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 “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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Call for Entries: 2015 Teaching with Sakai (aka WebLearn) Innovation Award


Announcement from the TWISA Committee

The Sakai Teaching and Learning community is seeking submissions for the 2015 Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA) competition. The award recognizes innovation and excellence in technology-supported teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement.

We look forward to entries from those using the Sakai CLE (known locally as WebLearn).

Award categories include:

  • Higher Education: Face-to-Face
  • Higher Education: Fully On-line or Hybrid Course
  • Project Sites & Alternative Uses of Sakai

This year, the selection process will consist of two phases.

Phase 1:Optional abstract submission for feedback and preliminary review

Opening Date:  Dec 4, 2014. Deadline: Jan 15, 2015

Each applicant will submit a brief description of his/her project and of the innovative teaching method, practice or strategy to be considered for the final award.

Applicants will receive feedback on their abstracts, from the TWSIA committee, by Jan 30, 2015.

Participation in Phase 1 is not required for participation in Phase 2, however, the three questions on the abstract submission form will help applicants when they move on to the full application process.

Those who submit a preliminary abstract can incorporate feedback from the TWSIA committee in their final application.

To submit an abstract, please use the optional abstract submission form (

Phase 2: Final submission (required of all applicants)

Opening Date: Dec 3, 2014. Deadline: March 20, 2015

Each applicant will submit an in-depth description of the innovative teaching method, practice or strategy and indicate how it addresses the award criteria.  Application forms and information on award categories, a definition of innovation, criteria and rubrics are at:

Winners will be announced in early April 2015 and recognized at the Open Apereo 2015 Conference in Baltimore MD.  Conference dates are May 31 to June 3, 2015.

Registration and travel expenses may be available for award winners.

Contact: Salwa Khan, TWSIA Committee Chair at

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Changes to the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) Licence

The University’s information and advice on complying with the CLA Licence and relevant University procedures has been substantially revised and is now available at the copyright licencing pages of the Academic Services and University Collections website. The pages include guidance relevant to the University’s departmental or collegiate CLA contacts or to staff providing digital copies of course study material to groups of students.

There is also guidance on checking what can be copied on paper or digitally. For questions relating to the CLA licence, please contact the University’s Licence Co-ordinator:

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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


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:
  2. SOLAR – Society for LA Research:
  3. International Educational Data Mining Society:
  4. Learning Analytics Masters programme (LAMP): Open Learning Analytics (OLA) initiative – see blog post by George Siemens: and http://www.solaresearch.orgfor details.
  5. There are some MOOCs on LA.
  6. LACE (LA Community Exchange) – an EU project SOLAR Flare event, Oct 2014
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