Spring 2016 Semester in Review

image of unc graduatesCongratulations to all the UNC Graduates last weekend! The weather was perfect under the Carolina blue sky as 6,000+ students received their degrees. All the best to you on your next adventures, Graduates!

To conclude the term, here is a review of the Spring 2016 Semester on some of our campus learning technologies.

Click on each chart to enlarge.


Many instructors prefer to conduct their teaching in Sakai, as the system streamlines all course material, assignments and tasks, class communication, and grading in one place. Check out our Spring 2016 numbers for University courses in Sakai:

Course Sections: 3,915
Course sites: 3,208
Unique instructors: 2,353
Project sites to date: 2,705

graph of sakai tools

Also check out the new header on Sakai — featuring UNC students Varun Amesur (one of our student employees!), Becky Chen, and Hari Chittilla (photographer).

image of sakai header


VoiceThread is an excellent way to share media and collaborate with one another. If you want to record over your lecture slides, have students record themselves talking about a particular project or perhaps complete an assignment in a foreign language class, and then share those recordings with the class to be viewed and commented on, VoiceThread makes it easy! See how much usage we had for the Spring 2016 Semester:

table of voicethread countsCCI Printing

CCI Printing is the most convenient way for students to print on campus. All students receive a printing allotment each semester, so you might as well use it! The CCI Printing Map provides live-status printer updates for the 45+ printers on campus. Here is the breakdown of printing in non-residence hall locations. To no surprise, more than half of printing happens in just two locations–the Undergraduate and Davis Libraries. Save yourself some time by not standing in line at one of the other campus locations!

chart of cci printing locationsVirtual Lab

If you don’t know about Virtual Lab yet, you should check it out because you will find access to free software! Just a few of those include the Adobe Suite and Microsoft Office. Here are the top 10 applications used in Virtual Lab this semester:

chart of virtual lab applicationsLynda.com

Interested in learning a new skill? Whether it’s for school, business, or personal reasons, lynda.com offers thousands of courses online to build your business, creative, and technical skills. You can view videos and complete courses on your own time for free — everyone at UNC has access to lynda.com! Check out campus usage for Spring 2016:

table of lynda.com usageTop 10 Courses for Spring 2016

  1. Illustrator CC Essential Training (2015)
  2. WordPress Essential Training
  3. Photoshop CC Essential Training (2015)
  4. Excel 2013 Essential Training
  5. Premiere Pro CC Essential Training (2015)
  6. Access 2013 Essential Training
  7. Excel 2016 Essential Training
  8. HTML Essential Training
  9. Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals
  10. Foundations of Programming: Fundamentals

We hope your summer is off to a great start!

Fall 2016 Rosters now in Sakai

image of bell tower and fall leavesWe hope your summer is going well! Hopefully you now have some free time to relax and unwind. For those of you who want to get a head start on the Fall semester though, you can create your course sites now because Fall 2016 rosters are now in Sakai!

To create your course site in Sakai, your departmental course scheduler must list you as one of the following in ConnectCarolina for your course rosters:

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

Please note that it may take up to 24 hours for your roster to appear in Sakai after you have been listed as an instructor in ConnectCarolina. See more details here.

Create Course Site

See these step-by-step instructions on creating your course site in Sakai:

Reuse Course Material

Re-teaching a course? You can easily reuse course material as you are creating your site or after it has been created. You can select specific items from your Resources to copy over or duplicate an entire tool. See more details on duplicating your content.

Contact the Help Desk at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP if you have any questions. You may also request to meet with a Sakai expert to help set up your course. Check out the calendar on our Events page!

Final Sakai Gradebook Checklist

checklist_calcIt’s Finals Week! We know this week comes with a lot of deadlines, so to make grading a little easier, here is a quick 5-item checklist to make sure your grades are ready in the Sakai Gradebook! Don’t forget final course grades must be approved in ConnectCarolina within 72 hours after your scheduled final exam.

