WebLearn and Turnitin Report: Apr 2013 – Oct 2013

WebLearn and Turnitin:  Apr 2013 – Oct 2013

The big news in this period has been the changes in behaviour of Firefox and Chrome in how they handle pages containing ‘mixed content’.

Web browsers classify content as either ‘secure’ (the URL begins with https:), or ‘non-secure’ (the URL begins with http:). Web pages which contain both secure and non-secure content are said to contain mixed content. In situations such as this, Firefox and Chrome now choose to block, ie, not display non-secure content. This means some pages in WebLearn are either blank or have missing elements such as videos.

We have modified WebLearn to address some of the problems with insecure content and staff have been informed of the implications and asked to update WebLearn pages, however, there may still be some items on sites that do not display, e.g. videos, social media widgets and others.

It is expected that the other major browsers, eg, Opera and Safari, will adopt the same approach as Firefox and Chrome in the near future – the problem is not going to go away and site owners need to take action.

WebLearn currently stands at v2.8-ox7.3, the highlights are since April (v2.8-ox5) are

  • URL redirection – you can now change a site URL but ensure the old URL still works.
  • CK edit used throughout (except within Surveys tool). This is a rewrite of the previous FCK edit and handles MS Word text much better.
  • Graduate Training (SES) tool improvements
  • Above-mentioned enhancements that post process a WebLearn page to rewrite embedded URLs and HTML Anchor tags in order to get around the blocking of mixed content. So far the Web Content, Resources and Home tools have been addressed. (The Oxitems team have also made changes to support sites that embed Oxitems feeds.)
  • Measures have been put in place so that we should now be informed when the “Import into WebLearn” facility disappears from the Libraries’  SOLO  search engine: we no longer have to rely on our users informing us of problems.
  • New student-centric front page – the content is based on feedback from students that were interviewed.
  • The front page contains a link to  ‘WebLearn User Voice’ which is a new transparent mechanism for gathering enhancement requests from our users.

The next release of WebLearn is due on 5th November and will herald large improvements to the sign-up tool, updates to the Oxford Podcasts tool to use the new Podcasting service,  small enhancements to Resources, WYSIWYG HTML editor, Announcements, Site Redirects and the Graduate Training (SES) tool.

Training and Guidance

This term’s program of training has been announced, there are no new courses.


Work on the Student Enrolment System (SES) III project is on going with one work package left to complete. This project is led by the academic divisions and is funded by SSPB. So far numerous improvements have been made to the Graduate Training (SES) tool within WebLearn in the areas of user interface, searching, reporting and  course administration.

The PICT-funded SIPA project which worked with academic and administrative staff members across the university to investigate assessment and feedback practices and to invite user input has now finished. The main outputs are

  • A report on the pilot of Assignments 2 tool. In short, Assignments 2 is unsuitable for production use and
  • Reports on the pilot of PeerMark and GradeMark. In short, there is a small group of tutors at Oxford who are using GradeMark enthusiastically, but there is little interest in PeerMark. Hence our current limited licence for these two products will suffice for the foreseeable future.
  • The authoring of training materials. There are now three plagiarism-related courses and a wealth of on-line support materials.
  • The development of education policy support. The document “Policy and Guidance for Examiners and others involved in University Examinations” was updated and includes input from IT Services. Education Committee has agreed a proposed programme of work to address areas where the University’s strategy for the prevention and handling of plagiarism should be further strengthened.
  • New Sakai-Turnitin integration code. Close to the end of the project,  iParadigms rewrote the Turnitin web services interface (API) which meant that the Sakai – Turnitin integration code needed to be rewritten. The new code is 70% complete and we are liaising with iParadigms regarding the sharing of the remaining work with the rest of the Sakai community.


Developers Marc Savitsky and Colin Hebert have left to graze upon pastures anew, however,  Ben Holmes has joined the WebLearn team as a developer. Ben has previously worked in the area of computer-aided assessment and is very enthusiastic and full of good ideas. He has already been of great benefit to the team and will continue to be so.


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