What’s Coming in Sakai 11?

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.

screenshot-2016-12-01-12-45-33
Sakai 11 Interface for Johnson University

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.

So what are the biggest changes you can expect to see?  Apart from reading through the detailed list of changes and new features here’s a simple bullet point list:

  • Gradebook upgrade providing spreadsheet grade entry
  • Clean, modern interface
  • Significantly improved mobile functionality (responsiveness)
  • New and improved features in the Lessons tool
  • Favorite and better organize sites

If you’d like to see an overview provided by New York University – you can see it here. Other videos and tutorial information will be made available in the coming weeks.

Advertisements

Upgrade Schedule Rationale

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.

Contact the Department of Online Education with questions.

How do I publish a course in Sakai?

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.

LAMP_Consortium___JU_BUSN2010_OL___Site_Info

To publish a course site:

  1. Navigate to the course after logging into Sakai
  2. If the course is unpublished, you’ll see a status message near the top, indicating “Unpublished Site”
  3. Simply click the (Publish Now) button to change the status

To unpublish a course site:

  1. Navigate to the course after logging into Sakai
  2. Select Site Info>Manage Access
  3. Change the selection from Publish Site to Leave as Draft
  4. Save the change by selecting the Update button

LAMP_Consortium___JU_BUSN2010_OL___Site_Info2

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.

How do I log out of Sakai 11?

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.

How do I find my Courses in Sakai 11?

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.

Using Sites in Sakai 11

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.

Changes in Sakai (from 10 to 11)

Here are just a few of the coming changes you can expect to see in the upgrade of Sakai 10 to Sakai 11:

  • Responsive Design: How it works and looks on different devices
  • Gradebook Improvements
  • Lessons Enhancements
  • Additional Tools (Attendance for example)
  • Font Awesome Support
  • Tool name and actions refinements
  • And more!

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.

image3

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.):

image4There 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
  • Inclusion of profile image in the top right, which also doubles as the Log Out menu
  • Updates to the ‘sites drawer’ location
  • Inclusion of easy method for marking sites as “favorite” for quicker access in Sites area
  • Update to use of ‘elfinder‘ from old file browser when locating and  uploading new resources to a site
  • Inclusion of Windows 10 directions for upload/download multiple resources to a course site
  • A huge number of visual and functional changes to the Gradebook (thanks to NYU), which are covered in another post.

While there are as yet, still other changes and the possible addition of some really interesting features contributed by University of Dayton, be sure to stay tuned.