Sakai is a flexible, open-source collaboration and learning environment that provides Duke faculty and instructors with tools to support teaching and learning activities. Sakai is well established not only as a leading learning management system, but also as an active open-source development community including several of Duke’s peer institutions (Stanford, Rice, UNC, etc). Sakai provides a platform for Duke to better integrate new and existing tools, as well providing better support for Duke’s growing number of collaborations.
A few key aspects of Sakai:
- Flexibility: faculty can choose to create course sites in ways that better suit their teaching style and needs. For example, some faculty may choose to develop a syllabus and simply link to course readings, resources and assignments. Other faculty may choose to design their courses using Sakai’s calendar tool – providing students with an easily accessible list of assignments and readings.
- Sharing and user access: Sakai makes it easy to add other students or outside guests to course sites – faculty can even choose to make individual resources or sections of their course public to share via a URL.
- My Workspace: In addition to course and project sites, Sakai provides each user an independent space for storing and sharing files and managing profiles. Add a file to your workspace, and simply link it to your course (or several courses). Students participating in the Sakai pilot also found the calendar especially useful as it combines assignments and other date-related information from all of a student’s courses in one single calendar.
Between August 2009 and October 2010, Duke’s eLearning Roadmap Group reviewed Duke’s eLearning needs and goals, and undertook a formal evaluation of several prominent learning management systems including new versions of Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai. At the end of their review, the eLearning Roadmap Group recommended that Duke move from Blackboard to Sakai. A small group of Duke faculty and students participated in a pilot of Sakai (thanks to a collaboration with UNC) during Spring 2011 (download the Pilot Report PDF). Feedback and information gathered during the pilot will guide the next steps of the migration process from Blackboard to Sakai.