Fall 2014 Semester in Review

Congratulations on another successful semester, especially to all the students who graduated this past weekend! Let’s officially wrap up the Fall 2014 Semester with a look at some of UNC’s most popular learning technologies.

Virtual Lab

If there is one secret all students should know about, it’s Virtual Lab! Need to use software for class but don’t want to pay for a license? Virtual Lab is your solution! There are over 60 programs available on Virtual Lab, which can currently support 200 simultaneous users. Here are the top ten most used applications for Fall 2014:


See all Virtual Lab applications available to students.

CCI Printing

CCI Printing offers students the convenience of 50+ campus printing locations with allocated printing funds each semester. Below you can see how many pages were printed at each campus location (excluding residence halls). The top three locations (Undergraduate, Davis, and Health Sciences Libraries) account for nearly 70% of all printing on campus! Students, you will likely find no lines at other locations, so we invite you to check them out!


We had a total of 2,354 instructors and 3,909 courses in Sakai this semester–up 93 courses from Fall 2013! Check out which tools have seen the biggest jump in usage compared to a year ago!


Here is a full view of Sakai tool usage for Fall 2014:


And there you have it! The Spring 2015 Semester will be here before you know it, so now is a great time to get started on your courses! Instructors listed in ConnectCarolina can go ahead and create their Sakai course sites.

planned-maintainPlease note that we will be doing maintenance work outside of our regular maintenance window next week on Monday, December 22, from 8am until 10am to keep our systems up-to-date. There will be an outage so please plan accordingly.

From all of us at Teaching & Learning, have a wonderful and safe holiday season!


Photo by Chris Pirillo on flickr (CC BY)

Final Grades Due + Sakai Help Dec 5

It’s hard to believe but the end of another semester is upon us! Final Exams officially start tomorrow (see Final Exams Schedule), which means final course grades are due! Instructors have 72 hours after the scheduled time of their final exam to approve grades in ConnectCarolina. Here are some Sakai Gradebook tips for getting your grades finalized.

Sakai Gradebook Checklist

Particularly with large classes, it is easy to miss entering certain grades. Here is a quick Sakai Gradebook Checklist to verify all scores in your Gradebook are accurate.

We highly recommend that you check out our **Sakai Blog** for full details on this checklist!

  1. Verify all grades are entered
  2. Check items are included in final grade calculations
  3. Set ungraded items to 0
  4. Release final grades to students
  5. Export grades for ConnectCarolina

Please note that the Gradebook will only calculate items that contain scores. Even if a student has earned a 0 on an assignment but no “0″ has been entered in the Gradebook, Sakai will essentially ignore that item until a score has been entered. See step 3 in the above checklist to automatically enter 0′s in ungraded items. Be sure not to complete this step until all grades have been entered!

View Grades as a Student

In case of any discrepancies, it is useful to know what students see when they access the Gradebook. Check out our step-by-step tutorial or the below video for instructions on viewing the Gradebook as a specific student.

Sakai Drop-in Help Session

Have last-minute Sakai questions or need help finalizing your grades? Sakai experts will be in the House Undergraduate Library Room 034 this Friday from 2-4pm. Feel free to stop by at your convenience for Sakai assistance. Please register for the event to ensure a consultant will be available to meet with you.

We can help you:

  • Set up your Gradebook
  • Enter and finalize grades
  • Return student course work in Assignments
  • View stats on students for the course
  • Create Spring 2015 course sites
  • And much more!

If you have any questions, please contact the ITRC Help Desk at 962-HELP or help.unc.edu. Good luck with finals!

Schedule Meetings with Doodle

With people’s busy schedules, it is often difficult to figure out the best time to get everyone together for a meeting. Ongoing communications to find the right time for everyone can be cumbersome and time consuming, which is why we like to use Doodle! Doodle is an easy, FREE scheduling app that simplifies the process of scheduling events through polls.

Here is some more information and a quick video on Doodle (About Doodle):

  • No registration required by poll initiator or participants
  • Synchronizes with calendars (Exchange, Outlook, iCal, etc.)
  • Free service offers basic features needed to initiate and organize event
    • (Paid) Premium account provides professional booking services with customized themes and no ads

Easy Scheduling

You can set up your Doodle poll in just a few, simple steps:

  1. Select Schedule an event on Doodle.com
  2. Enter General info about your event
  3. Select Time Proposals and enter any necessary Settings
  4. Send the Invite!

