Sakai Update: Sakai Project Sites

Last month, Duke Sakai became available for all Duke faculty and instructors to use for creating Spring 2012 Course Sites. This month, all Duke faculty, staff and students can use Sakai to create ‘Project Sites’ as well.

What is a ‘Project Site’?

Unlike a Sakai ‘Course Site,’ a Sakai ‘Project Site’ allows an individual or group to use a Sakai site (and any set of Sakai tools within that site) without being tied to an enrollment or semester. Common uses of Project Sites include:

  • HR-related sites (for a search, promotion, tenure or reappointment review)
  • Short-term team or working group activities (e.g. planning for a student or staff conference event, etc)
  • Ongoing team or working group activities (e.g. as a workspace for a standing committee, student group, etc)
  • Test space to learn more about Sakai functionality (without needing to create a real Course Site to do so)
  • Public space to share materials and engage participants beyond a specific group
  • Academic resource for one or more formal courses

Some of the above may seem obvious…but why would you want to use a Sakai Project Sites as an ‘academic resource for one or more formal courses‘? Let’s say you teach a section of a course with four other instructors. Each of you use the same syllabus and sets of readings for your courses, but want to keep your student enrollments separate since you have different discussion boards and assignments. You could create one Sakai Project Site for this ‘course’ and add all of your shared readings and materials to the Project Site’s Resources tool. Then set the Resources tool so the folders within the tool are ‘public’ (meaning the links can be accessed by anyone with that link). Now within each of your respective Sakai Course Sites for that term, link to the folders within the Resources section of the shared Project Site (in other words, you’re sharing content from the Project Site with your Course Site via links). This would allow you and your co-instructors to make changes to documents in one place, and have the change be accessible in several different courses. Find a typo on a PDF? Just upload the new version to the shared Project Site space.

How do I get a Sakai Project Site?

If you’re a Duke faculty member, staff member or student, you can create a Sakai Project Site whenever you need one. For questions about using your Project Site, please refer to the Sakai Support Site’s FAQs and Project Site guide.

What about Blackboard Organization site(s)?

Some Duke faculty and staff currently use Blackboard ‘Organization’ sites for many of the options mentioned above. More information about the migration of old Blackboard Organization sites is coming in early 2012. In the meantime, current Blackboard Organization site maintainers/administrators are welcome to create a new Sakai Project site for their organization/group and move or upload any of the Blackboard content manually. Since Blackboard will be shut down in June 2012, Duke faculty and staff who regularly request Blackboard Organization sites should strongly consider setting up a Sakai Project Site (or another technology) instead.

A few key differences between Blackboard Organization sites and Sakai Project Sites:

  • Sakai Project Sites are available to all Duke faculty, staff or students. Blackboard Organization sites were mostly made available to faculty and staff.
  • Sakai Project Sites can be created on demand. Blackboard Organization sites required a request process.
  • Materials in Sakai Project Sites can be linked to and shared between other Sakai sites and even outside of Sakai. Content in Blackboard Organization sites could only be used within the site itself.

More info: