While Sakai is a helpful tool for hosting online or blended courses, there may be instances where it does not meet the needs or requirements necessary to host your particular online course. If this is the case, we encourage you to explore the many easy-to-use Web 2.0 tools that are available and to determine if they might be a better fit for your course. Since many of these options may not be supported by LUC, it's important to consider the following things when determining if you would like to use an external resource to support your online or blended course:
The potential benefits of using an external Web 2.0 service are numerous, including the ability to add students or guest speakers who are not currently affiliated with LUC (do not have a LUC ID and password) to your course; easy to use interfaces that are easy to customize for your content; easily being able to link to or integrate content from other Web 2.0 resources; ability to model the use of free Web 2.0 services that could be used by your students in their professional or personal lives.
Because most Web 2.0 resources are not officially supported by LUC, the burden of learning to use and supporting the content hosted on these sites largely falls on you as the course instructor. It's important to consider your own level of expertise when using web resources to determine if you will feel comfortable experimenting with the various tools and if you feel that you will be able to independently create and support content hosted with these tools. Exploring and experimenting with new technologies can be particularly time intensive, so it's important to consider whether you have have the time to not only experiment with new technologies, but also build new content and troubleshoot any problems that may arise with the technology. While this may seem like an overwhelming amount of work, please know that staff from the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy will be happy to assist you with evaluating new technologies and with introducing you to technological tools that may be useful to you; however, we unfortunately do not have the resources to build or support your course for you.
Just as it's important to consider your level of expertise with technology before electing to use an external resource, it's also important to consider how familiar your students are to a particular technology and how easy it is for them to use prior to choosing it. Choosing tools that have simple interfaces or are widely used and may be more familiar to students and will require less training for them to use to access course material. Remember, less time and effort to learn the technology in a course means more energy to content on the course material. While there may be an initial learning period for students, students are often quick to learn the technology and can then focus on the concepts presented in the course; it's important to try to minimize this initial learning period for students by choosing only a few unknown pieces of technology and making those choices ones that have user friendly interfaces.
We noted earlier that one of the benefits of using external Web 2.0 resources is the ability to add students or instructors to a course who are not have an official affiliation with Loyola (students in a continuing education course would be one example). However, it's important to note that this means that the instructor is responsible for managing the users who need to have access to course content. This means that the instructor will more than likely have to manually add each student to a course; while this isn't particularly time consuming for a small class, it can become burdensome for larger online classes. Also please note that students will not be able to use their LUC ID and password (if they have one) to log into external resources.
The majority of Web 2.0 tools store content on their servers, which is helpful in that you do not have to pay for web storage space. However, it is important to know whether you and your students retain sole ownership of material once it is uploaded to an external website. It is also important to consider that if any material uploaded can be made available to the general public or to someone not affiliate with the course, it becomes critical to consider what material is posted to the resource. Any material that is considered a student record, including materials that include student grades, cannot be made available to nonauthorized viewers.