Streamlining teaching practice: WebLearn administrative tools

Introduction

The advantage of using WebLearn is its potential to simplify teaching administration, and to free educators’ to engage with their students or their own research. Imogen Goold, Law Faculty, has released this potential by using WebLearn’s tools to make both her teaching practice, and the practical side of her students’ learning, easier and more efficient.

The Challenge

Imogen addresses three main aspects of teaching in her use of WebLearn:

• Facilitating Learning:
Law students need access to a vast amount of material and sources. Being able to see many views on a question help students to develop a sense of debate, but this can be difficult to provide. The students also need to be able to access feedback on all their essays when they need it.

• Avoiding Plagiarism:
Inevitably, there is always a risk of students using the work of others as their own.

• Streamlining Administration:
Organising teaching in the de-centralised Oxford system is very time-consuming for tutors. Imogen uses WebLearn to save time by using a range of WebLearn tools

The Innovation

Imogen uses a number of WebLearn’s tools to improve her practice:

• Wiki Tool:
Imogen uses the Wiki tool to create ‘Subject Pages’, within which there are ‘Topic Pages’. Here students can access their reading list where each item is linked to a full-text online source. She also posts examples of good work on the ‘Topic Pages’. Comments and names are removed to protect privacy and all essays are posted with consent. Through WebLearn Permissions Imogen can lock access to these until students have completed the work. She also returns marked essays via WebLearn so students can store all their essays in one place. Imogen’s requirement that students submit essays through WebLearn means she can easily access and mark them in any place at any time.

• Forum Tool:
During the revision period, Imogen bypasses the time-consuming back-and-forth of emails by answering questions via the Forum tool. She posts students’ questions with replies on the Forum for all her students to access.

• Turnitin Tool:
Imogen requires all essays to be submitted through WebLearn’s TurnItIn. All essays are added to the TurnItIn database, making it impossible for students to access the posted essays through other students.

• Meetings Tool:
Imogen’s tutorials are set up via the WebLearn Meetings tool. She uses this to outline her complex teaching pattern clearly to students. Students must sign themselves up and change times themselves online. All students can see the full sign-up sheet. This tool allows the user to provide information about tutorials including assigning reading or presentation topics.

Top Tips for Success

Imogen’s advice to those inspired by her use of WebLearn is as follows:

1. Use the WebLearn tools provided and adapt them to your needs.

2. Talk to the WebLearn staff – they are very helpful in showing you how to use all of WebLearn’s functionality.

3. Talk to students about their needs. Think about what your needs are (and the students’) before designing the system.

4. Accept that it can be time-consuming to set up a system, but, if it’s the right system, it will save time in the long-run.

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 offer 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 to support a course or programme of study’.

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