I just wanted to send in my thoughts/criticisms/complaints on the new Sakai classroom system. I've unfortunately had a tough time with the changeover and I long to have the old Educator system back. I dread logging into my classes using Sakai cause I am immediately overwhelmed and frustrated. (I use a variety of programs personally and through my job...and after working 45+ hours a week with troublesome software/applications, I'm in no mood to deal with it while furthering my education and paying $750 a class for it - it's my philosophy that if I have to deal with troublesome software, the developers should pay me)! ;)
At first, I thought this would be a great change to Educator, because Educator was pretty simplistic and fairly old. (I remember taking an online class at my community college in 2004/2005 and it was the same one). However, it was functional, easy to use, and had some features that I am missing with Sakai.
Forums: The entire Forums main page hits you like a ton of bricks as it is very overwhelming and unorganized. The main topics show subtopics and crowds the page. As the main topics are divided into Weeks (in the two classes I am currently taking) each main topic takes up 2-3 inches of screen space and requires scrolling through the entire page to see all the main topics. It would be beneficial just having the main topics show as clickable links that you could expand or be clickable to a new page where we would then see the instructors main post as well as the posts of our peers. (The gaming forums I maintained had better organization and where easier to navigate as well as view than Sakai). Educator's Forums (Discussion Boards) were way superior than Sakai.
There is also no way to track where you posted on the Forums. In order to do that, one must expand every message and utilize CTRL+F and search for your name or alternatively write it down on paper or in Word who you responded to and what day. I loved the feature in Educator where I could look at my participation and look where I had posted as well as the time. This is a feature that needs to be implemented.
Opening up multiple tabs of Sakai - I made the mistake of typing up one of my course responses in the forum text box. I wanted to reference something in the original post (not the one I was replying to). Clicked on Forums from a new tab and was brought to a blank response box (while in my other tab, I had my nearly completed response) I navigated back to the post I wanted to reference and finished typing in my first tab and clicked submit. My response was no where to be found. It is very useful to be able to open up multiple tabs and view the thread in its entirety...however I only trust typing everything up in Word and then copying and pasting over after this mishap. My other complaint with the Sakai text box for forums, it does not allow you to right click on a misspelled word to correct it, but makes you run through the spell check (which constantly is adding words and shows something completely different than what I have entered in the text box). I expected it to work again like a regular forum or anything within a browser.
Messaging: I do not like that it is separated by class. There are no notifications unless you set it up to send a copy of messages received to an email address. In Educator, a notification would appear at the top of the screen when you refreshed a page or logged in. Having separate "Message" inboxes for each class as well as not having notification is rather pointless. Why isn't the MyCampus Email utilized instead?
Assignments: The two classes I'm currently taking do not require you to upload a Word doc or copy your "forum posting assignment answer" into the text box on the Assignment Submission page. However, in order to submit and assignment for grading, there has to be something entered in that box. There should be nothing required in that text box in order to submit. It was not required in Educator. I took a fair amount of classes through Educator, and the reason they wanted us to submit was to notify them when we had completed our posts and it was a convenient time-stamped record of when we finished.
Grades - I'd like to see a letter grade next to the percentage as well just like in Educator as well as the percentage of assignments completed etc.
I've been using Sakai for about 5 weeks now, and as I mentioned earlier, I dread logging into my classes because of it.