Last week, the Daily Tarheel reported that the ITS Executive Steering Committee passed a motion to begin a three-year transition to Sakai. This is a big 1-up for the pilot and for our campus. We look forward to working with faculty, staff and students to listen, learn, and leverage the wealth of expertise that exists at UNC. We are already seeing creative innovations spread through departments (we will share those with you here soon). This change also brings new opportunities to connect with the Sakai community and the great work being done on Sakai 2.x as well as on the Open Academic Environment (formerly Sakai 3). It is an exciting time for learning and collaboration @ UNC!
In case you missed them, here are some recent articles from the DTH:
In the past month, we have had two events which caused many Fall 2010 courses to become temporarily inaccessible. One occurred this morning–ouch. These events were more than inconvenient for our pilot community. We apologize for the interruption and anxiety these events may have caused you. We shared your stress.
Therefore, we ask for your patience as we work through this period of integration adjustment. At the root cause of the problem are scripts that handle updates and changes to course and enrollment information. There are some changes that we have been unable to predict. When this happens, interruptions result. As unexpected changes emerge over time, we need to adapt and modify our scripts to address issues so that moving forward, service remains steady and uninterrupted.
Our commitment to you is that we will continue to improve our processes so that interruptions diminish over time and hopefully, become negligible. We will document and respond to unexpected issues as they arise in an effort to prevent them from reoccurring. We will keep you informed via the Sakai Gateway page (http://sakaipilot.unc.edu) and this blog, and will respond to your help requests in a timely manner.
We ask for your continued support and proactive notification of issues as we work collectively through this period of adjustment. Thank you on behalf of the UNC Sakai Support team.
If you have been using Sakai for a while—or even if you are brand new—there are several goodies in this version to discover. We’ll highlight a few below to get you started and will continue to spotlight new features over the coming weeks.
NEW! Message Center Notifications
When you log into Sakai, you land in “MyWorkspace.” You will now see “Message Center Notifications.” At a glance, you can view and access all of your new, unread messages–in all of your sites. Just click on the envelope to jump directly to the new, unread info! (Click all images to enlarge.)
NEW! Profile2 Tool
This is fun! Go to your MyWorkspace tab and click on Profile. If you hover over the right-side of a topic, you’ll see an edit button display. This causes a form to appear that you can fill out. There is Twitter integration if you choose and other Privacy settings for you to control how others in Sakai will see your profile. Happy explorations!
Want to use blogging in your classes but not sure how to begin? It’s easy to use the Blogs tool in Sakai. The default settings are set to make the blogs publicly available (each person’s blog has its own RSS feed). However, if you want to use blogs as private journals or just make accessible to class members, you can modify the permissions so only those people who should see the content and comment are able to do so! A few classes have used blogging successfully and we hope to have video interviews posted soon.
Reminder: With any upgrade, we expect some oddities to emerge. Please report any strange behavior quickly so we can resolve issues for you, your students, colleagues and friends. Thank you in advance for your help!
It’s been nearly a year (!) since we wrapped up the Sakai Pilot Evaluation (see published results). This informal reunion meeting (open to anyone interested) is a chance to reconnect, provide updates on the pilot status, share information from the recent Sakai Conference, and seek your collective wisdom and feedback.
Sakai Action Group & Friends Reunion: Friday, July 23
10 - 11 am
Davis Library Room 214
We have an action-packed 1 hour meeting planned with an optional half-hour afterward for further discussion, how-to info, or anything else you’d like to discuss.
We hope to see you there!
[The following is a guest blog entry by Rob Moore, Manager of the Foreign Language Resource Center in the Department of Romance Languages. Since this posting Rob has moved to the UNC School of Government as an Instructional Technology Developer in Teaching and Learning Support. Thanks, Rob!]
I attended the 11th Annual Sakai conference in Denver, Colorado, and had a fantastic time! For the last two years, I have been singing the praises of Sakai to all of the instructors that I support in the language departments at UNC. Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to share our great experiences with, well, the world! It was great to get to meet other Sakai users sharing and trading ideas. The great advantage of Sakai is that it is open-source, which allows institutions to share ideas and code in a way that is not possible with Blackboard. I am excited to see some of the new enhancements that we may be able to implement in the fall including a new “Tests and Quizzes” interface, a new syllabus setup, and other aesthetic changes. In addition to networking and attending informative sessions and demonstrations, I also made two presentations.
My first presentation titled, “How Sakai solves the training and support challenge” looked at the training and support considerations for the ROML Sakai Pilot. There are over 4,000 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory courses in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Unfortunately, the tech support available to support the learning management systems for these languages is limited. By transitioning these introductory language courses into Sakai, training and support has been more manageable while still allowing for instructors to have control over content and materials in the class.
