VLE Review

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. Following consultation with staff and students, a recommendation was made to go out to tender for a new VLE supplier.


Update 12 October 2017:

A thorough supplier selection process, consisting of a number of activities, such as supplier demonstrations, and usability testing, has been put in place. Details are on the selecting a supplier page (Oxford SSO login required).


Details are in the drop down sections below.

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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 were invited to submit a detailed 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.

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.

A thorough selection process, consisting of a number of activities, such as supplier demonstrations, and usability testing, has been put in place. The details of the process are outlined on the selecting a supplier page (Oxford SSO login needed). The VLE Review User Group is involved throughout the process, to ensure Oxford’s needs are met satisfactorily.

Following submissions of their detailed proposals fulfilling a list of requirements specific to Oxford, VLE suppliers have been invited to demonstrate the suitability of their proposals in person. To ensure this process is fair and in line with recommendations from the University Purchasing department, names of the suppliers taking part in the selection process will be shared only after the process is complete.

The results of all activities will feed into a report, which will be considered by the VLE Review Project Board on 28 November, who will recommend a preferred supplier. 

The VLE 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 alternative solutions are identified, support for these alternatives is in place, and prior notice has been given. In 2018-19 we will investigate the full extent of WebLearn usage for non-teaching and learning purposes, identify gaps where no existing solution fits, and consider how such gaps should be handled.

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.

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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