Learning to Use Sakai

A few years ago, ConVal joined a consortium of K-12 school districts in New Hampshire that were starting to use the Sakai content management system, a full featured system used by many universities and a limited number of K-12 schools. Initially, ConVal began using Sakai for its ePortfolio component, but that has now expanded to exploring the potential of using Sakai to support blended (online and in-school) learning.

Sakai at UNC blog

Here are a few resources on how others use Sakai:

  • UNC Chapel Hill uses Sakai and has a great blog with a variety of info, including short, insightful video clips from faculty who have learned what works best for them and their students. In an interview with Dr. Scott Bowman at UNC, we learn how his students benefitted from a highly engaging semester long wiki project.
  • Kelly Pickering at TAFE-North Sydney Institute, Australia won a Sakai best practices award. Here’s a great list of how she uses several Sakai tools:
    • Announcements – to initiate participation in online activities and to communicate valuable eLearning and course related news,
    • Blogger – used as a Reflective Journal Blog involving self-reflection and critical analysis,
    • Wiki – for sharing extra information and providing learners a chance to contribute to the learning content,
    • Lessons – providing access to a range of engaging multimedia,
    • Discussion Board and Forum – to promote group collaboration, the sharing of ideas and as an assessment method,
    • Chat room and Mail – to connect the group,
    • Tests and Tasks – for online quizzes reinforcing knowledge, preparing learners for assessments and obtaining feedback through survey options,
    • Assignments – for easy online assessment submissions and
    • Podcasts – providing another learning resource enabling more things to be done on the move through the podcatcher feature.

THE Journal published an article last year comparing the leading open source solutions for learning management systems. One of the school systems mentioned in the article is the Bexley School District in Ohio, which uses Sakai.    Here is the landing page to get to Bexley’s Sakai course sites. I like the way they display three icons: one to get to their course sites, a second to get to assignments, and a third to go straight to the staff directory. Bexley also has a nice set of slides to describe their journey to full implementation.

Another school district mentioned as using Sakai is the Minisink Valley Central School District in central New York State.

Sakai is used by several New Hampshire school districts. The Sakai Collaborative home page has a list with links to their respective sites.

Since many schools are now using Google Apps in Education, the app created by rSmart is a valuable tool. Here is a short YouTube video showing the power of this integration between the two.

There are more YouTube videos available on Sakai topics.

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