Free Upcoming T&L Conferences

Here are two upcoming conferences we recommend UNC Faculty and Staff check out. Both are free to attendees!

Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment

We invite you to attend the Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment virtual conference, presented by Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. Registration costs are waived for all UNC-CH faculty, staff, and students, courtesy of our team, ITS Teaching & Learning. All conference details, including how to access sessions, can be found here (Onyen login required).

Transforming the Teaching & Learning Environment
Mon, Feb 13 – Fri, Feb 24
Six 1-hour, non-concurrent sessions each weekday
60 total sessions, all online

CFE Faculty Showcase on Teaching


UNC Faculty — The 6th Annual CFE Faculty Showcase on Teaching is next month! The Showcase will be held on Friday, March 24 at the Carolina Club. Session topics include:

  • Experiential learning
  • Interdisciplinary teaching
  • New classroom technologies
  • Inclusive teaching practices
  • Higher-order assessment

A full program will be announced soon. Please register at your earliest convenience and find more details at The showcase is sponsored by the Center for Faculty Excellence and our team, ITS Teaching & Learning.

CFE Faculty Showcase on Teaching
Friday, March 24
8:30am – 3:30pm
Carolina Club


Upcoming Sakai Workshops

image of January 1

Image on flickr

Welcome to 2017! We hope you all had a wonderful break and are well rested! To start off the new year and semester, we are offering several Sakai Workshops to help you get familiar with the upgraded system and get your course sites set up for the Spring 2017 Semester.

Please note we also offer personal consultations where we will assist you one-on-one with all your Sakai needs! We can meet in your office if that is most convenient for you. Register on our Events page.

Sakai 11 Demo

Learn about all the new, big features in Sakai 11! Some of these include the new Gradebook, a new Attendance tool, a new checklist, and much more! Register for one of our workshops:

Intro to Teaching in Sakai

Teaching in Sakai for the first time or need a refresher? Join us for a crash course on teaching in Sakai! Please verify your departmental course scheduler has listed you as an instructor in ConnectCarolina for each course roster you are teaching.

Intro to Teaching in Sakai [Registration]
Tues Jan 10 | 10:30-11:30am
UL 124

Sakai Drop-in Help Session

Have any last-minute Sakai questions for the start of term? Drop by at your convenience at the House Undergraduate Library between 2pm and 3:30pm to meet with a Sakai expert.

Drop in for Sakai Help [Registration]
Wed Jan 11 | 2-3:30pm
UL 124

Sakai Help 24/7

Can’t meet in person? The ITS Service Desk is available 24/7 via and 919-962-HELP to assist you! You can also check out our tutorials in Sakai Help and on Let us know how we can help you!

Sakai 11 IS HERE

mockup_dog2_welcomeThe Sakai Upgrade is complete!

Welcome to Sakai 11!

Thank you for your patience while we took the system offline to apply the upgrade, and thank you to all the teams involved in the upgrade. It was a lot of work but well worth it!

As with any major upgrade, odd behaviors and bugs are expected, so please let us know if you notice anything strange in Sakai 11. You can contact us through the ITS Service Desk at or 919-962-HELP. We appreciate all feedback!

NOTE: If the layout is not displaying correctly or you have issues, please clear your browser cache by simultaneously holding down the Shift key on your keyboard and clicking on your browser refresh button.

Sakai 11 New Features

Here is a comprehensive list of the big, new features in Sakai 11:


  • Fresh, new look!
  • New responsive design — view on mobile devices
  • Easily organize favorite Sakai sites with new Sites & Favorites features
  • Breadcrumb navigational menu
  • No more iframes — use browser back and forth buttons
  • Your personal My Workspace renamed to Home

sk11_desktop    sk11_mobile

New Gradebook

  • New spreadsheet-style grade entry and view
  • Quickly enter grades, comments, view log, update settings all on one page
  • Set score to any value for individual, empty Gb Items, by group/section
  • New grading analytics
  • Consolidates menus for setup and settings
  • Drag and drop functionality to reorder Gb Items
  • View by grouped sections, categories, specific Gb Items
  • Improved student review mode
  • Additional spreadsheet import/export options including updating comments
  • Floating headers — great for large classes

NOTE: The old Gradebook Classic will still be available for you through Spring 2017. Modifying one Gradebook will automatically update the other, so might as well try the new Gradebook!

