Get Sakai Help Aug 17-18

pixabay_510470It’s hard to believe but the Fall Semester is here! Classes begin next week, so now is the time to get your course content on Sakai for students to access.

We are holding two workshops next week to provide you with any Sakai assistance you might need to get started with the semester. The Sakai 10 Upgrade back in May brought several enhancements to the system, so we encourage you to attend a workshop to familiarize yourself with the new features.

Sakai Workshops: Aug 17 & 18

Intro to Teaching in Sakai [Register]
Monday, August 17
UL 124

Are you a new instructor and want to teach in Sakai? Do you need a refresher on setting up your course site? Join us for a *crash course* on teaching in Sakai! We’ll help you–

  • Create your course site
  • Upload and organize your course content
  • Figure out the best way to communicate with your students
  • Get an overview of the Gradebook

We recommend having your departmental course scheduler list you as the instructor of course in ConnectCarolina before attending this workshop. Please note that TAs in ConnectCarolina cannot create Sakai course sites.

Drop in for Sakai Help [Register]
Tuesday, August 18
UL 124

Unable to attend the crash course on Monday or have other Sakai questions? Drop in any time between 10am and 11:30am on Tuesday to get help from a Sakai expert!

Create Course Site Now

Don’t have time to stop by the Undergraduate Library next week? Create your course site now in the comfort of your home! Check out our previous post on creating your Fall site with tips on reusing previous course content.

Don’t forget to publish your site!

Get Sakai Help

If you can’t make it to our workshops, there are plenty of ways to get help:

Let us know how we may help you. Good luck with the start of the semester!

Welcome to the New VoiceThread

Welcome to the New VoiceThread! We just upgraded to the newest VT version, which comes with many great, new features, including several options for personalizing your VoiceThread experience and an enhanced conversation channel. Other improvements have also been added to the way you share VoiceThreads, which you will now see in the upgraded system!

Create VoiceThread

vt_create_drag_dropBefore sharing, you must first create your VoiceThread, which also has some new features. You can now drag-and-drop in files to upload into a VT!

You can still select to upload files from your computer, webcam, media sources, and URL if you prefer. Don’t forget that you can also drag slides to a new position after they have uploaded.

Share VoiceThread

While the workflow is the same for sharing VoiceThreads, the upgraded platform is much simpler. The new setup makes it easier to see who you’re granting permission to, whether that is an entire Group, a specific user in a Group, or an individual Contact, and if they can view, comment on, and/or edit your VoiceThread.


To quickly see at-a-glance who already has access to the VoiceThread and edit permissions, click on the new “Who has access” tab.


Bulk-actions for Groups

As many people have requested, you can now bulk-share (and bulk-delete) multiple VoiceThreads with a Group at once! When viewing your VoiceThreads, check off the VTs you want to share and click on the “Share” option from the pop-up window or simply drag-and-drop them onto the name of a Group from your left sidebar menu. You will then select the permissions from another pop-up window for that Group. It’s that easy!


There are also new Group pages that include all the VoiceThreads available to a Group, which you can access by clicking on the name of the Group from the left sidebar menu. You can add a header to the top of this page to help set a tone for your Group. To direct members to this Group view, simply click on the share icon next to the name of the Group from the header to copy the URL to be shared.


Screenshots taken from What’s new with the New VoiceThread.

We hope you are excited about this new VoiceThread as it is much simpler to use and learn. Check it out at!

Enhanced Conversation Channel with VoiceThread Upgrade

The July 30 VoiceThread Upgrade is just around the corner! One of the enhancements you will see is an improved design of the conversation channel. Here are the details!


One of the first things you’ll notice is that all comments will be aligned on just one side of the VoiceThread instead of various comments on both sides of the media, making it easier to distinguish the order of comments. The comments column scrolls down indefinitely so you can find your comments. Each comment also has its own avatar, including for the same person. This is especially helpful when needing to reorder comments, which is now easier than ever. Simply drag and drop the comment into its new position.

vt_com_reorderOn a side note, you can also easily reorder the slides. When you click on the postcard-view icon in the bottom right, you can drag and drop the slide to its new position.


As commonly requested, long text comments will be better supported in the new VoiceThread platform. You can scroll the comments indefinitely, resize the window, and even undock and move the comment around your screen!

vt_com_undockScreenshots taken from What’s new with the New VoiceThread.

Don’t forget! The upgrade is happening next week on Thursday, July 30!

Personalize Your VoiceThread Experience

The VoiceThread Upgrade is 2 weeks away! Last month we announced improvements coming to VoiceThread on July 30, including ways to personalize your VoiceThread Home page. Here is that update in more detail!

Personalize Your VoiceThread Experience

The new VT Home page replaces the current My VoiceThread tab and gives more options on personalizing your VT experience.

