Education IT digest, Michaelmas term 2021

As is common with Education IT, we are heading into a new academic year with a few major projects going live. TMS went live for administrators over the summer, Coursework Submission in Inspera will be live in October, and Remote Interview Scheduling for Undergraduate Admissions will be used in November once the shortlisting process is complete.

TMS

A completely new, modern system to manage teaching at Oxford

TMS, the new Teaching Management System which replaces OxCORT for undergraduate teaching in colleges and departments, is now launched, ready to be used in Michaelmas term.

This project has been around since long before Covid, and is one of our largest ever in-house development projects. It is a partnership between colleges and the central University and the bulk of the development has been done by a team working remotely during the pandemic. It affects every undergraduate student and most colleges and teaching departments. All of that is to say that it has required a lot of hard work and perseverance from a large team to get where it is now, and it is great to have the system up and running in time for the new term. 

Find out more about TMS in the launch article.

Coursework submissions in Inspera

 

From Michaelmas term 2021 coursework submissions will take place using the Inspera software, following its use in open-book exams. Demonstrations have been provided for staff and self-help guidance created within Inspera and eVision for the new processes, which staff can view in their own time and at their own pace.

In addition, a new SharePoint Online solution has been developed to replace activities currently carried out in WebLearn.

The new SharePoint Online Examining Sites will provide areas for departments in which marking, exam board activities and paper setting can be completed in a secure environment. The e-Assessment project will pre-build sites for each department with relevant exam boards and each site will be created with the flexibility to allow administrators to add additional folders as required.

For more information please visit the e-Assessment project page

Inclusive Teaching Enhancements Project

Ensuring our online teaching environment is accessible and inclusive

The Inclusive Teaching Enhancements Project, which will run from May 2021 to March 2022, will design in and enable inclusive teaching practice within Canvas and its associated tools.

Several new features have recently been delivered to Canvas users. These include updated course templates, which simplify course creation and deliver a consistent user experience, and the Calendar Sync tool, which supports the synchronisation of Canvas calendars to other calendars such as Google Calendar or Outlook, allowing users to see all their events, activities, and due dates in one place. Users can also export their Canvas calendar to PDF or Word and easily print or save their calendar event and share with others.

The project is also moving forward with implementation of Blackboard Ally, an accessible content tool that will improve the student experience by providing course content in a range of accessible and alternative formats, removing the need for specialist software to open files in Canvas and delivering resources to suit different learning styles.

To find out more about the project and deliverables, please visit the Inclusive Teaching Enhancement project web page.

Undergraduate Admissions - remote interview scheduling

Undergraduate Admissions interviews will be held online again this year, and an addition to ADSS (the Admissions Decision Support System) will make this process easier to manage. The new functionality will allow users to upload interview details, and generate Teams invitations for applicants and interviewers.

This is an improved version of the tool that was built at short notice for interviews last year, and has better error-handling and better integration with the data in ADSS.

Hybrid Teaching Spaces

Timelines for the Improvements to Hybrid Teaching Facilities project, which is making improvements to around 20 shared teaching spaces and providing additional guidance for hybrid teaching, have been revised in light of AV supply issues. Due to current global high demand for AV equipment, installation is not able to begin until November. The University acknowledges the inconvenience caused, and efforts continue to address the situation. This includes working with departments to arrange temporary alternative equipment or teaching spaces, for use while rooms are upgraded. Following a review of hybrid teaching guidance, a series of workshops on best practice were delivered in September.

Exam Marks Management

A more streamlined and consistent results management system

In Trinity term 2021 we trialled a new Marks management system with a small number of departments as a proof of concept for a system to assist exam boards with the degree classification process

We successfully used the new system to record marks, apply complex classification rules and calculating final classifications for our trial participants, and the system performed well in this task. To review, we interviewed and took extensive feedback from our participants. The conclusion we reached was that overall the system was good, and had the power and flexibility needed for the role. However, with this power and flexibility came a level of complexity for the user, and the feedback was that the system needed to be made more user-friendly.

As a result of this, we are in the process of undertaking a wider review of the priorities different departments might have around marks management, with a view to expanding the rollout in Hilary and Trinity 2023. By giving ourselves this time we hope to have a much more user friendly system which will meet the needs of many departments, and remove the need for complex excel-based processes in the future.

WebLearn Decommissioning

WebLearn will be made 'read only' in July 2022. This means that you will still be able to access documents held there but will not be able to create new content; the platform will be provided 'as is' with no ongoing support. There is not yet a fixed date for a final 'switch off' of WebLearn - the WebLearn Decommissioning Steering Group will communicate a date in 2021/2022.

For more information about alternative platforms you can use, please see the recent WebLearn update

Digital Awards

This project will be delivering a new, online system for providing degree certificates, transcripts and verification of degrees. During lockdown, production of certificates and transcripts was put on hiatus and an interim solution was deployed to issue Degree Confirmation Letters electronically. This approach will be scaled up to deliver certificate printing, verification, and electronic transcripts.

We hope this will be available towards the end of Hilary term 2022.