Teaching in Sakai: First Impressions

Michael Black, Senior Instructor in the Computer & Information Sciences Department, shared his first impressions on teaching in Sakai at a workshop on October 28, 2011. As an early adopter, Black began teaching in Sakai during the 2011 summer semester. Black organized his discussion around comparisons of Sakai and eCollege. Based on his first impressions, faculty members have a lot of good things to look forward to working in Sakai. You can read about some of the advantages he talked about below.

Do you compute on the go? Then you will love Sakai. Sakai is highly compatible with mobile devices, including the iPad and smart phones. It automatically connects in mobile mode when you log in on a mobile device, and the response times are good–much better than eCollege.

Hoping for a better way to track student assignments? Then you will enjoy the fact that Sakai creates folders by student name when you download assignments. This really helps organize student work for grading.

Tired of manually scoring threaded discussions? Then you will revel in being able to assign grades as you read forum posts. In Sakai, forums (equivalent to threads) can be linked to the Gradebook.

Looking for a way to improve assessments? Then you will find the statistical analysis feature in Sakai to be very helpful. The Gradebook tool in Sakai includes a much more robust statistical analysis option than eCollege that allows you to look at the metrics of individual assignments, tests and quizzes–even down to the item level.

Longing for better notifications? Then you will be happy with the wealth of two-way options Sakai gives you for communication between you and your students. You are able to customize notification choices in each component and in each course.

Wishing for a simpler way to move between courses? Then you will appreciate the one-click transition from course to course. In Sakai, to move from one course to another, you simply click the name of the course you want to move to, and you are there instantly.

Like to customize courses? Then you will want to take advantage of the flexibility that Sakai offers in choosing course tools. No two courses you author have to look alike–unless you want them to. In Sakai, you choose the course tools that you want to activate in each course. If you don’t plan to use a certain tool, then you don’t activate it, which results in a much cleaner look for your course site. This is really a nice feature for blended courses in which you may use far fewer tools than you would in online classes.

Want an easier way to duplicate courses for multiple sections or from semester to semester? Then you will flip over Sakai’s one-click site duplication.

Wondering how students will respond to Sakai? Students have found Sakai very easy to use. They love the notifications and the speed at which the system operates.

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