New! Peer Review in Sakai

students in a libraryWe are pleased to introduce a new feature in Sakai this semester–peer review! Peer review enables students to review and critique each others’ writing through the Assignments tool.

Here are ways peer review can help students improve their writing skills, plus more from  The Teaching Center at Washington University in St. Louis:

  • Increase feedback students receive
  • Communicate constructive feedback
  • Respond to own feedback
  • Transition from writing primarily for the instructor to a broader audience and taking into account responses of anticipated readers

Interested in learning more about peer review? Join us tomorrow at our Peer Review Workshop at the House Undergraduate Library!

Peer Review in Sakai [Register]
Tuesday, Feb 18
10am – 11am
UL 034

Set up Peer Review in Sakai

To set up peer review in your Sakai site, be sure to have the Assignments tool enabled. Within Assignments:

1. Click on Add to create a new Assignment
2. Enter the Assignment Title, required dates, instructions, etc.
NOTE: If sending grades to the Gradebook, create the Gradebook entry first.
3. Change Grade Scale to Points and enter maximum possible points
4. Under Peer Assessment, check Use peer assessment

peer_review_use5. Enter when Evaluation Period Finishes
NOTE: This is when students review each others’ papers. Keep the Due/Accept Until Dates in mind to give students enough time to review papers. The Evaluation Period begins after the Accept Until time passes.
6. By default, evaluations are anonymous for students and students can see reviews of their submissions. Uncheck these items if necessary.
7. Enter Number of submissions students must review
8. Enter any instructions for student reviewers and click Post

Submissions and Grading

Students will post their own submissions and wait for the Assignment Accept Until time to pass–at which time the Review Status will become a link. Students will click on the Review link to view and critique other students’ submissions.

As students send in their submissions, instructors can view submissions and reviews, however instructor grading is disabled until the Evaluation Period ends. Sakai will average student grades based on reviewer grades. Once the Evaluation Period passes, instructors may remove any reviews and override grades.


Instructors must approve final grades. Don’t forget to release grades to students!

Important Reminders

Here are some important reminders for peer review:

  • If reviews are anonymous, remind students not to put identifying information in their submissions and attachments.
  • Evaluation Period begins after the Assignment Accept Until time passes.
  • Sakai does not require students to submit or review Assignments. It is up to the instructor to penalize students.
  • Instructors cannot grade during the Evaluation Period.
  • Sakai will accommodate number of students and reviews (e.g., if an even number of reviews is required but there are an odd number of students, a couple of students may have an extra submission to review).

Let us know if you have any questions by contacting the ITS Help Desk at 962-HELP!

Posted in Assessment, Faculty, Micro-tutorial, Students, Workshop/Training | Comments Off on New! Peer Review in Sakai

Get the Most with Personal Consultations

tagxedo_consults2Ever have questions about Sakai? Don’t waste valuable time getting stuck on a problem for hours–get personal assistance from a Sakai expert! Sometimes the best way to get help is to have someone there with you in person, which is why we are here to help you!

We understand that there is no one-size-fits-all design for all UNC instructors, so meeting one-on-one allows us to focus on your individual needs and preferences in structuring your course content. Together, we will work on finding the best solution for you.

To schedule a personal consultation, select a meeting time from our Calendar. If none of the listed times fit your schedule, submit a help ticket listing your available hours.

Thank You!

We are so grateful for the feedback we have received thus far as it helps us improve on our services. See what some of your colleagues have said about their experience meeting with a TLI Consultant–check the word cloud at the top of this post or snippets below!

  • 100% Overall satisfaction
  • 100% Consultant helpfulness
  • 94% All problems resolved during consultation

“Wow, the consultant was awesome. I have never had a better experience with getting IT help anywhere, ever. Thank you!”

“I was extremely pleased with the individual service. The consultant was able to show me how to do the specific tasks I needed to do and now I can move forward with more skills to get the most from Sakai.”

“The consultant and I were able to accomplish more in 30 minutes together than I could have done in several hours by myself. You cannot imagine how helpful the one-on-one assistance was for me!”

Register today for a personal consultation if you need any Sakai assistance. Let us help you get the most out of Sakai!

Posted in Faculty, General | Comments Off on Get the Most with Personal Consultations

Virtual Office Hours

unc_snowman_candleStuck inside on a snow day but have urgent meetings with students or co-workers? Stay inside where it’s warm and hold virtual office hours online! Instructors can create a virtual sign-up sheet for students to view available hours and register for meetings and then meet the students online in a live webinar room off campus.

