Sakai 2.9 includes the following new features:
Users can directly navigate to a tool or page within a site through drop down menus accessed by clicking on the down arrow now present in the corresponding site tab.
Instructors and other site maintainers can publish their unpublished sites with one click.
Users can click a tab affixed to the tool menu in order to minimize it and thus expand the size of the tool view within the web browser.
Clicking this tab again restores the tool menu to its original state.
The tool menu readily distinguishes pages in the site that instructors have hidden from students by greying-out site these pages and displaying the page title with italics.
In previous versions of Sakai, instructors had to either “View Site as Student” or navigate to the the Page Order view of Site Info to assess which pages are hidden from students.
Instructors can hide pages (or show them again) by toggling the light bulb icon in the Page Order view of Site Info.
See the Lessons Tutorial for an overview of how instructors can build and organize instructional content in Sakai.
The 'Page Order' function in Site Info now includes a lock feature.
Locking a page not only hides a page from students but also disables it from student access. 'Lock' differs from 'Hide.' 'Hide' simply hides a page like Assignments from students; however, students can still interact with actual assignments from Assignments indirectly through the Lessons tool. Locking the Assignments page prevents all student access, including indirect access through Lessons.
The language for a site can be changed from the default, 'English (United States)'. This can be useful for some language courses. (Unfortunately, language support in Sakai does not extend to German and Norwegian.) To change the language for a site, click 'Edit Site Information' in the Site Info tool.
Then, select a language for 'Site Language,' click 'Continue' at the bottom of the view, and then 'Finish.'
As an alternative to WebDAV for uploading or downloading multiple files at a time, instructors can upload ZIP files (*.zip) and extract their contents. However, all files uploaded through Resources including ZIP files must be less than 100 Mb. (Otherwise, instructors can use WebDAV to bypass this upload limit.)
Extract the contents of a ZIP file by selecting 'Extract ZIP Archive Contents' from the file's corresponding 'Actions' menu.
The ZIP file is retained after its contents are extracted.
Likewise, Resources allows instructors to compress a folder and its content, including the root Resources folder for a site. This is useful for downloading multiple files without having to use WebDAV.
Note that compressing a folder to produce a ZIP file does not remove the original folder and its contents from Resources.
Assignments now provides instructors the ability to submit an assignment on behalf of a student. This feature can be useful for exceptional circumstances when a student needs to submit an assignment through a channel outside of the Assignments tool, whether via email, Sakai's Drop Box tool, etc. With this feature, the instructor can corral stray assignments and attribute them to the proper students without requiring the students' intervention.
To use this feature, go to the 'Assignment List' and in the drop-down menu labeled 'View,' and select 'Assignment List by Student.'
Proceed by clicking the 'Submit as Student' link for the particular student for the particular assignment of interest.
Then upload the student's assignment and submit.
Note that though the submission is attributed to the intended student for grading, etc., Assignments will track and display who actually performed the submission.
The Turnitin Service settings in Assignments have changed such that the option for 'Allow students to view report' is not visible as a setting until the 'Use Turnitin' checkbox is checked.
Furthermore, many more Turnitin options are presented in Sakai 2.9. Except for checking 'Allow students to view report' to grant student's access to the originality checking report, most instructors would leave the remaining settings as-is.
Throughout the Forums tool, the previously used term 'thread' has been replaced with the term 'conversation.' For example, in the topic view in Forums, the phrase 'Post New Thread' is supplanted with 'Start a New Conversation.' Furthermore, the function 'Start a New Conversation' is displayed more prominently than before. It is now a button along the top of the topic view. Also, the topic view button formerly known as 'Display Entire Message' is now known as 'Display Message Content.' Instructors might also notice that the 'Topic Settings' and 'Delete Topic' buttons in the topic view are new in Sakai 2.9.
The conversation view in Forums has similarly been revised. Besides supplanting the term 'thread' with 'conversation,' the button formerly known as 'Reply to Thread' is now known as 'Reply to Initial Message.'
As in previous versions of Sakai, before an instructor can enter forum-related grades through the Forums tool, the instructor must first create one or more gradebook items in the Gradebook tool as appropriate for the task at hand.
(Tip: Ensure that the 'Release this item to Students' checkbox for the forum-related gradebook items in Gradebook are not checked before you enter their corresponding grades in Forums. Otherwise, students will receive these grades while you are in the process of grading. Consequently, some students will see their grades before others do, and students will be able to observe changes to their grades if you revise them while in the midst of grading. After you have finished grading, then you can safely release those grades to students by checking 'Release this item to Students.')
Forums in Sakai 2.9 transcends a previous limitation which forced instructors to first navigate to a particular thread or conversation where the student had posted a message. From there the instructor would click the 'Grade' link associated with one of the student's posts to enter a grade.
