Improving administration: WebLearn’s Sign Up Tool


See the video case study on Oxford Podcasts or the LTG YouTube Channel.

WebLearn is a technology that is designed to support a complex and dynamic educational environment. Claire Aland, Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics (DPAG), has found that the tools WebLearn offers can be adapted to fit the needs of her department teaching. For Claire this need was a more time-efficient way to organise practical anatomy teaching. At Oxford this relies on many volunteer demonstrators, who work in different, often remote locations, with many other demands on their time. They need teaching schedules, the facility to book into classes and to be able to access teaching material in advance. There are many classes, with different subject matter. The success of the classes depends upon obtaining enough properly prepared demonstrators. Organisation previously relied on emails and phone calls: this was a large workload for staff.

The Challenge

Claire needed a solution that could do four things:

• Allow the demonstrators to manage their teaching schedules at their own convenience without staff intervention.

• Distribute teaching preparation materials, a significant number of which use clinical images and accordingly very large file sizes.

• Provide information on pedagogical activities, such as posting material for private study and giving notice of workshops and seminars on teaching theory and practice.

• Provide a shared site where material could be developed collaboratively.

The Innovation

Claire set up a WebLearn site to support the organisation of this teaching. It has now run for one academic year. Most demonstrators now use the site to book their teaching and to access teaching materials. Other staff members from DPAG and from the Oxford Learning Institute have also used the site to post information on teaching seminars and workshops for the demonstrators.
Claire made use of a number of WebLearn tools to achieve this:

• The Sign Up Tool was used to create the teaching schedule, complete with links to teaching material. The schedule of the entire academic year is made available so demonstrators can manage their time in advance. If class times or subjects change, they are updated on the site. When demonstrators sign up, or if they cancel attendance, WebLearn sends an email to University staff automatically, allowing staffing of practical classes to be monitored.

• The Resources tool allows online tutorials and storage of class notes and other teaching materials. These can be maintained and updated by any teaching staff each year. Previously, teaching materials were limited to what could be manually distributed. In the next academic year, Claire will expand the range of teaching material posted and provide training by web tutorials, Voice-over powerpoint and streamed video. She also intends to explore more collaborative development of teaching materials through WebLearn.

• The Announcements Tool allows notices to be broadcast in advance, including links to documents and websites. Up to date information is always available in one place.

Top Tips for Success

1. The success of this Weblearn site has been because it uses an already available online tool.

2. Make the site available at any time

3. Make the site convenient to access by mobile devices.

4. Keep the site up to date to prevent confusion about schedules

Further Information

Join the WebLearn User Group for expert guidance and to hear examples of innovative practice at this group’s termly meetings.
IT Services also offers a large number of courses to support the use of WebLearn that can be found in the IT course catalogue. These include:
WebLearn: Fundamentals
WebLearn: Making your site work
WebLearn: Surveys 
WebLearn: Tools for creating interactive online resources
WebLearn: Tools to support teaching and learning 
WebLearn: Using Mobile Oxford

Winner of the OxTALENT 2012 Award for ‘Use of WebLearn beyond a single course or group’.

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