Updated Sakai coming soon

Kadra Sommersted, Staff Writer

A new version of Wayne State College’s Sakai online learning system will go live in May.

“Sakai 11 has a lot of major updates for it,” said John Dunning, chief information officer. “Probably the biggest thing is that it’s now mobile friendly.”

Dunning said that Sakai 11 has been designed from the bottom up with a responsive design, allowing it to scale down to fit phone screens or up for desktop computers.

“First thing is responsive user interface,” said Dunning. “So that’s really designed without an app that you have to download to really work well on phones and tablets.”

There is a new grade book, enhancements with the lessons tool, improved tests and quizzes and students can now use it for mathematical equations, said Dunning.

“It will go live in May,” said Dunning. “The new instance of Sakai is available for the faculty now, so that they have some time to build content before summer.”

This will also give the faculty some time to be able to transfer their content from the older Sakai to the newer version, said Dunning. He also said that once it goes live, he feels that it will have a fairly major impact, especially for students who like to use their cell phones to explore the website.

“This is part of a larger initiative that we have, in that, to get all of our major resources mobile friendly,” said Dunning. “So mobile dashboards in Wildcats Online, now Sakai will be mobile as well.”

Dunning said that this was a major update and that it took a fair amount of time to make.

“We have been working on this all summer and through the fall,” said Dunning. “And there are some behind the scenes things that made this a pretty challenging update. So one is that we started from an entirely new, fresh platform.”

He said that the original systems were built about six years ago, and there will also be a single sign on.

“I think the biggest affect that students will notice is it’s much more mobile friendly than previous versions have been,” said Eddie Elfers, director of Teaching and Learning Technology.

He said that it will be more responsive with cell phones and other mobile devices.

“The interface is not that much different,” Elfers said. “There are enhancements to a number of the tools.”

Elfers said students shouldn’t see too much of a difference in how the website is used, and should behave the same way. He also said it will be more user friendly in other browsers, and not just Firefox. The update is similar to what students and staff are used to seeing.

“Jennifer Johnson, an IT specialist who works with me, and I were in the earlier stages of testing and figuring out the best way for faculty to convert their classes from the current version of Sakai to Sakai 11,” Elfers said.

They worked with the site until it worked smoothly, Elfers said. He said that it will start to be used next school year. He added that faculty who want to learn more about Sakai 11 can attend one of the Sakai Overview sessions this week in Connell 019 today and tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., or Thursday at 1 p.m. Additional overview sessions will be offered after Thanksgiving. Training and help sessions for faculty will begin in the spring semester.