1. Verify all grades are entered

There are multiple ways to enter grades:

NOTE: Teaching Assistants must be listed in ConnectCarolina to access grades.

2. Check items are included in final grade calculations

Verify Gradebook items are released and included in course grade calculations by doing a quick check of the Released to Students and Included in Course Grade columns.


NOTE: Click on Edit next to Gradebook Item to make any changes to that item.

3. Set Ungraded Items to Zero

After entering grades, calculate grades by setting ungraded items to zero to avoid possible grade inflation. This will place a “0” in all Gradebook entries that do not have a score.

NOTE: Setting ungraded items to zero is irreversible, so if you need to remove any 0’s, you must manually go into the Gradebook and edit the grade.

4. Release final grades to students

If you need to override a student’s final course grade, do that now. Once you have finalized all grades, be sure to release final grades to students. You can quickly verify what students see in the Gradebook by checking the top message under Gradebook Items.

gb_display5. Export grades for ConnectCarolina

The last step is to export final grades for ConnectCarolina. Selecting the Export for ConnectCarolina button will open a spreadsheet that is formatted to be uploaded into ConnectCarolina.


Be sure to follow the University Registrar’s Grading Calendar to enter final grades. Grades are due 72 hours after the scheduled time of your final exam. Don’t forget that you must use VPN for off-campus access and UNC-Secure for on-campus wireless access to ConnectCarolina.

Call the ITS Help Desk at 962-HELP if you have questions. You can also schedule a personal consultation if you need more assistance. We’re here to help!

Get Sakai Help Monday May 2

image of consultationInstructors, do you have any last-minute Sakai questions before the semester ends? Need help finalizing your grades? Sakai experts will be in the House Undergraduate Library on Monday to assist you with your end-of-semester questions. Drop by any time between 2pm and 3:30pm at your convenience in room 034 in the basement of the UL.

Sakai Help Session
Monday, May 2
2pm – 3:30pm
UL 034

Please register for the event to ensure a consultant will be available to meet with you. Get help on:

  • Setting up your Gradebook
  • Entering and finalizing grades
  • Uploading grades with a spreadsheet
  • Returning student course work
  • Viewing stats on students for the course
  • And much more!

Don’t forget you can also sign up for one-on-one consultations, and we can stop by your office if you prefer. Just check out the calendar on our Events page.

Good luck with finals!

Creating Sakai Tests taking too long?

With final exams starting next week, we thought this would be a great time to remind instructors of a huge time-saver in Sakai. If you are administering an exam in Sakai through the Tests & Quizzes tool, the Markup Text option will help you create your test questions in no time! Using the standard Assessment Builder requires you to create your questions one-by-one, however, you can easily bulk-upload your questions with the Markup Text option!

First make sure you have the Tests & Quizzes tool enabled on your site. If it is not, you can easily add it through Site Info > Edit Tools.

Create questions in separate document

We recommend creating all test questions ahead of time in a separate document, such as Microsoft Word. This way you:

  • Create and see all questions at once
  • Have a back-up copy of your questions
  • Quickly edit any questions on one page

The questions must be structured in a specific format that Sakai recognizes. To view the format each question must be in, follow the basic steps in creating an assessment — you’re not actually creating an assessment (yet!):

  1. In Tests & Quizzes, enter Assessment Title
  2. Select Create using markup text
  3. Click Create

tq_create_markupLinks for the following questions will be listed under Instructions & Examples. Click on each question type to view the format your questions must be in for Sakai to recognize and automatically create those questions:.

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

tq_markup_instr_exThen open your document to compose your questions, following the format Sakai listed for each question type. Your document may look similar to this:


Create assessments using Markup Text

Once you have finished creating your questions, go back to Sakai to create your assessment using Markup Text (see steps above) with a simple copy and paste method. Copy the questions you composed and paste them into the Markup Text box.


Click Next to view your questions and Create Assessment. That’s it — you’ve created your assessment in no time!

