool and employs many different tools sometimes in novel ways, for example, the Surveys Beta tool is used to conduct a skills audit.

Lucy has also used a Lessons student content page to ‘negotiate learning contracts’ by ‘unpacking expectations and…deciding which behaviours create a supportive and exciting learning environment…’.


Wildlife conservationists in the developing world are the keepers of biodiversity, yet they lack access to training in research techniques to support their valuable work. By studying on-line they don’t need to interrupt their work or pay the costs of overseas travel.

Lucy’s course is full of team activities, self-paced assessments and engaging learning materials. Students from around the world can work together to learn from each other about how solutions developed on different continents can help species in their local area.


Feedback from their tutor and fellow students helps them to self-assess their attempts to save species, using scientific methods to improve their approach.

Lucy also paid tribute to the support she received from IT Services’: “I’d like to say how supportive the WebLearn team has been. Their training and assistance boosted my confidence and curiosity to experiment with Sakai, and their advice was crucial to implementing some of my ideas.”


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WebLearn and Turnitin courses Trinity 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: Assessment and feedback – There are several ways to assess student work in WebLearn. This course looks at the e-assessment options available to lecturers and tutors: how to configure the tools, use them to mark student’s work and deliver feedback.
  • 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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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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