It is that easy! Here is an example of a Doodle poll:


Keep in mind that the poll feature is not limited to just a date and time of an event, but you can also use it to conveniently plan your event. For example, a group of students may set up a poll to decide on a group presentation topic for class or Faculty members may decide on what to discuss in their departmental meeting. You can also use Doodle as an online appointment booking system or to assist with organizing your work schedule.

Mobile Friendly

There are several features in Doodle that make it easy to schedule events.They have a mobile interface that works across multiple browsers and devices. Doodle even has native apps that allow you to create, view, comment, poll, and sync your events with personal calendars and an address book. Download the Doodle app on your mobile device for quick and easy access!

google_play       app_store

Consider using this smart assistant to save yourself time and ultimately bring people together, whether it is for a conference call, meeting, or a quick gathering!

More on Doodle:

UNC Goes Mobile

carolinagoHave Carolina at your fingertips with the new UNC mobile app, CarolinaGO! CarolinaGO is a student-led project between Student Government and ITS that serves as an information hub that “fills the gaps” for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and visitors alike (About CarolinaGO). Download the app on your iOS or Android phones for quick references to Carolina resources. You can also access CarolinaGO at:


Here are some exciting resources to look for that can help make your academic life at Carolina a little easier!

Stay on Top of Your Academics

Browse Course Catalog
Home > Course Catalog

With Spring 2015 course registrations now open, finding your courses on the go has never been easier! You can search the Course Catalog by department and see specific details on course sections with the schedule, class location, and instructor.

NOTE: ConnectCarolina is the most reliable source for course searches.

sakai_mobileLink to Sakai
Home > Links > Academic Links > Sakai

Get linked to Sakai, which is now also mobile friendly! You can check your course syllabus, readings, and other course content. If you prefer to view the full Sakai site on your mobile device, you can always Switch to Full View at the bottom of the page.

NOTE: We highly recommend grading, posting, and  submitting assignments and tests in Sakai on a laptop or desktop computer.

Check the Academic Calendar
Home > Calendar > Academic Calendar

It’s hard to believe but classes end in less than a month! Check the Academic Calendar to see when classes end, exams begin, Reading Days are scheduled, and other important University dates.

Getting around Campus

Get to class on time!
Home > Bus Tracker

Whether you commute to campus or need to get from one end of campus to the other, you won’t have to be late! The Bus Tracker will show you a real-time map of current bus locations, all bus stops, and the next bus arrival time.

cci_mapCCI Printing on the go!
Home > Links > Technology Links > CCI Print Locations

Need to do some quick printing in between classes? Avoid those long lines! Link to the CCI Printer Map to see all the printer locations and real-time printer statuses. You can also access the map at this link:


If you are on campus, you can share your location to find the closest printers to you. The map also refreshes automatically every two minutes for the latest status updates.

Open Library Hours
Home > Links > Library Links > What’s Open

Staying up late to do some studying? See what libraries are open on campus!

There are several other useful tools available in the CarolinaGO app, so you should check it out! If you have any questions, just contact the ITRC Help Desk at 962-HELP or help.unc.edu. You can also find this information on CarolinaGO in the Tech Links!

Sakai Virtual Conference Nov 7

sk_virt_conf_2014Join us and the rest of the Sakai Community around the nation for the Sakai Virtual Conference where we will be Bridging Education with Technology! This faculty-friendly conference is targeted toward the teaching and learning aspects of Sakai with an emphasis on pedagogy and best practices, however there will be some technical topics covered. Faculty members, support and technical staff, and instructional designers are all encouraged to attend!

Stay in the comfort of your office or home as the conference will be held completely online next Friday, November 7, from 9am until 5:15pm. You are welcome to tune into any sessions that interest you throughout the day. Registration is $50/person for full access to all sessions. See the Sakai Virtual Conference website for full details!

Here are some possible sessions of interest (full schedule):

Keynote Presentation

Instructional Design/Support Track

Faculty Course Showcase Track

Technical Sessions Track

Effective or Innovative Practice Track

Small Group Interactive Track

This is just a small fraction of all the available sessions next Friday. There are 40+ sessions, so you’ll be sure to find topics of interest! See the full schedule here. Stick around till the very end of the conference for prize drawings for some Amazon gift cards!

