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Courses: Getting Started for Faculty


This is a faculty "Getting Started" guide for Courses (powered by Sakai).  With these steps, getting started with Courses is easy.  Faculty members simply need to log in and begin using their course websites.

Table of Contents

Site Setup Tips

Before you jump into the basics, please review these quick tips to help you get started with your class site.

  • Don't be afraid to edit the Overview page. The Overview page is the home page of the site. Since it is the first thing that students see, use this space to communicate key information, like location, time, and contact information. Consider personalizing the space with a photo or even record and embed a short welcome video.
  • Turn off any tools that you don't plan to use.  This will streamline the left tool menu and avoid any student confusion. It's easy to add or remove tools in the class site menu.
  • Use the Announcements tool for important notices.  If you want to send an email message to all students (and have a backup of that message in case students accidentally delete the email!), then the Announcements tool within your Courses site is recommended. Be sure to select "High - all participants" when sending the announcement.
  • Be sure that the syllabus you added is published! If you added your syllabus in the Syllabus tool, make sure that your students can see it. Did you select "Add and Publish" when you added your syllabus item or just "Add"? Check the eye icon next to your syllabus item.  An eye-with-a-slash icon means that the item is hidden, while an eye icon by itself (no slash) means that it is published and visible.
  • Check for Accessibility! When you add rich text to Overview, Lessons, Assignments, etc., be sure to use the CKEditor Accessibility Checker to identify any possible issues with the content you just added. Did you add alternative text to your images? Did you use headings properly? The accessibility checker can help you identify and fix problems.
  • Register for Pepperdine Zoom. Before you can use the "Zoom Pro" tool in Courses, you need an official Pepperdine Zoom account. (You'll see a warning about an invalid email if you haven't signed up yet.) Register your Zoom account -- it's fast and easy!
  • Register for Pepperdine Panopto. Panopto is our lecture capture platform and the backup location for your Pepperdine Zoom cloud recordings. You need to create your official Panopto account before you can use it. In a class site where you are the instructor, simply click the Panopto tool and your account will be automatically created. You can also visit and log in to create your account, too.

Do you want to learn more? Keep reading the Getting Started topics below to learn the basics of Courses. You can also check out our Courses training recordings and the Top 10 Courses Checklist for a New Academic term.

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Accessing Courses

You can access your course site via the Courses login page:

  1. Visit
  2. Select Pepperdine Login at the top right.
  3. Enter your Pepperdine NetworkID and password, and then click LOGIN.
  4. You should be taken to your "Home" site on Courses.  If not, simply navigate back to

Note: Courses works best on Firefox or Chrome for both Mac and Windows computers. 

Trouble logging in?  If you are a new faculty member, follow up with your hiring manager to confirm that all hiring paperwork has been processed.  You may also visit the "New Faculty and Staff Technology Guide."  If you are a returning faculty member and you need to reset your password, visit

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Find Your Class Sites and Tools Inside Courses

When you are logged into Courses, you will see your personal "Home" site.  As a returning faculty member, you may see tabs across the top of the window for your current or past classes.  This is your "Favorites Bar."  When auto-favoriting is enabled, site tabs will be added and ordered chronologically, based on the date that each site was created or your site membership was added.  Up to 15 sites can display in your "Favorites Bar."

To view all of your sites or organize your "Favorites Bar," click the "Sites" menu (aka Sites waffle or grid) at the top right.  Here, you will see class sites organized by each academic term.  If you have many sites, use the "Filter Sites" search box to narrow the list.  Click a star icon to favorite a site.  Use the "Organize Favorites" tab to reorder your favorite sites.

Can't find a site?  Sites are created based on the Course Creation Calendar and enrollments are updated each business day.  Please be aware that Courses can only list information that has been entered into WaveNet.  If you do not see your assigned class in the "Sites Menu" or via "Home" > "Worksite Setup," please consult with your academic division or program office to confirm that class information and instructor assignments have been entered properly in WaveNet.

Courses home page with pointer boxes describing each element


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Favorite Your Sites

In the full-screen mode, your favorite sites are displayed as tabs in the "Favorites Bar" below the Courses logo.  Here, you can quickly access the most recently added sites.  To add or remove sites from the "Favorites Bar," use the "Sites" menu. See the Favorite Your Sites video.

