Sakai 12 Upgrade: August 6

image of dog announcing sakai 12 upgrade on august 6The Spring Semester is quickly coming to a close but we wanted to share some big news before finals take over and you’re gone for the summer. We are excited to announce that on August 6th…

We’re upgrading to
Sakai 12!

While we will make every effort to minimize the outage, please plan for Sakai to be unavailable all day on Monday, August 6. The upgrade will occur after Summer Session II grades are due (Aug 3) and 2 weeks before the start of Fall classes. Thank you for understanding that we must take the system offline to apply the upgrade.

Coming in Sakai 12

We will spend the next few months heavily testing, debugging, and checking the functionality of all the new features in Sakai 12. While it’s possible we may have to exclude or delay certain features if there are any issues, here is a highlight of some of the expected features coming in Sakai 12! You can check out the full Sakai 12 list by tool here!

Tests & Quizzes

  • Extended delivery for select individuals and groups – easily make accommodations!
  • Responsive Hot Spot image questions – great on mobile devices
  • Use of tags to organize question pools and find relevant questions


  • Performance enhancements
  • Interface improvements, including rendering of student grades for large classes
  • Easily view and adjust final grade distribution


  • Optional subpage left navigation menu
  • Additional widgets for Announcements, Calendar, Forums, Resources, and personalized text

Layout & Interface

  • Accessibility improvements
  • Improved responsive design for better performance on mobile devices
  • Updated look for Chat tool

Check back here on the blog throughout the summer to get sneak peeks into some of these new features that are coming in August! We’re excited about these new improvements and hope you are too!

Fall 2017 Semester in Review

photo of carolina graduatesAnother semester has come and gone. And we have seen another class of students walk across that stage to become Carolina Alumni. Congratulations to the nearly 1,200 students who graduated this past weekend!

You should be proud to know that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has once again ranked UNC #1 in public schools for the 16th year in a row [upd Dec 22 — UNC is ranked #1 value in public schools for the 17th year in a row]! Carolina also gets the best out-of-state value and the ninth spot on Kiplinger’s combined list. Way to go, Heels!

It’s been quite a semester. Take a closer look at many of the educational tools we support in Teaching & Learning!


We have once again hit over 4,000 courses in Sakai. What some people may not know is that Sakai is a great tool that can be used for not just courses but also projects, committees, and other collaborative work. We currently have 3,416 project sites in Sakai — and counting!

Course sections: 4,125
Course sites: 3,229
Unique instructors: 2,341
Project sites to date: 3,416

Some Sakai tools have seen a huge increase in usage in the past year, such as the new Gradebook, which has been added to 636 more course sites this semester compared to just last semester! Here are the top 10 tools that have seen the biggest jump since Fall 2016 or Spring 2017:


Using VoiceThread to share media and having students post their comments? VoiceThread is a great way to collaborate and have conversations around images, slides, and videos!


We just rolled out Warpwire, the video-streaming service, to all course sites in Sakai last semester and are already seeing a lot of usage. This past term the total time watched through Warpwire was an astounding 286 days, 12 hours, 24 minutes, and 46 seconds!

CCI Printing

CCI Printing is the most convenient way for students to print on campus. While there are over 20 accessible printing locations on campus, nearly 75% of campus printing takes place at the libraries and Student Union.

Virtual Lab

Another extremely convenient service available to students is Virtual Lab. Instead of paying for that expensive software, you will most likely find the application available to you for free on Here are the top 5 apps for Fall 2017.

From all of us at ITS-Teaching & Learning, have a happy and safe holiday season! See you in 2018!

ITS Annual Report 2016-2017

We hope you had a restful Thanksgiving! It’s hard to believe but final exams are just around the corner! To ease you back into the swing of things, you can read up on what Information Technology Services has been working on in the past fiscal year. The 2016-2017 ITS Annual Report was just released last month!

