Policies & Terms of Service

Duke Sakai Appropriate Use Policy

Sakai is open-source collaboration and learning environment intended to support the teaching, learning and scholarship of Duke University faculty, staff and students. Duke University faculty and staff may use Sakai for:

  • courses they teach (including courses in which non-Duke students are enrolled)
  • committees engaged in scholarly endeavors
  • scholarly groups of which they are a member
  • non-profit, educational community groups
  • other uses as described in the terms and conditions for using and creating Sakai project sites below

Terms and Conditions for Project sites

Sakai Project sites can be used for the following use cases:

  • HR-related (for a search; promotion, tenure or reappointment review, or similar)
  • Academic resource for one or more formal courses
  • Short-term team or working group activity (e.g. planning for a student or staff conference event, short-term planning activity, etc.)
  • Ongoing team or working group activity (e.g. as a work space for a standing committee, student group, etc.)
  • Test space to learn more about Sakai functionality
  • Public space to share materials and engage participants beyond a specific group

By setting up and/or using a Sakai Project site, you are personally agreeing to the following terms and conditions:

  1. I understand that use of Duke’s instance of Sakai requires adherence to Duke’s acceptable use guidelines and that access may be revoked for any participant (whether from Duke or from outside of Duke) who does not follow these guidelines or the Duke Sakai Terms and Conditions.
  2. I understand that as the project site administrator, I have sole responsibility for informing participants in the project site about the nature of its availability – i.e. whether it is generally available, viewable by authorized users, etc. – and about any changes I may make at a later time to its availability.
  3. I understand that use of Duke’s Sakai instance is subject to university data retention policies, and that Sakai project sites may be removed or archived by the university at a later time in accordance with published, formal guidelines. Furthermore, I understand that Sakai is not an archival repository and should not be used with the intent of providing open-ended, long-term storage for project site contents.
  4. I understand that I will be responsible for providing support to any third party, non-Duke participants in my Duke Sakai project site.
  5. I understand that these Terms and Conditions may be modified at a future date in accordance with formal Duke Sakai governance procedures. 

Access to Duke Sakai

Access to Duke Sakai, materials and affiliated online tools will be granted as follows:

  • Duke faculty, students and staff: free to access Sakai using Duke NetID credentials. Duke users may change their NetID passwords by going to http://www.duke.edu/online.
  • Duke affiliates: can access Sakai with sponsor-provided Duke NetID credentials. Access to courses and/or project sites as provided by Duke faculty, staff and/or student site owners.
  • Duke guests and non-Duke users: Non-Duke users must use a provided/sponsored Duke NetID or Onelink

User roles:

Available user roles include the following:

  • Course sites: Student, Instructor, Teaching Assistant, Course Builder, and Visitor.
  • Project sites: Maintain, Access, and Visitor.
  • More details on user roles


Sakai will allow an individual not enrolled in a particular course or project site as Visitor to gain access to specific areas of course sites, not including course rosters, user tools (e.g., user directory), or communication tools.

Student access and course enrollment:

Students who are registered for classes with a Sakai course site will be automatically added to that course site when the site is created, or when registration data becomes available to Sakai, whichever is later. Course sites are not available to students when created, however, and making them available is at the discretion of the course instructor. Instructors may provide full access to their course site(s) to currently enrolled Duke students who are not yet registered for the course (for example, those serving as TAs or auditing a course) by adding those students to the course site manually.

As students add courses during the add/drop period, they will be automatically added to the appropriate Sakai rosters, typically within 3-6 hours. Students who drop courses will have their enrollment within the Sakai site disabled to prevent unauthorized access to course materials. Through the end of the add/drop period at the beginning of the semester, both the officially registered students and those on the Registrar’s wait list are enrolled in the course site. At the end of the add/drop period, students still on the wait list, but not officially registered for the course, will have their enrollments in the Sakai course site disabled.

Length of access to course sites:

Student access to course materials is at the discretion of the course instructor(s) or programs. Students wanting to retain access to provided course content should save such content prior to the end of a course. Students should always retain personal and/or local copies of their own work (assignments, papers, responses to discussions, etc) they submit to systems such as Sakai. At the end of a given semester, instructors are encouraged to make their course sites unavailable to students, in the reverse of the process they used to make the courses available at the start of the semester.

Students who graduate retain access to the Sakai system for as long as their NetID remains active (currently 1 year after graduation). After this time, all of the former student’s access to Sakai, as well as the student’s records within Sakai, will be automatically disabled. Graduating students should plan to backup or copy any materials loaded to their personal My Workspace or Sakai project sites they created prior to the end of the year after they graduate. Access to previous course sites is at the discretion of the course instructor.

