Why Sakai? It's a great fit!
September 15, 2015

Why Sakai? It's a great fit!

Becky Roehrs | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Modules Used

  • Gradebook, Test & Quizzes, Forums, Assignments, Lessons, Dropbox, Chat Room, Blogs, Signup, Polls, Messages, Meetings (BigBlueButton), Groups, Section Info (multiple sections), Podcasts, Resources, Schedule (Calendar), News (RSS Feeds), Resources, Announcements, Email, Email Archive, Syllabus, Roster

Overall Satisfaction with Sakai

Sakai is being used by 85% of our credit faculty and 5,000 credit students in online, hybrid, and face-to-face course and project sites as well as by non-credit faculty, employees, and students. Five years ago, we found our LMS needs had grown so much that we couldn't maintain our Learning Management System ourselves. At that time, we were using Blackboard and the primary LMS's in use at educational institutions were Moodle and Sakai. We formed a faculty/staff LMS committee that tried out different vendors providing Moodle, Sakai as well as Blackboard.

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.
  • We took our time converting from Blackboard, and now 85% of our credit faculty/students are using Sakai.
  • Our faculty is now looking for more hybrid/blended opportunities and are investigating and using more interactive tools with students, such as creating YouTube videos, Office Mix (PowerPoint voice overs), and web conferences.
  • Not only do credit faculty/students use Sakai, but so do other employees for large and small projects and training, as well as non-credit faculty and students in Continuing Education, Basic Skills and Adult High School.
Our faculty found Moodle difficult to use-we tried at least two different releases of it with different vendors. It may have changed greatly since we worked with it in 2010-2012, but that was our experience.

Blackboard was what we were familiar with, but some of its tools were difficult to use (Gradebook), it was expensive, proprietary, and at the time we were testing it (Version 9), it was unpredictable.

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.