  1. Select the Sites menu (aka Sites "waffle") at the top right.
    Image of Sites Menu button
  2. To add a favorite, click the empty star icon next to the site's name to highlight it.
    • A site that has been selected as a favorite will display with a yellow highlighted star:
      favorited class image
  3. To remove a favorite (such as a class from a previous academic term), click the yellow star icon next to the site's name to deselect it.
    • A site that has been deselected as a favorite will display with an empty star:
      unfavorited course site image
  4. Close the "Sites" menu by clicking the "X" at the top right.
  5. The "Reload to see your updated favorite sites" notice will appear. Click the Reload link to refresh the page and see your changes.
    Image of Reload message after reordering favorite sites

Reorder Your Favorite Sites

To reorder your favorites, use the "Sites Menu." Watch the Favorite Your Sites video to learn more.

Note: The favorites bar will only display up to 15 class sites. Once you reach 15 sites, additional sites will not display at the top of the page but can always be found in the "Sites Menu."  Be sure to routinely manage your favorite sites to display the latest or most important sites that you want to quickly access.

  1. Select the Sites menu (aka Sites "waffle") at the top right.
    Image of Sites Menu button
  2. Select the Organize Favorites tab.  Note: you must have at least two favorites to reorder sites.
    organize favorites
  3. Drag and drop your sites into the desired order.  Click and drag the right icon (three-line icon) to move a site up or down.
    reorder favorite sites image
  4. Close the "Sites" menu by clicking the "X" at the top right.
  5. The "Reload to see your updated favorite sites" notice will appear.  Click the Reload link to refresh the page and see your changes.
    Image of Reload message after reordering favorite sites

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Upload Your Name Pronunciation

In Courses, instructors may upload an audio recording of their name pronunciation and input accompanying phonetic details. This data will only be available in the Roster tool to user roles that possess the "View all participants" permission. Note: to successfully make a vocal recording of your name, you must have a functioning microphone on your computer. If necessary, be sure to enable/plug-in your microphone and install the latest hardware drivers to your computer.

  1. In Courses, click the Home site and select Profile in the tool menu.
  2. On the My Profile tab, locate the Name Pronunciation section.
  3. Hover your mouse cursor over the area (or tap the heading on mobile) to reveal the "Edit" button, and then click Edit.Hovering over the "Name Pronunciation" section will reveal the "Edit" button.
  4. (Optional) In the "Pronouns" field, select a pronoun option in the drop-down.
  5. In the "Phonetic Pronunciation" field, input a textual guide corresponding to the pronunciation of your name. Examples include:
    • kris-TEEN BEAR-it (i.e. Christine Barrett)
    • j-AHN BUCK-ing-ham (i.e. John Buckingham)
    • j-ORE-dan lot (i.e. Jordan Lott)
  6. Next to the "Name Recording" label, click the red Record button.Click the red record button to begin the recording process.
  7. Important: your web browser may prompt you to "Allow" to use your microphone. Be sure to click Allow.At the top of your browser, you may be prompted to allow your microphone to record. Be sure to click "Allow."
  8. Clearly speak your name into your microphone and click Stop when finished. Note: there is a maximum recording time of twenty (20) seconds.Once you have finished recording, click the "Stop" button.
  9. Using the recorder, click the Play button to preview your recording.You can preview your recording by clicking the play button on the recording interface.
  10. If you wish to re-record your name, follow steps 6–9 above.
  11. When finished, click Save Changes.

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Customize Your Site

Every course or project site has its own set of tools.  When you click a course tab in the "Favorites Bar" or via the "Sites Menu," you will go to that site.  On the left, you will see the currently installed tools.  You can add, remove, reorder, and rename tools by visiting the "Site Info" tool.