Communications and Technical Administration of Sakai

Standard maintenance window:

Routine maintenance and rolling restarts occur every Sunday between 1am-6am. During this time, Sakai may still be accessible, but may exhibit some brief slowness or instability. Users on the system should save frequently and refrain from taking high stakes tests or uploading critical assignments during this time.

Planned outages:

Sakai planned outages will take place during the standing Sakai outage window (Sundays, 1:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. EST) whenever possible. Planned outages will be announced at least one week in advance in most circumstances. Outages will be announced in several places:

  • here, on the Sakai Index and About pages
  • on the ‘Message of the Day’ module within Sakai (for logged-in users)
  • on the OIT Service Updates page

Unplanned/emergency outages:

Sakai unplanned or emergency outages will be posted on the places listed above (if possible).

System administrator access to Sakai sites:

Sakai system administrators may access Sakai sites to solve technical support tickets or in response to help queries from faculty or staff, and may temporarily add a test account (student or other role) to help troubleshoot. System administrators may access sites as part of system testing and maintenance with no advance permission from instructors or project site owners. System administrators will not extract data about system usage for faculty or students, except when deemed necessary to troubleshoot a system problem. Any information or data discovered about a course site or user during the course of system testing or investigations will not be shared with any other faculty or user.

Course Management

Saving course materials (aka ‘archiving’ courses):

At the end of each semester, faculty should consider downloading any content created or added in the Resources section and downloading a copy of the course gradebook, if used for quick reference in the event of a grade dispute. These files should be retained by the faculty member, outside of the Sakai system, according to the storage guidelines of their department.

Course size limitations:

At this time, there is no limitation on the size of individual course sites.

Transferring course sites:

Instructors who wish to use the course site developed by another instructor need to receive written permission from the original instructor first, and forward that permission to Learning Innovation ([email protected]).

Creating a Sakai course site:

Sakai offers faculty and instructors the opportunity to create sites for any course they’re teaching in a given semester. Faculty and instructors can also create course sites that combine enrollments (or sections, if available). For example, you can create a lecture course site and add all of the lab enrollments to the same site. Duke faculty, staff and students can also create project sites.

Gradebook information:

The Sakai Gradebook is a tool designed for the convenience of students and faculty. Thus, it is not an official record of student grades, nor should it be considered a legally binding record of student scores. Faculty are strongly encouraged to periodically export/save a copy of the online Gradebook, and to print a final copy for their records after the semester ends. In addition, faculty are strongly encouraged to post student grades in Sakai only in the secure Sakai Gradebook or the alternate Sakai Post ‘Em tool. Final grades are to be entered into the student information system (PeopleSoft) as the gradebook of record.

Information Security

The Sakai user database is fed directly from the Duke enterprise directory system, thus allowing users to login with their Duke netID and password. The security of these accounts is crucial for maintaining a reliable and trusted resource for online instructional materials and tools.

Controlling access to student information:

Duke University has an established Data Classification Standard, which defines Sensitive Data as including FERPA-protected student data. As with other Sensitive university records, the privacy and security of student information (including but not limited to: grades, test scores, usernames and ID numbers) must closely guarded. As noted in the gradebook information section above, grades should not be posted so that students may see scores belonging to other class members (for example, do not post grades in a spreadsheet uploaded to the course site).

Privacy settings:

Privacy settings for student identities from the enterprise directory are brought into Sakai. Duke users wishing to change their privacy flags should do so in the enterprise directory.

Posting copyrighted materials:

Copyright law and Fair Use Guidelines allow faculty to provide access to copyrighted materials using the Sakai system, as long as the guidelines are followed and copyrighted materials are accessible only to enrolled members of the course. Instructors are advised to consider the use of Duke Library’s e-reserves system to avoid infringement.

Linking to external sites from Sakai:

The Sakai software provides an easy-to-use interface for integrating links to other websites into course materials. Instructors are encouraged to link to other sites, rather than attempting to integrate the desired materials directly into the Sakai course site. This alleviates copyright concerns and also retains the integrity of the materials and associated links in their original environment. It is the responsibility of the instructor to confirm that links from Sakai to external sites are viable.

Linking to Sakai from external sites:

It is possible to link to a Sakai course site directly from websites external to Sakai. Users may, however, be prompted to log in when they first attempt such access.

Intellectual Property

System management data:

Information regarding Sakai system performance or usage is considered the property of Duke University. Information regarding specific Sakai sites or individual accounts will be held in confidence, although data may be gathered and presented in aggregated form by university staff members (e.g., Learning Innovation, OIT, Library) for professional development activities, such as conference presentations and scholarly/industry publications, as well as for reporting on system performance or use.

