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WebLearn SLD

Title of Service: WebLearn

Status of Document: This document describes the service provision of WebLearn, this document is occasionally updated, for a list of changes please see the change log at the end of this document.

Last updated 9 Feburay 2017.

A. Introduction

1.1 WebLearn is the centrally-hosted Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) based on the Sakai CLE for use by Oxford University staff and students.

1.2 This SLD is aimed at outlining what will be provided by the host (IT Services,) to any department, college, institution, or individual within Oxford University (the client) who wishes to use the system, and what is the responsibility of the client. IT Services has certain restrictions in terms of the amount of support and service it can offer (i.e. it is not funded to offer 24/7 cover). Furthermore, in keeping with the devolved nature of IT support within the University, this SLD emphasises that IT Services’s main role is the support of the central system, not the individual spaces allocated to individuals, faculties, colleges, and institutions.

1.3 The primary purpose of WebLearn is as a shared academic resource with tools focused on teaching and learning. All reasonable efforts will be undertaken to accommodate requests for usage; however, IT Services reserve the right to require the user to use another service where it is felt that these requests are outside the centrally funded facility.

1.4 The objective of the service, therefore, is to offer departments, colleges, and institutions a centrally-supported robust VLE.

A.1. IT Support

1.5 As with many services provided by IT Services, support is often provided through a combination of IT Services and local IT support (ITSS). As the overall WebLearn service provider, IT Services may always be contacted by users about any aspect of the service. 

1.6 This SLD indicates the primary support path for any given aspect of the WebLearn service. Primary support is generally provided by either IT Services or local IT support.

1.7 Where primary support is not expected to be provided by IT Services, and is, for example, the user's local ITSS then in many cases ITSS are able to instruct IT Services on behalf of the user. Users will generally be referred to IT Services for secondary support where primary support is provided by local IT support. In all cases, users may contact IT Services in the first instance about any aspect of the WebLearn service if they so choose. This may, for example, be the most efficient route to resolve most basic problems. In more complex cases IT Services may refer the user to their primary IT support or require the involvement of local IT support in order to resolve the issue.

B. Summary of IT Services’s responsibilities

The host’s responsibilities fall into six main areas:

  • hosting and system administration;
  • maintenance of the WebLearn service;
  • development of the WebLearn system;
  • general training for the WebLearn service;
  • user support for the WebLearn service;

B.1. Hours of Service

2.1 The service will endeavour to operate at all times.

2.2 Operator cover only runs from 9.00-5.00 on working days. If a serious fault is reported during these hours IT Services will commence investigation within one hour provided that no similar fault is already being handled by the same team.

B.2. Serviceability Targets

2.3 If a serious fault is reported outside of these hours, it will be investigated at the beginning of the next working day (no funding is allocated to cover outside of working hours). It is intended so far as possible to maintain the service of all components at all times.

B.3. Facilities

2.4 A free 'space' for any department, faculty, college, or institution will be provided in the form of an 'Administration Site' in WebLearn. Members of an 'Administration Site' are able to create new sites. N.B. Requests from individuals for ‘spaces’ will not currently be accommodated unless:

  • it is made through a department, college, or institution
  • it is a cross-department course or activity (e.g. interdisciplinary modules or committees)

2.5 Space is not expected to be a delimiter on non-personal usage of WebLearn. The system provides a default quota of 1GB which can be increased upon request providing system performance is not impacted; however, usage which is considered to be beyond 'fair use' (in light of the primary purpose of WebLearn, see: 1.3 and 1.4,) may be restricted and may result in the user being directed to an alternative service which is more suitable. In particular, WebLearn is not the place to store large research data sets, nor should it be used to store large documents or media files that are intended for public consumption or that will be restricted to a handful of users. (Large is considered to be of size greater than 250MB.) WebLearn should not be used as a "web archive": if a WebLearn site is no longer actively used then any content should be exported and stored on a desktop machine or shared drive and the site should then be deleted.

2.6 All users have a personal ‘space’ known as 'My Workspace'. This is currently limited to 100MB.

2.7 Users are able to upload files of up to 100MB in size into Resources.

2.8 IT Services will maintain of the WebLearn user accounts (user-names and passwords), for those included in the Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) service.

2.9 IT Services will maintain user affiliations based on data from IT Services, UAS and other sources.

2.10 IT Services will remove redundant external (ie non-Oxford SSO WebLearn) accounts when requested and when appropriate.

2.11 IT Services will maintain the WebLearn service at the top two hierarchical levels, ie, the front page and Divisional (or equivalent) sites / buildings.