Important Notes on Markup Text

  • Only available as you first create a test
  • Not all questions can be created using Markup Text
  • Feedback must be added through the regular Assessment Builder

Get Help on Tests & Quizzes

Good luck on finals! We can’t believe it’s already that time of the year!

Summer 2016 Rosters now in Sakai

image of bee by flower

CC image on flickr

Happy Spring Break! We hope this week you all are getting a chance to relax and take a breather from the semester.

So what’s the buzz around campus while you’re away? Summer 2016 rosters are now in Sakai! With your free time this week, consider getting a head start on your Summer courses by creating your course sites!

Remember you must have one of the following roles in ConnectCarolina to be able to create your course site in Sakai:

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

If you are not listed as such, please contact your departmental course scheduler. Once you are listed in ConnectCarolina, it may take up to 24 hours for this to update in Sakai. See more details here.

Create Course Site

See these step-by-step instructions on creating your course site in Sakai:

Reuse Course Material

Re-teaching a course? You can easily reuse course material as you are creating your site or after it has been created. You can select specific items from your Resources to copy or duplicate an entire tool. See more details on duplicating your content.

Contact the Help Desk at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP if you have any questions.

Enjoy the rest of your break!

New! UNC Learning Technology Commons

logo of learntrialsFaculty and Staff, have you ever wondered what educational technologies are being used in classrooms? Have you asked your colleagues what latest tech tools they have experimented with, what works for them and what doesn’t?

Last month the University of North Carolina System launched a new UNC Learning Technology Commons where UNC educators can come together to rate and review tech tools. It’s a common place for faculty and support staff in the UNC system to share their own and read others’ experiences with instructional technologies.

Using the LearnTrials platform with 4,000+ EdTech Products, UNC educators can ask questions about any product and find thousands of reviews from their colleagues. On LearnTrials, you can:

  • See which products your peers are using to get results
  • Give insight and have a voice in edtech decisions
  • Discover what digital tools work best for you and your students
  • Search by topic, grade, subject, device type, and more

Video: Teachers Save Time with LearnTrials

Check out this video featuring Sonja McKay, a Math & Science teacher at the Exploris School, where she discusses how Teachers Save Time (helping each other) with LearnTrials.

“…communicate with and collaborate with [other professionals] and share our successes and our challenges, and then in turn see what’s worked for others and have that confidence to start using it in our own classroom.”

Accessing UNC Learning Technology Commons

To access UNC Learning Technology Commons:

  1. Go to unc.learntrials.com
  2. Click on Join the UNC Community
  3. Select the logo for UNC-Chapel Hill
  4. Log in with your Onyen and password

Publications & Reviews

Several articles have been published in the community on the new UNC Learning Technology Commons. We encourage you to check out this list compiled by Phil Hill, a Co-Publisher of the e-Literate Blog:

UNC Learning Technology Commons: Easing the procurement problem with NGDLE

We’d love to hear about your experiences! Feel free to reach out to us.

We hope you’re having a fantastic Spring Break!

New! Preferred Names Now in Sakai

image of dunny toy with name tag

CC image on flickr

We have some exciting news! We know many of you have been waiting for this so we are happy to announce that…

Preferred names are now in Sakai!

Instead of displaying legal names, Sakai now displays the name you have set as your preferred name in the University Directory. This should help clear up any confusion with identifying site members.

Change Your Preferred Name

To change your preferred name, go to either:

  • University Directory > “Sign in” to the UNC Directory Search > Update Personal Information
  • ConnectCarolina > Login to ConnectCarolina > SelfService > Update Personal Information

Both options should take you to the Update Personal Information page. Look for the Preference Information section to edit your preferred name, and save your changes. Please note that it may take a few hours for your updates to display in Sakai, as our updates run 3 times a day.

If you have any questions, contact the ITRC Help Desk at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP.

