What Is Sakai LMS and Its Features?

Are you thinking of using Sakai LMS to teach online?  Are you wondering what its features are and how they may help you save time?  With over 20 years of experience in education, technology, and teaching online, let me share some of my experiences with Sakai LMS.

Sakai is an open-source Learning Management System (LMS) that provides an online training portal for educational institutions and teachers to manage student learning.  It hosts training content, enables assessment, course management, communication, collaboration, and content development. 

Now that you have an aerial view of Sakai LMS let’s dig in a little deeper and discuss why you might use it to teach online to your students.

What Is Sakai Learning Management System?

Sakai Learning Management System started as the Sakai Project in 2005 with the aim to provide open-source software for CLE (Collaboration and Learning Environment). Sakai released the most recent version (21.0) in April 2021 – the current version and 20.3 (released in April 2020) are the only active versions.

With the community source software, developed by educators, as a fully customizable tool, educators can build their courses and incorporate quizzes, tests, assignments, tutorials, and all manner of content in their lesson structure. In addition, Sakai LMS is available in 19 languages and provides educators with effective communication systems, such as discussions, chat, and email.

How Easy Is Sakai LMS to Set Up?

There are two ways to set up Sakai. The first is to have it hosted via the Sakai cloud, and the process of setting up Sakai this way entails you having to punch in your credentials and other applicable information. Once that is done, you are able to experience Sakai as a course creator and as a student.

Self-hosting Sakai will take IT knowledge because it is a Java-based, service-orientated web application. It is deployed by using Apache Tomcat while its data is stored in Oracle or MySQL and can be integrated with  CAS, Kerberos, LDAP, Shibboleth, and WebAuth.

What Will Sakai LMS Cost?

Sakai is a free LMS that does not require you to pay for any licensing. However, if you wish to deploy it yourself, you may require developers and systems that will help you to get the job done, and this, of course, will vary in price.

How Hard Is It to Maintain Sakai LMS?

If you are using Sakai’s cloud-based hosting system, then there is nothing that you will need to do to maintain any aspect of it. This applies to both teachers (course creators) and students.

Maintaining Sakai if you want to deploy it yourself on your own network will result in you needing technicians in various fields of IT. These technicians will range from developers both back and front end, to database technicians, to networking technicians. The number of professionals required to maintain it will vary depending on the scale of the network and its implementation.    

How Good Is Support and Training for Sakai LMS?

Due to the fact that Sakai is an open-source LMS, there is no contact support per se. However, there is The Sakai Community that offers help and advice for all aspects of the LMS.

Cloud-based support can be found using the help section found in the menu once you have logged in, while the documentation for the self-deployed version can be found here.

Furthermore, there is a Wiki space where numerous Sakai developers have come together to produce guides and tutorials that any new Sakai developer can access.

What Are The Sakai LMS Features?




·         Create announcements to keep your students up to date

·         Use the calendar to scheduling events, deadlines, assessments, et

·         The chat feature allows for instant communication

·         Send messages with Sakai’s internal email messages

·         Use forums to engage in topic discussions


·         Teachers can create and grade assignments on- or offline. In document preview, educators can provide feedback without downloading documents.

·         Gradebook provides straightforward calculations and grade entry.

·         Post’ Em is a fantastic tool for non-numeric feedback on assessments.

·         Tests & Quizzes create and manage learning assessments with security options for graded examinations


Educators have a wide range of tools available to build unique course content, with multiple platforms for file sharing

·         Cloud storage integration

·         Dropbox tool

·         External tools

·         News

·         Overview

·         Podcasts

·         Resources and many more



Course management is made easy with features such as:

·         Polls

·         Roster

·         Section info

·         Statistics

An extensive list of user and system administrator tools creates a well-rounded and customizable management platform


·         Attendance to keep track of student participation

·         BlogWow upload blog entries for private or communal viewing

·         Create and send certification to learners on successful completion of specific content

·         Mneme (an alternative to Tests & Quizzes tool)


·         Barnes & Noble

·         BigBlueButton

·         Box

·         Cengage

·         Digication

·         DynamicBooks

·         Juta books

·         iRubric

·         Zoom

·         Turnitin

·         Microsoft 365

·         Examity

·         eXplorance Blue

·         iClicker

·         Opencast

And many more

What Is The Sakai LMS Mobile App?

Project Keitai (Sakai mobile) was initiated in January of 2011, and although progress was made on the development of the project, it never came to fruition.

Please take note that some third-party developers have taken it into their own hands to develop a Sakai-based app for their systems. One such app is Rutgers Sakai that can be found on the Apple app store. It allows the students of Rutgers University to access their Sakai LMS from their mobile devices and has all the necessary features enabling them to peruse their courses.

How does Sakai LMS compare to other LMS?

Many LMSs rival Sakai, and although we can’t compare them all, we will compare it with the other top open-source LMS known as moodle, which dominates the market share for open-source LMSs.

Moodle seems to surpass Sakai in various categories, including having a mobile android and Apple app and full support that consists of a help desk (email), Forums, phone support, 24/7 live rep, and online chat.

They even have training that consists of live online tutorials, webinars, documentation, videos, and in-person seminars.

Besides the mobile app and full-on support, Moodle offers deployment across windows, Mac, Linux, web-based, and cloud-based systems, while Sakai can only be deployed on windows, the cloud, and the web.

How Does Sakai LMS Compare To Moodle LMS?

Features and functionsMoodleSakai
SoftwareFree trial and free versionFree version
Best forHigher education, corporate, government non-profitHigher education
Asynchronous learningYesYes
Blended learningYesYes
Built-in course authoringYesYes
Learner portalYesYes
Synchronous learningYesNo
Video confrencingYesNo
E-commerce managementYesYes
DeploymentCloud, SaaS, Web-based, Windows, Mac, LinuxCloud, Saas, Web-based
Mobile appAndroid, iPhone, iPadiPhone, iPad
SupportEmail/help desk, FAQ’s/Forums, phone support, 24/7 live rep, online chatWiki page, community
TrainingIn-person, live online, webinars, documentation, videosDocumentation, Wiki page
Alternative systemsWorkRamp, Absorb LMS, InquisiqeLeap, Northpass, BRIDGE

What Are the Pros and Cons of Sakai LMS?

It is freeConstant internet activity is impossible for some users.
FlexibilityIntegration issues with school’s student information systems
User friendlyDifficulty in navigating discussion forms
Customizable quick menuCan’t have multiple tabs running on Sakai
Direct messaging to studentsCheck box for emails result in students not getting info

Sakai Tutorial Videos Available On YouTube


As a free, open-sourced LMS, Sakai offers a very usable and viable alternative to providing a learning platform for you or your educational institution to teach online.  It has all the essential features you would expect of the other major LMS as has is the 5th most used learning management system globally.


Chapter 1. What is Sakai?

Sakai (software)


Sakai Reviews

LMS Market Won’t Grow, Continuing To Be Dominated By The Big Four

Recommendation for University-wide Learning Management System

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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