Tech department presents second demonstration of WebCT replacement


Emerson’s technology teams hosted the second event in a series to replace WebCT, demonstrating the Learning Management System Sakai yesterday in the Bill Bordy Theatre. 

The most important feature of Sakai is that it is open source software, according to Sam Ottenhoff the management system’s chief technician. This allows schools to customize the source code and personalize it.

Ottenhoff gave the presentation to a group of about ten Emerson community members. 

“Since Sakai is an open source system, it is really up to schools to see where Sakai goes,” he said.

Natalie Hebshie, the creative instructional designer and an Instructional Technology Group member at Emerson, said the ability to customize the code is one of the benefits of the system. 

“Everything we do [with Sakai] is ours,” Hebshie said. “But it is still a traditional LMS.”

The system allows faculty to maintain a gradebook, calendar, rosters, tests, and forums. Students have the ability to complete assignments, post videos and pictures, and keep
track of due dates. 

Additionally, Ottenhoff said the company is developing a flashcard tool, allowing faculty to remember students’ names before the course starts by showing a picture of each student. It is a tool being developed for Columbia University. 

According to Ottenhoff, when a student submits work, they receive a confirmation email and a submission ID as proof in case there is a glitch in the system.

Sakai Collaborative Learning System was originally named Iron Chef. When Food Network’s show Iron Chef came out, there was a chef named Sakai, and the name stuck, according to Ottenhoff. 

Since then, schools such as Duke University, Pepperdine University, Ithaca College, and Wellesley College have began to use Sakai. 

“Emerson is looking toward the future and online learning, so we need a system that will help us move into the future,” Hebshie said.

The third replacement WebCT event will be held April 25 in The Bill Bordy Theatre, which will demonstrate the BlackBoard Learn system.