LMS Committee examines uses of Sakai@UD
Persephone Braham explains her use of the Sakai@UD Wiki tool to help her students understand Latin American civilization.
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11:33 a.m., April 7, 2009----The Learning Management System Committee, a 33-member University-wide committee that is helping to shape the use of Sakai at UD, held its spring luncheon meeting March 26 in the Trabant University Center.

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Havidán Rodríguez, University of Delaware vice provost for academic affairs and international programs, welcomed the participants and reminded them that they are ambassadors to their colleges and units to help their colleagues move forward with Sakai.

According to Rodriguez, more than 700 courses -- more than 60 percent of courses that use a Learning Management System (LMS) -- are using Sakai this spring. He praised the work of the committee and said, “When the academic side of the house and IT work together, we can move the University forward.”

The spring meeting featured presentations by three faculty members who use Sakai.

Michael Keefe, associate professor of mechanical engineering, demonstrated a peer assessment tool that he uses for the senior capstone course. The assessment, which is done four times in the senior year, enables students participating in project groups to receive individual grades.

IT is currently exploring whether this tool would meet UD faculty needs and, if so, what would be involved in including it in Sakai.

James Dean, professor of English, showed how he uses the Sakai@UD calendar tool to organize his course. He relies on the calendar rather than a syllabus to announce lectures, discussion topics, special events and homework. The calendar is, in actuality, a dynamic list of events that students can turn into a printable PDF file that resembles a traditional syllabus.

Persephone Braham, assistant professor of foreign languages and literatures, spoke about how she has her students use the Sakai@UD wiki tool to evaluate information from conflicting resources and to post their conclusions in the wiki. The wiki has enabled Braham's students to gain a better knowledge of Latin American civilization, understand the background of current problems, increase their research skills, and improve their Spanish.

Mathieu Plourde, information resource consultant with IT/User Services, elaborated on the current use of Sakai@UD. This spring, there are 723 Sakai@UD courses with only 362 courses remaining on WebCT. The Sakai@UD courses are being taught by 573 faculty members.

The goal is to have 80 percent of courses on Sakai@UD for fall 2009 and 95 percent by spring 2010. UD's institutional WebCT license will expire with the end of the spring 2010 semester.

Plourde also spoke about the use of Sakai@UD projects that became available to faculty and staff this spring. The LMS Committee is using a Sakai@UD project site to foster collaboration in the group. With the installation of Sakai version 2.6 this summer, students will also be able to have Sakai@UD project sites.

The LMS meeting concluded with breakout sessions on the calendar, wiki and Gradebook tools, and one on miscellaneous issues. The sessions explored how group participants use particular tools, wish lists for future enhancements, and issues about the advantages of using wikis and blogs in a secure environment. The committee will meet next at a retreat in June.

To follow the progress of the Sakai@UD deployment, visit this Web site.

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