Click on image to enlarge:

gb_new_overviewChecklist in Lessons

  • New Checklist — have students track progress for instructors to see
  • New options to divide up content with section breaks, columns, and colors

Anonymous Discussions

You’ve been asking for it and it’s finally here. You can now set up anonymous discussion boards in Forums!


Stream Media

We have had Warpwire, a 3rd-party streaming media solution, available by request but it is now available in all Sakai sites!

Improved Text Editor

  • Auto-save as you type!
  • New accessibility checker
  • Includes Warpwire to add streaming media

New Attendance Tracker

  • Keep track of attendance in new tool
  • Sakai automatically tallies up attendance
  • Send attendance scores to Gradebook

New Features in Tests & Quizzes

  • New Hot Spot question type — students ID points on image
  • See all scores for one student on one page
  • New email notifications for student submissions

tq_hot_spot_markupGet Help

If you prefer in-person assistance with getting familiar with Sakai 11, we are holding several workshops before the start of Spring 2017 semester or you can sign up for a personal consultation. You will also find extensive documentation within the embedded Help tool in Sakai.

Sakai 11 Workshops
Wed Jan 4 | 4pm-5pm | HSL 307 [Registration]
Thurs Jan 5 | 8am-9am | HSL 307 [Registration]
Fri Jan 6 | 11am-12pm | UL 124 [Registration]
Mon Jan 9 | 2pm-3pm | UL 124 [Registration]

We hope you are excited about the new features Sakai 11 brings! Check out the ITS article on the upgrade, featuring our T&L Director, Suzanne Cadwell, and one of our Sakai Support Staff, Thao Nghi Bui!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: Organize Site Favorites

sk11_upgradeTHIS IS IT.

The Sakai 11 Upgrade is TOMORROW! Sakai will be offline tomorrow, December 20, from 8am until 5pm while we apply the upgrade. We will work diligently to bring the system back up as soon as possible.

With the Fall 2016 Semester now over, one of the first things you’ll likely want to do soon is update your top Sakai site tabs. Sakai 11 makes it much easier to do so with the new Sites and Favorites features!

Sites Organized by Term

Starting tomorrow, you will find a new Sites icon in the top right corner. Clicking on this button will display all sites you are a member of, minus the ones you have hidden from your view. It will be even easier to find your Sakai sites now as course sites will be organized by term on the left-hand side and project sites on the right.

image of site favorites

You can still hide certain Sakai sites from your view through Home > Preferences > Sites. Note the My Workspace tab has been renamed to Home.

Organize Site Favorites

It will also be easier to organize your favorite Sakai sites at the top of your screen. In the Sites window, simply star each site you want displayed. Then click on the “Organize Favorites” tab to drag and drop your sites in the order you want them displayed. It’s as simple as that!

Video on Managing Site Favorites

Here is a video on how you can manage your Site Favorites in Sakai 11. Thank you to Andrew Ochs at the School of Public Health for sharing!

And 3…2…1…it’s time to upgrade!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: Spreadsheet-Entry Gradebook!

You’ve been waiting for it. And it’s almost here. The new and improved Gradebook will make your life so much easier! When we upgrade to Sakai 11 next week, you will see the new spreadsheet-style grade entry Gradebook, which will allow you to quickly and easily enter scores, comments, and update settings.

Remember we will need to take Sakai offline to apply the upgrade. Expect Sakai to be unavailable on Tuesday, December 20, from 8am until 5pm. Thank you!

