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The Daily Tar Heel

Sakai upgrade in December may provide a better user experience

This update requires the system to go offline, but Suzanne Cadwell, the Information Technology Services director of teaching and learning, said ITS is working to ensure the update process goes smoothly.

“We’re excited about it and it’s because, mostly, just because we think it’s gonna be an easier Sakai for everybody to use,” Cadwell said.

Cadwell said this update will improve the user experience.

Some of the new features include a more responsive design with an improved layout and navigation across different devices. Cadwell said the new gradebook features make it easier for professors to input grades into the system through a spreadsheet that requires fewer clicks than the current system.

She said the new site will have “hotspot questions” with clickable images and graphics for students to answer questions. The update also allows professors to customize the Sakai site for their course and easily integrate all of their resources and lessons into one place.

Cadwell said upgrading Sakai requires three different testing environments because they need to ensure tools, like VoiceThread, Warpwire and Blackboard Collaborate, will work with the new Sakai site.

“The upgrade was available, was issued late summer and of course we needed more time to be sure that we test the upgrade on our system and make sure that we were ready with help documents and all of that before we made that available to users,” Cadwell said.

The Sakai 11 update has a lot of features that students have been hoping for.

“(Sakai) looks like it was made in the ‘80s,” Farial Rahman, a sophomore computer science major, said.“Like, I’m sure it does its job, but there’s so many tabs that are like unuseful to me and it’s just like why do I need this.”

Rahman said she wishes Sakai had a more simple layout.

“I wish that Sakai had a part where the teacher could actually be required or like recommended to like write a little blurb, about like oh this is blah blah blah, or if something’s like only online graded,” she said.

Junior computer science major Ayesha Faisal said she wishes her professors used Sakai more often.

“I feel like as such a modern school with like so many resources that we could like make the user interface better,” she said.

“We have such a good computer science department and such talented grad students and like professors that could really make this website like a lot better than it is. I feel bad for the freshmen because like they’re so lost.”

James Rives, a professor in the classics department, said he uses Sakai primarily for large lecture courses. In those courses, he said he uses Sakai to post material for the class, quizzes and grades.

“Over time I’ve been finding more ways to integrate it as a tool,” he said.

“Again, I’m really concerned about using it in ways that are actually useful and sometimes I think things are just kind of tacked on because they’re gimmicky, and I’m not interested in that.”

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