moodle vs. sakai 3: the panopticon

One thing I really miss about Moodle are the tools for both monitoring and aggregating information about student activity. If I click on “Participants,” and then click on a student’s name, I get activity reports that tell me what the student has been up to. I especially like the “Forum” tab, which takes me to a page that shows all the forum contributions that student has made. This comes in real handy when I go to assign a grade to a student’s discussion forum contributions over the term.

I can also see when students have been on the site, their blog posts, and even what pages or texts they’ve looked at. I don’t use such information to grade students (since that would be capricious), but it’s useful to know if a student hasn’t been downloading any of the texts they’re supposed to be reading for class.

Sakai doesn’t have any features like this–at least not the version that we have at our school. As someone pointed out in the comments, some schools gimp features in local instances of the program. If that’s the case here, I’d love to know about it. If not, I think lots of teachers would appreciate having tools like these.


4 thoughts on “moodle vs. sakai 3: the panopticon

  1. Yeah, I agree — one of my colleagues was commenting on this the other day. I think the behemoth CMS here does allow for some of that tracking, and she could see that no one was doing the reading. If class discussions are flopping and you’re not sure why, it can be a helpful diagnostic tool.


  2. j: Thanks!

    Jason: That looks sort of like what I was talking about, in terms of seeing the activity of your students. I can’t tell, though, whether it will do something like aggregate all the different forum posts of a single student into one report.

    I’ve sent the link up the chain of command here, hoping that our Sakai team might add it. With what little I know about them, though, I would guess that the fact that it’s a contribution will rub them the wrong way (security and stability concerns, etc.). Anyone have advice for asking for things from a local development team?

  3. Rutgers and Indiana have both run Sitestats successfully in production (Rutgers for over a year).

    As far as local implementation — I suspect there’s some infrastructure for governance/requirements gathering — either as a committee from some University governing body and/or as part of the IT group. It may be worth either getting to know, or getting involved with those individuals.

    Indiana has some interesting notes online about how they manage Oncourse in terms of governance:


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