Now available in beta, a new tool in Sakai to support the variety of conversations in your classes.

Sakai Conversations user interface.


Multiple Conversation Types: We realize there are a variety of conversation types happening in and around classrooms everyday and Conversations has been built from the ground up to provide flexibility in supporting those conversations. Conversations is starting with something Sakai lacked: Questions & Answers. In 2022, we’re adding Threaded Discussions.  Conversations will eventually replace Sakai’s Forums tool.

Anonymous posts: Students may post topics and comments that appear anonymous to their peers, allowing for more honest questions without adding pressure. Instructors always have access to who posted anonymously, helping subvert abusive behavior.

Tags: A simple and powerful tag system allows instructors to organize topics and filter them quickly.

Reactions: Instructors can offer feedback like “Good Question” with a single click and students can leverage emojis to positively engage with their peers.

Community Guidelines: As the instructor, you can set the terms of participation for your course. Once enabled, your students, TAs, and other community members must agree to the community guidelines before they can participate..

Improved text editor: Better LaTeX support, a cleaner interface, auto linking, @mentions, and more.


Conversations has been built by a partnership between Duke Learning Innovation, Duke’s  Creative & User eXperience team, and Longsight, the hosting provider for Duke’s Sakai platform.

Scholarly review: We started the project off by reviewing the literature around online discussions to build up a knowledge base.

User feedback: We’ve worked closely with a group of Duke faculty throughout the entire project. A huge thank you from all of us on the project team to Lauren Heckelman, Karen Murphy, PhD, Stacy L. Tantum, PhD, Joan Combs Durso, PhD, Yue Jiang PhD, and Amanda Starling Gould, PhD. We’ve also gotten feedback from Duke and DKU undergraduate and graduate students as well as a variety of  Sakai community members (faculty and instructional technologists) from other institutions.

Open source and transparency: We strive to share our work openly whenever possible. All of our product management for Conversations can be found in Airtable. All of the user stories, features, recommendations from the literature review and user feedback can also be found there. If you have an idea for Conversations, feel free to add it as a user story and we will review it for potential addition to the tool. We are also contributing this work back to the Sakai community which can be tracked at SAK-45092.

Iteration: We’re excited to deploy the first beta version of Conversations to the Duke Community for the Fall 2021 semester and we know we’re not done. Your feedback will help us design the next group of features for use in 2022 and beyond. 

If you have questions, please reach out to us at We look forward to hearing what you have to say and continuing to improve the ecosystem of learning technologies you use every day.