My second presentation titled, “How Sakai solved the multi-section problem for Romance Languages” looked at the ROML Sakai Pilot from a faculty perspective. The Department of Romance Languages has several large section courses, which can have as many as 45 sections taught by multiple instructors with one course coordinator. Besides the coordinator’s own course load, he/she provides syllabi, assignments, and tests for the sections. Using Sakai’s section aware tools, these courses were moved from Blackboard to Sakai, which significantly improved communication and coordination between coordinators and instructors as well as benefiting students. The video and PowerPoint (in PDF format) can be seen at http://flrcvideos.unc.edu/video.php?link=884/.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope that more instructors will make the transition from Blackboard to Sakai.
“Blue bear” logo by Kerry O’Sullivan, ITS-TL Interactive
UNC Chapel Hill will be represented at the 2010 Sakai Conference held in Denver, Colorado from June 15-17. You are invited to keep tabs on conference happenings via the Sakai Confluence wiki.
- Brian Moynihan from the School of Medicine will present, “Finding the Pulse: Choosing Sakai at the UNC School of Medicine“
- Rob Moore from Romance Languages will present, “How Sakai solved the multi-section problem for Romance Languages“ & “Solving the Training and Support Problem“
- Kim Eke from ITS-TL Interactive will present, “Make Your Pilot a Purple Cow: Something Worth Talking About“
Blue bears? Purple cows? Check out more presentations by our friends and colleagues from other institutions. We’ll be sure to share what we learn!
As some of our Sakai pilot participants have said earlier, one of the interesting and appealing aspects about Sakai is the ability to participate in its development and future directions. (See Phil Edwards and Bill Maisch discuss).
The 3 minute video below provides a first glimpse of the hybrid integration between Sakai 2 and Sakai 3. (Note, we are currently on Sakai 2.6). This is a very early look and is not showing finished product, but instead enough of the user interface to begin real discussion and refinement.
If you are interested in participating in the discussions around Sakai 3, you can! Here’s more Sakai 3 information for those with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Join us from the comfort of your home or office computer for an introductory overview of Sakai!
We’ll cover 5 Big Ideas central to Sakai. We’ll log in to UNC’s Sakai environment, peek into sites, demo tools, and do our best to answer your questions afterward. All in one hour!
The session is open to all interested UNC faculty, staff, and students. “Seating” is limited so please register.
Sign me up!
Tuesday, December 15
11 am - noon
Register for the 12/15 webinar: 5 Big Ideas!
Monday, December 21
9 am - 10 am
Register for 12/21 webinar: 5 Big Ideas!
A few disclaimers:
- Prior to the session, you will receive the URL & instructions
- If you want to hear and speak, you’ll need one of the following:
- computer with speakers and a microphone OR
- a headset with a noise-canceling microphone
- These are our first Sakai webinars — so let’s agree to collectively embrace any technical difficulties that emerge and aim to grow from the learning experience.
Hope to see you there!
We are pleased to announce that the Sakai Pilot Final Report is available for your review! The 74-page PDF (3.2 MB) provides a wealth of data collected during Fall 2008 and Spring 2009.
Spoiler alert: below is an excerpt from the Executive Summary.
The ﬁndings of the pilot are positive, leading the Sakai Action Group to recommend ITS continue to fund Sakai for the 2009-2010 academic year, implement student information system (SIS) integration, when possible, expand the number of participants using Sakai, and research a possible future migration path.
We’d also like to acknowledge and express our sincere appreciation to all of the faculty, staff, students and administrators who contributed their time, energy, resources, and support to make the pilot happen. Thank you.
It’s been a busy start to the semester. We have approximately 3,500 faculty and students using Sakai right now! (Last year, we had about 500 students enrolled in official UNC courses each semester. See the updated numbers here.)
So, what changed?
This year, some Spanish and French faculty decided to use Sakai to help coordinate and manage multiple sections (think: 40) within a single course site. In one course site, there are 960 students — each enrolled in a section of ~22 others taught by an instructor who only sees his or her students. All students and faculty can share a common set of instructional materials in a single location, while conducting their routine course and collaboration activities within their own private section. This is a great example of the value of Sakai’s “group-aware tools.” We hope to share more details about their unique story soon!
However, we are honored to share with you a set of videos created by Rob Moore to help Romance Language faculty learn more about Sakai’s special features. Check them out when you have a chance!
Photo courtesy of Muffet: