What's new in Sakai?

Sakai has received numerous improvements in preparation for the fall 2021 semester. Some of the most exciting changes include the addition of the Rubrics tool which offers customizable rubrics for grading, a redesigned user interface for the Tests & Quizzes tool that lists published assessments alongside their "working copies," and new layout options for the Roster tool that let instructors customize their experience and view their roster in three different ways. In an effort to make Sakai user friendly and intuitive, changes like a new Manage Overview button in the Overview tool itself and a Manage Participants tab in the Site Info tool make the platform straightforward and easy to understand for all users. We are excited to introduce this update as we continue to build a better experience for every member of the Claremont Colleges.

General Improvements

The action buttons have been restyled to let users easily distinguish between choices!

Oftentimes, users choose between different action buttons, but one of the choices is more natural than the others. To streamline and simplify the user's experience, the "primary" button has white text with a blue background while the other choices now have black text over a white background.

blue vs white action buttons

A number of changes have been made in an effort to make Sakai accessible to a wide audience:

  1. The contrast ratio has been increased in several places.
  2. Various links and icons now have alt text so that screen readers can interpret them and relay that information to users.

Note: Upgrades occur every August.

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You can now send students a reminder email 24 hours before an assignment is due!

When an instructor creates an assignment now, there is a checkbox for whether they want to send a reminder email to students 24 hours before the due date. The option is checked by default, but instructors can easily opt out of sending the reminder email by clicking on the checkbox which is located just below the Accept Until date picker.

image showing button to restore selected items from trash

Also, you can now recover deleted assignments using the Trash tab.

To restore the deleted assignment,

  1. In the Assignments tool, click on the Trash tab
  2. Use the dropdown menu and arrow buttons to change which assignments you view
  3. Use the checkboxes to select the assignments you want to restore
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Restore Selected.

send reminder checkbox image
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Calendar events for assignments now contain information about the open date!

Previously, if an instructor created an assignment with an open date set in the future and added it to the calendar, a student could see the calendar event but had no way of knowing when the assignment would become available. Now, if a student clicks on the calendar event, they see a message stating the open date.

alert: This assignment is not yet available.
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Drop Box

Users can now highlight Drop Boxes that have been changed in the last 2, 3, 4, or 5 weeks!

This improvement gives instructors a wider range of dates to choose from so the feature doesn't feel so limited.

To highlight Drop Boxes with recent changes,

  1. Select the Drop Box tool from the tool bar
  2. Use the dropdown menu on the right side of the screen to select the preferred date range.
select preferred date range
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New changes to the Email tool make it straightforward and easy to use:

  1. When a user sends an email with the Email tool, the site title is now included in the subject line.
  2. When a user duplicates a site using the Site Info tool, they now get to choose the email alias for the new site.
duplicate email alias
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Instructors are now able to disable notifications at the topic level. Additionally, users can send email notifications but omit the contents of their posts from the notification.

To do so:

  1. Select the Forums tool from the tool bar
  2. Click on the New Topic link for an existing forum, or create a new forum first with the New Forum tab
  3. Under the Notifications heading, use the first checkbox to enable or disable email notifications and the second checkbox to include or exclude message content from email notifications.
email notifications
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Instructors can now excuse a single student's grade from calculations!

This feature gives instructors more flexibility when grading and allows them to make changes on a per-item basis. It can often be difficult for instructors to account for or plan for individual students' circumstances, so this change gives instructors the ability to excuse individual grades as they see fit.

this feature allows more flexibility when grading

Several features have been implemented to make the Gradebook tool easy to use for instructors including,

  1. The bulk edit option now has toggle all checkboxes for each column to make editing more efficient.
  2. A new property has been added that allows instructors to adjust the column width in the Gradebook tool.
  3. When using the grade override feature now, users will still be able to see the calculated course grade.
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Users can now embed VidGrid videos in a lessons page!

  1. Click on the Lessons tool from the tool bar
  2. Click Add Content + tab
  3. Click Embed Content on the page
  4. In the text box, enter the code for the video you want to embed
  5. Click Save
embed vidgrid instruction
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Users can now configure the overview display (such as the layout and order of widgets like the Recent Announcements and Calendar widgets) without having to navigate to a different tool!

To do so,

  1. Select the Overview tool from the tool bar
  2. Click the Manage Overview in the top right corner to edit the display.
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Users can now choose to enable or disable the portal chat through the Site Info tool.

To enable or disable it,

  1. Select the Site Info tool from the tool bar
  2. Click on the Manage Tools tab
  3. Use the checkbox on the right-hand side to enable or disable the portal chat
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue
  5. Click Finish.
enable or disable portal chat
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The introduction of our new Sakai comes with improvements to hidden files:

  1. Users can now upload hidden files to the Resources tool without unintentionally sending an email notification.
  2. Hidden files now display in a darker color, and users see an icon next to the file title which shows an eye with a slash through it.
hidden files
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New layout options in the Roster tool make it easier for instructors to view and organize their roster:

  1. Instructors can now view their roster with 3 different layouts: Cards, Photo Grid, and List.
  2. Instructors now have the option to Hide Names or Hide Photos depending on which layout they're using by clicking on a checkbox above the Print and Export action buttons.
cards, photo-grid and list
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Sakai is now introducing the new Rubrics tool!

