Using WebLearn for Marking Inspera-Delivered Exams

One of the options for marking Trinity 2021 exams (hosted in the University’s brand new e-exams system, Inspera) is to use WebLearn as a ‘document repository’ for the process of marking student scripts.

The logic behind this is that, although Inspera has a Grading module which allows marking, the system is new and unfamiliar to most University staff; so users may elect to carry out some parts of the process in a system with which they are familiar.

WebLearn is one possibility, as is SharePoint. In any case, the departmental administrator will need to carry out tasks such as downloading completed student scripts from the Inspera exam and uploading them to the relevant alternative system, as well as managing access to the scripts (and associated documents) for markers and examiners.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Now that the University has rolled out Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for all Oxford Single Sign-on (SSO) accounts, there is no particular advantage in using a WebLearn secure Anonymous Submission (AS) site over other systems behind SSO so long as all users log in to WebLearn using an Oxford SSO username.

This does however mean that it is necessary to obtain Virtual Access Cards for non-University members:

Please plan ahead as it does take a certain amount for time for the card to be issued.

Types of sites in WebLearn

If you also plan to mark and conduct Exam Board business in WebLearn, then we recommend that you have separate WebLearn sites for marking a specific paper and for the Exam Board that covers that paper.

Since one Exam Board usually covers more than one paper, you will need one ‘marking site’ per paper, and one ‘Exam Board site’ per ‘bundle’ of papers.

The advantage of having separate sites for different purposes is that markers will not be privy to Exam Board business; of course, the administrator may need to transfer completed mark sheets (or other documents) from the marking site to the Exam Board site.

To summarise:

  • Marking Site – this is a special site type and contains two pertinent roles: ‘marker‘ (for markers) and ‘maintain‘ (for administrators / site managers).
  • Exam Board Site – a regular site, again with two pertinent roles: ‘access‘ (for Exam Board members) and ‘maintain‘ (for administrators / Exam Board chairs / site managers).

Site administrators need to add members to both types of sites, using their Oxford Single Sign-On accounts (this forces MFA – see above). You should never add people with an external, non-Oxford email address to such sites, as this will by-pass MFA.

Any open book exams held in WebLearn AFTER July 2020 will already have a Marking Site for the paper; it is acceptable to re-use this site, or you may request a new one for current papers.

To request new Marking Sites, please send a spreadsheet with the following columns

Paper code Paper Title SSO of site administrator

If you do reuse a site, then you should modify the list of markers (assuming there have been changes).  This is done via ‘Site Info’: use the list of participants (on the Site Info page) for deletions and  ‘Add Participants‘ for additions. You should be aware that any new members added to last year’s site may be able to see last year’s marks (albeit anonymised via the use of candidate number). If this is an issue, then feel free to request a new site.

One of the benefits of a Marking Site is that each marker gets their own private ‘Drop Box‘ which only they and ‘administrators’ can access. This is assuming the markers have the ‘marker‘ role and the administrator has the ‘maintain‘ role (and nobody has modified the default permissions). NB any participants with the ‘marker‘ role will automatically have their Drop Boxes created – there is no need for manual creation of these individual ‘folders’.


Possible Workflow

A good approach is to

  1. Download completed student scripts from Inspera to your desktop machine (protected of course by the latest anti-virus package) – much better than using a shared drive.
  2. Remove any personal identifying data from the filename, for example, name or student number
  3. Open and log in to WebLearn, navigate to the appropriate Marking Site, and click on the Drop Box tool in the left-hand navigation menu.
  4. Locate your first marker and open their Drop Box folder.
  5. Click Actions then Upload Files.
  6. Drag and drop the scripts which you want that individual marker to mark from your desktop into the ‘upload panel’.
  7. Drag and drop the mark sheet plus any other instructions into the same Drop Box folder.
  8. Click ‘Continue‘ to proceed.
  9. Return to the ‘root’ of the Drop Box and repeat the process for the next marker.
  10. When you are finished, you can feel pleased with yourself and then move on to the next paper’s Marking Site.

It is also possible to upload the same file into all Drop Boxes at the same time which, if appropriate, may save time.

You may suggest that markers leave their completed mark sheet in their Drop Box which you can retrieve at your leisure.

Alternative Workflow

Sometimes the approach is to allocate specific questions to specific markers, this is appropriate when there are markers who specialise in particular areas. This workflow differs from the above in that the student scripts are placed in a central area (Resources) so the markers have access to all scripts. Drop Box should still be used by the markers for transporting their mark sheets back to the the chair.

