Educators compare Sakai, Blackboard systems

Some find Sakai more difficult to use

Despite UNC’s commitment to switch from Blackboard to Sakai by 2014, announced Oct. 18, some professors and teaching assistants don’t see it as a clear favorite.

Some educators said they preferred Blackboard, while some who have tried the Sakai program think several factors make it easier to use.

“I like Sakai better than Blackboard because it is more user- friendly, it looks better and it saves me time and energy to post documents and send e-mails to different sections of my classes,” wrote Charles Joukhadar, an Arabic professor, in an e-mail.

“Honestly, from a professor’s perspective it is easier to use Blackboard, but as a class coordinator it is easier to use Sakai,” said Encarnacion Cruz Jimenez, a teaching assistant in the Spanish department.

Class coordinators are responsible for crafting the syllabus and setting up Sakai for classes with multiple sections.

With Blackboard, professors said they are able to send e-mails and assignment announcements to specific class sections.

But on Sakai, they said, announcements are seen by everyone in all of the different sections, which can cause confusion.

“I prefer Blackboard because I can choose what is shown to the sections,” said French department teaching assistant Camille Pecastaings.

Cruz Jimenez said Sakai faces criticism simply because it is new, and said workshops would help teachers become acquainted.

“This is what happens with any complex program — you have to learn how to use it,” she said.

She added that there is an option available to send an e-mail to a specific section.

Educators said that on Blackboard, documents can be posted for specific classes. On Sakai, all documents are available to every section.

“Because all of the documents on Sakai are posted to everyone, it keeps all sections on the same page,” said Anna Bernard, a teaching assistant also in the French department.

There are some features on Sakai that are unavailable on Blackboard, such as an assignment calendar for each class.

Another feature on Sakai is the ePortfolio, which lets students keep an academic record of all their work to show to potential employers.

Charles Green, assistant vice chancellor for teaching and learning, said he hopes professors and students will soon favor Sakai as the best system.

“I hope that students and faculty can see the potential value in these features and develop a richer perspective on Sakai,” Green said.

Contact the University Editor at udesk@unc.edu.

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