Sign-Up Sheet

You can use the Sign-up tool in Sakai to create an online sign-up sheet to list your availability for students to view and sign up for meetings–whether you decide to hold these meetings on or off campus is up to you! Some great features of the Sign-up tool include the ability to:

  • Create recurring meetings
  • List meetings available to multiple course sites
  • Keep track of attendance
  • Import calendar events into Outlook or Google calendar with an iCalendar file

Enable the Sign-up tool and then create your meetings following this video tutorial from our friends at Yale University!

signup_yaleWebinar Meeting Room

bbc_logoOnce you have finalized your scheduled office hours, you can virtually meet your students within a Blackboard Collaborate webinar room. Here is all you need:

  • Computer with internet access
  • Updated Java version on browser
  • Microphone and speakers (preferably headset) or use your telephone!

NOTE: You will be prompted to install Blackboard Collaborate software the first time you try to join a room.

Within your webinar, you can share lecture slides and other applications and turn on your webcam for enhanced collaboration. You can also keep a room open for an extended time and use that same room for all of your office hours! Add Blackboard Collaborate (listed as Elluminate Live! Bridge in Sakai) to your site to get started. To create a webinar room within the tool:

  1. Click on Create Session
  2. Enter Session Name and Start/End Times
  3. Click on Submit

NOTE: We recommend joining your webinar 5-10 minutes early to troubleshoot any possible technical issues.

Sign up for a personal consultation for assistance in setting up your virtual office hours!

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Semester Tips and Campus Resources


Spring Lunch by Bunches and Bits {Karina} on flickr (CC BY)

We hope your Spring Semester is off to a great start! Instructors are settling into their classes and students are finalizing their schedules. Now is the perfect time to look into campus resources that are available to assist you in having a successful semester.

Making the right preparations and putting together an organized plan for the semester can be the key in having success–check out these Sakai tips and campus resources!


Check out our Start of Semester Checklist to get started on your course site! Most of you have likely already added your syllabus and uploaded course materials–you can also check out these other tools available to you!

Keep students on track with the Sakai Calendar by orienting everyone to important dates and deadlines. Quickly populate your Calendar with this method.

Do you administer tests or collect student assignments? Register for our Sakai Assessments Workshop to learn about Tests & Quizzes, Assignments, and the Drop Box in Sakai! The workshop will be held on Thursday, January 23, from 12pm – 1pm in the Undergraduate Library, Room 034.

Use the Sakai Gradebook to your advantage by having it automatically calculate grades, drop low scores, and link to assessments–saving you valuable time!

You may also want to look into attending some workshops hosted by the Center for Faculty Excellence to assist you with your course setup.


Start your semester right by using campus resources to help you be prepared and have a successful semester!

Here are some resources and tips to consider:

Get Help

Don’t get stuck on a problem for hours! Call the ITS Help Desk at 962-HELP or submit a help ticket if you run into issues. We’re here to help!

Posted in Faculty, General, Students, Workshop/Training | Comments Off on Semester Tips and Campus Resources

Start of Semester Checklist

board_sp14_checkHappy First Day of Classes! Despite the chilly weather outside, let’s warm up and get a jump start on Spring Semester! Here is a checklist to help instructors get their Sakai sites up and running for the start of the semester:

1. Create Course Site
Instructors can select to reuse old course material in new sites during the course creation process. At the bottom of the Course Site Tools page, select “Yes, from these sites:” to Re-use Material from Other Sites You Own and select the courses from which you want to reuse material. Continue onto the next step to select which tools you want duplicated.

2. Check Rosters
You can easily add/remove rosters in your course sites through Site Info > Edit Class Roster(s). Keep in mind that enrollments occur three times a day, which means that it may take a few hours for enrollments to update in Sakai.

NOTE: If you accidentally attached an extra roster to the wrong course site, you must first remove the extra roster from the original course site to create a new course site.

3. Publish Site
To give students access, publish your site.

publish_site4. Give TAs Access
Be sure to add your Teaching Assistants in ConnectCarolina so that they will inherit the correct permissions for accessing student grades. Contact your departmental course scheduling officer to list the TAs in ConnectCarolina.

5. Firefox Mixed Content Blocker
Remind students that they may need to disable the mixed content blocker in their browser to view content from external sources in your Sakai site.

firefox_mixed_contentIf you have any questions, you can call the ITS Help Desk at 962-HELP or schedule a personal consultation. Good luck with the start of the semester!