The tool gives instructors a straightforward and easy to use option for grading anything from assignments to forums.

To add the Rubrics tool to a site,

  1. Select the Site Info tool from the tool bar
  2. Click on the Manage Tools tab
  3. Click on the the checkbox for the Rubrics tool.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Continue
  5. Click Finish
  6. Once an instructor has added the tool to their site, they can access it like any other tool from the tool bar.
enable or disable portal chat

There are two types of rubrics: Site Rubrics and Shared Rubrics. Site Rubrics are only available for the site in question whereas Shared Rubrics can be accessed between sites. An instructor can share a Site Rubric and make it a Shared Rubric by clicking an arrow icon. If a rubric is shared, the instructor can see it listed under both Site Rubrics and Shared Rubrics and can make it a Site Rubrics at any time by clicking on the arrow icon again (the direction of the arrow changes depending on whether the rubric is shared).


Instructors can use the + Add Rubric button listed above the Shared Rubrics to create a new Site Rubric. From there, they have the option to add and edit criteria and ratings to create a unique rubric. At any time, the instructor can delete a rating by clicking on the edit icon and clicking Remove. They also have the option to delete or copy a criterion or the entire rubric by using the copy and delete icons.

add and remove image

Various tools including Assignments, Forums, and Tests & Quizzes all have options to incorporate rubrics into the grading process for a specific assignment, forum topic, test, etc. This streamlines the grading process by giving instructors the option to assign scores by clicking on the appropriate rubric cells and adding comments in the corresponding text areas.

To use a rubric with an assignment for example,

  1. Select the Assignments tool from the tool bar
  2. Click the Add tab
  3. Enter the required information and choose Points as the grade scale from the dropdown menu
  4. A series of options appear under the heading Grading Rubric
  5. Use the dropdown menu to select a rubric and use the radio buttons, checkboxes, and Preview Rubric button to choose your preferred rubric settings
  6. Enter the remaining required information and click Post.
grading rubric

To grade an assignment using a rubric,

  1. Click the Grade link
  2. Click on the name of the student you want to grade
  3. Click on the Grading Rubric tab
  4. Click on the rubric cells to assign points and click on the speech bubbles to give written feedback
  5. Either Save and Release to Student or Save and Don't Release to Student.
grading an assignment using a rubric

The Rubric tool gives instructors a new, easy, and organized method for grading. For students, the Rubric tool makes the grading process transparent, straightforward, and easy to understand with well organized feedback.

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Site Info

The Site Info tool has received a number of improvements that make it easier to use including,

  1. There is a new Manage Participants tab to cut down on loading time when accessing the Site Info tool.
  2. When users create or edit a group, they can now use the Filter by group feature to choose students based on their membership in other groups. This addition can help instructors create groups with certain overlapping students or avoid students who might already be assigned to a certain group.

    allow members to see he other members of this group.

  3. Instructors and students now see different text when looking at sections and groups on the main Site Info page. Previously, students and instructors both saw Sections you are a member of which was confusing for instructors who were supposed to be able to see all of the sections in the site. The text for instructors just says Sections now.

    instructors and students now see different text when looking at sections and groups

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Users can now see information specifying the types of events listed in a report!

Previously, it was hard to look at a report and tell what event type the data was for because the report didn't distinguish between different event types within the same tool. Now, for example, the tool shows the number of Announcement new events versus Announcement delete (own) events, making it much easier to use since the report is more specific.

users now see information specifying the types of events listed in a report Back to top


When students sign up for a meeting by either becoming participants or joining the waitlist, instructors can now see when they signed up.

instructors can see when students sign up
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Tests & Quizzes

There is a new Trash tab for the Tests & Quizzes tool!

Instructors can now look through deleted assessments and restore them. Users can see the assessment title, the assessment ID, and when it was deleted. They can also use the dropdown menu above the deleted assessments to change how many they view at a time or use the search bar to look for specific assessments.

To restore a deleted assessment,

  1. Select the Tests & Quizzes tool from the tool bar
  2. Click on Trash tab
  3. Use the checkboxes in the Select assessments column to choose which ones you want to restore
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Restore.
select and restore assessments

When an instructor creates an assessment and selects the average score option in settings, they now see a message in the publish screen that says, (The average score will be recorded). Additionally, if the instructor chooses to send out an email notification, the email also contains a message about average scoring.

instructor can now see message that says average score will be recorded

The user interface has been redesigned for the Tests & Quizzes tool so that users can see published assessments and drafts on the same page. Each published assessment now has a "working copy" listed below it, making it easy for instructors to edit assessments without retracting the published versions. The update to the user interface organizes and consolidates the Tests & Quizzes tool to help users make the most of the "working copies" or assessment drafts.

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