Computing Policies

Use of Sakai sites, by both students and faculty, are governed by the Office of Information Technology’s Computer Policies and Guidelines, which include:

  • Computing and Networking: Acceptable Use — appropriately access only the information for which you are authorized
  • Group E-Mail Policy — the Sakai e-mail tool(s) should be used only for course-related communication

Sakai Course Site Retention Policy

Purpose of Policy

This policy defines how long a course site will be retained in the centrally-managed Sakai Learning Management system before it is deleted. It also describes ways instructors can obtain a copy of the contents of a Sakai site before it is deleted. The older a Sakai course site is, the less likely it is to function properly in the Sakai system, particularly as upgrades are applied to the Sakai software.

Policy Summary

Sakai course sites will be retained for five years and then deleted. Site deletion will occur annually on or around November 1st and site instructors will be notified in October if they have sites that are slated for deletion.


  1. The primary purpose of Sakai is to provide a method for delivering content and tools that are used to enhance the teaching and learning environment for a class during a given academic period.
  2. A convenience of Sakai is the ability to copy materials from older course sites to newer course sites.
  3. Sakai is not the archival record of a course. There are other university systems which serve as the archival record of course enrollments, grades, etc.

Guiding Principles

  1. To comply with any University policies related to course material retention.
  2. To retain centrally-stored Sakai course sites and materials for a period of time that is helpful to instructors and students.
  3. To guide instructors in developing their own procedures for long-term storage of their Sakai materials.
  4. To optimize the performance of the Sakai system.
  5. To ensure that online storage space provided for Sakai is used efficiently and to minimize the financial and technical impact of constantly increasing disk use.

What Gets Deleted from a Sakai Course Site?

Deleting a Sakai course site permanently removes it from the Sakai system so that it is no longer accessible. When a Sakai course site is deleted it is automatically removed from a user’s sites list.

All materials stored in the Sakai course site are deleted. This includes all files, grades, assignments, quizzes, surveys, links and anything else associated with the course site that is stored in the Sakai database and file system areas.

Content stored outside of Sakai and linked from within the Sakai course web site is not deleted. Rather, the links are deleted, because that is what is stored in the Sakai database. The retention of materials outside of the Sakai system is subject to the terms and conditions of those other systems, whether they are departmental servers and systems, OIT centrally-supported systems, or non-Duke external systems.

How Do I Retain a Copy of the Content Before the Course is Deleted?

Instructors may download materials stored in Resources (individually, through compressed zip files, or WebDAV), export Tests & Quizzes question banks, and export Gradebooks as necessary. Other tools (such as the Forums tool) may also offer alternate methods such as printing.

Instructors can use materials from older courses in newer courses by reusing or importing material from the older sites to newer sites. You may also choose to export the content from your Sakai course to your computer.

Scope of Policy

This policy covers course sites and materials stored the Sakai collaborative learning environment for course sites. This policy does not cover materials stored in an individual’s home directory, personal Web space, centrally-supported OIT services, school-based media servers or departmental/school-based file storage space.

Review of Policy

This policy has been reviewed by the Learning Innovation Director, Senior Administrators, ITAC, and LearnTAC. The policy may be reviewed and changed as needed.

Issues to be Further Considered

Content stored in other campus tools can often be linked from within Sakai. These other tools may have their own retention policies. Therefore the ability to access these materials is independent of the Sakai system.

Older courses may not function properly as we upgrade to newer versions of Sakai.

Periodic updates of Sakai are required to keep Duke’s Sakai system current with the rest Sakai community and typically include new and enhanced features that are of value to instructors and students.

Sakai Accessibility

Sakai CLE is an open-source, community-developed system. According to the Sakai Foundation:

Our goal is to meet all of the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria and to use emerging standards and best practice design techniques (such as the WAI-ARIA Suite) that support existing and emerging adaptive technologies.

Even though Sakai core tools may be fully accessible and compliant, instructors should be aware that many add-ons, integrated tools, and even their own content (videos, PowerPoints, etc) might not be immediately compliant and may require special attention. Students and instructors should contact Duke Disability Management System for more information and assistance, including information on assistive technologies and equipment.

For those interested in learning more about Sakai (and tool-specific accessibility), see the following Sakai community resources.

Data Backup and Recovery

The Sakai service is backed up nightly and backups are kept for 30 days, after which they are deleted. During this 30 day window, Sakai content can be restored from a backup for $175 per hour with a 2 hour minimum. For each tool that requires restoration, 1-2 hours of work is required.

After 30 days, the database backups expire and content can no longer be restored.

The restoration process takes 2-4 days to complete as outlined below.

  1. Faculty, Department, or School makes Learning Innovation aware that content needs to be restored.
  2. Learning Innovation provides an estimate for the retrieval.
  3. School or Department decides whether to cover the cost of the retrieval and provides a fund code for Learning Innovation to bill the cost to.
  4. If cost is covered, restoration is completed.

If you need the content sooner than 2-4 days, we recommend rebuilding the content manually.