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What’s New in Sakai – Fall 2021

In preparation for the fall 2021 semester, we are introducing a new version of Sakai. This update comes with a variety of changes and improvements, all of which aim to make Sakai a user-friendly, intuitive, and helpful platform. Whether it be a new tool or a simple bug fix, our changes target the entire Sakai audience, and each improvement contributes to making the platform both easy to use and multifaceted. 

One of our most exciting additions is the new Rubrics tool! Instructors can create unique rubrics and use them with a variety of tools like Assignments or Tests & Quizzes. For example, if an instructor wants to create an assignment, they can incorporate a rubric by selecting an option in the assignment settings and use it to grade student submissions. Rather than just showing a final score and some general feedback, rubrics show students precisely where they could improve by displaying their score in each criterion alongside corresponding comments. For instructors, the tool acts as a consistent metric that helps organize and standardize grading. For students, the tool offers a clear picture of their instructor’s expectations and provides an easy way to receive feedback. As a result, the tool can help bridge the gap between teachers and students by making the grading process transparent, helping students understand their abilities and improve on future assignments. 

New Sakai rubrics tool
New Sakai rubrics tool

We are pleased to say that the Rubrics tool is only one of many improvements to Sakai, with our new update introducing a multitude of new features and bug fixes. Some examples include the Manage Overview button in the Overview tool, which lets instructors customize their site’s opening page, and the Trash tab in Assignments and Tests & Quizzes, which lets instructors retrieve deleted assignments and assessments. In addition, Sakai’s redesigned Tests & Quizzes user interface merges “working copies” and “published” assessments into one easily viewable list. To make Sakai more intuitive for users, we’ve also introduced a Manage Participants tab which allows instructors to change site member’s roles using a dedicated tab, three different layout options in the Roster tool, and a number of similar features that make the platform easier to use. In addition to the new features, we have tested and fixed hundreds of bugs, meaning that every user will be able to enjoy a smoother and more consistent version of Sakai. 

To help users take advantage of these improvements, we’ve redesigned both the Sakai New page and the Tips and Tricks page with an updated user interface. By making them easy to navigate, we hope to create places where users can reliably find answers to their questions and learn about the newest features in Sakai without needing to worry about the pages themselves. 

Tips and tricks page
Sakai Tips and Tricks page

This update marks our latest step towards an intuitive, well-rounded learning management system, but it is far from our last. With all of our users in mind, we have attempted to address pressing feedback, and we continue to look towards new opportunities for improvement. The recent changes to Sakai are part of an overarching goal to make the platform as accessible as possible while still useful to students and faculty alike. More concretely, we are making an effort to release updates that touch on issues such as a confusing user interface while also adding new content like the Rubrics tool that gives users the features they need. We hope you enjoy using Sakai this fall, and we look forward to hearing your feedback and taking our next steps alongside you! 

Story by: Ishan Varma & Sanghyun Jeon