Here’s a quick word from Chris Kielt, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology & CIO:

The ITS Annual Report allows our organization the opportunity to reflect on our service to Carolina over the past year, and share with the University community the work that’s been done to enrich the experiences of the faculty, staff and students at UNC-Chapel Hill. When I reflect on the stories, videos and photos that you will see in this Annual Report, one word so often comes to mind: collaboration.

Collaboration is fundamental to our success as an IT organization and it is only through working with our customers and engaging with partners that we continue to grow and improve the services that we offer to the community.

Click here to read Chris Kielt’s full letter and view the ITS Annual Report.

Check out some of the highlights from our Teaching & Learning division below!

Sakai 11 Upgrade & Warpwire

One huge improvement from our team was the Sakai 11 Upgrade at the end of December. This big upgrade “required teams from across ITS to work together to plan for and execute a smooth rollout within a very small window of opportunity” (Kielt, ITS Annual Report) and brought long-anticipated changes to campus. Some of the more noticeable changes in this upgrade included the new, modern interface, responsive mobile design, a new spreadsheet-type Gradebook, anonymous discussion posts, and an auto-save feature.

This upgrade also included the addition of Warpwire, a streaming media service. With Warpwire, faculty and students can easily and securely share and watch videos uploaded to their course site.

Fun fact:  Warpwire was created by UNC alums!

All About Students: Mobile Printing & Attendance App

With everyone on the move these days, our team made things a little easier for students with the addition of mobile printing capability for CCI Printing in November. Mobile CCI Printing allows students to submit print jobs directly from not just their personal laptops but also their phones! Android and laptop users go directly to the Print Center website and iOS users can install the Pharos Print app.

We can’t take all the credit though. We had a team of four students work with us to develop a proof-of-concept app for taking class attendance! The students started developing the idea in the Software Engineering course in the Department of Computer Science, taught by Professor David Stotts in Spring 2017. The app will allow students to check into class when their phones are near Bluetooth beacons!

By the Numbers

  • Sakai sites created — 11,743
  • Unique Warpwire viewers — 22,002
  • CCI Printing pages — 7,797,529
  • Virtual Lab — 147,338 sessions & 149,668 hours usage
  • Poll Everywhere usage by faculty & staff — 368

View all of our Teaching & Learning accomplishments and the full 2016-2017 ITS Annual Report. It’s been a great year!

Here are Our New Sakai Models

Last month we announced a call for Sakai Models. We received so many great photos and were excited to see students’ enthusiasm and creativity. Thank you to everyone who submitted their photos to us to be the next Sakai Models on the Sakai Homepage!

For this round, we want to congratulate this group of students from the School of Medicine for making it on the front page! We hope you all had fun!

sakai homepage header of med school students

Students pictured from left to right: Sagar Patel, Erik Davies, Judy Hamad, Liz O’Neil, Christopher Trennepohl, Jenny Bui, Adriann Negreros

Photographer: Adam Hunter

But don’t worry, students. We switch out the header every few months, so you still have a chance to make it to the big screen. Just keep a lookout!

Call for Sakai Models!

This could be you

Do you aspire to be a “Sakai model” during your time here at Carolina (check out this fun DTH article!)? We plan to update the header on the Sakai homepage next month and are looking for photos to use. This is your chance to send us your pictures and possibly get on the Sakai homepage! We invite all UNC students, faculty, and staff to submit photos because Sakai is open to everyone at the University!

Photo Guidelines

Please note that we may use any of the photos we receive for online and/or printed material for Information Technology Services. For your photo to be considered for the next Sakai homepage update, we must receive your submission by Tuesday, October 31.

Here are some guidelines regarding the Sakai header photo:

  • Group of UNC students, faculty, and/or staff using technology
    • Mobile devices preferred
    • The idea is that you are using your device for class work
  • Show wealth of diversity of UNC community
  • Photo can be cropped down to 980 x 375 pixels
  • Enough empty space to add “Welcome to Sakai @ UNC”
  • Photos outside, on UNC campus, and/or in Carolina gear encouraged
  • Avoid looking at camera
  • Be natural and have fun with it!

