If you’re like most faculty – you’re using some sort of gradescale to calculate the overall course letter grade students earn as a result of accomplishing certain tasks in your course(s).
As such, it’s important to make sure that the gradescale being used in the course site is the same one you’ve published in your official as the gradescale. If you’re using a 10 point scale in your syllabus, make sure you check out the My Grades>Settings>Grading Schema, to make sure they’re the same.
If they’re not, adjust the My Grades>Settings>Grading Schema to be the same as what you have published in your syllabus. To do so:
In the course go to My Grades (Gradebook)>Settings>Grading Schema
Alter the Minimum Percentage column entries as needed.
Once done, select Save Changes at the bottom.
Keep in mind that A+ grades cannot be recorded on student transcripts (an A is the highest recorded grade). As such then, you can just use the Remove button to remove that mapping of the gradebook scale, and Save Changes at the bottom of the scale settings page.
It’s critical to make sure what you decide to use or what’s mandated by the school your course falls under is used in the course site calculation gradebook. As each school and/or course may use a slightly different scale, faculty have access to modify the scale as needed based on how the course is designed.
While there are some improvements to accessibility and some on-going tweaks to improve color contrast issues, the upgrade to Sakai will not affect the overall appearance that much. For mobile users – the difference in course navigation will be much-improved.
Mobile view (Sakai 11/Post-Upgrade):
More detail will be distributed in the coming weeks and those following the upgrade.
According Amazon’s Dashboard (screenshot below), the issue which affected some portions of access to course sites in Sakai has been resolved (5:08 EST).
Faculty and students are encouraged to continue to working in Sakai normally. If you experience any issues logging in, accessing course content, submitting grades or assignments, to contact the HelpDesk. Students experiencing issues related to submitting assignments, discussions, tests or quizzes late should contact their course instructor for direction on how to proceed.
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.
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.
Ok so you’ve finally finished planning out part of a lesson and you want to include some killer video content you’ve found online. The only problem is – the video content isn’t yours, and it doesn’t appear as though there’s an easy way for you to get it into your course in Sakai.
So what do you do?
First of all – do you need to include it directly into the course?
The short answer: No.
The best answer: Yes. Wait – what?
There’s nothing in the ‘How to be a Perfect Online Instructor’ that says you have to include the content in the course, inside the LMS. Pointing students to otherwise well-curated, applicable and relevant content is good and it’s something you’re likely better better at than students. However – it may be good to help retain student’s focus by including the content right in the course – inside the LMS. How many times have you found yourself looking for something online – only to get side-tracked by some ad, link, other video or headline? To some degree this may not be a big issue, it provides support for learning through exploration. On the other hand, in the void that is the Internet, students may meet dead ends or distractions that completely take them away from accomplishing the lesson or course objectives.
The lesson here: If you can legally and efficiently include content into an online course’s LMS – do so. This becomes especially important for adult students taking online courses – where their time and energy are likely being utilized in a full-time job or other responsibilities. The other added benefit is that you’ve curated and organized content in such as way that demonstrates to students how you value their time and the content of the course. This also helps to minimize the barriers between students and the content they need to engage with – online advertisers do the same thing.
Ok, what about finding the content elsewhere?
Many instructors, faculty and/or course designers will look to see if the content has been posted to YouTube – albeit sometimes by others who have used other means of ripping the content and posting it illegally. While there is a lot of good content on YouTube and other video sharing sites that would benefit your course – be sure to steer clear of using content that is more than likely pirated or otherwise posted without consideration of copyright and fair use.
The lesson here: Don’t use content you know or suspect to be posted illegally. It’s so easy to pull that image or video and think, “No one will know, and the students won’t care.” This however is the same type of thinking that galls instructors when students turn in papers which have obvious plagiarizing issues. While you wouldn’t want your students to turn in content that’s not theirs (or otherwise well cited) – demonstrate the same level of integrity you’d expect from your students. There is room for leaning on fair use policy, but don’t use it as license.
