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Sakai 21 - What are significant new features in Sakai 21?


What are significant new features in Sakai 21?

"What's New in Sakai?" Webinar

A one-hour webinar held in August 2022 demonstrated most of the new features listed below. A recording of the webinar and the accompanying digital handout are available.

User Interface & Navigation

Like Sakai 12, the layout of the Sakai 21 user interface adapts to the screen size of the browsing device. 

Desktop Layout

Sakai 21 desktop layout

Mobile Phone Layout

Sakai 21 mobile phone layout

New User Interface & Navigation Features

  • “Full Screen” mode:  Functioning more like ‘full browser’ mode, users not viewing via mobile phone layout can click the ‘Full Screen’ button available in many Sakai tools to expand the tool window to fill the entire browser. Doing so temporarily hides the surrounding navigation controls. Users can click a prominent exit button at the top of the view to exit full screen mode.
  • “Jump to the top” button: For long page views in Sakai, a “jump to the top” button will appear in the bottom right corner to allow users to quickly jump to the top of the page.  
  • Favoriting sites made easier: User interface improvements in the favorite sites area of Sakai allow for users to star or un-star those sites (i.e., favorite or unfavorite those sites) within that area without having to open the Sites drawer to star or un-star that site. 
  • User’s initials in default avatar: If a user has not yet uploaded a profile photo, the default avatar depicted for that user-- whether in the top right corner of Sakai for that user’s session or from within a site membership view in the Roster tool-- will now be based on the user’s initials instead of displaying a silhouette. 

Other New Feature Highlights

Rubrics (new tool)

  • Grading activities with rubrics: Instructors can create, copy, and edit rubrics in a new Rubrics tool and use these rubrics to grade activities in Gradebook, Assignments, and Discussions. Rubrics can also be used to grade question types in Tests & Quizzes that are not auto-graded (e.g., Short Answer / Essay, Audio Response, File Upload, etc.)
  • Sharing rubrics: Instructors may choose to share their rubrics with all instructors using PLU Sakai. Instructors can locate these shared rubrics within the “Publicly Shared Rubrics” section of the Rubrics tool. 

Discussions (formerly known as Forums)

  • New name: The Forums tool has been renamed to “Discussions” in Sakai 21. With that said, “topics” are still organized within one or more “forums” in the Discussions tool.


  • Pronouns & name pronunciation: Mediated through the Profile tool, a user’s pronouns and their name pronunciation can be displayed in the Roster tool for a course site. Name pronunciation can be expressed as a phonetic spelling and/or an audio recording.
  • New card layout: By default the Roster displays each member within a new card layout. The older list layout and picture only views are still available.


  • Revised student submission process: Students will see a progress bar at the top of Assignments tracking their progress in submitting a particular assignment. The progress states are: Not Started, In Progress, Submitted, and Returned.
  • Student photos: Instructors can view student’s official photos (i.e., photos displayed on PLU ID cards) within the grading view of Assignments. These photos will not display, however, for assignments that the instructor has configured to anonymize student submissions.
  • 24-hour reminder emails: Instructors can configure assignments to send reminder emails to students 24 hours before an assignment is due. This notification option is enabled by default. It will only notify students who have not yet submitted an assignment.
  • New grading interface (optional): For each assignment instructors can opt to use a new grading interface that, among other features, includes a document previewer for PDFs and Microsoft Word attachments submitted by students. The legacy grading interface for Assignments is still available.


  • Exclude/include grade: In Gradebook instructors can toggle a grading cell-- representing a point value for a particular gradebook item for a particular student-- to be excluded from counting toward the course grade. An excluded cell can also be toggled back by an instructor, such that it counts toward the course grade again. This exclude/include feature works even for “locked” cells for gradebook items that originate from another tool (e.g., Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, etc.).   
  • Messaging students: Gradebook items have a new “Message Students” option where instructors can send quick plain-text emails to all students or to subsets of students based on the graded or ungraded status of those grading cells. If filtering based on graded cells, instructors can also choose a minimum and/or maximum score to filter down whom to notify.


  • User interface improvements: The “Add Content” dialog box has been redesigned to better organize the layout of its various options. This dialog also includes the option to “Copy items from another page,” an option that formerly was displayed only within the Reorder view. The instructor view of Lessons pages has been decluttered by removing the immediate display of control functions for each item (e.g., the edit, delete, and add content buttons in the top right corner of each page item). These controls now will only display in a piecemeal manner as the instructor’s mouse cursor hovers over a particular page item.
  • Short answer questions: The in-line question feature now supports open ended questions that behave similarly to the “Short answer / essay” questions in the Tests & Quizzes tool. These question types can be manually graded.

Tests & Quizzes

  • Rearrangement of some functions: The controls for creating and importing assessments have been moved out of the default “Assessments” tab and into a new “Add” tab. Furthermore, the instructor’s view of assessments within the “Assessments” tab has been significantly redesigned. “Working copies” of assessments are now referred to as “Drafts”. Drafts and published assessments now appear within the same table, the display of which is sortable by column. The assessments displayed in that table can be filtered down via a search text field and/or a “View” dropdown menu with the viewing options: All, Drafts, Published - All, Published - Inactive, or Published - Active. 
  • Restore deleted assessments: If an instructor inadvertently deletes an assessment, the instructor can restore it from a new “Trash” tab.
  • Extra credit questions: Within the assessment builder, instructors can designate particular questions in an assessment as being worth extra credit. (This feature is not supported by the Tests & Quizzes markup syntax for creating assessments using markup text.)
  • Partial credit for ‘Multiple Choice - Single Correct’ questions: Within the assessment builder, instructors can designate a percent value of partial credit for ‘incorrect’ choices in a Multiple Choice - Single Correct’ question. This partial credit will be automatically applied to a student’s score for the given choice a student selected. (This feature is not supported by the Tests & Quizzes markup syntax for creating assessments using markup text.)

Site Info

  • Rearrangement of some functions: The default view of Site Info now has a designated “Site Information” tab. Its roster listing however has been moved to a new “Manage Participants” tab. Manage Participants now includes a search control to filter the roster table display.

Keywordssakai 21 transition new sakai21   Doc ID115636
OwnerSean H.GroupPacific Lutheran Univ
Created2022-01-11 15:22:26Updated2022-09-09 15:39:43
SitesPacific Lutheran University
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