The first day of class is an exciting time for both students and instructors. From an instructors’ perspective, the first day can also be very challenging. Although an instructor may have carefully planned and organized the day’s activities, there is always the fear that a technological glitch or a significant bug in a new system will occur during the class period. To counter these negative thoughts, it is best to keep a positive attitude and have a back-up plan in case the technology fails.
On Wednesday, August 25, Carolyn and I introduced our LIB 210 students to Sakai. During the summer, Carolyn and I attended several training sessions on Sakai. As part of our training, we learned how to create announcements, add assignments, and set up a gradebook. In setting up our Sakai course, we were surprised about how quickly we mastered some of the nuances and features of the new system. Although we relied on print handouts from the training sessions and the online “help” feature in Sakai, a lot of our newly gained knowledge came from the old trial-and-error approach to problem solving. We quickly realized that mistakes could easily be changed or removed from the system.
As part of our planning strategy for the course, Carolyn and I decided to give Sakai a trial run on the first day of class. We designed an assignment for students to complete during class and submit via Sakai. The assignment was a form for students to rank their preferences for their social science discipline presentation. After showing students the assignment in Sakai and passing out a print copy of a handout developed by Joy Gambill on “Submitting Assignments in Sakai,” our students quickly submitted their assignment. After refreshing the page in Sakai, Carolyn was able to see all of the students’ submissions. Both Carolyn and I breathed a collective sigh of relief. Just to be on the safe side at the beginning of class, Carolyn asked students to complete the form on paper. Knowing what we know now, we could have eliminated this step since all of our students were enrolled in Sakai.
With the first day behind us and our success with Sakai, Carolyn and I are looking forward to teaching the LIB 210 class. We would also like to mention that our comfort level in using Sakai was greatly enhanced by the technical expertise of our colleagues: Susan Smith and Giz Womack. We appreciate their willingness to share their knowledge with us and provide guidance when we were stumped.