Overall Satisfaction with Sakai
Sakai is being used as a customized learning platform for Marist College. When I was an instructor there, I utilized Sakai in teaching several courses on race, class, and gender in literature and basic composition. At the time of implementation, I found it to be an improvement over the previous LMS.
- 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.
- Easier student assignment submission
- Better performance tracking
- Better options for predictive analysis via the at-a-glance view of the gradebook
- Moodle, NovoEd and Blackboard
I was not part of the selection committee, but I believe the ability to white label Sakai was very significant to the choice being made. In another institution I taught (not the one in which I used Sakai) the decision was made to go with MoodleRooms due to the need for support on customization issues.
When considering LMS options, there have been many steps forward in integrating open-source plug-ins that I don't see Sakai having in the version I've been using. While not as active on the learning forums as I could be, I find that platforms like Moodle or NovoEd provide value-added features that are critically important to today's assessment focused higher ed environment.
Evaluating Sakai and Competitors
Yes - Sakai replaced a product called eLearn that was custom built for the institution at which I taught. It was chosen due to its white label capabilities and the option of scaling the release over several years and in several phases. Ultimately, without the support of the ed tech team at that institution, I think a different out-of-the-box choice, like Blackboard, would have been made.
- Product Usability
- Existing Relationship with the Vendor
It was not my decision - but the input from the selection committee and design team was clear - Sakai met the needs of the organization while allowing for while labeling and branding for the various schools within the college on a scalable model for building content and delivering instruction in both blended and asynchronous learning environments.
If any LMS is being examined as a choice for instructional delivery in higher education right now, there needs to be a joint effort of exploration that is led (speaking strictly as a faculty member) by the faculty - but also incorporates non-faculty perspectives in areas including assessment, student success, disability / student support services, and the accreditation liaisons within the college.
When faculty are preparing courses from term to term, a portion of the content is static within a specific discipline. The time it takes to import past lessons into new versions of Sakai can be an inefficient use of my time. When I want to add new content and edit from the old content, it's reliant upon me to cut and paste the content from term to term rather than simply import and edit from a backup.
Easy to use
Technical support not required
Feel confident using
Slow to learn
- Adding media-rich content
- Using the gradebook
- Sending messages / email blasts to students
- Importing content from lessons on earlier versions of Sakai
- Managing forums in a way that encourages peer-to-peer critique / collaboration