Category: Tips and Tricks

Which Gradebook tool is right for me?

Last June, we rolled out a new Gradebook tool in Sakai, called Gradebook 2. Instructors have been asking which one they should use. This post will attempt to answer that question.

First of all, Gradebook 2 will not replace the original Gradebook. Both tools remain available to any course site in Sakai.

The original Gradebook is simple to use. If your grading strategy is simple (4 exams worth 25% of the final grade each, for instance), it probably fits your needs just fine. If you’re using categories and weighting, it gives you and your students a calculation of the category score, something Gradebook 2 doesn’t offer. (click the thumbnails for larger screenshots)

Gradebook 2 offers some new features faculty have asked for over time. The tool is more flexible, but also requires a little more time for instructors to master it. Below are some of these new features:

  • Dropping the lowest grade(s) in a category. It is now possible to assign a certain number of assignments in a category to be dropped from the course calculation.
  • Adding true extra credit. If you’re assigning bonus points or extra credit assignments, you can now add them in Gradebook 2. Points added as extra credit will be added to the course grade without being required.
  • Statistics: Gradebook 2 offers a way to generate and share statistics with your students.
  • Visual cues: Gradebook 2 uses colors, font variations, and indicators that something is missing or wrong.

Warning: Do not use both gradebook tools in the same course! Because both tools use the same data and may be set up to calculate grades differently, your students could see two different final grade calculations. Pick one gradebook, and stick with it for the semester.

As usual, if you have any questions or concerns, contact the IT Support Center, and we’ll be happy to help you choose the tool and strategy that fits your needs.

Your fall course site could be a lonely place…

Don’t let your site be a ghost town. Add your rosters! (photo credit: nate2b on

As a new semester rolls in, the IT Support Center has received some questions from faculty members about student access to fall sites. Here are some tips to make sure your students will get access to your site from day one.

  • When you duplicate a site from a previous semester, the rosters are NOT copied. Student enrollment changes for every course each semester, so you have to select the current semester’s roster for each course. You can do this in Site info > Edit class roster(s).
  • Students will get immediate access to your site when you add the roster.1 If you do not want your students to get access right away, unpublish the site in Site Info > Manage Access.
  • To see who has access to your site, check the list of participants in Site Info. We have noticed that the Roster tool (the Sakai tool called Roster) is sometimes not accurate in displaying all participants. This is a known issue we have reported in the past.
  • Newly enrolled students are added to the roster overnight. UDSIS is synchronized with Sakai daily, so the list of participants in your site might change until the drop/add deadline for the current semester. You can add students manually if you don’t want to wait for the sync to happen.

Always refer to the Faculty Checklist for Using Sakai@UD Course Sites to avoid surprises!

1. Note: Students are given access to course sites approximately two weeks before the beginning of any given semester.

Do you know what time it is?

If you are out of town and in a different time zone, you can have Sakai show you the date and times for your location. In My WorkspacePreferences > Time Zone, select the appropriate area and click Update Preferences.

Note that when you return to the University in Delaware, make sure to choose US/Eastern, not EST, to allow for Daylight Saving Time.

Strategies and Tips for Blogging

Have you ever thought of using blogs to supplement your coursework? Campus Technology published an article on Strategies for Blog-Powered Instruction. Highlighting the work of several professors, this article takes a practical look at the unique strengths of blogs to supplement learning in the classroom. The professors all agree that “blogging works best when it’s blended into the curriculum, so posts are seen both as an extension of the discussions in the classroom and as an inspiration for future classroom conversations.”

The article talks about the power of blogs to give students a voice in their learning and to provide a tool for reflection. It lists five tips for blogging, including making sure to have a clear pedagogical purpose for incorporating blogs into instruction, making them a graded element of the course, and not assuming that students are familiar with the technology.

Learn more about the blog tool built into Sakai at the Sakai Help site. There are also other blogging tools that you may want to consider using (i.e., WordPress, Blogger). Need help? Contact the IT Support Center with your request, and we will follow up with you to set up a consultation.

Using UD Capture – It’s as easy as 1-2-3: Sign up, Record, Review in Sakai

UD Capture Archive sampleUD Capture is an automatic classroom capture system that records traditional classroom meetings for online use. IT Academic Technology Services has put into place a seamless process with no extra setup or new equipment to learn. Behind the scenes, the capture appliances will automatically record what shows up on the projector in the room as well as discussions in class, according to your class schedule. Once your class session is over, a link to your recording is available for use within 15 minutes.

After making your first recording, you will receive a URL to a UD Capture Archive page that will list each of your recorded sessions throughout the semester.

To view a recording, click the link for the dated lecture. An expanded view appears with a “View this recording” link, which will take you to the video.


So how do your students get access in Sakai? You can put the link to the archived sessions in the content area of your Home page, follow the step-by-step instructions at the ATS site’s FAQs titled How can I add a link in Sakai for my UD Capture recordings?

To request UD Capture for your classroom, visit:





Next Page »