Students and faculty at the University of Rhode Island started the spring semester by experiencing problems with Sakai after the program switched to the new third-party host, Longsight.

The educational software program made the switch at the end of January. “There was a very frustrating problem,” Director of Media and Technology Services David Porter said. “People would think they logged in and then be brought right back as if they never logged in at all.” According to Porter, some users were even dropped from Sakai completely.

Alison Blattner, a senior at the university, is one of the students who experienced the problem. “My Sakai was working just fine when I came back to class,” she said. It wasn’t until a week after classes began that Blattner started experiencing problems with the site. She said that she called the help desk and they told her other students had also called with the same problem.

Along with using Sakai for classes, Blattner also uses Sakai for her job with the Information Technology Department. “I know the people at the help desk work really hard,” Blattner said. “As frustrating as it is, I’m sure they’re trying to figure it out somehow.”

Porter said there was a problem in some of the code that Longsight used for its servers. Longsight made a change to the code and applied it to the system, resolving the problem.

“We’re fortunate that we went over to them when we did,” Porter said. Although there have been some problems, Porter said that the overall upgrade has been a pretty huge success. The department has set up a special call flow between the help desk and the Instructional Technology and Media Services for anyone who calls with an issue.

Sakai has seen as many as 5,000 people using the site at once with the new host. Within Sakai, there are about five or six stand-alone servers, according to Porter, with each server having the capability to accommodate 500 users on it at once.

Longsight provides Sakai with the 24-hour coverage the system has never had before. “It’s something we’ll always be tweaking and enhancing,” said Porter, “It’s running, it’s a lot more efficient and it’s less expensive.”

Students can expect to see some new changes coming to Sakai by the end of the summer. An upgrade that delivers new features, as well as a new look, will happen in August. Porter said that if students or faculty have any problems with Sakai, they shouldn’t hesitate to call the help desk.