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, 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 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!

ITS Annual Report 2015-2016

cci_printing_mobileThe ITS Annual Report was just released last month! Find out what exciting work Teaching & Learning and all of Information Technology Services has worked on from August 2015 through July 2016.

Here is a quick rundown on facts and figures for Teaching & Learning from each of our divisions. Stats are from August 1, 2015 to July 12, 2016:

  • 8,080,696 pages printed through CCI Printers
  • 144,086 Virtual Lab sessions
  • Nearly 200,000 exams scanned July 2015 – June 2016
  • 29,000 unique Sakai users
  • 3,915 Spring 2016 courses in Sakai
  • 6,560 Classroom Hotline room checks

See more highlights from Teaching & Learning!

3-Year Classroom Upgrade Project in Home Stretch

200 classrooms have been upgraded from analog to digital equipment. With these upgrades, we are better able to support and troubleshoot devices for instructors. Often times we remotely check the classroom equipment and make sure everything is up and running before anyone even walks into the classroom. Some of the digital-upgrade classrooms also received upgraded cameras and microphones to provide a better experience for web conferencing. Check out the following video and our previous post to learn more about classroom upgrades:

Greenlaw 101 Renovation

image of faculty and staff in greenlaw 101

Another classroom that got a huge upgrade is Greenlaw 101. If you haven’t been to this room in the past year, we highly recommend taking a quick stroll to Greenlaw Hall!

Our very own Bob Henshaw led a planning group comprised of staff from ITS, the Center for Faculty Excellence, and campus administrators, who worked with over two dozen faculty members across a wide range of disciplines to identity key instructional goals for a final design. Greenlaw 101 has been transformed from a lecture hall with stadium-style seating into a classroom with a middle ramp that splits three tiers into six learning zones, populated with moveable tablet-arm seats on casters. Instructors can now easily move around and interact with individual students and groups. Several monitors also line each section of the room, which allow students to easily view content and display their devices.

CCI Printing Goes Mobile!

With 60 printers in 45 locations across campus, CCI Printing is one of the most convenient ways for students to print. The University’s official mobile app, CarolinaGO, was launched in November 2015, and it includes the CCI Printing map. The map automatically updates every 2 minutes, providing users with live updates of each printer’s status, nearest printer locations, and better support since we can easily see if a printer is low on supplies or needs technical attention.

Sakai Q&A with Jeremiah Joyner


Did you know that 70% of all instructors now use Sakai? Check out this Q&A on Sakai Stabilization with Jeremiah Joyner, Manager of the Sakai Support team.

In case you haven’t heard, we are upgrading to Sakai 11 in December, bringing even more updates and new features to the system!

You can view the full ITS Annual Report from all ITS departments, which includes stories, videos, and other stats on the services we provided to the UNC Campus.

BIG NEWS: Sakai 11 Upgrade Dec 20

sakai 11 upgrade announcementAttention everyone, we have very big news! Something exciting is happening at the end of this year. We are thrilled to announce that in just a few months, you will find major improvements and enhancements in Sakai because…

We’re upgrading to
Sakai 11

The upgrade will take place on Tuesday, December 20. Please plan for Sakai to be unavailable all day as we must take the system offline to apply the upgrade. The outage will occur after all final Fall 2016 grades are due in ConnectCarolina, and we will make every effort to minimize the outage. Thank you for your understanding!

Sakai 11 Features

Sakai 11 comes with many wonderful improvements. We wanted to give a sneak peek on expected features in Sakai 11, but please note we are actively testing and debugging the system through December and will implement  the functional features.


