Courseworks Columbia Sakai



A first step for many instructors who want to use technology in the classroom is to set up a course website to help manage course documents and activities. CourseWorks@Columbia, the University’s learning management system (LMS), offers instructors course sites to post readings, library reserves, and syllabi. A CourseWorks site is a good way to make course material accessible to students at any time — in many cases eliminating paper handouts. Instructors can easily revise course materials as the semester progresses or migrate the materials to a course in the future. CourseWorks also offers has tools for scheduling meetings, assignments and online testing, and student collaboration. In addition, some third-party tools, such as the BIgblueButton video conferencing tool and the Piazza discussion tool have been integrated with CourseWorks to provide a seamless learning experience for students.

To get started, log into CourseWorks with your Columbia UNI.

Teaching with CourseWorks

The Center for Teaching and Learning has partnered with the Teaching & Learning Applications group in Columbia University Information technology (CUIT) to introduce new educational technology tools. Fall 2015 through Spring 2016 we will be piloting audience response systems (ARS), video conferencing tools, and high-stakes online testing tools. All instructors are invited to participate. Our first pilot tools are:

Audience Response System (ARS): Turning Point

Video Conferencing Tools

High-Stakes Online Testing Tool: DigiExam

To learn more about the pilot program in a pilot or for more information, please contact us at or call 212-854-9058.

What is Sakai?
Sakai is an open sourced technology product that exists to enhance teaching, learning, and research. Sakai’s membership is a global one, and this community collaborates to define the needs of academic users, create software tools, share best practices, pool knowledge and resources in support of this goal.

Who picked Sakai at Columbia?
Six years ago, a team from CUIT, CCNMTL, and the Library began searching for a potential replacement of the existing CourseWorks system. The existing system was becoming outdated to meet the needs of the user community due to the rapidly evolving world of learning management technology.

Many competitive products were reviewed and analyzed for their short term and long term capabilities, not only for course management, but for the rapidly changing needs in long distance learning, collaboration, integration with other third party education tools and the impact of Social media. Based on a thorough analysis, Sakai was chosen and the learning management system was adopted by CUIT as a pilot system. By the end of Spring Term, 2011, CourseWorks powered by Sakai was hosting 200 courses and 500 collaboration sites.

What are key features in Sakai?
Sakai brings to the table a robust set of tools including; file management, assignment, test and quiz, gradebook, polls, evaluations, portfolios and learning outcomes. Sakai delivers web 2.0 tools like blogs, wiki, drag and drop, RSS feed, and mobile skin. The Sakai system offers announcements, email, calendaring and group work with a collaborative platform that has the capability to operate within and beyond Columbia University.

Why Sakai?
Sakai was very appealing since it was an open sourced product. The concept is that institutions of higher learning continuously develop solutions for their academic learning management needs and share that development with member peer colleges and universities. This allows universities like Columbia to participate and share in the improvements to the system. Each day Sakai community members share thousands of interactions, building and improving the software, requesting help, collaborating on projects, and enjoying the relationships that result from this work. To this end, Columbia University participates by hosting a development server that is shared with the Sakai community.

Who else is using Sakai?
This learning management and collaboration system is in use at such institutions as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, MIT, Indiana Pepperdine, Michigan, UC Berkeley, Florida, Rutgers, Delaware and Duke. Globally, Sakai is used at Oxford University in England and Nagoya University in Japan. The University of South Africa has one of the largest user communities in the world with over 240,000 users.

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