Check out TLI Staff in our Sakai gear. We’re ready for the Sakai Virtual Conference and hope you’ll join us!


ITS Annual Report: 2013-2014

its_report_13-14The ITS Annual Report is in! See what Information Technology Services has been working on in 2013 and 2014, with special highlights on Teaching & Learning!

As the report states:

ITS is building a new, higher standard of connectivity in both on-campus and digital classrooms…we focus on how technology can enhance learning objectives and create a richer student experience.

See the full report here.

Classrooms Go Digital

As we previously mentioned, several campus classrooms have been undergoing upgrades since this summer, including the addition of new Document Cameras. This new equipment is part of a multi-year project of converting 200 analog rooms to digital, ten of which were completed this summer! All 200 analog classrooms are scheduled to be completed by mid-August of 2016. Here are some key points:

  • classroom_before_afterWe now have 56 digital classrooms
  • 21 rooms with only a chalkboard converted
  • 13 rooms outfitted for web conferencing with cameras and ceiling mics, ranging from 15-seat to 190-seat rooms
    • New Doc Cams enable web conferencing
    • Allows for guest speakers and subject experts in the classroom!
  • Added HDMI cable outputs to project tablets and smartphones
  • 232 new wireless access points to bring wireless internet to 182 classrooms!

Don’t forget that red telephone in the classroom! Any time you need assistance, just pick up that red phone to connect directly with the Classroom Hotline. Because the Hotline monitors classroom equipment remotely, chances are that we may have already discovered and fixed the problem before the classes started, allowing you to focus on what’s truly important–learning in the classroom!

MOOCs at Carolina

If you have not heard, there has been a big movement towards Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in higher education these past few years. UNC became a part of the MOOC Movement in 2013 by offering several MOOCs through Coursera.

By the Numbers

  • mooc_unc7.5 million Coursera learners
  • 160,000 students enrolled in UNC MOOCs to date
  • 190 Countries represented in UNC MOOCs
  • 30% Students from emerging economies
  • 38,000 Students currently “watching” UNC Course MOOCs for new offerings

Check out Coursera to see all the MOOC offerings by UNC! They are FREE and open to anyone. Here is some more information on MOOCs in higher ed:

Sakai Migration

The Blackboard to Sakai Migration officially ended early January 2013, which was a collaborative effort between numerous people across campus to provide support to Faculty, Students, and Staff to make way for the new learning management system at UNC. The transition included many outlets of support, several of which are still available to the UNC Community today

Way to go, Carolina! It’s been a great year for teaching and learning!

“Building on success…is an atmosphere of collaboration that we foster at ITS
and with our students, faculty, staff and broader community.”
- Chris Kielt, UNC Vice Chancellor for IT and CIO

Create your Spring 2015 Course Sites in Sakai

guinea_pig_bikeGet ready to ride into the Spring Season because Spring 2015 rosters are now in Sakai! With Fall Break at the end of this week, this is a great opportunity to find a little free time to start preparing for the Spring Semester.

Remember that you must be listed as either of the following in ConnectCarolina in order to create your course site:

  • Primary Instructor
  • Secondary Instructor
  • Proxy
  • Dean’s Designate

Teaching Assistants cannot create course sites in Sakai. Check out What to know about ConnectCarolina and Sakai for some important reminders!

Create Sakai Course Site

To create your course site, follow this tutorial by getting started in My Workspace > Worksite Setup!

If you are teaching the same course and want to reuse old course material, you can easily do so as you are creating your course site or any time after the site has been created. You have three different options:

  • Re-use Material from Other Sites You Own
  • Import from Site
  • Show other sites in Resources

See Duplicate your content between Sakai sites for full details!

Sakai Maintenance Outage this Thursday, 5-8AM

planned-maintainWe will have an extended Sakai Maintenance Outage over Fall Break this Thursday, October 16, from 5am until 8am (regular maintenance window is 5am-7am) as we update our server operating systems. Please plan accordingly and contact the ITRC Help Desk at 962-HELP if you have any questions.

We appreciate your patience!

VoiceThread Usage Soars with Sakai Integration!

Since we integrated VoiceThread into Sakai this summer, we have seen a huge increase in usage! VoiceThread allows users to share media, such as images, slides, and videos, for others to view and add comments. With the integration of VoiceThread in Sakai, the sharing process is much simpler and straightforward.

