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The Lessons tool (previously referred to as Lesson Builder) has gotten a significant amount of attention over the past two years as it provides new and innovative capabilities for authoring sequenced instructional content that includes rich media and other interactive elements.  Although broadly applicable in a range of instructional context, these capabilities are particularly powerful when developing online courses, flipped classrooms and MOOCs, all of which are important trends which are gaining increased attention within higher education.

Based on discussions, research and pilots activities over the 2013-14 academic year [see], the Lessons Enhancement Project, which is being supported by a range of Apereo Foundation Members, was launched with the goal of completing a major user interface/user experience overall improvement of Lessons for the Sakai 11 release in 2015.  The project has adopted a light weight governance model that includes a Steering Group and Working Group and who are both collaborating closely with the Sakai Teaching and Learning Group as well as the Project Management Committee (PMC) to gain broad community input on both user experience and technical issues.

Please see the Project Background page for more history and details.


If you have general questions or would like to get involved in the project please contact Joshua Baron or participate in one of the up coming Sakai Teaching and Learning group calls.


As of November 4, 2015

  • Espress Labs contributed codes (free of charge) based on their Lessons wireframe design in early July
  • Apereo UX group conducted UX testing of the enhanced Lessons tool in June 2015 (Click to view results)
  • Apereo UX group provided user cases of multiple column page layout design in August 2015
  • Charles Hedrick developed new features (section break & column break) to enhance page design functionality of Lessons while modifying Lessons UI to fit Sakai 11 changes.
  • UX group tested Lessons during Sakai Virtual Conference 2015
  • Lessons BOF in Sakai Virtual Conference 2015

As of June 4, 2015

  • Unicon submitted a “pull request” in April which was reviewed and modified by Charles Hedrick 
  • Enhanced Lessons in Sakai 11 trunk (improved top menu bar, new section feature, overall UI changes)
  • LEaP presented in Apereo 2015 conference: LEAP - Lessons Enhancement Project - Process and Results

As of March 25, 2015

  • In order to remain in budget and fit into the Sakai 11 release timeline, the Working Group worked with Unicon to reduce some of the project scope.
  • The project is now focused on development of the header and menu items which are part of the wireframe. This work will start on April 1st and will take 4-6 weeks to complete.
  •  Statement of Work was signed by Ian Dolphin and Unicon on March 25, 2015. 
  • The LEaP presentation proposal was accepted by the 2015 Apereo Conference.

As of February 6, 2015

  • Espress Labs revised the low-fidelity wireframe based on feedback from the working group. Working group gave consent on January 23, 2015. 
  • Espress Labs provided the high-fidelity wireframe on February 6, 2015.
  • Unicon started to make estimate based on the wireframe. 
  • Josh Baron, Luisa Li, and Neal Caidin submitted a proposal on the LEaP project to the 2015 Apereo Conference.

As of December 30, 2014

  • Espress Labs provided the second low-fidelity wireframe which contained higher level design decisions on layout and function.
  • Working group provided feedback on the wireframe and continued to consult with Unicon developer Matt Polizzotti  and Charles Hedrick on development efforts.
  • Working group signed off the low-fidelity wireframe with conditions to change some items on December 19, 2014.  

As of November 25, 2014

  • Preliminary wireframe incorporated improvements on both UI and new functionalities, which, although extremely good, represented a huge amount of development efforts. The LEaP working group and steering group had discussions of the scope of the project and decided to focus on UI design improvements and not any new capabilities. See more details here
  • Working group and Espress Labs worked on new priorities of the project while consulting with Unicon about development efforts. 
  • Due to the change of local responsibilities, Aurora Collado stepped down as co-chair of the project. NYU remains as a contributor of the project.
  • Neal Caidin, who is the Sakai Community Coordinator, takes over the role as co-chair. Josh Baron notified everyone of the change of leadership on Nov. 25, 2014.

As of October 29, 2014:

  • Lessons community survey completed by Oct. 14 and received 96 responses.
  • Co-chairs Luisa Li and Aurora Collado compiled the results and summarized the findings in a Lessons Trends document.  
  • Co-chairs met with Espress Labs multiple times to discuss the Trends document and key design objectives. Three main aspects are identified: 1. content design on a page; 2. page navigation and management; 3. conditional release.
  • Matt Mischuk provided the first low-fidelity wireframe.

As of October 3, 2014:

  • The LEaP Working Group has selected two co-chairs, Luisa Li and aurora collado, who will act as primary contacts for the UX Designer and liaisons with the larger Working Group.
    • The Co-Chairs will meet with the UX Designer once a week for project planning and status check-in.
    • Co-Chairs will report out to the Working Group and coordinate gathering feedback and consensus decisions.
  • The LEaP Working Group will meet once everyone two weeks to discuss project status, provide feedback and reach consensus on major project decisions.
    • The project will roughly be working in two week sprints.
  • The Teaching and Learning Group has worked with the Co-Chairs to put together a community survey designed to gather feedback on UX priorities.
    • The survey is open to anyone and should be completed by Monday, October 13, 2014.

As of September 22, 2014:

  • We have selected Espress Labs as the UX design firm that will be supporting this LEaP.
    • Matt Mischuk will be our primary UX design from Espress Labs working on the project, more on Matt's background is available.
    • UI Development work will be supported by Unicon.
  • The LEaP Working Group will hold a project "kick-off" call on September 22, 2014 during which an initial work plan will be developed.
    • The LEaP Working Group wiki page will be used to document details associated with the project.
  • The Sakai Teaching and Learning Group is supporting the current effort by developing a brief community survey that will capture input on UI/UX priorities with regards to the Lessons tool.

As of July 29, 2014:

  • Seven project partners, including both institutions and commercial affiliates, have committed funds and resources totaling more than $35,000.
  • The project partners have agreed upon a light weight governance structure for decision making, setting priorities and monitoring finances.
  • A Steering Group, made up of primary decision makers, has been formed.
  • A Working Group, made up of staff from partner organizations, has been formed.
  • The Sakai Teaching and Learning Group is organizing a Lessons Enhancement Community Initiative that will work in close collaboration with the project to provide input into the redesign effort.
  • We are actively seeking to hire a User Experience (UX) Researcher/Designer as mean to being work which we hope to start in early August.



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