2.12 All tools within WebLearn system are classified as either Primary or Secondary Tools, (see 2.21).

Primary tools are:

  • Home
  • Announcements
  • Email Archive
  • Forums
  • Lessons
  • Mailsender
  • News
  • Resources
  • Schedule
  • Search
  • Site Info
  • Site Members (aka Roster)
  • Site Stats
  • Web Content
  • Assignments
  • Polls
  • Gradebook
  • Drop Box
  • Tests (formerly Tests, Tasks and Surveys)
  • Sign-up
  • Profile
  • Membership
  • Worksite setup
  • Preferences
  • Account
  • OXAM

Secondary Tools:

  • Wiki
  • Chat Room
  • Syllabus
  • Messages
  • Surveys Beta - previously known as Evaluations
  • Researcher Training Tool (formerly known as the Graduate Training Tool and the Student Enrolment System (SES))

2.13 WebLearn relies upon a number of other IT Services services, the main ones are: IT Learning Programme, Message Submission (, Maintaining Security, Oak LDAP service, HFS, Registration Service and WebAuth Authentication System. Please refer to the individual SLDs for further information. WebLearn also relies upon a number of external services as part of its day to day operation, the main ones are Turnitin and various Bodleian Library systems (such as SOLO, OLIS, OxLIP+ and OU e-Journals). We cannot guarantee the service level for these systems; please refer to the individual SLDs / SLAs for further information.

B.4. Resilience and Backup

2.14 IT Services performs a daily back-up of the systems and their access logs. The database and filestore are achived at monthly intervals on the HFS. Where practical to do so, we will attempt to retrieve deleted information to the best of our endeavours but cannot guarantee full recovery. Acting upon guidance supplied by the Proctors Office, back-ups and archives will be kept for a period of five years from the date of creation.

B.5. Migration of Content from Old System

2.15 This section has been removed now that old WebLearn (Bodington) has been decomissioned.

B.6. Hardware and Software Maintenance

2.16 Bug-fixing takes place wherever possible; certain bugs may need to await the application of patches sourced from the Sakai Foundation ( Any scheduled down-time for maintenance or upgrade will be notified at least 24 hours in advance. It should be noted that UKERNA advertise an ‘at risk’ time for JANET from 7.00-9.00 am on Tuesdays, and BT have set an at risk time for JANET as 2.30-4.00 am on Sundays. All WebLearn upgrades take place between 7.00-9.00 am on Tuesdays.

B.7. System Development

IT Services will provide:

2.17 in-house development of the functionality in so far as resources allow;

2.18 co-ordination of the development of the new system with other parties both internal (e.g. UAS), and external institutions;

2.19 co-ordination of the development of the hardware used to house the systems;

2.20 incorporating new services into WebLearn; however, we reserve the right to incorporate such additions only if resources are available and the additions do not detract from the overall performance of the service.

2.21 The development of the system will, at times, include both expansion and deprecation of certain tools. When a Primary Tool (see: 2.12) is deprecated, IT Services will endeavour to provide instructions on how to move the content of the tool to a suitable alternative. Users make use of Secondary Tool on a basis that they may be withdrawn with no support for the transfer of content. A minimum of one year's notice will be given regarding tool withdrawal.

B.8. Administration and Support

2.22 IT Services will provide basic support detailing the use of the system (including general documentation, registration, and help desk advice). Due to budgetary restrictions we cannot offer a 24/7 support service, but will be available to offer support 9:00-5:00 during working days. We will also endeavour to provide a response within one working day on all requests addressed to

2.23 Any person responsible for the administration of the system, or otherwise having access to data, shall comply with the provisions of the 'Statement of IT Security and Privacy Policy' (, as published by the ICT Committee from time to time.

2.24 Fault reporting. Faults should be reported to the Help Centre team at (01865)(2)73200 or by email to

B.9. Education and Training

IT Services will:

2.25 provide face-to-face group training on how to use the system (either at IT Services or remotely).

2.26 provide written documentation for all Primary Tools in a variety of formats, this will include the 'Step-by-step' and 'Least You Need To Know' series.

2.27 design templates within the new system for reuse.

2.28 offer advice and support pertaining to effective practice.

2.29 offer advice to consultants for any specialised development work on WebLearn.

C. Summary of client's responsibilities

3.1 Users are expected use the service for its intended purpose as recommended in published documentation (see: 1.3 and 1.4), and in accordance with any supplementary advice provided by IT Services. IT Services reserves the right to remove a user's account if they are found to be abusing the service.

