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This page is intended to list goals an instructor or project leader may have when teaching a class or leading a group as well as suggestions on how those goals can be achieved.  Many of the suggestions will be centered around the NPS Sakai instance while others may be independent of Sakai.  Feel free to contact to: request a Sakai site, ask questions about any of these suggestions or contribute a Goal for which you would like a suggestion.


Provide articles, links to web pages, etc. for students to read/review

  • Probably the easiest way to provide handouts/files which students can download is to Upload files  to the Resources area using a logical folder structure.
  • If you would like to provide context for those files you can upload the files to the Resources area and then create a web page with links to each of the files, links should be relative vs. absolute.  Commonly used web page formats include an outline, a table or a series of pages listing activities, deliverables, etc. to be done for that week.
  • If you would like to do less maintenance work while still providing context and formatting is not important for you, you can use the folder view which will create a left navigation item that displays files in the Resources area along with the description for each folder and file as inputted in the Details area of each folder and file.
  • The Lessons tool allows an outline to be built.  The outline items can contain html and/or links to files, can be easily rearranged and each module (highest level outline number) and it's contents can be made available at a specified day/time.
  • Discover and provide Links to Electronic Articles through the Dudley Knox Library.

Student Introductions

  • Using Discussion Forums, create a Forum called "Student Introductions" with a few questions in the description that each student should answer.  Each person can post a bio and attach a picture.
  • Have each student fill in their Sakai Profile, using My Workspace > Profile.  Enable the Roster tool in your Sakai site which will allow users to see other user's profiles.
  • Using Tests & Quizzes, create a survey asking specific questions of users.  This option does not allow users to see other user's responses but you can get more detailed information

Student Collaboration

Many tools are Group Aware.  it's recommended to first create groups (Site Info > Manage Groups) before setting up any of the items below

  • A shared folder where students can contribute and collaborate on documents can be set up in the Resources area in any Sakai site.
  • The Wiki can be used which will give users a space where they can collaborate on a group paper.
  • Users can have discussions on a topic using a Discussion Forum.  Forums can be limited so only students in a specific group can have access

More detailed instructions are available.

Instructor/Class Evaluation Survey

Class and instructor evaluation by students as the class progresses

  • Use the Tests & Quizzes area to create one or more Surveys.  Assessments can be set to have anonymous submissions so the instructor can see which students have submitted, but not which response is from whom.

Assessing Student Knowledge of a Topic

  • An Assessment (Quiz, Test, etc.) can be given using the Tests & Quizzes area (Video Instructor Tutorial) of Sakai or a file can be distributed for the students to fill out and collected using the Sakai Assignments tool.
  • An in-person Discussion can be held between the instructor and student.  For resident classes the instructor can set up days/times that he/she is available and students can sign up for a specific day/time using the Wiki or Sections tool in Sakai.  For Distance Learning classes the instructor can use Elluminate to hold these in-person discussions. 

Collect Paperwork/Information from all Students

  • If you would like to track exactly which students submitted what and when, the Sakai Assignments tool allows student submission of text and files.  
  • Unstructured file submission is available using the DropBox tool which creates a folder for each student to which only that student and all instructors can access.  Both students and instructors can submit files to that folder.

Facilitate Student Discussions on a Topic

  • A threaded Discussion where one student can make a comment, others can respond, etc. can be achieved using the Discussion Forums or the Forums tool in Sakai.
  • A system which allows students to overwrite each other's work with the goal of coming to a group consensus can be done using the Wiki tool.
  • Students can post their thoughts on a topic using a Sakai Blogging tool.  when posting a Blog Entry, the student has the option of making that entry either Private (only they can see it), Moderated (only they can the Instructor can see it) or Public (anyone in the class can see it).

Facilitate Student Learning by Doing

The Instructor could select a task that the students would be doing in their jobs after graduation and, either individually or in groups, the students should complete this task.  For example; in a project management class the students could pick a project, define tasks to complete the project and develop a gnatt chart with dependancies for their project.

