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

Posted in WebLearn | Tagged | Leave a comment

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the all-important assignment ID (or entityId in Sakai terminology) for each assignment on the site – this will include unpublished (draft) and completed assignments.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.

Posted in Migration, WebLearn | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in WebLearn | Leave a comment

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:

Posted in Accessibility, e-learning | Leave a comment

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:

Posted in Turnitin, WebLearn | Leave a comment

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)

Posted in Accessibility, e-learning | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in WebLearn | Leave a comment

Adobe Products and accessibility

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

Posted in e-learning | Tagged | Leave a comment

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!


Posted in WebLearn | Leave a comment

WebLearn and Turnitin courses: Trinity term 2019

IT Services offers a variety of taught courses to support the use of WebLearn and the plagiarism awareness software Turnitin. Course books for the WebLearn Fundamentals course (3 hours) can be downloaded for self study. Places are limited and bookings are required. All courses are free of charge and are presented at IT Services, 13 Banbury Road.

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

WebLearn 3-hour course:

WebLearn Bytes sessions:

Plagiarism awareness courses (Turnitin):

User Group meetings will run again in Michaelmas term

Posted in WebLearn | Leave a comment