New Gradebook

Here is a screenshot of the new Gradebook (click on image to enlarge):

gb_newInstead of clicking around to different pages to perform Gradebook tasks, you will stay on this main Grades page to do almost everything:

  • Create Gb Items (appears in pop-up window)
  • Edit Gb Item details
  • Enter scores
  • View all student scores and Course Grades
  • Override Course Grades and view log
  • View Grade Statistics — new!
  • Set scores for empty cells — can now set any numerical value!

You can more easily see how items are categorized with colors, show/hide specific items or categories, and if you are teaching large classes, you’ll be happy to hear there are now floating headers! (click on image to enlarge)

gb_new_overviewYou can quickly edit Gb Item settings:

gb_new_item_settingsQuickly enter scores like a spreadsheet
Most likely the biggest improvement you will notice is that you can enter scores on the fly! It works the same way as if you were working in a spreadsheet. You can simply use your keyboard keys to input scores and press enter, tab, or your arrow keys to save scores and navigate between students.

View stats
You can now view grade statistics to see how your students are doing. For each Gb Item, the View Grade Statistics option will show:

  • Graph of grade breakdown
  • Average (Mean) Score
  • Median Score
  • Standard Deviation
  • Lowest Score
  • Highest Score
  • Total Graded Scores

gb_new_statSet score for empty cells per Gb Item
The former Gradebook Classic only allows instructors to set all items that have no score to 0. The new Gradebook however is much more flexible. You can now specify exactly what score to set for all students or individual sections/groups with no score per individual Gb Item!

gb_new_set_scoreImproved Import / Export
New options are now available to include in your Gradebook export. In addition to Student Name, Onyen, PID and Gb Item Scores, you can now include:

  • Comments
  • Course Grade
  • Calculated Course Grade
  • Grade Override
  • Last Log Date

Don’t forget that in order to upload grades, your .CSV spreadsheet must be in the exact format as the default Gradebook spreadsheet, not the customized export. This page is also where you can now find the option to Export Final Grades for ConnectCarolina.

NOTE: With the improvement to the main Import / Export spreadsheet option, the import from Loading Dock function will no longer be available.

Reorder with drag and drop
It can be cumbersome reordering Gb Items within Categories. The new Gradebook allows you to easily reorder items by simply dragging and dropping them in place!

Consolidated settings & menu options
The Gradebook menu has been cleaned up and similar settings have been grouped together for easier navigation and Gradebook management.

Video on New Gradebook

In case you are apprehensive about switching over to a completely new Gradebook, both the new and classic versions of Gradebook will be available for you to use in Spring 2017. Any changes you make in one Gradebook will automatically appear in the other. Andrew Ochs at the School of Public Health does a great job demonstrating how you can use both Gradebooks in this video. Might as well give the new Gradebook a try!

This time next week we’ll be on Sakai 11. We’re so excited!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: New Attendance Tool

The Sakai 11 Upgrade brings a new Attendance tool! Tired of keeping track of attendance on multiple pieces of paper and manually counting how many classes students have missed? Save yourself valuable time with the new Attendance tool in Sakai, coming on December 20! The Attendance tool is very easy to use, automatically tallies students’ attendance summary, allows students to see their attendance report, and one of the best parts — you can integrate it with the Gradebook!

Setup & Take Attendance

Once you have added the Attendance tool to your site, you will want to set up an Attendance Item for each class session. To add an Attendance Item:

  1. Click Attendance Items
  2. Enter Attendance Item Name (and date)
  3. Save

attendance_setupClick on the title of the Attendance Item to start taking attendance. You can mark through each student and select an attendance status or complete bulk-actions by marking all displayed students the same status. You can switch who is displayed from Entire Site to different rosters and groups.

attendance_takeYou can also add comments by clicking on the message bubble next to each student. A green message bubble indicates a comment has been added.

