VLE Review

WebLearn has been Oxford’s virtual learning environment (VLE) for eight years. Does it still meet our needs today or should we consider an alternative solution?

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.

Findings are now available from the new VLE Review findings page, and the review is moving forward with a recommendation to look for a new VLE for Oxford. Potential suppliers will be required to submit a proposal fulfilling Oxford’s requirements, and then undergo a selection process.

Details are in the drop down sections below.

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Review findings

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. 

Next steps

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 Education IT Board.

Alternative solution for purposes other than teaching and learning

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.

A full report and summary of the review findings are available from the VLE Review findings web page. 

The VLE Review Project Board meets on a regular basis to review progress of the VLE Review and has ultimate responsibility for overseeing direction and governance of the review. 

The VLE Review User Group provides advice, support and assurance to the VLE Review, and represents end-users to ensure Oxford’s needs are met satisfactorily. The group comprises of a range of  users of VLEs, and will and will be closely involved in the important task of prioritising requirements. 

Membership of the VLE Review Project Board and User Group is available from the VLE Review Governance page.

If you have any questions about the VLE Review, you may find the Frequently Asked Questions useful, or you can contact us at VLEreview@it.ox.ac.uk.

You can contact the VLE Review team by email at VLEreview@it.ox.ac.uk.

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