System Improvements: WebLearn v11-ox5

WebLearn was upgraded on 27th April 2017 to version 11-ox5. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the disruption.

Here is a list of some of the major improvements:

Peer-to-peer Chat

It is now possible to instigate a one to one chat with a fellow site member or other WebLearn user with whom you have set up a connection (via “My Home > Profile”).

To start a conversation, click on the “Chat” rectangle at the bottom right of every page and then click on the person you would like to chat to (NB, there may be a short delay before the list of users appears).

You can then have a conversation by typing in the (small) window that pops up

Lessons Page Ownership / Editing Restrictions

This release introduces a brand new concept to the Lessons tool – owning a Lessons page.

In the past, if  a site member was given permission to edit a Lessons Page then that meant they could edit (and delete) all Lessons pages on a site. It was felt that these update permissions were too loose and could result in accidental deletions or damage to sites, so the concept of an owned page was introduced (cf pages / files in Resources which all have owners).

The update allows a page to be owned by a site participant who doesnt by default have permission to edit Lessons pages. As the owner of a page, the user is able to update and edit that page and also create sub-pages from within that page (which they then also own).

To “give” a page to a user, click on the settings (cog) icon.

then select the owner (at the bottom of the resulting page)

The page will then show the owner (but not to students).

The best way to use this with staff is to modify the “Contribute” role and remove “edit permissions” from this role. To do this, click on “More Tools > Permissions”

and then unselect the “Update all pages or items” permission.

In summary, if you are responsible for a site in WebLearn, you can delegate responsibility for editing one or more specific Lessons pages in the site to individual members with running the risk of them damaging other Lessons pages in the site.

Reading Lists (ORLiMS)

Recent problems have come to light when editing a reading list that has a large number of items and nested sections. To combat this, we have added “integrity checking” to ensure that reading lists with incorrectly nested elements cannot be saved. We have also fixed a bug which led to incorrect “Find it on Solo” links for Journal Articles and another bug where some links to “Electronic Versions” were incorrect.

It is possible that there are some reading lists still in the system that have incorrect nesting, if you are unable to save a reading list after editing then please get in touch with the central team and report the site and name of the reading list. We will be able to update the database and modify the reading list to ensure it is in a consistent state.

Any new reading lists should now not be able to become incorrectly nested.

Bug Fixes

We have fixed a handful of other issues discovered over the last few months.

  • The “Replace Site” hierarchy management option now works correctly
  • The “Site Members” tool has improved formatting
  • The collapsible left-hand side menu now remains collapsed when moving to a different site
  • “Edit Site Information Display” on the “Overview” tool now saves correctly
  • The colour of the Turnitin Originality Report flag now displays correctly to students at all times
  • There is a more informative error message when trying to save a new file in Resources that would mean the URL would exceed the permitted maximum of 256 characters

Activity Browser

A number of minor improvements have been made to the Learning Resources Activity Browser which was developed as part of the SHOAL (Innovation) Project.

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Best practice in designing WebLearn sites and pages

The WISE project

One of the outputs of the recent WebLearn Improved Student Experience (WISE) project is a WebLearn site offering advice and guidance on various aspects to consider in building WebLearn sites and pages. The WebLearn Best Practice site encapsulates our experience in supporting 19 departments in redesigning their WebLearn areas.

Another output of the WISE project was a set of four WebLearn site templates, using the ‘box’ design and layout: Departmental Site, Programme Site, Course Site and Tutor Site. The Best Practice site provides a link to the guide on using the site templates, which illustrates how to create a new site based on a template, and then to edit the components according to your needs.

The Best Practice site provides information about the Lessons tool (including various examples of Lessons pages), and considers the question: ‘new site’ or ‘new page’? There are hints and tips about page design and layout (with examples of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ practice), images and video, accessibility and copyright.

More information:

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WebLearn and Turnitin Courses Trinity Term 2017

IT Services offers a variety of taught courses 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. All courses are free of charge.

Click on the links provided for further information and to book a place.

WebLearn 3-hour courses:

Byte-sized lunch time sessions:

These focus on particular tools with plenty of time for questions and discussion

Plagiarism awareness courses (Turnitin):

User Group meeting:

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Activity Browser: We have lift-off!

