When the pandemic caused us all to work and study remotely in March last year, the IT systems supporting the teaching and administration of students at Oxford had to respond accordingly. The priority was to ensure that systems could meet the needs of staff and students, and alongside this, the teams were grappling with the challenges of remote working and home schooling.
In that context, it is amazing that project work managed to carry on at all, but it did. Alongside project delivery, the whole IT project portfolio went through its annual prioritisation exercise. This resulted in some of the projects that were planned for future years being brought forward, as the existing processes simply could not be amended to cope with remote working or the changing requirements. This resulted in two news projects - Award Documentation and Marks Management.
In addition to those projects, and in recognition of the need to do substantial work to ensure business continuity in the key areas of teaching and learning, assessment, and graduate admissions, some additional funding has been made available for those areas, and projects are now underway.
After a successful final phase of rollout in 2020, resulting in the use of Canvas by over 95 per cent of students, the Canvas programme will continue to work closely with the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in Hilary term to support staff with embedding flexible and inclusive teaching principles. This will ensure that students receive a consistent and high-quality learning experience this term, whether teaching is delivered in-person or remotely.
The programme is due to close in Trinity term and good progress has been made over the last few months with the work of handing over operational activity to the CTL.
If you have any questions about Canvas, please contact email@example.com.
The Teaching Management System (TMS) will replace OxCORT in Michaelmas term 2021, providing a common system for academic staff and undergraduate students, and greater visibility of teaching provided to undergraduate students across the University. College and departmental administrators will have access to TMS from early August 2021, so that they can complete their set up in readiness for tutors to use the system in Michaelmas term. Stakeholder activities and communications will increase throughout Hilary term as areas of functionality are completed and stakeholders are asked to review these.
The e-Assessment project will replace WebLearn with a new system and related processes for online exams (from Trinity term 2021) and submission of coursework (from Michaelmas term 2021). The e-Assessment project board has chosen a new platform that best serves the diverse needs of Oxford staff and students, now and in the future. The sponsor, Jackie Hoyle, will announce details of the new platform to staff in the first week of February, followed by communications to students.
The scope for online open-book exams covers summative exams for undergraduate and postgraduate taught degree programmes. In Hilary term 2021, students will continue to take their summative University exams on WebLearn (except for some pre agreed pilots and early adopters). From Trinity term 2021, all online exams will be taken in the new platform instead of WebLearn.
The project is currently engaging departments and colleges to help prepare their students (both undergraduate and postgraduate taught) for the new platform and associated changes. Relevant staff will be able to prepare for the changes in process, policy, and technology with resources such as live demonstrations, videos, guidance, and other regular communications. Likewise, students will be able to become exam-ready with a dedicated website, regular communications, and hands-on access to demonstration tests so they can get familiar with the new platform and its features and functions.
Full support will be available for everyone making the transition to using the platform. We will be able to provide details of the changes in online coursework submissions in a future edition of this newsletter.
We are running the second year of a pilot of a new assessment results database, to be used by exam boards to manage the marking process, collate their exam marks, and calculate classifications. Following this pilot, we hope that additional exam boards can be added to the system next year. When fully rolled out, this will allow the MarkIT system to be retired.
This project will implement a new system in the Degree Conferrals team to enable them to produce secure electronic versions of certificates and transcripts, and speed up the degree verification process.
The first phase of changes will go live after the graduate application deadline. This includes improvements to bulk download and to offer uploads. Planning for phase two is underway, which will improve the University Admitting Body (UAB) offer screens, and automate the offer holder pool to enable colleges to request and be assigned applications.
If you have any questions about the Education IT Programme, please get in touch with the Portfolio Manager.