Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Planning Ahead for the Sakai 2.9 Upgrade - Friday, June 6

Sakai Unavailable, Friday, June 6, 6:00 am - 12:00 noon

On Friday, June 6, from 6:00am to 12 noon, Sakai will be out of service to upgrade the system from version 2.8 to 2.9. Please note that June 6 is the first Friday of the Summer 2014 academic term, so Sakai will not be available for course work that morning. Thus, please plan Summer term assignments and other activities which use Sakai accordingly. 

What’s Changing With This Upgrade and Why Does It Matter?

The new version of Sakai will feature:
  • several improvements to the user interface, including a prominent ‘Publish Now’ button which allows instructors to publish course sites with one click and a tool menu that users can minimize for more screen space;
  • a major new tool called Lessons, through which instructors can consolidate course materials, assignments, quizzes, discussion forums, and multimedia while presenting all such items within a structure that mirrors the actual flow of the course; and 
  • enhancements to commonly used Sakai tools, such as Forums, Gradebook, and Tests & Quizzes.
More details about the Lessons tool and other changes to Sakai will be posted to this blog in April. In the meantime, consider the following preview of the Lessons tool.

A More Integrated Sakai Through Lessons

Although instructors can easily add the Lessons tool to a course via the "Edit Tools" function in Site Info, Lessons is not just another ‘add-on’ tool. The unique power of Lessons stems from its ability to organize and build course content for the entire site. Through Lessons instructors create or select course material stored in Resources, Assignments, Forums, or Tests & Quizzes and present these items with supporting rich text and multimedia on a Lessons page. By creating several such pages, instructors can build up their course and organize material by week, unit, topic, or any other scheme that intuitively represents the flow of the course.

Figure 1 below shows an example of a Lessons page seen from an instructor’s perspective. It depicts a simple page entitled “Section 1” which incorporates blocks of rich text, links to two readings stored in the Resources tool, and a link to an assignment from the Assignments tool.

Figure 1: Lessons - Instructor View (click image to enlarge)

Figure 2 below shows the corresponding student view of the page from Figure 1.

Figure 2: Lessons - Student View (click image to enlarge)

This simple example of a Lessons page demonstrates how Lessons can integrate different learning activities that are associated with distinct tools (e.g., Resources and Assignments) and present them on a single page to represent a discrete unit for a course. With Lessons instructors can author several such pages (e.g., Sections 1 through Section 5), so that online learning activities are presented in a more cohesive and intuitive style than has been possible with previous versions of Sakai.

Learn More by Attending a Workshop

Faculty and staff can register here to attend the following workshops offered this academic term.

Sakai 2.9: What's Changing and Why Does It Matter? - Sakai will be upgraded early this summer to version 2.9. Get an overview of new features as well the new Lessons Tool. Learn to simplify your course structure for students and explore new pedagogical approaches. This workshop is offered three times this term (Spring 2014):
  • Friday, April 25, 2014 - 12:00 PM
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 2:00 PM
  • Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 12:00 PM

The New Sakai Lessons Tool - The Sakai Lessons Tool allows instructors to present course content in a structured way to guide students through their learning tasks. Using the Lessons tool, you can organize resources, assessments, forums, and media into a topical (rather than tool) structure so that students don’t need to navigate to different tools.
  • Friday, May 2, 2014 - 12:00 PM

We look forward to working with you in making the most of these new features in Sakai. If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to email us at

    Layne Nordgren, Director for User Services / Instructional Technologies
    Sean Horner, Web Application Developer

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