We are excited to announce that the SHOAL project’s Activity Browser has been launched!  You can find Activity Browser here:   You can also access it from the left-hand menu of WebLearn’s Gateway home page, or from the Support page of the Digital Education website

If you’re curious about digital teaching tools, want to engage students in different ways both in and beyond the lecture theatre or tutorial, or want to satisfy student digital expectations, Activity Browser is for you!  It’s a searchable showcase of inspirational digital learning activities created within the university.  You can explore activities created by Oxford innovators, and see what digital tools they have chosen to tackle particular teaching challenges.  Each example includes suggestions for how to adopt and adapt the ideas and tools for your own teaching, whether for face-to-face learning in tutorials, classes or labs, or for online study, revision or assessment.

The SHOAL project was a proof-of-concept focussing on STEM subjects, but we’re aware of the innovative online teaching taking place in other subjects and we’re keen to add those resources to the collection.  We are currently looking into the easiest way for you to contribute your own online learning activities, and to grow the range of digital tools and applications in our showcase.  We will update the ‘Contribute’ page of Activity Browser in the next phase of the project.

The Browser interface will be improved when WebLearn is upgraded in Trinity.  We welcome feedback on this early version; please email



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Using LaTeX in WebLearn

Mathematical (LaTeX) Notation is a special mark-up language designed to present mathematical notation in electronic documents. The upgrade to WebLearn 11 now means that LaTeX can be used to format equations as mathematical notation on most pages.

Once LaTeX has been enabled on a site and in a tool, one can easily add mathematical notion by enclosing equations and the like between two sets of $$.

This will produce the following output




  • identical output for all browsers and platforms
  • no images or special browser plugins required
  • accessible, with screen-reader compatibility
  • scalable font for different text sizes and zoom levels

LaTeX needs activating on each site via Site Info > Edit Site Information,

then enabling for individual tools via Site Info > Manage Tools (remembering to press ‘Save‘ at the bottom of the screen).

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Problems with Turnitin this morning (Monday 27 March)

Turnitin was erroneously returning error messages (“invalid file type”) this morning (27/3/2017) between 9am & 11am. This will have caused problems for submissions made through WebLearn’s assignment tool.

WebLearn respects error messages from Turnitin so would not try to resubmit any submissions made during this period. It will mark them with an error warning (orange triangle) in WebLearn.

If you have outstanding Turnitin reports from this period then please get in touch and we can resubmit for you.

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WebLearn and Turnitin User Group Meetings Hilary Term 2017

WebLearn User Group Meeting 21 March 2017, 14:00

Tuesday 21 March 2017, 14:00 – 16:00, followed by tea and cakes
IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

The meeting will feature two reports on the completed WebLearn Improved Student Experience (WISE) project, as well as information about how Replay Lecture Capture works with WebLearn, and planned WebLearn upgrades.

Booking is required to secure your place: WebLearn User Group booking.


  • Elaine Aitken (Programme Manager, Academic IT Services):Education IT projects and summary of the findings of the Digital Education Strategy (DES) consultation
  • Liz Masterman (Project Lead) and Ana Matak Siviour (Business Analyst): Update on the VLE Review
  • The WISE team (Academic IT): Reports on lessons learned during the WISE project
  • Fawei Geng and Jill Fresen (Academic IT): Replay Lecture Capture: how does it work with WebLearn?
  • Adam Marshall: WebLearn updates, including special WebLearn sites for anonymous submissions

Join the WebLearn User Group site in WebLearn: for regular updates and access to audio recordings of previous presentations.

Any questions or comments?  Contact

Turnitin User Group Meeting 23 March 2017, 14:00

Thursday 23 March 2017, 14:00 – 16:00, followed by refreshmentsTurnitin Logo
IT Services, 13 Banbury Road

Booking is required for catering purposes – book now to secure your place:Turnitin User Group booking


  • Jamie Whitehead (TurnitinUK account manager, Turnitin): Overview of Turnitin Feedback Studio and Grademark
  • Amanda Tattersall (Exams and Assessment): Overview of the new anonymous online submissions process
  • Adam Marshall (WebLearn service manager): Configuration of WebLearn sites for anonymous online submissions

Join the Turnitin User Group site in WebLearn – it offers a collection of resources and will add you to the group e-mail list: Audio recordings of previous meetings are also available on this site.