New! Enhanced Sakai Tutorials Search

pixabay_help_keyboardLooking for help on Sakai? A new improvement should help make finding Sakai help documentation quicker and easier — the Sakai Tutorials search engine now provides more results from multiple places! When using the Sakai Tutorials search box, you will now get results from:

This will help our Sakai users find more of our help documentation in one place!

Direct Link to Search Results

You can now also direct link to any search results, using this URL:


You will need to enter your search word at the end of the URL after the equal sign ( = ). For multiple word searches, enter a plus sign ( + ) in between each word. Here are some examples:

Another big enhancement is coming to Sakai very soon. Stay tuned!

Sakai Peer Review: All About Dates

image of dried fruit

dates and dried fruit (CC)

Using peer review in your class can offer many opportunities for improving student writing skills. A peer review component can easily be added to an Assignment in Sakai. See our blog post on Peer Review for setting up and grading Sakai Assignments with Peer Review.

When adding peer assessment to an assignment, it’s important to consider the dates.

Breakdown of Peer Review Dates

Open Date
This is when students can start submitting to the Assignment.

Due Date
This is when the Assignment is due.

Accept Until Date
This will be same as the Due Date if you do not accept late submissions OR a later date if you do accept late submissions. Any submissions sent after the Due Date but by the Accept Until date will have a red “Late” notification next to them. Sakai does not automatically deduct points for late submissions as this is at the discretion of the instructor. Students must submit their Assignment by this date.

Resubmission Accept Until Date (optional)
Students can resubmit their Assignment until this date. They must have completed a submission by the Accept Until date in order to have the option to Resubmit.

Resubmission Accept Until Date for Individuals (optional)
Instructors may allow individual students to resubmit their original Assignment. We recommend keeping this within a time frame before the Evaluation Period begins. If you are setting the Resubmit Date for an individual:

  • Before OR at same time as Accept Until or original Resubmit Date: No issues (recommended)
  • During Evaluation Period: Their classmates may have already started peer reviews on the individual’s original submission (not recommended)
  • After Evaluation Period ends: Their classmates will have already submitted peer reviews on the individual’s original submission AND this individual will not see the peer reviews until they have resubmitted the Assignment OR when this date passes (not recommended)

Review Period Begins
Within 10 minutes after the Accept Until date (or Resubmission Accept Until date, if enabled) passes, students may begin peer reviews on their classmates’ submissions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not make any changes to the Assignment once the Evaluation Period has begun. Doing so may re-shuffle assigned reviewers as you are potentially introducing more submissions to the pool to be reviewed. If students have started their peer reviews, they may lose all their work.

Peer Assessment – Evaluation Period Finishes
Once the Evaluation Period begins, students have until this date to complete their peer reviews. Instructors may view peer reviews and original submissions through the “Reviewed By” column in the Assignment Grade view.

Instructor Grading
Instructor grading is disabled until the Evaluation Period has concluded. Students will not see their scores, feedback, or peer reviews until you release grades. The instructor Grade view will look similar to this:

screenshot of list of student submissions and peer reviews

Example of Peer Review Assignment Dates

Open Date: 02/10/2016 08:00 am
Due Date: 02/15/2016 11:55 pm
Accept Until Date: 02/16/2016 05:00 pm
Resubmission Accept Until Date: 02/17/2016 11:55 pm
Peer Assessment – Evaluation Period Finishes: 02/19/2016 11:55 pm

In this example, students may begin submitting to the Assignment on February 10 at 8am. They should submit by February 15 at 11:55pm. If they submit after this time but by February 16 at 5pm, there will be a red “Late” notification next to their submission. As long as they have submitted at least once by this time, students may resubmit to the Assignment by February 17 at 11:55pm. By 12:05am on February 18, students may start the peer review process. They have until February 19 at 11:55pm to do their peer reviews. When this time passes, instructors may finalize scores, provide feedback, and release grades. This is also when students see their peer reviews.

Have any questions? We recommend registering for a one-on-one consultation with a Teaching & Learning Consultant. You can also contact the ITS Help Desk at help.unc.edu or 962-HELP.