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The Power of Lessons – Using this tool effectively


Date Posted Feb 7, 2017

Sometimes we get so bogged down in how a tool works that we forget to ask ourselves if we’re using it effectively. When we are new at using something, like Sakai, we’re more interested in learning HOW to use the tool rather than asking ourselves if we’re using it to its fullest potential.  The Lessons tool in Sakai is one tool that people tend to use very basically – posting information, links, bibliographies, etc. Yet, what if you could harness the real power of the Lessons tool to improve the learning experience for your students?

At its core Lessons is an organizational tool.  It is the chameleon of Sakai – turning into anything you want it to be. Would you like to post your syllabus in a more accessible format than just a Word document? Lessons can do that. Would you like to present your content in an orderly fashion so there is no way a student can make a mistake?  It can do that too!

Hands ands holding different puzzle pieces together.

At its core, Lessons is an organizational tool. Image credit.

You don’t have to teach an online or hybrid course to use Lessons pages effectively either!  Students greatly appreciate being able to log into a course site and find lecture notes, slideshows, recommended readings, etc. listed by Module, Week or Unit.  This could be a big help when it’s time to review content for the midterm or final exam.

Some interesting ways that faculty have used Lessons include:

  • Creating individual pages for each week’s content.  By organizing the content this way, the student just has to make sure that he/she has done all the work on this one page to know that they have completed all tasks for the week.  Not so easy to do when you’re jumping back and forth between different tools on a learning management system.
  • Curating readings (viewed as PDF files) and multimedia (videos and audio clips) as additional resources to supplement a lesson.
  • Using a Lessons page to display your syllabus in a more accessible way (think ADA compliance).
  • Creating a page for a large project or assignment that will contain all resources and instructions to complete said project.  Sometimes the Assignments tool is not the best tool when you’re talking about a semester-long project that has multiple phases.
  • As mentioned previously, some faculty will organize content on Lessons pages to create a review tool for the students.  They can use the material to review for mid-terms, finals or to prepare for that big, final presentation.

On February 16th I will be conducting a 45 minute webinar that will highlight some of the things you can do with Lessons.  I’ll show you different configurations and formats that you may want to use for your own courses. Registration required to attend the webinar.


Jeniffer is one of the Senior Instructional Designers here at OIRT. Her background includes Instructional Design & Technology, K-12 education, and Field Biology. Her other areas of interest include: Accessibility and Adaptive Learning Systems.



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