Sakai Upgrade Features

As someone who uses Sakai (student or faculty) you may be wondering about how the upgrade will affect you and what you do in course sites.  By and large this upgrade is not expected to be as monumental as the last upgrade to Sakai (from version 10 to 11 in December 2016).  It does however bring a few new features and a bit more polish to some areas.  You may or may not notice these enhancements or features depending on your familiarity and experience with Sakai:

  • New Commons – social networking style tool allowing posts with url to thumbnail expansion, and unthreaded replies.
    commons posting
  • Improved mobile responsiveness and course navigation
    LAMP_Consortium___JU_AAAB_0010_10_SP16___Week_1
  • Gradebook performance enhancements
  • Enhancements to Lessons (discussions, calendar, resources and name personalization widgets)
  • Assessments extended delivery (Tests and Quizzes): delivery of assessments for select individuals and groups (eg. student time accommodations)
  • Inclusion of “My Official Course Enrollments” area of Home for Students
    Sakai___Home___Membership
  • Improved collapsible course navigation menu
  • Improved Favorite Sites Organization – Auto-Add new Sites to Favorites Bar
    LAMP_Consortium___JU_AAAB_0010_10_SP16___Faculty_Tips
  • Responsive Rich Text Edit window
  • Move View Site As drop down to top banner
  • And other improvements.
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Sakai Upgrade Scheduled

NEW INFORMATION – updated 10 May 2018 @3:30pm EST

Sakai will undergo an upgrade on May 14, 2018 May 15 starting at 8:00am. The last upgrade to Sakai was done on December 19, 2016. Students and faculty are encouraged to be logged out of Sakai by 7am the day of the upgrade.

This is a change from the previously announced date.

Sakai will not be accessible during the upgrade.  You should plan on being logged out of Sakai by 7:00am May 15. Email notification (sent to your JohnsonU.edu email address) will be sent once the upgrade is complete – currently planned for 1pm, May 15th.

Here are things that are not changing:

  1. Where you go tologin.
  2. The secondarylogin will continue to work as well.
  3. Usernames and passwords will be unchanged.
  4. Classes/Courses you’re a current member of – until they’re unpublished by the instructor of record – typically a few days or weeks after the course concludes.

FAQ:

Question: When will I still see my courses for the Summer 2018 term?

Answer: Instructors are responsible to make the course available on or by the first official day of class as published by the Registrar’s Office of the university. Summer Session 1 began May 7, and published courses will remain published and available to students officially registered to take them. The same thing applies for Summer 2 courses, which are scheduled to begin on June 25, 2018. This upgrade should not affect Summer 2 courses but those courses will use the new version of Sakai. All “Sakai 11 courses” will still be available following the upgrade.

Question: As an instructor, grades are due May 14 by 5pm – how does the upgrade affect getting my grades turned into the Registrar?

Answer: Faculty are strongly encouraged to turn in final course grades as soon as possible at My.JohnsonU.edu – under the Faculty tab (Grade Entry) by May 14, 11:59pm. You can also create a backup (CSV or PDF) of your whole gradebook by following these directions, prior to the upgrade date and time if you wish. You should likely also insure the calculated grade scale (Gradebook>Settings>Grading Schema) matches what you published in your course syllabus.

Question: Does anyone else use Sakai besides Johnson University?

AnswerYes, several other institutions around the world use Sakai – including other prestigious institutions such as Marist, Duke, Covenant Theological, Bethel University, Jiangsu University,University of Notre DamePepperdine University and others.

Question: Is there a way to know when Sakai (or other Johnson University services) are online or possibly having issues?

Answer: Yes, check out the service status page available here.

May 15th is just after the Summer 1 session begins (May 7). Final grades for the Spring 2018 term (and Spring Session 2) are to be submitted to my.johnsonu.edu and faculty are encouraged to do so prior to the Sakai upgrade date. The upgrade to the next version of Sakai is not expected to affect grades or course gradebook calculations. Several other adopting institutions have upgrades planned, including Duke University. If you wish to download a back up of your finalized grades, but before the upgrade, you can do so following these directions.

