Sakai project is an online Collaboration and Learning Environment. Many users of Sakai deploy it to support teaching and learning, ad hoc group collaboration, support for portfolios and research collaboration.
Sakai is a free and open source product that is built and maintained by the Sakai community. Sakai's development model is called "Community Source" because many of the developers creating Sakai are drawn from the "community" of organizations that have adopted and are using Sakai.
A set of generic collaboration tools forms the core of Sakai:
· Drop Box
· Email Archive
· Chat Room
· Threaded Discussion
· Message Center
· Message Of The Day
· Profile / Roster
· Repository Search
· Web Content
· Site Setup
The Sakai community is actively developing new Sakai tools: IMS Common Cartridge, SCORM, blog tool, shared whiteboard, shared display, multipoint audio, multipoint audio, pod-casting, IMS Tool Interoperability, and others.
Here are some key features of "Sakai":
Announcements are used to inform site participants of current items of interest. Announcements can have multiple attachments, including documents and URLs. It is possible to draft and save an announcement before sending it out to site participants or posting it on the site. Announcements appear in a list when you are in the Announcements Tool. They also appear on the home page of each course or project site. Site owners and instructors can choose to have an announcement automatically emailed to all of the site participants by using the "required notification" setting shown below.
For courses, the Sakai Assignments Tool allows instructors to create, distribute, collect and grade online assignments. Assignments are private and student submissions are not visible to other users of the site. The Assignments Tool allows letter grades, points, check marks, pass/fail or ungraded. Assignments can also be returned, with or without grades, for re-submission. This feature can be used to evaluate drafts of final projects or papers, or to allow students to correct and re-submit an assignment.
Instructors can download all submissions to an assignment to their computer at once. When instructors release grades for an assignment, students can access instructor comments along with their grade.
Chat Room Tool
The Chat Room Tool is for real-time, unstructured conversations with users who are signed on to the site at the same time as you are. The Chat Room Tool allows for more than one "Chat Room" which an instructor or site owner can create for specific kinds of chats. The Chat Tool alerts users on the Chat page to the other participants who are also viewing that page. This way, users know who is available to talk in Chat. By default, Chat messages are saved and are visible to all users.
The Sakai Discussion Tool allows structured conversations that are organized in categories. Site participants can post replies to a topic (a "flat" discussion) or to other replies (a "threaded" discussion). The site owner can also choose whether or not to allow site participants to post their own discussion topics. You can view Discussion in a row or column layout.
Drop Box Tool
The Drop Box Tool allows instructors and students to share documents in a private folder for each student. The Drop Box feature can also be used by participants in a project site. Note, however, that in project sites, drop boxes are not private. The Drop Box Tool works like the Resources Tool to allow you to upload and create different types of files, and upload many files at a time. The Drop Box also allows for nested folders (folders within folders).
Email Archive Tool
Each Sakai worksite has an automatically generated worksite email address, which you can view in the Email Archive Tool. Email sent to the site email address is copied to all site participants and owners. All messages sent to your Sakai worksite's email address are stored in the Email Archive. Worksite owners can create an easy-to-remember alias for the worksite's email address.
The Gradebook tool allows instructors to list course assignments and corresponding student scores, and calculate, store, and distribute grade information to students online. Courses can be graded on letter grade, simple letter grade, or pass/fail scales. You can also have grades from assignments created with the CTools Assignments tool automatically go into the Gradebook.
Sakai provides an online contextual Help Tool. By clicking the Help button while you have a tool open, you will see a window with information about that tool. The Help Tool also contains a list of links for browsing other help topics, and a search function.
Home is a portal page available for every course and project worksite. Instructors and worksite owners can customize the home page to display synoptic views of the most current announcements, discussion board postings, or chat messages. The Home page of a worksite is also where a description of the worksite is presented.
Modules is a lesson builder tool that allows authors to publish learning sequences that can be created by using a built-in online editor, by linking to web pages, or by uploading learning objects or documents of various formats. The learning (module) sequences that you create become on part of your CTools course website.
The Membership Tool is a tool in your My Workspace that allows you to join and unjoin sites. It provides a list of sites of which you are a member and a list of sites that have global access, and are therefore joinable.
Message Center is a tool that facilitates one-on-one and group communication. Private messaging gives users the ability to communicate one-on-one within a site. Users may even choose to receive private messages in their personal email account. In addition to private messaging, Message Center gives authors extensive control over the forum settings and gives users the ability to navigate intuitively through forum postings. Message Center is a Sakai provisional tool -- it is not a core component of Sakai Releases, but it is relatively well-developed and is in use at multiple Sakai Installations.
Sakai provides each user with his or her own individual online worksite which functions as a private workspace. Your workspace includes several features, including Resources, Schedule, Worksite Setup, Announcements, News, Web Content, Preferences, Help and Membership.
The News Tool allows a Sakai worksite to display an RSS feed. RSS is a data format that allows users to view continuously updated content from another site. In addition to news, some websites use the RSS format for information that is updated often, such as blogs, events listings, or the revision history of a book. Worksite owners can customize their News feature by putting in a web address for any RSS feed.
Permissions and Roles
When you create a course or project worksite, you choose which tools (e.g., discussion, schedule, resources, etc.) you want the worksite to have. For each of these tools, you can set permissions that allow or prevent users from seeing or performing certain tasks depending on a user's "role." In Sakai, the various roles are given default permissions, but worksite owners can change these as desired for their site
"Permissions" is not a button in the menubar -- it is accessed via a button that appears when you open a tool in a project or course worksite. To view the default permission settings for a tool, click the Permissions button from the top menu bar in the tool's first page.
Post'Em supports providing feedback and grades from an Excel spreadsheet saved in CSV format. Some useful features of Post'Em include: multiple files can be uploaded, participants only see the files that contain feedback, and Instructors can see whether participants have read their feedback. Post'Em is a Sakai provisional tool -- it is not a core component of Sakai Releases, but it is relatively well-developed and is in use at multiple Sakai Installations.
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