Posted in Faculty, General | Comments Off on Start of Semester Checklist

Welcome to 2014! Create Spring Course Sites

jan2014Welcome back to a new year! We hope you have had a wonderful break with a chance to rest up and be refreshed for the upcoming Spring semester. Classes begin in a week on Wednesday, January 8, so this is the perfect time to set up your course sites for the new semester. Let’s get a head start on Spring 2014!

Create Course Sites

Before you can create your course site in Sakai, verify with your departmental course scheduler officer that you are listed as the Instructor for the course roster in ConnectCarolina. Once this is done, you can create your course site in Sakai:

1. Select Worksite Setup in your My Workspace tab
2. Click on New > course site
3. Select the Spring 2014 Academic term and click Continue
4. Check roster of course you want to create

NOTE: This process creates only one course site at a time. Checking multiple rosters will attach all checked rosters on the course site you are currently creating. To create multiple course sites, repeat this process. Accidentally added multiple rosters?

5. Continue through the steps to create your course site

Mature students and their teacher in a classroomNeed Sakai Help?

Teaching in Sakai for the first time or need a refresher? Register for the Sakai Basics Workshop for a crash course as a Sakai instructor! We will meet on Tuesday, January 7, from 1pm to 2pm in the House Undergraduate Library, Room 034. [Register]

Need help on specific tools or just want a more personalized meeting? Sign up for a one-on-one consultation! We currently have several open appointments on our calendar and can even come to your office or meet online.

You can also contact the ITS Help Desk at 962-HELP or submit a help request for assistance. They provide online chat and walk-in support as well.

Let us know how we may help you!

Posted in Faculty, General, Workshop/Training | Comments Off on Welcome to 2014! Create Spring Course Sites

Fall 2013 Semester in Review

old_well_cropCongratulations on another successful semester at UNC! For the 13th consecutive time, Carolina was ranked #1 in academic value in American public higher education, according to Kiplinger magazine. What an achievement! At the heart of this University are the people, and we wanted to congratulate the students who have graduated this semester–You did it, Graduates! As UNC Professor and Commencement keynote speaker Kevin Guskiewicz said at the Commencement ceremony,

Carolina “will always be here for you.”

Sakai Stats

Here are some Sakai statistics to wrap up the Fall 2013 Semester!

There were a total of 3,816 course sites and 2,352 unique instructors in Sakai this semester–we are up 216 courses and 424 instructors compared to Fall 2012!


Take a look at the rise in Sakai course sites since the Sakai Pilot back in Fall 2008:


Sakai Tool Usage

There was no surprise in the top 5 most popular Sakai tools as instructors chose the same top 5 tools in Spring 2013.

#1: Groups – 3,106 sites
Since Sakai is group-aware, you can use Groups to limit discussion Forums, Resources, Assignments, and Messages to specific groups of students. Groups are also automatically created from official ConnectCarolina rosters.

#2: Messages – 2,581 sites
Ever have trouble getting in touch with someone in your class? The Messages tool is a great way to communicate as it not only allows users to contact specific users or groups in a site, but it also sends a copy of the message to a user’s email inbox in addition to keeping the message in Sakai.



#3: Syllabus – 2,264 sites
The Syllabus tool can be used as a quick place of reference for your important class documents.

“Frustrated with the same old questions?” Check out Austin Community College Professor David Lydic’s fun and creative method of reminding students to check the syllabus, as posted on Inside Higher Ed!

#4: Announcements – 1,820 sites
Use the Announcements tool to share important updates in your course. Announcements display on your site’s homepage, and you can send an email notification to students.

#5: Gradebook – 1,444 sites
With two big improvements to the Gradebook, it’s no surprise that the Gradebook made the top 5. Instructors can now drop the lowest scores and export grades for ConnectCarolina from the Sakai Gradebook!

Check out the full Sakai tool usage for Fall 2013:



Image by Dawnie’s cakes on flickr (CC BY)

What a semester it’s been!

If you want to get a head start on Spring Semester, you can go ahead and create your course sites! Remember that you must be listed as an Instructor for the course in ConnectCarolina.

From all of us at ITS-Teaching & Learning Interactive, we wish you a wonderful and safe holiday season. See you in 2014!

Posted in Faculty, General, Students | Comments Off on Fall 2013 Semester in Review