Display Preference: Light vs Dark


View Preference: Thumbnails vs List




The VT Upgrade will provide maximum viewing space for VoiceThreads with a collapsible left sidebar menu and a responsive individual VT view, which means there will be more room for your media to grow. If you use VoiceThread for your course, you will notice that the upgraded version will feel very similar to VoiceThread within Sakai, making the transition even easier!

Screenshots taken from What’s new with the New VoiceThread.

VoiceThread Maintenance: August 1 | 12-2 AM

VoiceThread will be performing system updates on Saturday, August 1, from 12 AM until 2 AM. Voicethread will be unavailable from 12-1 AM and available but with slow performance from 1-2 AM.

August 1 VoiceThread Maintenance
VoiceThread unavailable: 12 AM – 1 AM
VoiceThread available with slow service: 1 AM – 2 AM

Next week you’ll get a sneak peek into what’s new with sharing and commenting on VoiceThreads. Stay tuned!

Help Your Online Students Succeed

Our friends at Durham Tech recently wrote a blog post entitled How can you help your (online) students succeed?, referencing a 2015 Eduventures study on Why Online Students Succeed. We thought this was an excellent post and wanted to share their ideas and other UNC resources available to help students!

Eduventures’ 2015 Online Student Survey

As stated on their website, Eduventures fielded 28,000 students in the spring of 2015, most of whom were adult learners over the age of 25, and pursuing a degree or certificate program online. The surveyed students assessed their academic performance to date and identified specific factors contributing to their high or low performance. Here are the study’s findings:

High Performing (22,437 students):

  • Clear course objectives/expectations – 70%
  • Easy-to-use technology – 64%
  • Courses are right pace – 54%
  • Format matches their learning style – 44%
  • Attention from faculty – 44%

Low Performing (3,658 students):

  • Distracted by family/personal obligations – 65%
  • Too fast/can’t keep up – 20%
  • Lack of interest/motivation – 18%

Faculty: What you can do to help

While it is ultimately up to the student to succeed in class, there are several things we can do to help and guide them along the way:

Students: How to get help

It is very important to stay on top of your course work, so if you feel as though you are falling behind, do not wait to seek help! In addition to working with your instructor or classmates, also try these methods:

Additional Resources

Thanks for sharing those great tips, Durham Tech!

Sakai brings Collaboration & Continuous Improvement

While Sakai is primarily used for instruction in course sites, did you know that the learning management system is also used for several other projects unrelated to courses at UNC? We had over 2,200 project sites created just for the Spring 2015 Semester!

In the video below, Thao Nghi Bui, Learning Technologies Administrator, and Morgon Haskell, Technology Support Specialist, in ITS-Teaching & Learning discuss how Sakai brings collaboration and continuous improvement to the University.

Here is a summary of the video–

Sakai, the open source learning management system (LMS) used at UNC supports teaching and learning, research, and collaboration. Staff members across campus are using Sakai for multiple use cases, such as research, grant proposals, reviews on faculty/staff members, and training.

Primarily, Sakai is used for courses. UNC instructors are using Sakai to upload and distribute content to students and set up online assessments. Sakai provides the tools for instructors to transition to a convenient, online experience as opposed to being restricted to just the classroom. The LMS also allows for a secure connection to externally-hosted 3rd party applications through LTI integration, providing more means for interaction and learning in the virtual classroom.

Also discussed was the Sakai 10 Upgrade back in May. See all the new features here! While additional enhancements are still in the works, some features the Sakai Community is currently working on include a responsive system better equipped for mobile functionality, an enhanced user interface without iframes, a new spreadsheet viewer grader, plus more!

One of the great things about Sakai is that this is an open source platform, which means the people developing the system are those who use it and know what people want in the system. The options are endless for features and functionality you might see in Sakai.

Thanks for sharing, Thao Nghi and Morgon!

VoiceThread Upgrade July 30

vt_newHeads up UNC–we’re upgrading VoiceThread on July 30th! The upgrade will require no downtime, so feel free to keep sharing your VTs this summer.

Here is a quick sneak peek of some new stuff you’ll see in VoiceThread after the upgrade in 6 weeks. We’ll get into more details with these updates next month–

  • Personalize your VoiceThread home
    • View My VoiceThreads as thumbnails or list
    • Open or collapse sidebar menu
    • Set new light or dark background
  • Drag-and-drop uploads
  • Bulk-action abilities
  • Easily reorder slides
  • New sharing options – easily see who has access
  • Comments aligned in one column

Or view the following VoiceThread to see the new updates and the new, simplified look!


VoiceThread Maintenance: July 4 | 12-8 AM

Please note that VoiceThread will be performing updates on their system on Saturday, July 4, from 12 AM until 8 AM. Voicethread will be unavailable from 12 AM until 2 AM and available but with slow performance from 2 AM until 8 AM.

