Take away to Help Students in Course Sites

Just as it’s important at the end of the term or session to turn in grades to the Registrar’s Office via my.johnsonu.edu – it’s important to close out course sites in Sakai, specifically to unpublish them.


The immediate question I typically get from faculty is, “Why?” Well here’s a few reasons:

  • Keeps you and students organized.  Sakai provides all users with the ability to favorite sites (place a star next to them using the Sites button) per user. Favorite sites appear in the top blue banner of Sakai. Leaving sites in a published state, crowds out and creates confusion for students.
  • Helps protect against plagiarism and cheating. By unpublishing course sites you protect your own courses and similar or identical courses taught by other instructors from students being tempted to or fully deciding to share their papers or assessments with other students who may be taking the course in the future.
  • Sakai doesn’t automatically surface or show the most current term courses (though this has been discussed as a feature to implement), so it’s important to unpublish courses so students are less confused about where to look for their current courses.

Unpublishing a course takes about 7 seconds:

  1. In the course site go to Site Info
  2. In Site Info select “Manage Access”
  3. Change the selection from “Publish site – accessible to all site participants” to “Leave as Draft – accessible only to site maintainers”
  4. Select Update

Unpublishing a course doesn’t remove your (instructor) access to a course site, it only does so for students who were officially enrolled in the course. Student’s data (grades, forum posts, assignments) will all remain in the course site. By design, Sakai does not delete data – several protections are put in place to prevent or wholly disallow data removal.

There’s obvious room for leaving some course sites published – esp. at the graduate or PhD level, but by and large, most sites should be unpublished at the end of each term or session – a few days or weeks following the official end date of the course.