Providing a means of organizing course materials and documenting learning is a huge task for any institution or entity tasked with providing training or education to it's constituents, and Sakai does this. With assistance from instructional design professionals, course sites in Sakai become a place where student learning is documented, facilitated and archived - often for review by auditing entities for quality and adherence to industry level standards.
- Sakai is flexible, providing a way for our customers (instructors) to customize their courses while staying in line with consistency and continuity of course design. This has allowed our courses to be far less cookie-cutter and stale. This is mostly accomplished through Sakai's LTI functionality and it's Lessons tool. This is particularly notable because not every course is the same, nor should it be. Our faculty and course developers can draw from OER resources, course text publisher assessment quiz banks and pull in content from sources from our library databases and services like YouTube.
- Sakai is customizable, allowing us to pair it with our student information system to automatically create and track with student registration data - including adding new students and removing students who have elected to drop a course. The customization features also include being able to create course templates for individual schools or courses using specific tools or sequences of tools as well as a way to personalize content for students when they engage with each lesson.
- Sakai is stable in the market. We have been using Sakai for almost 10 years and continue to see it improve; responding to changing trends in browser technologies, mobile platforms and accessibility requirements. Multiple programs offered over the years have been recognized by outside organizations like BestColleges.com for our programs and given high marks by students taking the courses offered in Sakai.
- Sakai allows our faculty to inform it's continued evolution. We work closely with the developers, having a front seat to how things can work and function for our faculty. There have been multiple occasions where faculty ask, "Can Sakai do this?" and the answer is never "No."
- Sakai's assessment feature could be improved, streamlining and making the assessment function much more simplified. Assessment in any electronic format is complex, but the workflows dealing with assessment import, creation and management of assessment data could be improved or made to be more consistent. It is confusing, for example, that assessments are split between a "working" state and a "published" state.
- The gradebook or grade reporting feature in Sakai is somewhat clunky to use. While it does boast a spreadsheet look, feel and function, doing so in a browser window with multiple items and hundreds of students makes grading even for TAs difficult. Some of our instructors leverage the Classic gradebook instead of the newer interface because the view or function is more to their liking.
- Discussion forums or how conversations are managed can be a bit confusing with Sakai. Sakai provides multiple ways in which discussions can be organized - some of which are for large groups of students and some which are more confusing. The discussions area doesn't allow students to share images easily, to up 'vote' or 'recommend' certain posts or sections to peers. There's no way to badge or otherwise highlight certain levels of 'attainment' for students in discussions. It's also difficult to assign grades to discussions.
At the same time, Sakai, as an open source product, is a very wise choice for financial purposes. We have professional hosting services, for which the costs are shared among the consortium members, and the platform is open source. Consequently, the costs are very low. The budgeting for the product/service makes this option very affordable. The tools and affordances that are made available to participants are broad ranging and accessible to all.
There is nothing that can be done on the expensive platforms that cannot be done on Sakai. And because of LTI compliance, the platform is highly customizable with products from Apereo Foundation and other LTI-compliant providers. Trouble-shooting through the hosting service is fast and even extends to writing code for new tools and services.
- Customizability--LTI plug-ins allow an organization to shop for the tools which are important for success. There is an increasing number of these tools which are becoming available, from course authoring tools to portfolios to clickers and so on. The community is sensitive and responsive to demands for more of these tools.
- Skins--Institutions can make the product their own in look and function with skin changes and tool selection.
- Affordability--As open source, Sakai is supremely affordable. Even with professionally purchased hosting services (totally optional) the low cost is a real strong point.
- Range of tools--The tool options available, especially when expanded with LTI tools, is truly impressive
- Participation in the greater Sakai community--Sakai is a community-based tool. Outside of our collaboration at LAMP, we also participate in the world-wide conversation about how Sakai should be developed and how courses can be managed through Sakai.
- The coming upgrade will address many issues, the visual presentation of sites and courses
- The Forums (discussion) tool is not natively integrated into the Gradebook, but needs another step to connect the two.
- The Wiki tool is awkward and not WYSIWYG. But I understand that is common with wikis in most platforms
- The Help documentation could use some focus on student needs rather that course developer needs
There are probably better applications for medical and clinical settings.
- Separates each type of learning into intuitive areas
- Allows for flexibility with integrating other systems
- Easy to set up basic courses
- When I used the system a few years ago, there were several small bugs. Most of them we were able to work around, but they were annoying.
- Again, when I used the system a few years ago, it would have been nice to have an easier way to implement attractive templates.
- Easy to Use Basic Online Learning System: Sakai does the basics for learning online well. Outlining course lecture material uploading, linking for faculty, forums for students
- Pragmatic Text Based System: Sakai is solid for text based assignments, both student entry and faculty presentation and overview.
- Familiar Interface: The Interface for Sakai will be more immediately familiar to both faculty teachers and students as the model is well established in interface design.
- Lack of Multimedia Features: Sakai is not great for video integration, either uploading or chat based video or integrating new video features into the interface and shell. It is not particularly good for say recording audio or more sophisticated multimedia integration.
- Lack of Web 2.0 features. Sakai is not great as a Web 2.0 social media learning application. It is definitely from an early but still present model of learning management systems and has remnants of its first generation architecture.
- Lack of User Experience Design: Sakai is basic in its user interface design. In this way it is approximately a generation back with regards to web 2.0 interface design or higher attention to 'learning' design aesthetics and integrating with online 'learning methodologies.
- The Sakai product is "REAL" open source project that is part of the Apereo Foundation. It is the only LMS on the market where students, faculty, and staff can have a say on how Sakai evolves. It is a responsive and vibrant community based product.
- Sakai is technically rock solid, scalable, and robust.
