Using Sakai & Elluminate to teach a course with computing lab sessions

by Professor Claudia Rangel

The combination of Sakai and Elluminate is perfect for teaching math courses with a heavy use of mathematical formulae and other software tools like Matlab, R and MySQL.

Sakai - Resources Tool

Course resources, such as research articles, lecture notes, data sets and anything else that needs to be downloaded for class, can be stored here.  It allows you to organize everything by folder so students clearly know where to find the required files.  Every week, lecture notes are posted a couple of days before class.  This way, students can read ahead and be well prepared for the lecture.

Sakai - Web Content Tool

Sakai allows you to create links to often visited web sites. For instance, I can create a link to my Elluminate virtual classroom so students will not have the excuse of losing the link or not receiving the e‐mail with the link.

Sakai - Assignments Tool

The Assignments tool is very helpful because students can drop off their papers in that tool, and the professor has access to all student papers and is able to give feedback right away.


This is a great tool that effectively promotes live interaction:

  • Student‐professor interaction
  • Student‐student interaction
  • Team discussion
  • Computer lab sessions
  • Team project presentation


Lecture notes can be created using PowerPoint, LaTeX, or even by scanning hand written notes. Elluminate will upload them as a series of images and show them in the form of slides. In the whiteboard area, we can have the slides, but, by simply inserting a clean whiteboard screen, notes and comments be typed or hand written.

We can also highlight, draw and write on the current slide

Computing lab sessions are particularly great. Elluminate allows students to see in real time what I am typing in my active application (for instance MATLAB) with a simple click on the “share” icon.

Then they can try on their own application and in the case of error messages or problems, a student can now share his/her screen and everyone in the class can see it. This allows everyone to either help or get their own questions answered.

The green marks on the left of the student names show participation in a form of answering yes/no to a specific question. This is a helpful tool to check the flow of the lecture. Students interact with professor and other classmates using the microphone or the chat. Students however can communicate using the private chat during class so they can arrange meetings and other issues.

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