July 4 VoiceThread Maintenance
VoiceThread unavailable: 12 AM – 2 AM
VoiceThread available with slow service: 2 AM – 8 AM

Thank you!

Upcoming Sakai Peer Review Workshop

pixabay_593362Want to *try something new* in your class that puts students at the forefront of learning?

Check out peer review! Peer review involves students submitting writing assignments and also reviewing and critiquing each others’ writing. It is a great way to help students improve their writing skills.

With peer review, students construct and respond to their own feedback, the amount of feedback they receive is increased, and it forces them to transition from writing primarily for an instructor to a broader audience. See more tips on peer review from the Teaching Center at Washington University in St. Louis.

Peer Review Workshop: June 30

Peer assessments are easy to implement in Sakai through the Assignments tool or the Lessons tool. If you are interested in trying out peer evaluations, we invite you to join us at our upcoming Peer Review Workshop at the end of this month!

Using Sakai’s Peer Review Tools [Register]
Tuesday, June 30
1:30pm – 2:30pm
UL 124

This workshop will demonstrate the peer review feature that is available in Sakai 10. Participants will have the opportunity to preview and discuss peer review scenarios along with setting up a peer review assignment in Sakai. We hope you’ll join us!

If you would like to go ahead and get started on the peer review tool, check out our previous blog post!

Stay on Top of Your Academics with Apps

[080804 BU 1C MO]  Automatic IPTCNearly everyone has a smartphone these days. Instead of being distracted by them, use your phone, tablet, or computer to your advantage to help you succeed! The UNC Writing Center, Learning Center, and a group of students have teamed up to collaborate on a new project to help optimize your academic life with apps–App Compendium!

The collaborators search the app universe to bring you a list of tools that may help you improve your academic career at Carolina. With App Compendium, you can find apps to help you enhance your studying, productivity, health and so much more!

All about Apps

According to the App Compendium website, the featured applications “cover a range of topics–everything from flash cards to alarm clocks, note-taking to problem-solving, and lots in between.” There is also an ongoing blog for more information on the apps based on the personal experience of students and staff.

To give you an idea of what you might find on App Compendium, here are just a few featured apps:

7_min_workout7 Minute Workout
Complete these 7-minute, 12-exercise workout plans for a quick fitness boost.

Keep up-to-date with what’s happening on campus with this student-friendly app. Also see our T&L Blog post!

freaky_alarmFreaky Alarm
Solve games and puzzles to turn off your alarm. Wake your brain up before your feet even hit the floor!

khan_academyKhan Academy
View high-quality video lectures and complete exercises on a variety of topics, with a particular focus on science and math.

Keep track of classes and assignments, manage your schedule, and set reminders.

Create and study flashcards; you can also access millions of card sets other users have created.

way_of_lifeWay of Life
Build positive habits by monitoring trends in your lifestyle and receiving regular reminders.

Manage your tasks and projects from your phone, tablet, or computer. Also see our T&L Blog post!

This is just a small chunk of the different types of apps you’ll find on App Compendium. They are constantly updating their list of resources, so we invite you to check it out! App Compendium is a great start for reaching academic success at Carolina!

New Look for Bb Collaborate in Sakai 10

bbc_logoWe just upgraded to Sakai 10 on Monday, and with this update rolled out the new LTI integration of Blackboard Collaborate! You will find an improved user interface that makes it easier to create sessions and navigate through the options.

Important Notes:

  • Previous sessions and recordings are still available in the Elluminate Live! Bridge tool. All new sessions and recordings will only be available in the new Blackboard Collaborate tool.
  • Due to the LTI integration for the new tool, meetings cannot be restricted to specific site participants. Consider sharing the Guest Link to meeting attendees only.

We invite you to check out the new Blackboard Collaborate integration in Sakai!

Create Session

To create a session, click on + Create Session in the upper right corner. A window will pop up to enter the Name, Start time, End time (now optional!), and Early Entry time. Click on the blue Create Session button when you’re ready to create the room!


You can also edit Options, such as giving Moderator privileges and supervising chats, and upload Bb Collaborate Whiteboard/Plan files or Multimedia files through the Content tab.


NOTE: You can keep one room open for an extended period of time and reuse that room for multiple purposes.

Join Session

Click on the session you want to join. The pop-up window will include the Join button, as well as telephony dial-in information, and a Guest Join Link to share with non-site users. You can also Edit or Delete the session from this window.


Participants will see only see Participant dial-in details:


To access recordings, click on the top Recordings tab, select your recorded session, and click on Play from the pop-up window. Moderators can now also convert their recordings into MP3 and MP4 files themselves! Just click on Start Conversion.


Blackboard Collaborate Launcher

Don’t forget that you must install the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher to access Bb Collaborate sessions and recordings. You should be prompted when attempting to open a Bb Collaborate session with options to download the launcher.

Let us know if you need help by calling 962-HELP. See what else is new in Sakai 10!