If you’d like to check out Sakai 12 prior to the upgrade, contact Dave Eveland for details on how to check it out.

full-fledged help-section is already available for both students and instructors on Sakai 12, and several other major universities have already gone through the upgrade process.

Stay tuned in for more information in the coming weeks and thank you for your patience as we move forward with this upgrade.

This Year’s Sakai Upgrade

This year’s upgrade to Sakai will involve far more subtle changes to the interface and feature set.  While Sakai will still benefit from a global community of developers contributing to and improving the code, you will also benefit from the support of the Department of Online Education and the related support resources and services you’ve come to expect.

While the feature set will remain largely the same look forward to a few enhancements, improvements in security and the addition of a few new features:

Sakai12 Prototype

This upgrade will be from Sakai 11.3 to Sakai 12.1. Some things you’ll see include:

  • Improved color specification and contrast in the overall look and feel
  • Streamlined course navigation
  • Addition of the Commons tool
  • Provision of extended assessment time for specific individuals or groups of individuals
  • Improved mobile integration
  • Question Type: Hotspot selection improved on mobile devices
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Lessons subpage option
  • Added widget availability in Lessons: Announcements, Forums and Calendar
  • Gradebook performance enhancements
  • and more!

More information will be made available in the coming weeks and months.

How to do Closed Captions Inexpensively

With shrinking budgets and ever greater demands on educators to deliver world-class, high quality education for each and every student, it’s critical to address and provide accessible course content to all students, not just those without hearing or sight impairments.

More and more institutions are turning their attention to address this need, and in this case it’s heartening to know there are several tools, services and ways of addressing closed captioning for video in courses.

When working directly with course designers or instructors, I’m always quick to tell them that if they’re developing video content or even presentations with voice over to script what’s they’re going to say – ahead of time.

Screenshot 2018-01-25 11.20.24
Screenshot from Brackets on correcting a VTT file. Auto-captions are convenient, but not always helpful. This caption should read, “Thank you David, I’m going to go ahead and enable my webcam. I have a face made for audio rather than video, but when I’m doing these sorts of things I always like to…

However, this isn’t always possible and in some cases, takes away from the instructor’s capacity to speak fluidly. Sticking to a script can at times seem rather stale, cold and impersonal.  There are times when an unscripted set of content may deliver a better end-result for the student.  However – providing an accessible asset for hearing impaired students is still necessary (take 2 minutes to read this post over at eLearningbrother.com). In fact, in some cases – students who do not need captions, will still choose to use the captions, because it helps them better identify what’s being said, or because they understand the content better when they hear it and read it at the same time. In my experience, turning captions on has also meant I grow to recognize certain words – I can look those words or concepts up because they’re spelled out in the captions. I can’t count how many times I’ve turned on the captions in a YouTube video when I don’t quite understand the speaker – and it’s the captions that made all the difference.

This video (auto-captioned-uncorrected), takes 20 minutes to watch and covers just one way captioning unscripted content can be done inexpensively with some widely available tools.

Warpwire

On a pedagogical note, some services – like Warpwire, include the ability to search captions and locate in the video where specific words are said (as of 2.0 release).  This opens up a slightly different way for instructors to provide content and check to see if students are attending to what’s being shared in the video.  As an undergraduate student, many of my instructors would provide guide-sheets that were filled with low-level Blooms Taxonomy type questions.  These were great because they helped guide me through the required reading – providing a structure for what I needed to focus on. The same thing can be accomplished by using a caption search function in services – such as Warpwire.  Video provides a great way for students to not only watch, rewatch and review content (making delivery of the content consistent), but could also be paired with closed captions (or transcript), so students can attend to – focus on parts of the content as they work through it. While this isn’t a ‘break through’ use of technology – it is of course just an adaption – yet it leverages students capacity to search and provides a means of helping them attend to the content actively.