  1. Navigate to the course site.
  2. Click Site Info.  It's the orange tool in the left menu with the gear icon.
    site info tool image
  3. To add or remove tools:
    • Click "Manage Tools."
      • To add a tool, select the checkbox next to the tool.
      • To remove a tool, deselect the checkbox next to the tool.
    • Click "Continue."
    • If prompted to provide more information (such as a custom name for a "Lessons" page or a website address for "Web Content"), enter the appropriate information and click "Continue."
    • Review the changes.
    • Click "Finish."
  4. To reorder, rename, or hide tools:
    • Click "Tool Order."
      • To reorder, drag and drop the tool into the desired location.  Click the icon left of the tool name (three lines) to position.
        Drag and Drop Tool Order Image
      • To rename, click the gear icon at the right and select "Edit Tool Title."
        Edit Tool Title Image
        • Edit the tool name.
        • Click the green checkmark icon to save the new name.
          Image of editing a tool name in Tool Order
      • To hide tools, click the gear icon at the right.  There are two options to hide tools:
        • Make Tool Invisible to Students: This option will "hide" the tool name from students in the left navigation.  Content within the tool may still be accessible by students if instructors provide direct links to the content.
        • Lock Access to this Tool: This option will disable the tool from students completely; they can neither see the tool nor access any of its content.
        • Note: Not all tools have these options.  For example, you can hide or lock the Announcements tool, but you can only hide the Syllabus tool.
    • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save" to finish.
  5. To update the site language, site description, site owner, or enable LaTeX functionality:
    • Click "Edit Site Information."
      • To edit the site language, select the desired language from the "Site Language" box.  This will impose a specific language for the interface of the site.
      • To edit the course description displayed on the Overview tool, use the rich text editor under "Description."
      • To change the site owner information, scroll down and change the name and contact email address for the site owner.
      • To enable LaTeX capabilities, select the checkbox for "Allow the display of LaTeX math in this site."  Note: after you have enabled LaTeX, you will need to go to "Manage Tools" and select each tool where LaTeX code will be used.
    • Click "Continue" to preview your changes.
    • Click "Finish" to save.

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Publish Your Site

When new course sites are created, they are "unpublished" and invisible to students.  This allows you, the instructor, to post your materials and configure your tools before students visit the site.  When you are ready for students to interact with your course site, you must "publish" your site.

  1. To publish your site, visit your class site and then click the Publish Now button at the top of the window.  This will immediately publish an unpublished site so your students can see your site.
    publish now image
  2. (Optional) Alternatively, you may also click "Site Info" and then click "Manage Access."Site Info Manage Access Image
    • Select "Publish site" to make your course available to your students.
    • Click "Update" to finish.

NOTE: To unpublish a site, repeat the alternative step immediately above, but select "Unpublish/Leave as Draft."

When should professors publish sites?

The publishing of a class site is at the professor's discretion. Each school or program may establish its own guidelines or standards, so professors are encouraged to speak with their program/division offices or the lead professors in their program for guidance.

The benefits of publishing a site as early as possible:

  1. Student peace of mind. Publishing the site early can ease tension or anxiety for your students so that they are not questioning whether they are enrolled properly or not.
  2. Announcement emails. If you want to send an announcement via email to all students using the Announcements tool, you must publish your class site first.
  3. Textbooks and required materials. Students need time to purchase textbooks or other items before the start of class. If these requirements are only listed in your syllabus, and the syllabus is only present in your class site, publish the site as early as possible so your students can be prepared.

There are several strategies professors can use to hide select tools or content as they are setting up and designing a site while still publishing a site so that students can access the syllabus and receive announcements. Professors may schedule a one-on-one consultation to learn how.

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Unpublish Your Site

Occasionally, faculty may find the need to unpublish a previously published course site. Faculty can do this in a few quick steps:

  1. Navigate to the course site.
  2. Click the orange Site Info tool and then select the Manage Access tab.
  3. Under the "Site Status" section, select "Leave as Draft."
  4. Click Update to finish.

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Modify the Course Overview Page

Edit the Overview Description

When official course sites are created, you will see one of two options, based on the selection made by your school:

  • Course Description: This is the text-only class description as entered by your school into WaveNet.
  • School "Welcome" Template: This is a formatted template with placeholders for common information, such as class location, office location, email address, office number, etc. Professors are expected to edit this content and update it with their information.

As the class instructor, you may remove or modify this information to meet your needs. Other options include adding a picture of you or your textbook, listing learning outcomes, or listing or linking to any communication norms or expectations.

  1. Navigate to the course site.
  2. Select the Overview tool, if it is not already displayed.
  3. Click the Edit icon at the top right of the "Welcome" box.
  4. In the "Title" field, instructors may consider changing "Welcome" to something else, like your course title.
  5. In "Description," consider adding the following:
    • The purpose or key learning objectives of the course
    • A picture of you, your class textbook, or an image that represents your class or subject
    • Your office hours and location
    • Your contact preferences (email, phone)
    • A brief introductory video to welcome students to your class and give tips on how to get started or make the most out of the site. 
  6. Click Update Options to save your work.

