Sakai Transition FAQ

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Sakai Transition FAQ for Instructors

Durham Technical Community College has chosen Sakai as its new learning management system, to replace its current system, Blackboard 8. Sakai will be phased in over a 12 - 18 month period as Blackboard is phased out. Read on for more information!

What is Sakai?

Sakai is an open-source collaboration and learning environment created by and for higher education. Sakai was developed and is maintained by an active community of educational institutions and organizations including the University of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT, and others. UNC-CH and Duke University are currently in the process of transitioning from Blackboard to Sakai.

How and why was Sakai chosen?

Sakai was recommended by the college’s Learning Management System Team, which conducted detailed examinations of the latest versions of Moodle, Sakai, and Blackboard. The LMS Team is made up of 11 faculty and staff, 10 of whom teach online.

A high priority was to choose a system that is instructor, student, and learning friendly. The LMS Team found Sakai to be well-designed, intuitive, and easier-to-use than the latest versions of Moodle and Blackboard. Sakai also offers updated tools for interactivity. Sakai’s structure is similar to Blackboard’s, giving the product a familiar feel – and making the work of moving content a bit easier.

Before recommending Sakai, the LMS Team "road-tested" the product in a pilot that involved 8 instructors teaching 20 course sections to more than 400 students over several semesters.

When will the transition to Sakai take place?

The transition to Sakai will be a phased-in process that should take 12 - 18 months to complete.

During Summer 2012, Durham Tech's Instructional Technologies team completed many important preparatory tasks, including selection of a vendor for hosting and support, setup and customization of the new system, integration with the college's student information system, initial training, etc.

A group of 18 instructors will teach with Sakai in Fall 2012. The Instructional Technologies team expects to train 300+ instructors on Sakai between September 2012 and December 2013. By January 2014, we hope to have all instructors and students using Sakai.

Will there be training on how to use Sakai?

Yes. We anticipate that all faculty who use Blackboard (full and part-time) will need training on using Sakai. Instructor training will begin in September 2012 and will be phased-in and on-going throughout the 2012-13 academic year. In the early phases, training will be face-to-face. It is our goal to make online training available as soon as feasible.

Will I be able to move my course content from Blackboard to Sakai?

Yes. And it’s a great opportunity to review your content, get rid of stuff you don’t need, and re-organize your courses. (Sort of like cleaning out closets when you move to a new house – not a fun chore, but think how good it feels when it’s done!).

What can I do now to prepare for the transition?

  • Take inventory of the documents, handouts, etc. you use with your classes. Make sure current copies are saved to your computer and organized so you can find them. Also, back them up (e.g. to a flash drive) for safekeeping.
  • If you rely on publisher-provided content, contact your book rep to find out if they have content available for Sakai 2.x.
  • Identify any text that’s in Blackboard that you will want to re-use later (such as Discussion Board questions, old announcements, web links, etc). Copy to a Word document and save to your computer.
  • Create portable content outside of Blackboard using tools such as SoftChalk, PowerPoint, Google Docs, or screen-recording tools (such as Screenr, Screencast-o-matic, or Jing).

What will happen to Blackboard?

During the 12 - 18 month transition, Instructional Technologies will support two learning management systems. Throughout the transition, instructors will have continued access to their content on Blackboard. At the end of the transition, Blackboard will no longer be available, and all instructors and students will be using Sakai. At that time, Blackboard content will be archived for data retention purposes but will not be generally accessible online.