Sakai 11 Features

Published on: December 20, 2016
Diego del Blanco, Software Developer


A big community effort has resulted in the creation of Sakai 11. This release has more innovation and changes than any other release in the history of Sakai. To match the actual requirements of institutions all around the world, Sakai 11 includes a complete redesign of the interface, a new Gradebook tool, and thousands of other new features and improvements.

Let's explore some of the most interesting updates:

Responsive User Interface

Sakai 11's user interface has been completely redesigned in order to provide powerful new capabilities and a clean, modern design. The new interface, code-named Morpheus, features a number of functional enhancements framed by a responsive, iframe-less tool structure. This new design provides an optimized user experience on any device, from desktop computers to smartphones. Features include:

  • Mobile-ready navigation
  • Responsive design optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile screens
  • Functional enhancements, including a breadcrumb navigation bar and a simplified process for managing favorites sites
  • Improved accessibility and screen-reader compatibility
  • Interface controlled by SASS (Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets)
  • Bootstrap and Font Awesome libraries

GradebookNG (New tool)

The Sakai 11 Gradebook is centered around a new spreadsheet-style interface, providing a faster and more comfortable experience. Fully compatible with legacy Gradebook content, the new Gradebook tool includes:

  • Spreadsheet-style grade entry
  • Automatic saving/ score validation
  • Individual student Grade Summary screens, with integrated Student Review Mode
  • Simplified and consolidated Import/ Export process
  • Enhanced statistics for graded items
  • Flexible display options for final course grades (letter grade, percentage, points)
  • Improved accessibility
  • Simplified settings screen

Lessons Tool Enhancements

The Lessons tool in Sakai 11 is more powerful and flexible than ever before. Content authoring/ presentation is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of new, multi-column layouts. And with a host of additional features, it is easier than ever to develop innovative content, especially student-generated content. Features include:

  • Simplified menu bar with categorized menu items
  • More concise instruction on the Lessons landing page
  • New functionality: section breaks and column breaks
  • New page layout design possibilities (breaking content items into multiple sections and columns)
  • Multiple ways to add content items on the page
  • Style settings for column content areas
  • Enhancements to forum topics
  • Enhanced student content areas and peer review rubrics  
  • Responsive design

PA System (New tool)

The PA System provides Sakai administrators with the ability to deliver timely alert banners and pop-ups, system-wide or to targeted sets of users within their Sakai instance. From simple banners at the top of the interface to fully customizable pop-up notifications:

  • Banner alerts, with three different levels of severity:
    • Low - blue (permanently dismissible)
    • Medium - yellow (temporarily dismissible)
    • High - red (not dismissible)
  • Rich-text pop-up notifications controlled by customizable css templates
  • Ability to release banners to all users or to targeted server nodes
  • Ability to release pop-ups to all users or to targeted sets of users
  • Timed release options for all PA System alerts

Improved Tests & Quizzes

Online assessments are one of the core features of a learning management system, and in Sakai 11, the Tests & Quizzes tool benefits from a number of enhancements. Using funds raised from the 2014 Sakai Virtual Conference, the Samigo Tests & Quizzes Enhancements Project (STEP) produced a number of new features and improvements, including:

  • New question type: Image Map
  • Improved reporting capabilities, including the ability to see all assessment submissions for a student
  • New side panel that allows students to track question progress in an assessment
  • Over 30 other enhancements

Contact Us (New tool)

The Contact Us tool provides feedback functionality for every course/ project site. By offering up to four different contact pathways within a single form, users can direct their questions/ feedback to the correct individual/ group. With one click this tool can send an email to an institution's helpdesk, with all relevant info automatically included (e.g., site URL, username, browser and version, plugins installed, etc.). Contact pathways include:

  • "Problem with content?" - sends an email to the site contact or site "maintainer"
  • "How do I do this?" - sends an email to a specific email address
  • "I've hit a bug/ technical issue" - sends an email to the same specific email address
  • "Feature suggestion" - sends user to a specific web page

Mathematical Notation

Designed to present mathematics natively, Sakai 11 can now display LaTeX equations as mathematical notation on most pages. LaTeX updates include:

  • Identical output for all browsers and platforms
  • No images or special browser plugins required
  • Accessible, with screen-reader compatibility
  • Scalable font for different text sizes and zoom levels

Calendar Export

It is now possible to publish Sakai calendars, making a calendar publicly accessible (for non-sensitive calendars) or privately publishing a calendar with a non-guessable URL (for calendars containing sensitive information). It will be possible to subscribe to the Sakai calendar URL from other calendaring application and the events will be dynamically updated.

File Browser (New tool)

The new file browser is used when browsing for files (documents, images, movies, etc.) from within the WYSIWYG HTML editor. Compared to the Sakai 10 file browser, it has a much smoother interface and enhanced functionality such as icon view, document preview, file management (copy, paste, etc.) and view file properties. In the future, it will allow links to other entities like assignments, assessments, or forums.

Softly Delete Sites

By default, when a site is deleted it is 'softly deleted' and will be recoverable for a configurable period of days.

Message Bundle Manager (New admin tool)

Using the Message Bundle Manager, Sakai administrators can customize the system message properties in any language accepted in Sakai.


Additional Support for Industry Standards

In Sakai 11, the following standards are now supported (in addition to existing support in 10.x for LTI 1.1, IMS Common Cartridge, and IMS QTI).

  • IMS Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) – Sakai is the first LMS with support for LTI 2.0
  • Experience API (xAPI or Tin Can API)
  • IMS Content Item - First LMS in the world certified on this standard

Over 3000 New Features and Fixes

A more organized (by tool) list of all the new features:

Sakai 11 New Features

The complete list of more than 3000 Jiras fixed and included in the different versions of Sakai 11:

Sakai 11 Fixed Jiras

Diego del Blanco photo

Diego del Blanco

Software Developer

Diego del Blanco Orobitg's involvement in the Sakai community started in 2005 at the University Politécnica de Valencia. Since then he has been working in the Sakai community from different companies and responsibilities. He woks at Unicon as the Sakai Tech Lead. Diego has a Master's Degree in Telecommunication Engineering, along with a MBA and Master in eLearning Technologies. He is the Apereo Foundation's Latam representative, was selected Apereo Fellow in 2014, and won the 2015 TWSIA award.