Why do I like Sakai?
Sakai is open source, free (no strings), reliable, easy to use, and has an excellent user community. I like it that a vendor isn't telling us what tools we can use, we're not stuck with tools we don't like, nor is one person or a few telling us what we can do. The Sakai user community decides on the direction of the LMS and what tools will be updated and how. Our college heavily uses the Gradebook, Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, Discussion Forms and Lessons (for organizing content). We also provide project sites for all of our advisers. We have over 5,000 credit students; 85% of our credit instructors are using Sakai, about 20% of our courses are online, another 15% are hybrid.
What do I like about the new features in Sakai 11+?
Our college is using Sakai 2.9 and upgrading to Sakai 11.2 soon-I've been one of the Administrators and an online instructor for 4 years. The latest release, Sakai 11+, has been updated with responsive design, is mobile-ready, accessible, has a new Gradebook that works like an Excel spreadsheet, and most of the core tools have been streamlined and updated to be even easier to use, such as Lessons, and Tests & Quizzes.
Create Organized Online/hybrid/supplemental classes:
In my online classes, I can easily import a course where I've added weekly Lessons subpages. If instructors use Lessons, they can create a very organized class for students-students can find all of their weekly materials in one location.
On each weekly Lessons subpage I can display:
YouTube videos or EDpuzzles or PlayPosit videos embedded with questions; display images/diagrams, link to Office Mixes (narrated PowerPoints) and/or documents, and I provide links directly to the weekly discussion, assignment, and/or quiz. I also add links to screencasts I've made to my assignment instructions.
Other Sakai/integrated tools I like to use:
I also provide web conferencing with BigBlueButton (an open source web conferencing tool), provide surveys to get updates from my students on how the class is going, provide blog posts for variety, and allow students to post in the Chat Room for quick questions/answers. I post all of the due dates in the Calendar. At any time, I can make the class grades visible to students in the Gradebook (this is a simple Gradebook setting, that displays weighted grades, and has been updated to also display points or percentages as well).
What do other Sakai instructors use?
Some of our instructors like to use Lessons Student Pages, where students can create their own "project sites" and post videos, images, links to documents, and links to web sites. Other instructors like to create groups-most of the Sakai tools are group aware, including Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, Forums, and our web conferencing tool BigBlueButton, Assignments and now Lessons Student Pages also allow peer review/grading for collaborative assignments. Other instructors like to use Turnitin, the plagiarism checker tool, as well as Turnitin's Grademark tool.
As a Sakai Administrator,:
It's easy to set up classes and projects. We've automated the site creation and instructor/student enrollment between our Colleague registration system and Sakai. We use Active Directory authentication, and Sakai is just one of many systems our students access with the same userid/password. We do have a Sakai vendor and a vendor for BigBlueButton, who keeps our system up 100% and provides excellent customer service. We also use LTI to link to various tools (such as links to textbook publishers).
I highly recommend Sakai, and would be glad to discuss our experience with others.
This is a community of users, so like any open source community, you need time, money and resources available to make updates. Luckily, the money and resources usually do appear when we need them!
The Test & Quizzes tool has been updated (simplified settings), but it will become more streamlined as money/resources become available.
Of the tools, the Forums/Topic tool is clunky; I'd like to see a replacement. Since different people created different tools-some don't work like the others-this is one of those tools.
I'd like to see the Blog integrated with the Gradebook, and I like how simple it is..but there are two blog tools and we have to pick one to support.
The community has looked at a replacement for the wiki tool, but nothing open-source has really caught our eye.
Lessons in Sakai 11+ has been seriously upgraded-now you can create columns, sections, colored backgrounds, and is streamlined, so it looks excellent.
* Free, Open Source (really open-source)
* Has an active educational community donating new Sakai tools, updates, training, and support
*These are tools we use with Sakai in addition to the core and contrib tools: BigBlueButton, (an open source web conferencing tool), WIRIS, a math tool, Softchalk, YouTube, Turnitin (investigating Vericite),
* Small organizations to large (100,000 students) use Sakai
* Actively working towards meeting W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria, IMS Common Course Cartridge
* Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI v2) standard to integrate with third party learning tools and other systems
* Other tools Sakai integrates with: Adobe Connect, BigBlueButton, Kaltura (video/multimedia), Open Meetings (Conference tool), RSS Feeds, SCORM Player
We had to upgrade 4 years ago, and at the time, our users didn't want Blackboard or Moodle. It would have been easier to go with one of those two LMS's since most of our state's Community Colleges use them. But we really like Sakai.
It's reliable, which is extremely important. Sakai meets our instructors teaching and learning needs and our students rarely have issues other than resetting their passwords. With the added collaboration abilities available for group/peer assignments in Assignments and in Lessons Student Pages/Content tools, it meets the growing needs of our online/hybrid instructors and students. We'll now have responsive, as well as accessible content for our users, and the latest version has a professional look and feel.