Aug 20, 2018

Sakai 11.x Lessons Issue: Don't worry or how to save tons of time

With the latest upgrade to Sakai 11.x, some annoying issues were fixed, and a  Lessons"feature" was introduced. If you want to look at all of the Sakai 11 issues/tips, go to our Sakai 11 Tips web page (opens in a new window).

What's changed? 

Hiding Lessons subpages works like it did previously:

Lessons subpages are often hidden from students by instructors, and released or made "visible" to students at a specific date and time. For example, the first week of class, you can display the Week 1 subpage to your students, but can hide the Week 2 subpage, Week 3 subpage, etc until a specific date and time in the future.

Once you hide subpages from your students, instructors see a "Not released until" message in red, to the right of the subpage titles/links, such as shown below. (Not sure how to release subpages by date/time? Here's how.) 
  • Week 1
  • Week 2 [Not released until August 20, 2018 at 7:00 AM]
  • Week 3 [Not released until August 27, 2018 at 7:00 AM]
 On August 13, students only see the link to the Week 1 subpage, students do NOT see links to the hidden Week 2 or Week 3 subpages, until their release date and time, August 20 and August 27, 2018.

But what do INSTRUCTORS see in Lessons AFTER the subpage release date?

After subpages are released to students, students and instructors see the newly released subpages; the subpages are available to both instructors and students.  With the latest Sakai 11 update, ONLY INSTRUCTORS still see the "Not released until" message in red, beside released subpages. This is different from what instructors saw previously!

In the example shown below, the instructor logged onto the course site in SEPTEMBER. In Lessons, they had added August release dates/times for two subpages, Week 2 and Week 3 subpages:

  • Week 1
  • Week 2 [Not released until August 20, 2018 at 7:00 AM]
  • Week 3 [Not released until August 27, 2018 at 7:00 AM]
Even though the August release dates are in the past, the instructor still sees the "Not released until" messages beside the subpages. This is different from what instructors saw previously.

What do STUDENTS see in Lessons AFTER the subpage release date?

When your students log on to your class in September, they will see the subpages released in August, the Week 2 and Week 3 subpages, after the release date/time you specified.
  • As in the past, Lessons subpages ARE DISPLAYED CORRECTLY to STUDENTS on the dates/times you specified.

What can you do? You don't have to worry and you don't have to do anything!

On the Overview/Home page, click on "View Site As" on the course menu, then "Student", then click on the "Lessons" button on the course menu,  to check which subpages your student can see (and not see). You don't have to do anything else, unless you want to.
  • Optionally, if the display of  the subpages' "Not released until" message (after the release date) bothers you, you can use these step-by-step instructions. to edit and remove the subpage settings, so you no longer have to see the "after the release date" messages.


Aug 7, 2018

Sakai instructor "Gotcha's": The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Our Sakai instructors are a wonderful group of talented faculty. But you can't know everything about a Learning Management System, no matter how wonderful you are! Here are "popular" issues our faculty run into, with the steps you can use to avoid them.

The Good: Important Sakai Test Settings (for you and your students)

One of the most frequent questions faculty get from students is: "I know I submitted my test, why did I get a zero"? 

To avoid this student question (as much as you can), select one or both of the two test settings below:
  • For important tests/exams: Set a time limit (and check the "time limit" box).
    • Even if the student walks away without submitting the test, the test will automatically be submitted when the time limit is up.

  • For less important quizzes/tests: If it's not timed, check the "Autosubmit" box. 
    • If your student forgets to submit their test, it will be automatically submitted the day after the test due date or late submissions date
Test settings for a time limit and autosubmit

The Bad: Trying to Drop Scores in the Gradebook (without planning)

In both the Classic and the New Gradebook, you can categorize gradebook items; and you can drop the lowest score within a category. What's the issue?

  • You can only drop scores, if all of the gradebook items in the category are worth the same number of points, such as 100 points. 

    • But, if one or more assessments is worth 80 points and the rest are worth 100 points in a category, you can't drop the lowest grade, since how can the Gradebook decide which score is the lowest score to drop?

