Courses Testimonial by Michael Williams


As a faculty member who is well versed in the value of labor and capital, Michael Williams saves time and energy in his daily life by using Courses (powered by Sakai)* for course management.

Since summer 2009, Michael Williams, assistant professor of information systems at the Graziadio School of Business and Management (GSBM), has become a devoted advocate of Pepperdine University's newest learning management system, Courses.

"As a faculty member, you should expect to use a tool that saves you time, serves all your course needs, and is easy to use," said Williams. "Sakai is that tool."

Learning management systems serve an important mission at most universities. At a minimum it helps faculty organize and distribute course materials to students, but beyond that it is often used as a place to collaborate and share information outside of class.

Williams is using Sakai for coursework and committee work this fall, but he noted that not all systems are created equal. "Sakai was created by educators for educators,” he said. “It does everything I want and requires 40 percent less labor than other learning management systems."

Williams saves time by using a Sakai feature called Assignments, which allows him to batch download student assignments, grade them offline, and then batch upload them directly to students' personal folders inside Sakai.

"As a faculty member, it's simply easier for me to work this way. I don't have to lug around papers, I can access and grade papers from anywhere without having to bring them with me," said Williams. "This system also provides more timely feedback to students, they have their homework grades immediately."

When speaking about the added benefits of Sakai, Williams remarked, "We manage our lives online, why not our courses?"

Beyond serving as a web space for course management, Sakai encourages less printing and emailing by providing students with a one-stop-shop for all of their course materials online anytime, anywhere. It allows faculty to post their syllabus and reading materials and to activate tools that allow them to collect student work, distribute assignments, and post grades.

They can also activate several Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts, giving students the opportunity to learn these tools while they are learning the subject content.

Courses (powered by Sakai) is available to every faculty member at Pepperdine University. Workshops and one-on-one consultations are available through Pepperdine IT's Technology and Learning group at


*Note: At the time this testimonial was published in the 2009 IT Annual Report Sakai had not yet been renamed "Courses."