One way to address the ability to place content into your course is by using an embed code. Yes, YouTube provides these rather handily. They make it very easy for anyone to copy the embed code and make the video content appear in another website or in this case in the LMS. In some ways, the use of an embed code provides a somewhat balanced approach to fair-use and inclusion of content in a course without claiming it as your own.
What exactly does an embed code do? Essentially it acts as a pointer to the content – and the browser understands to go ‘fetch’ the content included in the embed code and display it accordingly. In some ways it’s like the picture-in-picture (PIP) function of many televisions – it shows the content from some other channel (website) but here, while the other content is being displayed.
So what does an embed code look like? Something like this, but it’s always specific to where on the Internet the video is really located – sort of like referring to the channel in the PIP example above:
So where do you do with the embed code once you find it? Basically – you copy the code itself and then place it into a HTML area in the LMS – according to where it best fits for students to see and access the content. In Sakai, for example – you can place the code into any area that uses the Rich Text Editor, by clicking on the SOURCE button:
So the pasted code would look like this:
Once you save the edit, you’d end up with something that looks like this (but without the blue and red area designations):
Ok so now we get to our final question, or our original question and the one that prompted this particular post. What if the video isn’t from YouTube? Short answer: look for an embed code. Long answer: Really look for an embed code. There’s no question the Internet is filled with content – not all of it good and yet some of it is really excellent – like this video from TIME. An instructor contacted me and wanted to include in his online course – but was unsure of how to do so. Thankfully – TIME provided just the right solution – an embed code. Sometimes these things are hidden or ‘organized’ under a share area or button:
In this case, hovering over the video itself for a second, allowed the share options to appear in the top right of the video. The icons represent information, share, link and embed respectively (left to right). Clicking the <> icon displayed the following and provided the means to place it right into the course:
And here’s how it appears in a course:
Not every website provides an easy way to share content this way – likely because they just don’t want to or because it’s not within the framework of how they want to provide their content for public access and consumption. Sites provide ways to embed more than just videos – you can also embed audio and images. Smells are still quite a ways out of technologies reach for now – thankfully.
Many other popular services provide this ability to embed content including the following:
If you’re still curious or worried about the legality of embedding content check out this interesting post from Andrew Feather (especially the part about the Terms of Service section) on the matter and this ruling from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2012 as reported by CNET. You can even read about Google and Facebook’s position on the issue here if you’re super board or extra curious. Oddly, as of this posting the actual ruling from the Seventh Circuit isn’t available. There’s also this posting by Eric Goldman on the ruling at the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.
FINE PRINT: The easy link can be the weakest
It’s important to recognize an inherent limitation to linking or embedding content. While doing so does a great job of riding the fair use/copyright line, it also means that content integrity in a course can be compromised. If someone has uploaded content to YouTube that is later deemed by YouTube to infringe on the copyright owner and YouTube removes the content, your course (by association) is affected. Consequently students become frustrated about content that isn’t accessible. This isn’t a deal breaker – but it is something to bear in mind.
As part of the annual end of the year meetings last year – the university adopted a formalized grading scale. As stated in the current catalog (page 294) “All Johnson professors use this scale unless the unique demands of their subject matter require a different approach. In such cases, the alternative grade scale appears in the course syllabus“. The grading scale is:
To modify the grade scale in a course (Sakai does not use the new scale as the default when creating new courses):
Go to Gradebook>Course Grade Options and modify the minimum % column to the following:
A+ = 101
A = 97
A- = 94
B+ = 91
B = 87
B- = 84
C+ = 81
C = 77
C- = 74
D+ = 71
D = 68
D- = 65
F = 0
The scale above does NOT make adjustment for rounding up. If so, adjust the minimum % by .5 accordingly.
Once done, be sure to click the SAVE button to apply the scale changes to the course’s grade book (and student grades).