  • Here are details on setting up categories and dropping scores:  
Drop lowest for a category in the Gradebook


    Aug 6, 2018

    Sakai Instructors: Top Tips or How to Stop Wasting Your Time

    Most Sakai instructors are aware of the basics for setting up their courses, but we've found that some instructors are unaware of a few important ways you can save yourself precious time and effort.  Here's a few of our "top tips": 

    women on rocky edge reaching her hand up to an outstretched hand
    Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

    Why Create Tests "from Scratch"? Use Markup Text

    • Instead of creating each test question one by one, create all of your test questions using Sakai's markup text. (This is the only way I create tests and quizzes.)

    Sample markup text question, answer *a., b., c., d.,

    Only Create Gradebook Items You *Really* Need

    • When do you need to create Gradebook items? You need to create a Gradebook item for each graded Forum Topic, or when you collect assignments in class, and want to manually record the scores in the Gradebook. You can find out more in the Gradebook tool area.

    Add Gradebook items for surveys, posts or in-class assignments

    Don't Struggle-Grade Forum Posts the Easy Way

    • Sakai provides many ways to grade your student's discussion posts. Many of us like to see all of a particular student's posts at once, and beside it, type in the student's grade and feedback.  
    • Here are the instructions on how to use our recommended Forum grading technique: "How to Grade Students' Forum Posts": video | handout . They're both available in the Forums tool area. 
    View all student posts, and add grade/feedback when grading forum posts

    Don't copy and paste! 

    • Sakai provides Site Info - Import from Site so instructors can quickly copy course content from one course to another. You can find the step-by-step instructions titled Importing Course Content (PDF) in Sakai Resources for Instructors, in the General Resources area.
    • Also, if you only need to copy one test from another course, you can! We have a handout with step-by-step instructions in the Tests and Quizzes tool area, titled Copy a test from one Sakai site to another.


    Jun 26, 2018

    Meetings/BBB New Feature: Meeting Statistics and Student Participation Data!

    Meetings Statistics Now Available 

    Meetings (BigBlueButton), our open-source web conferencing tool, now tracks your student's participation and polling results, when you record your meeting. In the Sakai Meetings tool, in the Recordings tab, each recording will now display a link to Statistics, as shown below: 

    Meetings Recordings tab, now displays Statistics link for recordings

    In Meetings recordings, the amount of student "attention" is tracked for each student, divided into five categories:

    • Speaking, chatting/messaging, using an emoji, raising a hand and responses to polls.

    Overall Meeting Statistics

    In the Statistics link, you'll see an overview of the meeting; an aggregated number of student "attention" activities and polling responses; plus links to individual student participation data:

    Overall Meeting statistics are available, for aggregated student attention and polling participation

    Student Participation Data

    In Statistics, when you click on the name of a student, you'll see an overview of their participation (duration in the meeting, join and left times), their "activity events", and their answers to every poll question you presented in the meeting. Some of the student participation data is shown below:

    Individual student participation data is available

    Video Overview of the new Meetings Statistics feature

    Here is a video, demonstrating the Meetings Statistics feature, that is now available for your recorded meetings:


    Feb 12, 2018

    In Sakai Gradebooks: Don't Students *always* see their Course Grade? NO!

    Did you know that Sakai Gradebooks don't show your students their course grade, unless you make a change to the Gradebook settings? You can see them, but they can't. After a few weeks, your students may start asking you if they can see their course grade, instead of just their assignment scores. It's an easy task!

    To display course grades to your students in the New Gradebook:

    • At the top, click on Settings
    • Click on Grade Release Rules
    • Add a check beside Display final course grade to students and
      • Add a check beside Letter grade and Percentage OR
      • Add a check beside Points
    • At the bottom, click Save Changes
    In Gradebook settings, click Grade Release Rules, then click Display final course grade to students, then click letter grade/percentage or points

    To display course grades to your students in the Classic Gradebook:

    • At top, click on the Course Grade Options tab
      • Add a check beside Display course grades to student now OR
      • Add a check beside Display course points to students now
    • At the bottom, click Save

    What is the best way to see the Gradebook like your student does?

    For the new Gradebook

    In the Classic Gradebook:

    • At the top of the Gradebook, click on the All Grades tab 
    • Click on a student name
    • At the middle right, below the help button, click on Student Name’s view of grades
    • On the top right, click on the link Return to Instructor’s View of Grades for Student Name
    • At top, click on the Gradebook items tab to return to the Gradebook view