Photo By: Noah Nickel
With many courses being delivered online, as well as an abundance of courses being offered as ‘hybrid’, meaning they will supplement in-person material with online work, learning how to maneuver Brock’s Learning Management System (LMS) Sakai is going to be crucial to ensuring academic success this year.
Once you gain access, you will see a navigation bar on the left-hand side which includes the main features of the system, including essentials such as being able to add and remove instructor’s sites, setting up your profile, checking out your schedule, seeing an aggregate of announcements from your instructor’s and more. It’s important to check your announcements frequently because of the unpredictable nature of online learning. Oftentimes professors will use this function to announce changed deadlines and provide provisional information for assignments and tests.
It’s also important to realize that instructors don’t all set up their sites the same way and that things such as the ‘resources’ folder can serve varying functions based on the course. This is why getting familiar with how an instructor chooses to format their site is going to save you time when searching for a file. The good news is that most courses have a ‘chat room’ function, so if you’re confused you can always send a message in the chat and hopefully your professor, a teaching assistant (TA), or someone else in the class will get back to you with an answer.
A large tip I would provide based on experience is that you should try to become savvy with forums. You will find that many courses use forums as a way of measuring student participation. Forums tend to have strict due dates as well as specific word count expectations, so make sure you read the description of each forum to find important requirements for submitting your work. The forums’ auto-save function has been fairly spotty in my experience, so I would recommend writing your response in another document such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs and copying and pasting it into your forum box just to be safe in the case of a crash or error in input.
You can also use the ‘gradebook’ option in specific course sites to check your grades as well as comments on particular pieces of work. In addition, you can use the ‘Library Research’ option if you’re interested in data sets and getting in-touch with the right people regarding research opportunities.
Finally, there’s a ‘course-experience survey’ in the Sites tab that you can take at the end of your term to share your experience in the course, as well as a ‘help’ option that will direct you to an informational site on Sakai. There, you will find in-depth details on everything I’ve laid out here and more, including a handy FAQ section.
Getting accustomed to learning-based programs like Sakai can be a pain at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time and from there, you might even find that it can be a blessing having all the information online. Best of luck, incomers!
For additional support, you can access Sakai’s FAQ by going to https://kumu.brocku.ca/sakai/FAQ.