In case you did not set up an Attendance Item ahead of time, simply click on the Take Attendance Now button as soon as you get to the Attendance tool and start taking attendance!

Gradebook Integration

You can easily create an Attendance item in the Gradebook through the Attendance too:

  1. Click Settings
  2. Enter the Maximum Points Possible
  3. Save

One Gradebook Item will then be created in the Gradebook. To enter an attendance score for each student, click on Student Overview. As you take attendance throughout the semester, the overview will show a summary for each student and you can enter a final attendance grade for each student. These scores will automatically be pushed to the Gradebook.


Other Settings

You can remove certain attendance statuses that you do not want displayed by simply unchecking them. These statuses are available:

  • Present
  • Absent
  • Excused
  • Late
  • Left Early

You can choose to add comments and whether you want the comments visible to students. Just check the “Show comments to students” box for students to see them.

Don’t forget to Save your settings!

Video on Attendance Tool

Want to see the Attendance tool in action? Check out this video by Andrew Ochs at the School of Public Health. Thanks for sharing, Andrew!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: Anonymous Forums

You’ve asked for it and it’s finally coming in Sakai 11. Once we upgrade on December 20, you’ll be able to set up anonymous discussion boards in Forums! Instructors can choose whether they know the identity of anonymous authors and grant this permission to other site roles, or instructors can choose to make the entire thread anonymous to everyone.

Setting up anonymous discussion boards is as easy as checking a box. It’s important to note that you can only set up an anonymous forum as you create the Topic. After that, the setting becomes disabled and it cannot be modified, whether it is anonymous or not. Basically, whatever you choose during the creation process is permanently locked in.

Anonymous Forum Setup

To set up an Anonymous forum:

  1. For a Forum, click New Topic
  2. Enter Topic Title and other relevant information
  3. Under Topic Posting, check Posts are anonymousYou MUST check this now; cannot be altered later*
  4. If you want to reveal identities, check Reveal identities to role with the “Identify Anonymous Authors” permission belowYou MUST check this now; cannot be altered later*
  5. Save

forum_anon_setupWho IDs Anonymous Authors?

By default, these site admin roles can identify anonymous authors:

  • Instructor
  • Coordinator
  • TA
  • Tech Support

You can change whether these roles can identify anonymous authors and/or grant this permission to other roles as well. These changes MUST be made as you create the Topic and cannot be altered after the Topic has been created. To modify who can ID anonymous authors, click on Customize for the specific role in the Permissions section and (un)check Identify Anonymous Authors, depending on your preference.

forum_anon_permAnonymous Posts

When anonymous discussions are posted, anonymous authors are identified by a series of numbers and letters, such as 64D689 or CF5098. Individual authors are given the same anonymous ID in all Forums and Topics, so while the individual’s name is not revealed (unless you are granted this access), site members will still know which posts belong to the same anonymous author.

An anonymous discussion Topic could look like this:

forum_anon_postGet excited for the Sakai 11 Upgrade!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: New Lessons Checklist & Sections

Next up in our Sakai 11 Upgrade Blog Series — updates to the Lessons tool!

Lessons Checklist

After we upgrade, instructors will be able to add a checklist to their Lesson pages for students to self-report their progress in Lessons. These checklists will help students stay on task and instructors check in on their students’ progress.

Adding a checklist is easy! In your Lessons page:

  1. Select Add Content > Add Checklist
  2. Enter Checklist Title
  3. Click Add New Checklist Item and enter item name. Repeat for additional items
  4. Save

screenshot of checklist setup

You can hide the checklist name from students, add a description, change the checklist appearance, and only make it available to specific Groups if you would like. This is what the checklist would look like to students:

checklist_studentInstructions can click on the Checklist Progress icon:

checklist_prog_iconThis will give you a table view of students’ progress:

screenshot of checklist student progress

NOTE: Keep in mind the progress is self-reported by students.

