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The Teaching & Learning group within Information Technology Services continues to make Sakai, the University’s open-source collaboration and learning-management system, more valuable to the campus community.

Sakai is one of the most-used ITS services on campus, and more users are adopting Sakai as a solution to assess learning outcomes, distribute resources, collaborate on projects and provide feedback to students. In the Sakai system for Spring 2015, Carolina had 3,923 courses taught by 2,276 unique instructors and 2,250 project sites.

Instructors and students are the biggest users

Primarily, instructors use Sakai to upload, share and distribute content to students, make assignments and have online assessments, said Morgon Haskell, Technology Support Specialist. Students use Sakai for such things as downloading content, taking tests and watching course-related videos.

“One of the cool things about Sakai, I think, is the LTI, learning tools interoperability, within Sakai, which allows Sakai to provide a secure connection between our learning-management system and the students in that course site to interact with third-party Web-based applications that are hosted externally,” Haskell said.

Sakai also used for research, training and grant proposals

“While Sakai is primarily used for teaching and learning, different departments across campus are also using it for various other projects,” said Thao Nghi Bui, Learning Technologies Administrator. “They’re using it for research, to do grant proposals, to do reviews on faculty and staff members. There’s also university-wide trainings.”

ITS upgraded Sakai in May

In May ITS Teaching & Learning rolled out its first major upgrade to Sakai since the system made its debut on campus in January 2013. The upgrade features several new upgrades requested by instructors and students, including the option to add extra credit to the Gradebook and the ability to submit assignments as a group. This latest version of Sakai also enables users to drag and drop documents within the system and to restore deleted files via a new Recycle Bin.

In the next version of Sakai, which is still in the works, users can expect better user interface and better mobile functionality as well as an enhanced Gradebook with spreadsheet viewer, Bui said.

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