Academic IT projects

The Education IT Programme includes several Academic IT projects and initiatives related to teaching and learning. The input received from departments and faculties as part of the Digital Education Strategy consultation was fed into the Education IT Board, and will help to set priorities for future Academic IT projects. These projects are being timed to complement the rollout of the new VLE.

All completed Academic IT projects are available from the completed projects page.

You may also like to refer to the latest Education IT Programme Update for Academic IT projects completed recently.  

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Subject to contractual and commercial approval, Canvas has been chosen as the new virtual learning environment (VLE) for Oxford. The decision to use Canvas, provided by Instructure, is the result of a process that began with the 2016 Digital Education Strategy implementation consultation, which identified the need for a more intuitive and user-friendly VLE. Following a rigorous selection process, Canvas was identified as the solution which would provide the best quality of user experience to support teaching and learning at Oxford. 

Next steps for Canvas and the availability of WebLearn

In the coming weeks and months the Canvas @ Oxford team will be identifying and working with early adopters who will migrate their content and launch their new look courses in Canvas in the 2018-2019 academic year. This will be followed by rollout to the wider University in 2019-2020. There are also plans to run a number of roadshows to demonstrate Canvas in Trinity term 2018.

WebLearn will remain available for now, including for purposes other than teaching and learning, until alternative solutions are identified, support is in place and prior notice has been given. Details are on the What will happen to WebLearn? web page. 

You can also read more about the selecting a supplier process (Oxford SSO login needed).

Questions or queries should be sent to You can also join our mailing list to receive updates on all Canvas-related activity.

During the 2017/18 academic year, we will trial timed, invigilated examinations in which students type, rather than handwrite, their scripts.

The Digital Education Strategy consultation identified increasing interest in trialling the use of technology for examinations. Initially, these will be exclusively formative examinations, that is, those that do not determine students’ progression in their programme of study. 

The project will investigate the potential of typed, invigilated examinations by funding and running a trial during the start of Trinity term 2018. This will be carried out by working in conjunction with Education Policy Support, Examinations and Assessments, the Medical Sciences Division, and three interested departments in the other academic divisions.

More information can be found on the e-exams page.

This project reviewed the use of plagiarism screening tools at Oxford, including Turnitin and iThenticate, to assess whether they continue to meet the needs of staff and students. Turnitin is used to screen the work of registered Oxford students. iThenticate is used to screen the work of prospective students, and that of academics or researchers prior to publication. 

93 staff members completed a survey in September 2017, and the results of the survey, along with information gathered from the higher education sector, have been analysed. The resulting recommendation is to close the project, retain the licences for Turnitin and iThenticate, and review expected improved product offerings, including those of possible competitors, after November 2019. In the meantime, there is potential to enhance service provision, and to increase awareness of the plagiarism screening tools currently in place at Oxford, and their intended purposes. 

Details are on the Turnitin and iThenticate Review web page.

Work is under way to research, develop and pilot a framework to assist academic course teams in optimising the use of digital technologies as they design new programmes or revise existing ones. The work, which is closely aligned with the Digital Education Strategy, is based on the principles of Learning Design: guidance, sharing and representation. The project team is currently reviewing previous research in this field at Oxford and elsewhere, and is visiting other universities in the UK where Learning Design approaches have been implemented successfully.
The outputs of the work will be a supportive framework appropriate to Oxford, together with associated professional development workshops and resources for academics wishing to engage with technology enhanced learning. The work, to be completed in July 2018, will lay the foundation for a service provided collaboratively by Academic IT and the Oxford Learning Institute.

Following an earlier pilot with the Bodleian Social Sciences Library in the use of online reading lists,  the project will be moving to the next stage by delivering a much improved solution which will integrate fully with the Library's Management System as well as the new Virtual Learning Environment and will enable students to access their reading lists – linked through to full-text resources and catalogue availability data - in an accessible, digital environment.

The new solution will be used in the first instance by early adopters, drawn from four departments. The Project Team will work closely with the early adopters to rigorously test the solution. The early adoption phase will be followed by an evaluation period, at the end of which any feedback received will be actioned as appropriate. The service is expected to be  transitioned into ‘business as usual’ from end March 2019 after the formal closure of the project.



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