Organize Sections with Borders, Columns, & Color

Lesson pages can now be divided up into separate sections with borders, columns, and different colors! Instead of having all of your content run together on one Lesson page or dividing up your content into separate Lesson subpages, instructors will have the option to break up their content on Lesson pages into different sections and better organize the course material.

Video: Lessons Updates in Action!

Check out this video that details the new checklist and section settings in the Lessons tool in Sakai 11. Thanks to our good friend, Andrew Ochs, at the School of Public Health for producing and sharing this video!

We are 2 weeks away from the Sakai 11 Upgrade! Please note we must take Sakai offline on December 20 to apply the upgrade. Thank you!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: New Hot Spot Question

Welcome back from Thanksgiving Break! We hope you are well rested and geared up for the end of the semester! The semester end also means our Sakai 11 Upgrade is quickly approaching. The upgrade will happen on December 20, which is after all final grades are due.

One cool feature in Sakai 11 is a new question type in Tests & Quizzes — the Hot Spot question! With Hot Spot questions, instructors can have students identify certain points on an image. Instructors could use Hot Spots to have students identify areas on maps, graphs, artwork, human anatomy, organic structures. The options are endless!

So, how does it work?

Hot Spot Setup

When creating or editing an assessment, select the new question type: Hot Spot

Create your question

  1. Enter the point value, instructions, and any other settings
  2. In the “Select Hot Spot image” section, click Browse
  3. Locate, select, and open your image file
  4. Upload. The page will refresh with the hot spot image

tq_hot_spot_imageAdd items on image to ID

  1. Next to Item 1, enter a description
  2. On your hot spot image, highlight the area for Item 1 with a click, hold, and drag selection. You will see a blue box around the area you selected
  3. If you want students to identify additional items, click on the + Add Item button and repeat steps 1-2

When you are finished, your image should look similar to this:

tq_hot_spot_markupDon’t forget to Save your question!

Student View

Here is how this question would look to students. Students will select each highlighted/green item on the image, and if where they click is within the box the instructor selected, they will receive credit for that item.


Stay tuned for another Sakai 11 feature!

Sakai 11 Upgrade: New Look & Mobile Friendly!

sk11_upgradeIn case you missed the big news in September, we are upgrading to Sakai 11 on December 20! There will be several major improvements and enhancements in the system.

Are you interested in seeing Sakai 11 before anyone else? We are offering several personal consultations for you to get a sneak peek into the system! Just sign up for a one-hour session on our Events page.

It’s hard to believe but we are just a little over a month away from the upgrade and want to highlight some of the big new features to expect in the highly anticipated new version of Sakai. Introducing…the Sakai 11 Upgrade Series!

New Interface & Mobile Friendly!

The very first thing you will likely notice when you log into Sakai after the upgrade is the updated look of Sakai 11. The new, modern interface of Sakai 11 also comes with a responsive design! This means the system will detect what type of device you are using and adjust the website according to your screen size.

Here are screenshots of what you can expect to see on a computer and a smartphone (click on image to enlarge):

sk11_desktop  sk11_mobile

Video: Introducing Sakai 11

Check out this video from the Sakai Community that gives an overview of our active global community and introduces Sakai 11! In case you didn’t know, Sakai is 100% open-source. This means that Sakai adopters, such as UNC:

“have a direct influence over the direction, design, and functionality of the system, shaping the future of online teaching and learning and ensuring that Sakai stays 100% open source and responsive to the needs and values of higher education.”


Video highlights:

  • Sakai is 100% open source, which means its powerful flexible functionality is driven and developed by an active global community
  • Sakai provides you with the tools you need to deliver rich, innovative online learning suited to your needs
  • Sakai 11 comes with a responsive design, which looks and works great on any device
  • The new, clean, modern interface makes it easy to navigate the system and personalize your work experience
  • Some new features: spreadsheet-entry Gradebook, a responsive, multi-column supported Lessons tool, and improved LTI integration

Stay tuned for more Sakai 11 sneak peeks!