  1. Download completed student scripts from Inspera to your desktop machine (protected of course by the latest anti-virus package) – much better than using a shared drive.
  2. Remove any personal identifying data from the filename, for example, name or student number
  3. Open and log in to WebLearn, navigate to the appropriate Marking Site, and click on the Resources tool in the left-hand navigation menu.
  4. Click Actions then Upload Files.
  5. Drag and drop all scripts from your desktop PC into the ‘upload panel’.
  6. Click ‘Continue‘ to proceed.
  7. Now click on Drop Box in the left-hand navigation menu.
  8. For each marker in turn, enter their Drop Box  and drag and upload the mark sheet plus any other instructions into that Drop Box folder.
  9. Click ‘Continue‘ to proceed.
  10. Return to the ‘root’ of the Drop Box and repeat the process for the next marker.
  11. When you are finished, you can feel pleased with yourself and then move on to the next paper’s Marking Site.

It is also possible to upload the same file into all Drop Boxes at the same time which, if appropriate, may save time.

You may suggest that markers leave their completed mark sheet in their Drop Box which you can retrieve at your leisure.

Requesting a new Site

Send a request to

  • For Exam Board sites, please include the 4-letter Exam Board code(s) and your Single Sign-On username in lower case. It is perfectly acceptable to combine more than one Exam Board into one WebLearn site, where appropriate.
  • For Marking Sites, please include the paper number(s), for example, A10051w1, and the lead administrator’s Single Sign-On username in lower case.
  • If you want more than 5 sites then please send the paper number(s) and the lead administrator’s Single Sign-On username (in lower case) in a spreadsheet, one row per paper. (The spreadsheet can include other columns as well, we will just ignore them.)

Useful Guides

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An Improved Method of Linking Directly to a WebLearn Assignment

The latest release of WebLearn (version 11-ox15) has introduced a way of copying a link to the submission page of an individual assignment. This URL, which is meant to be used by students, will take one to the submission page for a specific assignment – staff will be taken to this page too.

This facility will allow a link to be made from the Canvas Modules tool (or any other page in Canvas) to the page In WebLearn where students can submit their formally assessed essays.

If you visit the list of Assignments in a WebLearn site and click on Copy Link then a pop-up will appear containing a short URL which can be copied and passed into Canvas. When clicked in Canvas a new browser tab will appear displaying the submission page. (If the user isn’t logged in to WebLearn, then the login page will appear first.)

The 11-ox15 release of WebLearn also included a handful of security fixes

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Linking Directly to an Individual Assignment

It is possible to link directly to an individual assignment in WebLearn, however, this facility isn’t directly available in the user interface so I thought I’d present a relatively easy “recipe” on how to get hold of the link.

Step One – locate the Site ID

Navigate to the site which contains the assignment and click on Site Info, copy the site ID which is the last part of the Site URL

Step Two – get a list of assignment reference IDs

Use the site ID in the following URL[[site ID]].json

for example


This will return a slew of JSON which will include the all-important assignment ID (or entityId in Sakai terminology) for each assignment on the site – this will include unpublished (draft) and completed assignments.

Search for the assignment title (use CTRL-F in the browser). Once the title has been located, copy the associated entityId. The ID is the alphanumeric string between the quotes (starting “26a266….” in the example)

Step Three – retrieve a “view” deep link

Use the entity ID in the following URL[[assignment id]].json

for example


This will return a further slew of JSON which (more or less) contains the “magic” deep link URL, the “assignmentURL”. Copy this URL.

Step Four – remove backslash characters

Unfortunately you need to edit the URL in order to remove all the “\” characters. It’s probably easiest to do this whilst you are adding the URL to your Canvas page.

Step Five – construct a deep link which will allow submission

The URL from Step Fouris almost ready for use but needs one minor edit right at the very end of the URL.

The very last part of the URL needs changing from




The URL will now look like this

You are now free to embed this on a Canvas page, when clicked, the student will see the assignment in WebLearn.

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JISC report: Everything you need to know about the new accessibility regulations

JISC in conjunction with Pinsent Masosns Solicitors have published an excellent overview of the impact of the new accessibility guidelines. It is a general guide but there are specific sections dedicated to VLEs and what the requirements are regarding legacy material and material rolled-over from previous years.


