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vertical line divider Sakai keeps track of forum interaction, which is a significant part of all course "participation" grades. But more importantly, it is through the forum discussions, with the facilitators and the professionals enrolled in the course, that you learn! It is essential that you keep up with forum reading and, as you read them, mark them as read.

As instructor Ellen Thomas emailed (9/4/12):

"Interestingly, I thought I had read all the posts, then when I got online last night there was a whole section under "diversity" that I appear to have missed.  I assume it was related to the way I was working through Sakai.  I was consistently using "next thread" ...

"Here is another question:  How does Sakai track the reading of posts?  Do you have to click on each individual post?  I think that I have read all the posts as of last night, but am only showing as having read 72%. Depending on how they appear, I don't always click on each individual post if I can see the entire text after having opened a post above it." Quick answer:You must make sure you mark them as read for Sakai to track it as "read".

Here are some tech tips, based on our current understanding of the new system.

Marking postings as Read
First, all new postings appear in bold. The parent posting, i.e. the original thread, is in bold, and if there is a new "child" posting beneath it, it also is in bold and marked with a New! icon.

expanding the postings

In the above example, the reader has expanded the parent to see all the replies beneath it. Krystyne's posting is the only new, unread reply.  

There are 3 ways you click to read the posting: You can click the parent (red arrow) or you can click the child (green arrow). When you click on the parent thread, you see the text of all the "child" replies. When you click a child/reply, you see only the text of that particular child. 

#1 - Reading the postings using "Next Thread" = probably the best way to read the postings when you have many new threads to read. 
In this, you click the parent, which gets you all the postings underneath. After reading them all ...

Important: Before you click "Next Thread," make sure you click "Mark All as Read." (purple arrows)
using the next thread

#2 - Clicking on just the parent thread = to read the latest new posting.
Again, when you click on a parent thread, you see the text of all the reply postings "beneath" it. The resulting display fills the screen with text, but gives you the full context of the parent and all the replies. Again, before leaving that screen, make sure you click "Mark All as Read." Otherwise, Sakai will not record that you have read anything.

#3 - Clicking on the child (green arrow) (or a parent without replies)
Clicking on a single posting, whether an original thread or child, marks the posting as read. You do not have to do anything extra.

Using the forums in Blackboard
#1 - Keeping up is important. The best way is to log in daily, to see what's there. That avoids a cram session, where you try to read all of them at once, and allows you to "learn in easy steps." This may not always be possible, but trying to do so will reduce the effort from cramming to more-manageable.

#2 - Keeping track of the context. Clicking the parent gives the full text of the original thread and replies. But, there are techniques which allow you to get the context without having to re-read all the text.

  1. Create a new thread, especially when a classmate's posting inspires new questions. Doing this organizes the answers under a new heading, which will make printing the answer postings easier
  2. Change the subject line. Normally, Sakai will repeat the subject line from the original, adding a "Re:" You can change this by simply typing over the subject line in your reply. For example, when the course assistant provides a web address for something referenced in a posting, you will always see "URL - name" as the subject line. 
  3. Copy-paste, or type in, a snippet from the original. In the example below, instructor Beth Walker is commenting on how to encourage parents to follow through on home "assignments." Here the reference to a student's comment is highlighted, then she continues with some good advice!Copy-paste, or type in, a snippet from the original.

  4. And, showing actual copy-pasted snippets:
    showing actual copy-pasted snippets
     
#3 - Using the reset button (blue arrow)
using re-setDoing so "hops" you directly out to the top level of the forums, where you can see all the forum topics. That way you can see all that you have not read yet. You can also "back out" using the browser's back button, but "reset" is faster. (Note: The reset button is available with all the Sakai tools, e.g. Modules/Units, etc.)
 
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