WebLearn is built on a platform called Sakai, which has been Oxford’s virtual learning environment (VLE) for eight years. In addition, the Michaelmas term 2016 Digital Education Strategy implementation consultation with academic staff and students raised the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly VLE. The VLE Review set out to determine if WebLearn continues to meet the University’s requirements as the primary platform to support teaching and learning.
In Michaelmas and Hilary terms 2016-17, a consultation was carried out with staff and students, including those who do not currently use WebLearn. The full report and summary of findings are available from the VLE Review findings web page.
On 8 June, the Education IT Board approved the VLE Review Project Board’s recommendation to look for a new VLE supplier. In accordance with this recommendation, suppliers will be invited to submit a proposal fulfilling a list of requirements specific to Oxford.
The main reasons for this course of action are to seek to:
1. Provide an improved user experience to staff and students by implementing a VLE that addresses many of the concerns raised regarding shortcomings in the usability of Sakai.
2. Benefit from simpler maintenance procedures, through these efficiencies, foster the development of specialised tools that accommodate requirements and activities specific to Oxford.
3. As set out in the University’s Digital Education Strategy, support academic staff as innovative teachers by improving the functionality and usability of key digital platforms.
In parallel, the VLE Review User Group will further evaluate the suppliers’ platforms, focusing primarily on functionality and usability. A report summarising what is learned from this evaluation will be prepared for the Project Board aiding in the decision-making process for a preferred supplier.
Following the selection of a preferred supplier in Michaelmas term 2017, the project will prepare an implementation plan that will outline the resources necessary to transition to the new platform. The plan will include support for departments and colleges in migrating existing content to the new platform. The proposed implementation plan will then be considered by the Education IT Board.
The selection process will focus on finding a solution that supports teaching and learning. For those people who are using WebLearn for other purposes, WebLearn will remain available until an alternative is identified. Plans for this transition will be developed in collaboration with users.