Change the Layout of the Overview Tool

Instructors also have the option to manage the layout of the Overview tool and the presentation of the tool widgets within it.

Note: A tool must exist in the class site in order for its corresponding widget to display on the Overview page. Possible widgets include Site Information Display (Overview Description), Recent Announcements (Announcements), Recent Chat Messages (Chat), Calendar, and Message Center Notifications (which includes Messages and Discussions/Forums). If you don't see a widget that you plan to use, then add the appropriate tool(s) to the site first.

  1. Click the Manage Overview button at the top right of the Overview tool.Sakai Manage Overview Button Image
  2. Next, toggle the layout of the Overview page by specifying whether you would like a single column, or double column, layout.
  3. In the "Current Widgets" section, toggle the "Move" arrows to adjust the location and order of the widgets. Depending on the layout option that you selected, you can move widgets up/down, left column/right column, etc.
  4. (Optional) Remove any undesired widgets by clicking the red "X" icon in the remove column.
  5. In the "Available Widgets" section, select any unused -- and available -- widgets you would like to add to the Overview page.
  6. Click Save when finished.

Note: The "Manage Overview" functionality is natively stored within the "Site Info" tool.  The button at the top right of the Overview page is a shortcut to the setting within "Site Info." Click the "Overview" tool again to see the changes you have made.

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Add Your Syllabus

The Syllabus tool in Courses will help you post one or more syllabus-related documents to your course site.  You can attach documents, redirect to an external web page, copy/paste text, or write text directly in the rich-text editor to describe your course objectives and requirements.

Graziadio Course Syllabus Tool

If you are a Graziadio professor and have the "Course Syllabus" tool in your site, refer to the Graziadio syllabus documentation.

Syllabus Tool

  1. Navigate to the course site.
  2. Click Syllabus in the left tool menu.
  3. Click Add Item.
    Image of Add Item button in Syllabys tool
  4. A dialog box will appear.  Enter a title for your item (e.g. "Fall 2021 Syllabus"). This is a required field.
  5. The "Content" box is optional.
    • If you only want to attach a syllabus document, you may leave this part blank and skip to the next step.
    • You may also copy/paste information into the Content area, write new information, and/or link to other websites or resources.  By creating multiple items, you can create a robust online syllabus that does not require an additional application to view your syllabus.
  6. Click Add and Publish to continue. Warning: If you select "Add", your syllabus item will be in an unpublished or draft state and your students will not be able to see it. This is why we recommend that you select "Add and Publish."
    Image of Add and Publish button when adding a new Syllabus item
  7. To attach a document, click +Add attachments.
    syllabus edit attachments image
  8. In the "Add Attachment" dialog box, you can choose to:
    • Upload file(s) from your computer.  Click "Choose File," navigate your computer, select the desired file, and click "Open."
    • Point to an outside website link (URL).  Enter the address in the "URL" box and click "Add."
    • Select an existing document from the "Resources" tool. Scroll down and review the listed files and folders.  Click "Attach a copy" next to the desired file.
  9. Click Continue when finished.

Can Students See Your Syllabus?

If you selected "Add and Publish" when you added a new syllabus item, this makes the item viewable to everyone. If you selected "Add" only, then this made the item a "draft" item that is hidden from students. Never fear!  You can hide or unhide (aka publish/unpublish or viewable/hidden) your syllabus with a click!

  • To hide a syllabus item, click the "eye" icon so that it becomes crossed out.  This indicates that the syllabus is currently hidden from students.
  • To unhide (i.e. make viewable or publish) a syllabus item, click the crossed-out "eye" icon so that it becomes open.  This indicates that the syllabus is currently viewable to students.

Sakai Hide Your Syllabus Image

Learn more about the Syllabus tool. Learn more about hiding/showing syllabus items.

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Sign Up for Pepperdine Zoom

Do you plan to use Pepperdine Zoom to offer online classes or office hours? Be sure that you sign up for Pepperdine Zoom!

Note: You cannot use the "Zoom Pro" tool in Courses until you sign up for Pepperdine Zoom. You will receive an error that your instructor email is invalid until you sign up.

  1. Go to
  2. Click Sign In.
  3. Enter your Pepperdine NetworkID and password, and then click Login.
  4. Done! You have now created your official Pepperdine Zoom account. You can return to Courses and use the Zoom Pro tool to schedule meetings in your class site(s).

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