Any questions or comments? Contact

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Adding ‘awesome’ icons to web page in WebLearn

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, most pages in WebLearn 11 use a new icon set: Font Awesome icons. You may well recognise these icons from other websites or phone ‘Apps’. Unlike the previous (‘Silk’) icons these are not images, they are, as the name would suggest, a font. This makes them scalable and colourable (if that’s a word).

Font Awesome icons are open source and can be customised in many ways — size, colour, drop shadow, and anything that can be done with the power of CSS. They can even be made to spin around if that’s one of your hobbies.

Using Font Awesome icons on your pages

To add a Font Awesome Icon to a WebLearn page, open the HTML editor and locate the Font Awesome ‘flag’ icon at the end of the middle row (when using WebLearn on a desktop machine).

You can then select a suitable icon, either search by name or browse by using the scroll bars.

Basic customisation can be effected whilst using the picker but you can use any CSS directives via the “Source” view of the HTML WYSIWYG editor.

That’s all there is too it. Don’t go too crazy with the spinning though!


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Innovative uses of the Lessons tool – free webinar 15 March 2017

The Sakai community has announced an online panel discussion on Wednesday 15 March 2017, about innovative uses of the Lessons tool in Sakai (WebLearn). Oxford University has been using the tool for two years and promoted its use during the WISE project; our team contributed many improvements to the tool to the central Sakai code base.

Join the free online discussion to hear how practitioners at various institutions are using the Lessons tool:

Date: Wednesday 15 March 2017
Time: 15:00 GMT
Big Blue Button link: <
Password: apereo
Join Room 2

The Lessons tool provides an easy way for tutors or other site maintainers to design and implement a structured pathway of learning materials, activities and interaction in a WebLearn site. (See video: Overview of the Lessons tool).

Oxford’s own Dr Lucy Tallents won a Teaching with Sakai (TWISA) award in 2015 for her work in implementing the Lessons tool on a distance course delivered to conservationists and environmentalists in developing countries.

If you have any questions, please contact

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Lecture capture and WebLearn

The Lecture Capture service (called Replay) is now available across the University, after a two-year pilot of the commercial software (called Panopto). This July 2016 blog post provides more information: Replay is now a service.

What are the costs to departments?

The service is free of charge to departments at the point of use. This means that the Panopto software can be installed on any number of computers in any numbers of rooms, or on any personal laptops. The only restriction is that the annual licence fee (paid by IT Services to Panopto) depends on the number of hours recorded and viewed. Therefore access to making and viewing recorded lectures is restricted via membership of a suitable WebLearn site.

What is the difference between recorded lectures and podcasts?

The University’s podcast service has been in place since 2008. It now offers a large collection of audio and video recordings of lectures and other events or series. The majority of recordings are available to the public or as open educational resources. Recorded lectures using Replay, on the other hand, are intended for Oxford students and are restricted via membership of (or visitor access to) a WebLearn site. There are numerous pedagogical benefits for students in being able to listen during the live lecture and view the recording later for consolidation of their knowledge and revision. Usually audio and slides are sufficient, which makes the system comfortable and unobtrusive for presenters (video can be added, but this increases the complexity and cost of equipment).

Can I make my recordings public?

If you wish to make your recorded lectures public, the Replay recordings can be downloaded from the Panopto site as .mp4 files, which can then be made available via the Podcasting service.

What is required in WebLearn?

WebLearn is used as the gateway into Replay, enabling staff and students to use their Oxford single signon accounts. A suitable WebLearn site needs to be created before any recordings can be made. The site maintainer provides student access to the site and uses Site Info > Manage Tools to add the Replay tool. This is an LTI (learning tools interoperability) tool that enables authentication and the link to Panopto. The Panopto software (‘app’) needs to be downloaded (once) onto the presenter’s computer – via the same LTI tool (usually called ‘Recorded Lectures’) in the WebLearn site. The lecturer uses the WebLearn site to initiate recordings, which are automatically uploaded and stored in a corresponding Panopto folder. Students view the recordings by clicking on the ‘Recorded Lectures’ tool in the site.

Is additional training required for WebLearn site maintainers?

No additional training is required.

What Replay training is provided by IT Services?

The IT Learning Centre offers a series of short courses on the use of Replay, ranging from a getting started workshop to more advanced sessions.

More information

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