Glossary of Terms

WebLearn, like any other web-based system to support academic activities, makes use of some terminology. We explain some of the more commonly used terms here.

For general computing terms that are not covered please consult the Free Online Dictionary of Computing or the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

Term Definition
Access rights There are certain Roles in WebLearn that can be assigned to users and gives them a default set of permissions. Permissions may be applied to resources in a WebLearn site, to govern what groups of users can do with regards to that resource: view, edit, delete, post, create, upload, manage.
Accessor A WebLearn role that refers to a site member or participant: useful for students. By default this role can read material and create within communications such as Forums, Chat, Blog and Wiki.
Adaptive technology Any product, device or equipment used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with various forms of physical impairment.
Assessment tools Tools within WebLearn that manage the authoring, delivery and marking of assessments tasks, such as assignments, tests, tasks and surveys.
Blog See Weblog.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) WebLearn makes use of html pages, which can be based on Cascading Style Sheets to define their appearance. Style sheets define which fonts should be used, where the objects should be placed on the page, how much space to leave around particular objects (buttons, images, etc...) on the page. More than one stylesheet can be applied to each page, giving the cascading effect.
CLA Abbreviation for Copyright Licensing Agency, a non profit-making company that licenses organisations for photocopying and scanning from magazines, books and journals.  See the entry for Copyright.
Contributor A WebLearn role between maintain and access: useful for Tutors and teaching assistants. By default can do the same as the maintain role but cannot add or remove site participants or change tool permissions
Copyright Copyright is a set of exclusive rights regulating the use of a particular expression of an idea or information.  The use of such expressions elsewhere - in terms of content and format etc - usually require permission and due attribution.  This applies to all content in WebLearn, including uploaded files using material that comes originally from books and journals.  To facilitate this, Oxford has subscribed to a license with the Copyright Licensing Agency: HE photocopying and scanning licence that covers the creation of digital copies of certain materials.
Global Applying to a tool or function that is effective across the whole WebLearn system. For example, the Announcements and Calendar in My Workspace collate all the Announcements and Calendar items across all the WebLearn sites of which one is a member.
Help A global feature with WebLearn (build by the Sakai community) that allows users to access documentation to assist in using various features of the system. Each tool in WebLearn also provides context specific help.
HTML An abbreviation for HyperText Markup Language, the main language used for Web pages. It makes use of pairs of tags that Web browsers interpret as formatting instructions - e.g. <h1>Heading</h1> makes a heading. You can enter HTML in many text boxes in WebLearn, but actually don't need to know HTML itself, as there is a WYSIWYG editor that can help.
HTML editor An editing text box that is available for many WebLearn tools, in order to easily create html, and which automatically builds the source code.
Learning Management System (LMS) A synonym for Virtual Learning Environment, used more commonly in the United States.
Local WebLearn Coordinator An Administrative Unit (Department, Faculty, School, College or Club/Society) that requires a presence within WebLearn needs to nominate at least one member of staff to oversee the Unit’s WebLearn presence. Such people act as a contact between the Unit and the central OUCS WebLearn team and are know as Local WebLearn Coordinators.
Maintainer A WebLearn role assigned to the owner or manager of a WebLearn site. By default, the maintainer can modify the site participants and tools, create content in all areas, e.g. Resources, Forums and Chat
Newsfeed In terms of the Web, this refers to content packaged in a simple way (typically as a bit of meta data and list of items) so as to be easily shared with and processed by other Internet applications. Its characteristics are generally that it contains summaries of the latest information relating to the news source together with hyperlinks to more details.See the manual on using blogs and newsfeeds for details.
Open Source Software Software that is made freely available in terms of its original instructions ('source code'), allowing others the freedom to use, develop and redistribute it. Further information is avaliable from the Open Source Initiative for general information and OSSWatch for advice on its relevance in education.
Personal Learning Environment There is no commonly held definition at present, but it may be regarded as an individual’s own evolving learning space characterised by personalisation, distinction from any other(s). At a basic level, WebLearn provides a form of personalisation when people log in as the view they get depends upon their permissions. However, the main personalisation is be provided through My Worskpace, a personal area allowing all Oxford users access to most of the WebLearn tools to use according to individual requirements.
PLE See Personal Learning Environment.
Portal A type of web application that allows for different sets of tools and information displays to be configured in various combinations and layouts for different users and groups.
Resources An tool in WebLearn that allows a maintainer or contributor to create folders, upload files and build html pages to be stored on the server for that WebLearn site.
RSS An abbreviation that covers a set of different standards for implementing syndicated newsfeeds (see separate entry), viz: Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and RDF Site Summary.
Sakai The software platform of the new WebLearn systemn at Oxford, which was piloted in 2008/2009 and is now the production version of WebLearn.
Single Sign-on A University-wide system connecting different services such as WebMail and WebLearn - it means that you can log in to one of these and then move across to another service without having to enter or re-enter another username and password. See the OUCS pages on using the Oxford Single Sign-on.
Site info tool A WebLearn tool that provides site information and the ability for the site maintainer to edit capabilities, tools and access to a site.
Site Members A group of users or participants in a WebLearn site. They are added (by user name or email address) by the maintainer to a site, which then appears under their My Active Sites tab for easy access to the site.
SSO See Single Sign-on
Style sheets See Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
Tools These are the interactive elements in WebLearn to accomplish a specific function - such as Announcements, Assignments, Schedule (Calendar), Questionnaires, Newsfeeds, Wiki, Discussion Forum etc. These include everything that is on the left navigation menu in WebLearn.
Turnitin Turnitin is a web-based system which can be used to compare submitted work with its extensive database and the internet to check originality and the use of proper citation. It provides users with an originality report of the extent of matching text discovered. See Turnitin UK Home Page.
Virtual Learning Environment A web-based system that supports any academic activity, covering teaching and learning, research, and administration. It enables communication, collaboration, assessment, and provides information, subject content, and site management tools in one integrated online environment.
VLE See Virtual Learning Environment
Webauth This is the technology that allows web sites to be part of Single Sign-on protocol. Whenever you log in to an SSO-protected service, you are redirected to Webauth to check your credentials (username and password). The technology was developed by Stanford University.
WebDAV WebDAV allows you to set up your WebLearn site as a network place (or mapped drive) on your computer. This enables moving multiple files and folders between your computer and the WebLearn server, simply by dragging and dropping. You can also then edit files in your WebLearn Resources area in situ, rather than having to download them, edit them, then upload then again.
Weblog (Blog) A web site containing a chronological record consisting of personal observations, excerpts from other sources, etc., typically run by a single person, and usually with hyperlinks to other sites; an online journal or diary. See the manual on using blogs and newsfeeds for details.
Widget This is a user-friendly aid to facilitate input - commonly a more graphical means for entering textual data. In WebLearn, it usually refers to the HTML editing widget, the widget used to format text and build HTML pages. It usually has an [Edit] button, which you press to launch the pop-up editor, which is effectively a very simple Word processor.
WYSIWYG An acronym for What You See Is What You Get, usually referring to a text editor where formatting changes are instantly visible. In WebLearn, many tools provide a WYSIWYG html editor, in order to easily create html, and which automatically builds the source code.
ZIP file This is a means of bundling a set of files into a single file, usually called an archive, and compressing these files in the process.  There are many different formats, but WebLearn supports the ZIP  (originally called PKZIP) as it is very common.  See further details from Wikipedia.  In WebLearn's Resources tool, you can upload ZIP files and they will automatically be unpacked for you.