SakaiCon 2023 in Review

By: Wilma Hodges, Ed.D., UXC, Sakai Community Manager and Michelle Hall, Apereo Communications

In July, the Sakai Community held its second mid-summer SakaiCon event. This two-day conference celebrated the advancements in Apereo’s Sakai Learning Management System and fostered a sense of community among Sakai users. The agenda included engaging discussions, insightful presentations, and the chance to connect with like-minded educators.

There were more than 200 registered attendees from around the world at SakaiCon 2023, with approximately 30 of those attending in person at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI. The event format was hybrid, with most presentations available to attend virtually and a few sessions/activities exclusively for the on-site attendees. 

SakaiCon attendees were treated to a diverse range of topics, including:

  • Welcome and Sakai 23 Highlights: The event kicked off with an online session led by Wilma Hodges, Ed.D., Sakai Community Manager and Director of Training and eLearning Initiatives at Longsight. Wilma provided a warm welcome and introduced the audience to the latest Sakai release, offering a glimpse into the exciting features now available in Sakai 23.
  • The Plan Unidigital: Spanish Universities' Innovations in Sakai: Miguel Pellicer, the CTO at Entornos de Formacion, discussed "The Plan Unidigital," a collaborative initiative involving 12 Spanish universities that aim to enhance Sakai LMS with a host of innovative features. Miguel shared the achievements, challenges, and impacts of this plan, shedding light on their recent and upcoming contributions to the Sakai project.
  • Sakai Great Teaching Showcase: The Sakai Great Teaching Showcase offered an opportunity to delve into the experiences of instructors from various institutions. Notable educators like Christa Daniels from Antioch University, Natalina Parker from Pepperdine University, and Sarah Tangeman and Katerina Tsouma from the University of Dayton presented their innovative teaching approaches using Sakai. The discussion centered around strategies for engagement, course design, asynchronous learning, and professional development. Our pair of Sakai SuperFans (Julianne Morgan of the University of Dayton and Christina Schweibert of Northwest State Community College) deepened the discussion by sharing their perspectives as educators. By the end, SakaiCon participants had gained many valuable insights and tips on best practices.
  • Sakai Lessons: Julianne's 7 Favorite Things: Julianne Morgan, the Academic Engagement Lead at the University of Dayton, shared her expertise on Sakai Lessons. In a dynamic presentation, Julianne highlighted seven key features of Lessons that enhance user experience and content delivery. Her insights provided attendees with actionable ideas to make their teaching content more engaging and effective.
  • Dr. Chuck's Big Adventure: Past, Present, and Future of Sakai: The keynote presentation featured Dr. Charles Severance, fondly known as Dr. Chuck. As a Clinical Professor at the University of Michigan, Sakai’s founding architect, and an advocate of open source educational technology, Dr. Chuck's presentation took the audience on a journey through Sakai's history, present achievements, and his vision for Sakai’s bright future. This session offered a comprehensive view of the evolution and potential of Sakai.
  • Reimagining Lessons Reorder: A Path to Enhanced User Experience: Presenters Chris Knapp and David Bauer led an engaging discussion on the efforts to leverage universal design principles to enhance accessibility and usability. Attendees were taken through the journey of how an informal discussion transformed into a comprehensive evaluation of reorder and drag-and-drop features in Sakai. By integrating accessibility best practices, the presenters showcased how these enhancements can contribute to a more consistent and user-friendly experience.
  • Found in Translation: Empowering Multilingualism in Sakai: Hannah Jackson, an Instructional Designer at the University of Dayton's Center for Online Learning, presented an experiential learning project that highlighted the power of multilingualism in Sakai. Hannah shared the university's initiative in which advanced Spanish and French language students contributed over 785 missing translations for terms within the Sakai platform. This endeavor not only enriched the user experience for non-English speakers but also showcased the potential of collaboration between language learners and technology to bridge communication gaps.
  • Grading Outside the Box: Creative Approaches to Assessment in Sakai: Wilma Hodges, Ed.D., encouraged educators to think creatively about assessment in Sakai. With a focus on alternative evaluation techniques, Wilma inspired attendees to explore a few lesser-known features and innovative approaches to grading. The session aimed to empower educators to break away from traditional assessment methods, with the goal of fostering academic integrity by promoting student engagement.
  • Groupies Unite: Group Awareness and Collaboration in Sakai: 2023 Apereo Dolphin Fellow, Christina Schwiebert, the Instructional Design and Distance Learning Coordinator at Northwest State Community College, highlighted various ways groups can contribute to enhancing learning, collaboration, and communication within Sakai. This session underscored the variety of Sakai tools available to support group work and enrich the educational experience, from options for handling team projects to ways for facilitating group discussions.


SakaiCon 2023 proved to be a whirlwind of insights, innovations, and collaborative spirit. From exploring enhanced user experiences to empowering multilingualism, to course design and more, the content and conversations shared at SakaiCon will surely give attendees fuel for inspiration in their uses of Sakai. 

If you missed SakaiCon or would like to revisit any of the recorded sessions, you can view the SakaiCon 2023 playlist at the following link:  

Want to get involved in the Sakai community? Contact sakaicoordinator[at]apereo[dot]org to learn more about future events and volunteer opportunities.

The Apereo Teaching and Learning and UX group would like to invite you to join their twice-monthly virtual meetings first and third Wednesdays from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM Eastern Time (UTC -5).