3.2 The client’s responsibilities (i.e. Departments, Faculties, Schools and Colleges or the individual user) fall into three main areas:

  • maintenance, content creation, and resource creation of their 'space', and controlling access to that space
  • providing resources for any specialised requirements relating to their specific 'space'
  • adherence to any relevant legislation and guidelines, including accessibility, copyright and security.

3.3 The client will specifically provide:

  • A signed agreement by a senior member of the faculty, college, or institution stating a contact name, a person who will administer the 'space', and an agreed name and location (within the University infrastructure) for the 'space'. The form is available for download via the WebLearn Guidance site.

3.4 Local support and administration of the client's 'space', including:

  • uploading and management of all content (i.e. it will not be the responsibility of the host to upload files, or manage them; but the host may assist in file recovery when necessary);
  • specialised site membership lists;
  • specialised 'external' account creation together with regulation of any external users to whom the client may grant such an account - if the account is no longer needed then IT Services should be informed immediately (the account will be deactivated by IT Services);
  • relaying appropriate information regarding observance of the Data Protection Act and Terms of Use to all external users who the client creates prior to their use of the system;
  • reporting any irregularities in account usage or compromised accounts to IT Services (the account will be deactivated by IT Services);
  • access rights management for their 'spaces', including ensuring that sensitive material is accessible only to appropriate parties and that security is not compromised;
  • specialised documentation;
  • creation of content (e.g. new 'spaces', tools, etc.);
  • ensuring that all uploaded material is optimised for on-line delivery (this means compressing audio and visual files as much as possible);
  • design of pages within the client's ‘space';
  • responsibility for ensuring no unauthorised access to material contained within 'spaces' under their administration;
  • responsibility for ensuring compliance with all relevant legislation regarding content (e.g. accessibility [SENDA: Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001], Copyright, Intellectual Property Rights) and compliance with University Computing Regulations;

3.6 All clients will be expected to provide feedback on the system and input into future development plans.

D. Premium services

4.1 Additional features or development which is outside of the planned development path may be undertaken at the client's expense, either internally or using consultants to provide additional functionality; however, IT Services reserves the right to incorporate additions only if sufficient resources are available and the additions do not detract from the overall performance of WebLearn and meet with adequate quality control procedures.

4.2 Members of IT Services are available on request to give presentations to groups about WebLearn and meet with programme or departmental teams to discuss any aspect of using the software.

4.3 If a unit would like to use their own custom 'skin' then there will be a set up charge and yearly charge to cover maintenance. (The reason for this is that the skin will need to be validated, deployed and will require updating every time a new major version of WebLearn is released; it may also need updating when moving between minor versions.)

(The design and implementation of a custom skin is a complex process and it recommended that it be outsourced - the WebLearn team do not have the necessary skills; other sections within IT Services may be able to help here.)

E. Change Log

  • June 8th, 2011
    • added section 4.3 - chargeable WebLearn skin.
  • Jan 11th, 2011
    • section 2.5 - added text about not storing large files or data sets.
  • Jan 11th, 2011
    • section 3.4 - added text about 'optimising for on-line delivery'.
  • Jan 4th, 2012
    • section 1.1 - Bodington now read-only
    • section 2.7 - users cannot now upload into the old system
    • section 2.13 - add HFS
    • section 2.14 - as advised by the Proctors Office, back-ups and acrchives will be kept for a period of five years
    • section 2.14 - clarified current policy for archival and backup, the regularity of database and filestore backup has been increased from twice per term to monthly.
  • September 18th, 2012
    • removed mention of Old WebLearn
    • changed all references to OUCS to IT Services
    • Updated the list of primary and secondary tools
    • Removed item 2.15
  • November 12th, 2013
    • Post'Em and Assignments 2 removed from the list of Secondary Tools; they are no longer available to WebLearn users
    • Samigo (Tests and Quizzes) also removed from list of secondard tools
    • Student Enrolment System (SES) name changed to Graduate Training tool and demoted to a secondary tool due to lack of ongoing funding.
    • Added OXAM as primary tool
    • Removed mention of Google Scholar
  • January 26th, 2015
    • Changed name of the Researcher Training Tool and promoted IMS Basic LTI to a primary tool
  • September 19th, 2016
    • Added Lessons to primary tool
  • Febuary 9th, 2017
    • Changed the web upload ceiling to 100MB
    • Noted in section 2.5 that if a site in no longer used, its conents should be downloaded and the site deleted.
    • Changed 'numbering' of main sections to use letters


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Written by IT Services. Latest revision 22 May 2017