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How to make an accessible PDF

I just came across this series of blog posts from our near neighbours the “University College of Estate Management” in Reading. I thought they may be of some use:

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WebLearn and Turnitin user groups for staff

Due to low attendance numbers, the termly face-to-face meetings of the WebLearn and Turnitin user groups will no longer be offered. A new VLE User Group (for staff WebLearn and Canvas users) is currently being planned and will meet face-to-face on a regular basis. More details will be communicated soon.

To continue supporting staff users of WebLearn and Turnitin, the newly constituted Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) offers one-on-one consultation, on request. Please contact us at

User Group sites in WebLearn

The online sites in WebLearn are still active and we encourage you to make use of them:

Both sites are ‘joinable’ (if your colleagues would like to join them); and it is possible to ‘unjoin’ if you no longer wish to be a member (go to Site Info, and click ‘Unjoin’).

Mailing lists

Each of the sites has a mailing list that is open for postings by all site members, and messages will be received by all site members:


The central team endeavours to share useful and interesting news about both services via our blogs:

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments:

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Office For Students report: “Beyond the bare minimum: Are universities and colleges doing enough for disabled students?”

I just received an email from Policy Connect about a recently published report by the Office for Students who reviewed Disability Support in UK HEIs. Here’s what they said.

The review has produced valuable evidence on the state of digital accessibility in HE – from accessibility statements, to documents on VLEs, to lecture capture captioning. It also recommends that digital accessibility be adopted a key indicator against which the sector will be judged.

The report is over 150 pages and digital accessibility is raised in several sections. Policy Connect will produce a digest of the key parts of the report but for now I’d recommend ctrl + F-ing for ‘digital’ ‘web’ and ‘caption’ to see some highlights.

That report again:

Keen-eyed readers may remember Policy Connect published a report by the “All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology” about accessibility and VLEs (such as WebLearn and Canvas)

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Exporting Web Links from WebLearn (Resources)

Web Links, which are items in Resources which, when clicked, redirect the user to a specific web page. In general, these are external web sites but could also be links to pages or documents stored in WebLearn.

Web Links are not included when exporting the whole site (Site Info > Export Site), however, you can use the following Unix command line script to automatically generate a web page containing all Web Links in a particular site. (You must make sure all folders containing WebLinks (in Resources) are available to the Public. To do this, select Edit Details alongside the desired folders and set to public visibility.)

That script again

if [ "$#" -ne 1 ] ; then
  echo "Usage: weblinks2html WebLearn-URL, for example, weblinks2html[[siteid]].json" >&2
  # assumes the web file has public access
  curl $1 > json
  cat json | grep -e \\.URL\" -e entityTitle  |\
  sed -e 's/"entityTitle": "/echo \\\"">/g' -e 's/"$/<\/a><\/li>";/g'  |\
  sed -e 's/URL"/URL/g' |\
  sed 's|^  "url": |echo "<li><a target=\\\"_blank\\\" href\=\\\"" \| tr -d "\\r\\n"; curl -s -D - -o /dev/null |g' |\
  sed 's+,$+ | sed -n ZzZzZzZzZzZzs\/^Location: \/\/pZzZzZzZzZzZz | tr -d '\'\\\\r\\\\n\'';+g' |  \
  sed "s/ZzZzZzZzZzZz/'/g" |\
  sed 's/"https/https/g' | \
  sed 's|\\/|/|g' > curls;
  . curls | sed '/^">/d' > weblinks;
  (echo "<ul>"; cat weblinks; echo "</ul>")

This generates a page containing an HTML list which can be pasted into a WYSIWYG editor on a web page. Here’s an example

Windows 10 users can open a Unix (Linux) window via the  Windows Subsystem for Linux facility see: or use which can be accessed using Putty (see:

Alternatively, send a message to making sure to include the address  (URL) of the WebLearn site containing the Web Links and we’ll do it for you.

There is one caveat: only the first 5 levels of nested folders in Resources are exported.

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Adobe Products and accessibility

Here’s a great resource from Adobe about creating accessible media

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Did you know that Sakai has a racing car?


As I’m sure most readers know, WebLearn is built upon the open source Sakai platform.

One of the software’s founders, Dr Charles Severance has decided to initiate a guerrilla marketing campaign and have some fun, by buying a cheap old car (a ‘lemon’), calling it the ‘Sakaicar‘, sticking a pair of “Sakaiger” ears on it and running it into the ground on the racing circuit!


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