You are welcome to submit multiple photos. And yes, we will sneak in the Sakaiger! 🙂

Photo Release Form

In order for us to use your photos, the photographer and everyone photographed must sign this Release Form, stating that you give consent to the University to reproduce, distribute, and display these photos and identify you. If there is anyone in the picture who has not signed the Release Form, they must be far away enough where we can crop them out or blur their face.

Email your photos and everyone’s signed release forms to Identify the photographer and everyone in your photos.

Past Sakai Photos

Here are some past photos we have used on the Sakai homepage to inspire you!

We’re looking forward to seeing your submissions! Thanks!

Virtual Lab Course Request Form

UNC students, faculty, and staff — did you know you have access to free software that’s available 24/7? Check out the Virtual Lab to find about 70 applications available at no cost to you! Some of those applications include:

  • Arc Suite
  • Crystal Ball
  • ENVI
  • Microsoft Suite
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • Stata

You can access Virtual Lab on your computer or your mobile device. All you need is the Citrix Receiver plug-in, which you will be prompted to install when navigating to Virtual Lab.

Course Request Form

Instructors, you and your students are welcome to use Virtual Lab during class time, however you could potentially run out of licenses in the middle of class! Due to licensing restrictions, we ask that you submit a Virtual Lab Course Request Form to us to let us know what software you are requesting so we can try to work with you on having available licenses for your students.

Click here to access the Virtual Lab Course Request Form.

You will be asked to provide the following, and then a Virtual Lab representative will contact you within 2 business days:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Course Name
  • Course Instructor
  • Software Requested
  • Term

You can find Virtual Lab help docs or submit a help request on the ITS Help website.

Be Featured on Sakai


Featuring UNC students Harrison Toohey and Thomas Nations

Want to be the new face of Sakai?

We are looking for new Sakai models! Every few months we change out the image featured on the Sakai homepage and it’s time to update it again.

Apparently “Sakai models have become a source of UNC bucket-list inspiration for some students,” according to this DTH articlewe love this! While we usually send our team members in ITS-Teaching & Learning out to campus to take photos of students, we thought we’d have a little fun with this. We are launching a contest to find the next photo for the Sakai homepage!

Photo Suggestions

Here are things to consider to give you an idea of what we’re looking for:

  • Group of UNC students, faculty, and/or staff
  • Must be using a mobile device — laptop, tablet, smartphone
  • Extra points if you’re on UNC campus or in Carolina gear
  • Photo will be cropped down to 980 x 375 pixels
  • Pictures taken outside are encouraged
  • Look natural and not too staged
  • Have fun with it!

In order to be considered for the next photo we’ll use for the Sakai homepage, we must receive your submission by this Friday, March 10, at 5pm. Please email your photos to Our team will choose which picture to use and post it next week during Spring Break. We will continue to accept photos after that, and they may make their way onto Sakai or other ITS publications later.

Photo Release Form

Please note that pictures we receive may be used for Sakai or other ITS-related material. In order for us to use your photos, everyone pictured must sign this Release Form, stating that you give consent to the University to reproduce, distribute, and display these photos and identify you. If there is anyone in the picture who has not signed the Release Form, they must be far enough where we can crop them out or blur their faces.

Email your photos and everyone’s signed release forms to and identify the photographer and everyone in your photos.

Past Photos

Need some inspiration? Check out these pictures we have used in the past!



So, why is there a random cat hidden in our Sakai photos? This mysterious cat is actually not so random. He is the mascot of the Sakai Community — meet the Sakaiger!

We can’t wait to see your photos! The picture we choose will be posted to the Sakai homepage next week during Spring Break. Who knows, it could be you and your friends!

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 course 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: 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!