- The possibilities of Sakai are endless with LTI (Learning Tools Integration).
- Sakai is highly customizable, configurable, and can be automated easily where other LMS's can not, especially those hosted in the cloud.
- Sakai has a bit of improvement to do in standardizing some of its tools.
- There is the perception that Sakai is hard to install and administer, this needs to be worked on.
- Built in video conference functionality would be excellent for Sakai.
- Sakai needs to handle rich media types better.
- Transparency and ease of access for content - the modules were clearly labeled and easy to implement.
- Grading features on assignments - the gradebook was very easy to access and in-assignment-grading was a time-saving and efficient feature.
- Media-rich environment - compared to other LMS options at the time, Sakai was ahead of its competitors in terms of permitting media-rich assets.
- The linear, scroll-of-death aspects of the early forums made it difficult to engage learners in peer-to-peer commentary.
- The updates to the lessons tool provided no easy way to import material from old lessons, except through cut and paste.
- The test and quizzes interface can be cumbersome.
Overwhelmingly, our staff preferred Sakai, even though our Community College System was leaning strongly towards adopting Moodle and Blackboard. Why? Faculty said they felt like they were using Blackboard, but it was "Blackboard" working the way they wanted it to... Sakai is created by and for education, and it felt like a good fit.
- The Gradebook is easy to set up and use for trainers, faculty and students. You can use points or percentages, weighting or no weighting. If faculty have problems with the Gradebook, it's because they have come up with an unusual grading system, not because the Gradebook isn't working right!
- The majority of the tools are group aware, so we can merge a number of sections for faculty teaching multiple sections of the same class. It saves them a tremendous amount of time. Any faculty member can use groups with Forums, Assignments, Test and Quizzes, Lessons, Announcements, Email and you can view groups/sections in the Gradebook and of course the Roster. Here's a list of the tools: https://sakaiproject.org/node/94
- Instructors and students like to use Lessons, as the go to location for their videos, images, documents, and links to Forums, Assignments, Tests and Quizzes, and instructors can set up Student Pages in Lessons, which allows students to create a "portfolio" or "project, using all the tools the instructor can (videos, images, documents).
- A number of different universities and colleges created different tools, so the Sakai community (of educators and developers) are working with usability experts to improve our primary tools that should be ready with the release of Sakai 11 at the end Spring 2016: Lessons, Tests and Quizzes, and the Gradebook (I thought the Gradebook was already user-friendly).
- The Sakai community is continuing to improve Sakai's accessibility: "The goal is to meet all of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria".
- The wiki tool is a bit clunky, so the community is looking at other tools to replace it. I'd like to see the blog tool updated as well, but it may not be as popular a tool when compared to what many colleges use, such as WordPress.
Here's my list of key questions to ask when selecting your LMS:
1) Are you going to support Sakai in-house or hire a vendor? You'll need staff dedicated to maintaining it if you want to support Sakai in-house.
2) Is it important to you to use an open source LMS or proprietary LMS? Sakai is open source, like Moodle.
3) Many LMS's look the same to students; what are important features in an LMS to your faculty?
4) Do you want an LMS that is easy to train faculty to use? Sakai is very similar to Blackboard; Moodle is not. Our faculty felt comfortable working with Sakai very quickly.
5) Do you need an LMS that integrates well with other tools? The Sakai community has become leaders in LTI integration. We use Sakai with Turnitin, BigBlueButton (open source web conferencing), WIRIS (math editor), and a number of publishers.
6) Corporate clients do use Sakai, but it is focused on educational institutions, faculty, and students.
- User friendly, easy to navigate
- Interactive friendly. You can link other resources to help students learn the course concepts better.
- Stable platform. There are a few updates from time to time but it has never gone down in my years of using the LMS.
- The calendar function is a bit confusing to set up.
- The LMS works great. I don't see any real problems with it. It is one of the best ones I have dealt with in my 13 years teaching.
- Customized, timed assessments with automatic collection and calculation of results
- Organization and delivery of resources to a defined set of participants
- Rapid creation of course sites via importing from and/or duplicating other sites
- At UD, Sakai is only officially supported in Mozilla Firefox, even though a multitude of users are accustomed to IE, Chrome, or Safari as their primary browser. This is a limiting feature that must be honored, as one key feature--timed assessments--are prone to failure or bugginess in these three unsupported browsers.
- The desktop/full-screen version of Sakai (e.g., the non-mobile site) relies on HTML frames, an archaic means of page layout, to display the main content. Some course site designers employ this by porting in a web page or other content into this frame through insecure means that Firefox will block by default, leaving the end-user with the top navigation, left sidebar of buttons, and a blank main content area. An end-user must dismiss Firefox's security warning and have it "stop blocking" what it deems "insecure content." Could this be improved?
Our university uses Sakai as an open-source learning and collaboration management system for our students, as well as faculty and staff.
- Sakai is a great collaboration tool for researchers to work with sponsors from different organizations. Uploading files and using the chat module is extremely efficient for getting work done without having to make a conference call.
- Sakai's module is a great interactive tool for our students to use when taking tests or quizzes. Their grades are tied to a grade book tool, which saves a lot of time when having to grade by hand.
- Would like the Wiki tool to be more user friendly for interaction with others.
Sakai Scorecard Summary
Feature Scorecard Summary
Sakai is an open source learning management system provided by the Apero Foundation. The LMS provides what it calls Core and Expanded Features. The Core Features encompass an integrated tool set that is tested by the Sakai community members and is then included with each new release. The tool set can be configured by: instructors, students, research investigators and project leaders. The other set of tools, known as “Contrib Tools” are specific to Sakai tools and innovations that are developed and tested by community members and are then made available for others to use outside of the packaged Sakai product releases.
Sakai Technical Details