Consider allowing students to provide their own project topic/subject/speciality, with instructor approval.  Students are typically more motivated when it's a topic they are interested in.

Engage Students

There are many ways to engage your students, either resident or distance learners.

  • Active Learning (Wikipedia) - Some common active learning exercises include Class Discussions, think-pair-share, learning cells, short written exercises, collaborative learning groups, student debates, showing a video with prompts and class games.
  • Alternatives to Lecture (.pdf) - 23 quick and easy ideas for exercises you can do in your classroom to engage your students.
  • Another good article on Active Learning with many suggested exercises.

Many of these exercises can be done with Resident or Distance Learning students.  If you are unsure how you could accomplish these with Distance Learners, feel free to contact

Provide to Students Audio/Video Explanations of Specific Topics

There are several tools available to provide audio/video explainations of specific topics listed below from typically easiest to most complex and more features:

  • Record audio and/or webcam video on the local computer using webcam and other software.  Once captured, the resultant file can be uploaded to Sakai or another distribution mechanism.  When doing this it's important to be cognizant of file type to ensure students can listen to/view the file.  
  • Use Elluminate to record audio/whiteboard/application sharing and video. Through the Sakai Elluminate Live! tool, instructors can create Elluminate sessions, record through that session and students can access the recording.
  • Camtasia is a purchased screen and audio capture software for Windows which creates standard file types which can be uploaded to Sakai for student download
  • The most involved option is to use Articulate to create a truly multimedia experience.   This typically involves one of the Instructional Designers and and other staff in CED3 to assist you in developing storyboards, recording audio and video snippets and putting it all together.

Student Presentations

Give students as list of topics, allow them to sign up for one or suggest others to be added to the list with your approval and have them give a presentation on that topic.

Once a list of topics is generated, students can sign up for their desired topic and date by:

  • Post the list on the Sakai Wiki tool and a list of presentation dates.  This will allow students to add their own topic and put their name next to their topic and available dates.  Everyone can see who signed up first and if someone moved another person's name.
  • Post the list and presentation dates on a Forum or Discussion Forum posting, students can respond with their desired topic and date.  Students can see what topics and dates other students have signed up for and when.  This process may take a bit of reconciling by the instructor.

Delivering the Presentation

  • For Resident and VTC classes the presentations can be done during class time
  • For Elluminate classes, instructors can promote a student to moderator status to allow them to upload and "flip" the slides.  Alternatively, students can application share their presentation and other documents without any special permissions.
  • if you would prefer not to take up class time, in any type of class, through Sakai, an Elluminate session can be created in which students can join as Moderator and record their presentation for review at a later time by the instructor and other students.

Improve Student Communication with Instructors

  • Encourage students to communicate by including your phone number, email address and office hours in your Sakai site or Syllabus as well as provide acceptable day/times they can contact you.
  • Develop a good relationship with the students so they are not afraid to communicate with you.
  • Encourage in-class communication by asking questions so students are comfortable with communicating.

How to Help a Student Who is Having Trouble

 To determine which students may be falling behind:

  • If you are using Sakai look at the Site Statistics tool to see which students have visited your Sakai site the least.  Make sure the tool is enabled as data will only be collected if it is visible to the instructor in the left navigation.
  • Review the Sakai Gradebook, Assignments or Tests & Quizzes (depending on how evaluations are performed) after the first few evaluations to see which students have the lowest scores and if they are significantly lower then other students.

Set up a day/time to meet with the student either in person, over the phone or online via Elluminate to find out from the student what issues he/she is having.  

  • Listen more than talk.
  • Find out form the student what they enjoy doing, hobbies, interests, etc.  is there a way you can connect the class subject with their interests?

For DL students - the first person who should be notified is the program's Educational Technician, he/she will be able to work with the student to assess their situation.

Make in Class Lectures More Interesting for Students

Most instructors use powerpoint presentations to act as visuals for their lectures.  Below are a few presentations which provide tips on ways to improve your presentations so students are more interested and less likely to get overwhelmed.