The Interactive Syllabus
Sakai 2.6 is now in full production at the University of Virginia where its adoption rate has been steadily growing over the last two and a half years. However, in spite of its many useful features, one of Sakai's serious shortcomings has been its limited accommodations for variety and flexibility in truly representing and delivering a course's design. While Sakai allows instructors to select, rename, and reorder tools and resources, instructors cannot provide students access to tools and resources except through a linear and heavily tool-based menu structure. Instructors at our institution have made it clear to us that this limitation is a severe setback to their creative and effective use of the system, especially in purely online environments. They may, for example, want to organize their course content and activities in a chronological order, or by topic modules, or even as a narrative with an emergent design. But, by default, Sakai forces a tool-based view/presentation even though few (if any!) courses are designed that way. Our work so far has focused on the built-in editor in Sakai (FCKEditor) which we have adapted to provide a simple and flexible way for instructors to deliver their course designs via Sakai. By extending the Sakai editor with easy-to-use templates and plug-ins for full screen editing and previewing, and by adding the ability to easily link to discussion topics, assignments, and tests (in addition to resources), we have been able to provide instructors with an environment that is simple but also capable of supporting their individualized and innovative course designs. Although this approach is serving us well at UVa for the time being (2.X) we would like to see a robust implementation of the process (and the approach towards technology integration in teaching and learning) in future versions of Sakai (3.x).
PowerPoint slides from the session: Instructor-Driven Course Site Design
Interactive Syllabus screencast: iSyllabus