(Note that in Sakai 2.9, clicking on the 'Grade' link in these views will popup a dialog instead of transporting the instructor to a separate view for entering a grade.)
Sakai 2.9 enables instructors to enter grades (e.g., for student participation) in close proximity to views for reviewing the students' overall participation. For example, instructors who want to review and grade overall student participation within a particular forum can do so by clicking on the 'Grade' link that's associated with the forum on the landing page of the Forums tool.
Clicking on the 'Grade' link leads the instructor to a 'Statistics & Grading' view for the forum. If a gradebook item was not defined in the 'Forum Settings' for that forum, a gradebook item can be selected as follows.
Once a gradebook item is selected, grades can then be entered and submitted to Gradebook in bulk as seen below.
While in the process of grading, instructors can click the 'Details' link to review the student's overall forum participation.
The details view includes a list of 'Messages Authored' and 'Messages Read' by the student.
Note that before navigating away from the 'Statistics & Grading' view-- including for instance clicking 'Details' to review a student's work-- the instructor should click the 'Submit Grades' button to save any newly entered grades. (A popup dialog will warn about unsaved grades when the instructor navigates away from the 'Statistics & Grading' view. At which point the instructor can choose to either proceed or go back and 'Submit Grades' to the Gradebook.)
Instructors now have the option to duplicate an entire forum or topic instead of creating new forums or topics from scratch.
Note that when a forum or topic is duplicated, the conversations from the original forum or topic are not copied.
Instructors can set an option in a forum or topic that requires students to first post a message before they can read other students' posts. This new option is available in 'Forum Settings' and 'Topic Settings.'
When a student navigates to such a topic where this requirement is set, they will see a warning about it.
Instructors can now apply criteria for dropping or keeping the highest or lowest scores within a gradebook category. This feature is available when the 'Gradebook Setup' is set to use 'Categories only' or 'Categories & Weighting.'
The checkboxes 'Enable Drop Highest,' 'Enable Drop Lowest,' and 'Enable Keep Highest' control whether or not their corresponding criteria ('Drop Highest,' 'Drop Lowest,' and 'Keep Highest') can be applied to particular gradebook categories.
In the appropriate column, enter the number of items in each category that you wish to drop or keep. You will notice that unavailable choices are grayed out. For example, you cannot both keep and drop items in the same category, so entering a number for one of these makes the other unavailable. Also note that when opting to drop or keep scores for a particular category, all the gradebook items in that category must share the same point values.
Tip: Many faculty prefer to use Keep Highest as opposed to Drop Lowest, since it reflects a more accurate running total of student grades during the course of the academic term. Items that students have not yet completed are not dropped automatically, so one or more higher scores may be dropped until all items have been completed.
Instructors can hide gradebook item columns in the 'All Grades' view. Hiding a column does not affect any grade calculations, student displays, or exported reports. This feature is used to organize and simplify the 'All Grades' table for graders. Click the 'Hide/Show Columns' link.
Then in the 'Hide/Show Columns' popup dialog, select which columns to hide. Note that only gradebook items can be hidden. Columns of gradebook categories cannot be hidden.
The the Tests & Quizzes landing page for instructors has been revised in Sakai 2.9 to more clearly distinguish its various contents. First, the choice between creating an assessment from scratch and importing one from an XML or ZIP file is now more apparent than before.
Second, the display of assessments for the site is now structured using tabs. 'Working Copies' of assessments (formerly known as 'Pending Assessments') are more clearly contrasted against 'Published Assessments.' The former are not released to students while the published assessments have been released to students.
Furthermore, the display of published assessments in the 'Published Copies' tab can be toggled among 'Active' assessments, 'Inactive' assessments, or 'All' (both active and inactive assessments).
Note that the Tests & Quizzes landing page for students remains unchanged for Sakai 2.9.
When publishing a test or quiz, instructors can now opt to post the assessment's due date in the Schedule tool.
A new question type for conducting surveys within a matrix of choices is available in Sakai 2.9.
This 'Survey - Matrix of Choices' question type can be used for implementing Likert scales.
To conduct an anonymous survey, select 'Anonymous grading only' in the 'Grading' section of the assessment's 'Settings.'
Anonymity masks the student respondents' identities with numerical IDs. Summary results to matrix-of-choices survyes can be viewed in 'Statistics.'
The top and bottom views of the 'Statistics' report follow.
Numeric Response questions now support scientific notation (e.g., 6.022E23) and complex numbers (e.g., 6+3i).
Grader's comments are included as a column within spreadsheets of exported assessment results.
When grading an assessment, instructors can use the new 'Apply This Score' button and its corresponding text field to apply the same score (e.g., 0 points) to all students who have not submitted their assessment. This feature circumvents having to enter the same score for each of these students, one at a time.