In just over two weeks – the Fall 2016 term will end. At almost the same time, Sakai, the learning management system used by Johnson University (Tennessee, Florida and Online) will undergo an upgrade from Sakai 10.2 to 11.2.
This upgrade has been planned for well over 6 months and as with any upgrade hopes to bring better continuity and usefulness to a tool as used by both faculty and students within the context of face to face, hybrid and online courses offered by Johnson University.
The most important aspect of the upgrade is to make it as smooth as possible and minimize frustration and headache for both faculty and students.
Sakai is a world class, open source learning management system providing a platform for tens of thousands of students in various educational settings and used by the likes of Duke, Standford, Oxford and others. The global Sakai community is currently in the process of field testing Sakai 11 and making sure it’s ready for ‘prime time’. This testing is critical to put Sakai 11 through it’s paces to insure quality assurance for every adopting institution and organization.
The Quality Assurance testing is done by faculty, students and administrators in institutions who are using Sakai currently. This QA process in collaboration with Sakai Developers helps insure Sakai 11 is ready.
In order to insure a smooth upgrade and provide ample time for instructors to prepare for their upcoming fall courses, course sites for the Fall 2016 term will be made available July 5, 2016. This provides faculty with course sites a full month prior to the upgrade and about three weeks of lead time before fall term courses begin on August 22, 2016. This is a change from the plan to wait until the after the Sakai upgrade to create fall term course sites.
Course sites are created for all courses offered by the University, even if it’s an independent study course. These course sites are periodically updated to reflect the current registered enrollment reflected at My.JohnsonU.edu in keeping with Add/Drop and Withdraw deadlines.
Once a course site is created, it’s left in an unpublished state, and not available to students until an instructor publishes the course (thereby making it available to students officially registered to take the course). Course sites should be made available to students on or very shortly before the first official day the course begins.
To publish a course site:
Navigate to the course after logging into Sakai
If the course is unpublished, you’ll see a status message near the top, indicating “Unpublished Site”
Simply click the (Publish Now) button to change the status
To unpublish a course site:
Navigate to the course after logging into Sakai
Select Site Info>Manage Access
Change the selection from Publish Site to Leave as Draft
Save the change by selecting the Update button
Unless needed, course sites should be unpublished 2 weeks after the conclusion of a term or session. Doing so helps limit the number of course sites students need to negotiate in their courses and helps prevent students from potentially sharing course content with students who have yet to take the course.
Even Amazon has it – a way to log out of the site when you’re done. Sakai’s logout process is much the same.
Locate the Logout area at the top right near where you see your name listed and/or your profile image. If you’re accessing Sakai from a mobile or small device just click the profile image.
In the dropdown menu select the Log Out option.
It’s always a good idea to log out of sites you’re not using at the moment, especially if you’re using a device located in a public library or other location. It’s important to protect access to your courses and sites in Sakai and logging out helps you to do this.
Inheriting new features in a platform you’re already familiar with can be both frustrating and delightful. Just think of when the modern automobile tire was upgraded to include air as a way to provide a better cushion and ride for drivers and passengers: tires became more expensive and now had to have air put into them which meant they could also pop, but the trade off was a better ride, better control and an improved overall platform for passengers and drivers.
To find course sites in Sakai 11 after logging in:
Locate the Sites icon in the top right and select it
Next use the Sites ‘drawer’ that appears to select a course you want to go to
If you can’t find the course, use the Search window to try and locate it
You can use the Sites drawer to mark Favorite course sites – or ones you frequent most often. If you still can’t locate the course, try using Membership instead – which lists all courses – even if they’re not one of your favorites.
Sakai 10 and 11 have a similar visual structure, but there’s definitely something to be said for understanding how to get around and where to find things. The left-hand navigation per-site or course remains, as does the access to course and project sites across the top. Beyond this standard web-site design (even Amazon uses a similar structure) there are some definite changes. You can see them below in a screenshot of the same course in Sakai 11 and 10 respectively:
My Workspace gets traded off for Home, but mostly as a change in naming, not function.
Home in a course in Sakai meanwhile also gets updated, but again just in naming not in function, to Overview (see above image).
The whole set of icons used throughout Sakai is updated to use Font Awesome icon set, instead of the famfamfam set. This is most especially notable in the left-hand navigation that appears in the Home (11) and Overview (11) areas of Sakai. These icons can also easily be used in any content development by using the Font Awesome button in the rich text editor, in any tool that accesses the rich text edit window (which includes Lessons, Assignments, Tests and Quizzes, Announcements, Messages, etc.):
There are as yet other changes including, but not limited to:
More Sites to just Sites
Overall look and feel to facilitate access on any type of device (referred to as Morpheus)
Move of View Site As from top right to left just atop the list of tools for any course site
Move of Publish Now manage access option to the center from the left hand navigation area