  • Responsive — this means mobile friendly and a new look!
  • No. More. iframes. You can use your browser back and forth buttons!
  • Improved Favorites menu to organize Sakai sites
  • Breadcrumb navigational menu in most tools


  • New spreadsheet-style grade entry and view!
  • Quickly enter grades, comments, view log, update settings
  • Set score to anything in empty entries, by group/section
  • New grading analytics
  • Consolidated menus for setup and settings
  • Drag and drop functionality to move items
  • View by grouped sections, categories, specific Gradebook Items
  • Student review mode
  • Option to enter comments through imported spreadsheet
  • Floating headers — great for large classes


  • Enhanced layout
  • Consolidated menus
  • Ability to divide up sections with breaks, columns, different colors, and widths

Tests & Quizzes

  • New “hot spot” question type for students to ID points on image
  • See all scores for one student on one page
  • Additional options to set up email notifications

We will highlight some of these new features in the coming weeks leading up to the December 20 upgrade. Sakai 11 will bring many improvements instructors and students have requested, and we’re so excited that this upgrade is happening. Stay tuned for more details!

Communicate More Visually with Less

ss_punchWe are less than a month away from the start of Fall Semester! Instructors, you are probably gearing up for new students, new classes, and a new semester. Now is a great time to review some of your lecture material as you do your prep work. We know many of you are using PowerPoint slides for your lectures so we wanted to bring back our presentation design series:

Communicating Visually: A PowerPoint Design Series

In this series we covered basic principles of good PowerPoint design to not just make your slides more visually appealing, but to ultimately help your students better grasp the content of your lecture and therefore improve their learning experience. We highly invite not just instructors but students and staff members to take a look at these principles and design tips to enhance your presentations!

Principle #1: Communicate More with Less

ppt_presenterIf you only change one habit in PowerPoint, make it this:

Put less stuff on each slide

Everyone has seen a slide with a list of bullet points, but students cannot be expected to attentively listen to the lecturer while frantically reading and copying a slide full of text. You may still need all the slide details, so here are two tips:

  1. Hide the slide
  2. Hide your notes

Both tips allow only you to see your slides and notes as you present instead of your entire audience. Click here to find out details on hiding this content.

Principle #2a: Communicate Visually with Imagery

Images are instrumental in connecting to the audience emotionally by enhancing a speaker’s key points and conveying more than words can describe. Images draw viewers into your story, can mark a transition point in a presentation, and serve as a mnemonic device.

For example, which slide grabs your attention?

ansp_butterfly_text          compfight_butterfly_egg

Click here for more on imagery!

Principle #2b: Communicate Visually with Infographics

Infographics visually illustrate a complex idea or system and can dramatically improve your lecture by simplifying processes you are describing, visually showing relationships between ideas, and creating another mnemonic device for your audience.

For example, you can turn this slide:

visual.ly_chickens   into this   visual.ly_chickens_infographic_crop

See more on infographics.

Principle #2c: Communicate Visually with Illustrations

Illustrations and icons can be just as useful in visually communicating your ideas to your audience. Always consider the audience prior to choosing imagery, as using an appropriate style for the clip art you choose creates support for your credibility.

For example, for a higher-ed audience, opt for clean, sophisticated clip art with a professional quality–

beaker_tableClick here to learn more about using illustrations in your presentations!

Principle #2d: Communicate Visually by Disguising Bullet Lists

Sometimes you can’t help but use a list of text. Instead of using a bullet list, disguise it through these simple text layouts, offered by Connie Malamed of “The eLearning Coach“–

  1. Organizing text into boxes
  2. Placing the content into a table
  3. Diagramming (see example below)

ppt_diagramPrinciple #3: Limit the Distractions

We understand that limiting text on slides and inserting graphics and different text layouts can be overwhelming. If you do not have the time to review your slides, consider helping your audience focus on the content you are delivering during your presentation by limiting the distractions. Here are two tips to keep in mind:

  1. You do not need an exorbitant number of slides
  2. Every slide does not have to be overly designed to be meaningful

Relying too heavily on PowerPoint during a presentation could occasionally distract your audience when they should be listening to you. Consider taking a pause from the visuals when you need to make a key point. Read more on limiting the distractions.