Using Student Response Systems

There’s an interesting post by James Lang over here, giving an honest and really practical account of how to use student response systems in class.  While Lang doesn’t intend the post to be technical, it offers some very practical ways of how to implement their use.

icon-student-appIn most cases, universities and classes have gone away from whole-sale purchasing ‘clicker’ devices, and relegated access to such services to a platform internet service (such as Polleverywhere or Socrative) and the use of student’s own laptop or mobile devices.  Most of these services provide a free level of service that can change the way conversations and some instruction happen in just about any course.

It’s not quite fair to post an article or even refer to a really good one and not tried this myself – and I have. In my experience, I’ve tried using PollAnywhere – at the free level – just to see what kinds of responses and interactions might improve the teaching and learning in my context.  In many cases, its really opened up the depth of conversations we have – allowing me to prod students to ask – “Why?” and “What conclusions can you make?” inquiries.  In most of my experience before, too many of my students were all too happy to just sit back and ‘take in’ the whole class – and essentially ‘participate’ by saying ‘I agree’ or providing a minimal head nod once in a while.

While use of student response systems (or any technology for that matter) is not the one all to be all and save all – it’s another method that can assist and support what you’re already doing in your course.

If you’d like to try using some kind of SRS, or just want some direction on where to go with this concept, contact Dave Eveland with the Department of Online Education.

Setting dates for an Assessment

Setting dates for what’s due in a course is often a complex process even if you’re not using some sort of digital mechanism to do so – making sure to include your late policy, correct for official out of class dates and long holidays can be a challenge.  It can be done though by thinking about things ahead of time and knowing how to set them in the course.

When using Tests and Quizzes in a course for assessment, setting the dates is pretty simple, esp. if it’s the only thing you’re doing. Creating an assessment is another conversation entirely (because it’s also a complex concept – depending on what you’re trying to do).

If you’ve been given a course to prep, or if you’ve already got your assessments built in Sakai and just need to make them ready for students to take, you can follow the directions for each assessment:

Step 1. In the course, go to Tests and Quizzes

Step 2. Below the Create from Scratch area, on the Working Copies tab (a), select Settings from the Select Action drop down menu (b) for the Quiz you want to adjust or change.

LAMP_Consortium___JU_CMPR3110_OL40_18S2___Tests___Quizzes

Step 3. On the new page, in the Availability and Submissions section, select the new available, due and late acceptance dates, and other settings as you deem necessary.

Step 4. Select Save Settings and Publish

Step 5. Confirm the setting and choose notification settings.

Step 6. Select the Publish button.

 

That’s it.  Note, also once an assessment is published, if you need to adjust the date/time again, be sure to do so from the Published Copies tab, instead of the Working Copies tab. As long as you’ve not changed the assessment title, if you’ve inserted it previously into a Lesson, it should be good to go. If it doesn’t seem to work from there, just go to the Lesson, and re-insert the link to the assessment, using the Add Content menu.

Data Informs Instruction

Ever teach an online course? Those who have know it’s sometimes difficult to know what’s going on with the students taking the course.  After all there’s “no way” to engage face to face with them, or maybe there is.

In any case having a pulse on if students are engaging in the course and how they’re engaging can be key.  Knowing when to what degree and in what ways students are engaging with course material and each other can help improve the outcomes of the course and help you (the instructor) help students meet with success more often.

One tool available to you in our course site is the Statistics tool.  This tool brings together an extensive amount of log data – and some of it in ready-packaged easy to use diagrams and visual models. You an even run custom reports using the Reports tab:

reporttabinstats

Here are just a few of the tables/graphs you can see just by selecting the tool:

Screenshot 2017-11-17 08.57.39

Screenshot 2017-11-17 08.57.40

To use the tool, just select it from the tool set. The tool merely reports data – it won’t change anything, but it could help you change how you help your students succeed in your class.