Check out the usage comparison between Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 for the months of August and September. The total number of VoiceThreads created in Fall 2013 doubled from 506 to 1,003 in Fall 2014!


See the full comparison of total VTs created in the two months between FA13 and FA14:


Sharing VoiceThreads
Sharing VoiceThreads in your Sakai course is easy! Once you have enabled VoiceThread and created your VTs, follow these steps to share your VTs–

Instructors, all you need to do is change the VT view to All My VoiceThreads, move your cursor over the VT you want to share, and click on +Share with course. That’s it!

Students, you will first click on My Voice at the bottom of the VT page in Sakai, which takes you to voicethread.unc.edu. In the new VoiceThread window, drag-and-drop your VT into your Course name on the left hand-side under UNC-Chapel Hill. It’s now shared!

Free VoiceThread Workshops

Starting October 15, VoiceThread is offering seven free online sessions to assist educators in developing ideas to enhance their classes with VoiceThread! Here are some topics of interest:

Many people on campus are already using VoiceThread for more interactive communication amongst one another. Consider joining them!

Don’t forget to subscribe to our Teaching & Learning Newsletter to stay up-to-date on learning technologies on campus!

Create Sakai Tests the Quick & Easy Way

laptop_calculatorWith midterms around the corner, administering online tests can be an excellent way of checking how well students understand the course material. If you are using the Sakai Tests & Quizzes tool – great! However, we understand creating questions one-by-one can be time-consuming. This is why we often recommend creating assessments in Sakai using markup text and then making any additional changes with the assessment builder.

Creating a test using markup text allows you to create all test questions at once. The questions must be entered in a specific format for Sakai to recognize the question type, question text, point value, answer selections, and correct answer(s). The markup text option recognizes these question types:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Multiple Correct Answers
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Short Essay
  • True/False

Please note that the markup text option is only available when creating an assessment and not after the test has already been created. To add questions to an existing test, you must use the assessment builder (Select Action > Edit).

If you have not already enabled Tests & Quizzes, you can easily do so through Site Info > Edit Tools.

Create assessment using Markup Text

1. Navigate to Tests & Quizzes in your Sakai course site
2. Enter an Assessment Title
3. Select Create using markup text and click on Create

tq_markup_create4. Under Instructions & Examples, select the type of question you want to create to see the text format. Enter the questions in the left box

tq_markup_questionNOTE: We recommend creating all questions ahead of time in a document outside of Sakai and then copying and pasting the questions into Sakai all at once.

5. Click on Next
6. Review the questions, point values, and answers to verify everything is correct. Click on Create Assessment

If you need to add questions, provide feedback, or make additional edits, click on the Select Action menu > Edit of your assessment to make those changes.

Don’t forget to publish your test to make it available to students! Call 962-HELP if you have any questions.

Tackling the Sakai Gradebook


Image by rosipaw on flickr (CC BY)

Keeping track of student grades on paper not working out too well anymore? We recommend using the Sakai Gradebook! There is much more to this gradebook than just having a place to store student scores–the Sakai Gradebook also allows you to:

There are different options for setting up your Gradebook and many functions available, but don’t let that intimidate you! We have a Sakai Blog Gradebook Series and several Sakai Tutorials to assist you in getting started. You may also request one-on-one help, where a TLI Consultant will work with you every step of the way in getting your Gradebook ready! Check out available appointments on our Events page.

Setting up your Gradebook

There is no one way to set up the Gradebook, however instructors typically use Categories & Weighting. What’s great about this option is that it allows you to drop the lowest score within a category. See what other options might work for you!

If you are using Sakai Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, Forums, or Discussion and Private Messages, you can link these tools with the Gradebook! See how to enter grades.

TAs & Grading

Have Teaching Assistants helping with the grading? The preferred method is to add TAs in ConnectCarolina through your departmental course scheduler due to FERPA restrictions. Instructors can add TAs manually to their course sites as well.

Tips & Tricks

With busy schedules and heavy workloads throughout the semester, it is easy to overlook certain things in the Gradebook. To help make your lives a little easier, we have provided some Gradebook Tips & Tricks and will post the Final Gradebook Checklist at the end of the semester as a reminder.

If you have not yet created your Sakai course site, you can easily do so by following this tutorial. Contact the ITRC Help Desk if you have any questions at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP!