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In this article:

Lessons Overview

The Lessons tool is for displaying content to students in a structured form. Each Lessons module can provide an introductory paragraph, links to documents, websites, audio and video recordings, and a "Next Steps" paragraph instructing students what to do when they have completed the module. The Lessons tool allows you to publish learning sequences by using the built-in online editor, by linking to web pages, or by uploading learning objects or documents. The content is easily navigated by way of a Table of Contents and Prev and Next buttons at the top of the page. You can elect to display modules during specific date ranges

A module is the building block of your lessons. Often, a module is one lesson, one class, or one week’s worth of material but a module may be any unit of your course. For example, you may organize your modules in weeks, adding lecture notes, activities, links, and resources that relate to that week’s topic as ‘sections’ of the week’s module. This helps guide students through the sequence of content/tasks in an organized manner.

A module consists of one module page AND one or more content sections, depending on how you want to organize your information. Module pages are like the title page of a document – on a module page you assign a title, add a description and keywords, if desired, and set the open and close dates the module is available to your students. Content is published in section pages.

You may also use Lessons to post lecture or seminar content on an ad hoc basis.

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Permissions and Roles

To complete the procedures in this article, you must be assigned a role having the necessary permissions. This often excludes Students and TAs by default. To determine your role and accompanying permissions, follow the directions in Permissions and Roles.

Text Editor Tips

Text Editor Tips

This tool makes use of the Sakai Text Editor.

Our Text Editor article includes a number of tips including how to add images or paste content from MS Word.

Getting Started in Lessons

To get started, click Lessons in the left menu. If you don’t see it in the menu, you will need to add it to your site using the Site Editor tool. By default, when you open the Lessons tool, you will be in the Author (edit) mode.

The other three possible ‘views’ are View (student view), Manage, and Preferences views.

Note: The preference to show as expanded or collapsed is specific to each user. While you can set Lessons to show as expanded, a student can set her preferences to show as collapsed.

Create and Manage Modules

Lessons Author Menu

From the "Author" view:

The Allow Until date option allows you to leave your modules open for further review beyond the due date. The Allow Until date is typically AFTER the Due date. Most instructors leave their modules open for the whole term. For example, you may have specific due dates for your modules to pace students, but make the Allow Until dates at the end of the term. If you'd rather not use the Allow Until feature, don't enter any Allow Until dates. Leave the field blank. The modules will close on the Due date.
When you are finished defining these properties, you are ready to add content to your module.
Add Module
Add Module

If you click on Add, the module will be added (with no content), and you will be taken to the main Author list page. You can return to the module later to add content sections.

Defining Module Properties

Adding Content Sections to Modules

Section Properties
Section Properties

A Content Section is like a container for a piece of content - either a file or a link to web content. Rather than just having a link to a file name, the Content Section can provide a title, instructions, copyright information, etc.

Sections are the units within a module. Each module can consist of one or more sections.

Add Sections to a Module

You can get a new section page in many ways:

Define Properties of a Section

While inputting properties for a new section, you should be aware that:

After you enter the section title and instructions and have checked the modality fields, select how you will create content for the section. There are several options:

Option 1: Compose content with editor

Option 2: Upload or link to a file

A section's content can be an uploaded Word, Excel, pdf, etc. file.
If this is a new document to upload, browse to find it on your desktop. If the file has been uploaded previously, you can choose it from the list in the lower portion of the window. Preview the already uploaded by clicking on the title. Select a previously uploaded item by clicking on link to me in the right-hand column.
Uploaded files are generally downloaded onto the student's computer, not opened directly into the system. How this is handled depends on how the user's browser is configured. For example, when clicking on a link that is an uploaded Word file, the browser may ask you if you want to open the file or if you want to save it to the desktop. But, if you click on a link that is a pdf file, the browser may open it immediately, without prompting. Your students will have similar experiences.
If the uploaded document is a .docx file, the student must have an application that opens it, such as Word. If the uploaded document is a .xlsx file, the student must have Excel or some other program that opens Excel documents. If you are going to use uploaded documents, you may want to mention the type of software needed to open these files as a requirement in your syllabus.
As the instructor, you have no control over how students configure their browsers, and if they use more than one computer, these files may be handled differently on each computer.

Option 3: Link to new or existing URL resource on server

Another option for adding content to a section is by linking to a web page that exists on the web (must be a functional URL).

When a student goes to a section that is a link to a web page, there will be a link directly on that page. When the student clicks on the link, the new web page opens in a second browser window. The student can return to the class site by closing the second window.

Once you've inserted the URL address, you need to give it a short title.

You can preview it by clicking on the title, or select it to use by clicking on the link to me link.

Author Mode Task completion options

Viewing the Modules Table of Contents

Collapse All

Collapse Modules from View

When you look at the list of modules, you'll notice little black arrows on the left next to each listing. At first they are all "collapsed" (pointing right), and you can't see the sections inside the modules.

Click once on an arrow next to a module listing and that module will "expand" (pointing down) to allow you to see all the sections inside that module. This is an easy way to go to a section: expand the module and click on the section title.

Expand Module

Expand All

Expand all modules into view
]Expand all modules into view

You can expand all of the module listings at once by clicking once on the double-headed arrow at the top of the list. This makes it quite easy to see at a glance what sections are inside which modules.

When you exit the modules page, the modules list automatically defaults back to the collapsed view, so you'll have to expand again if you like that appearance.

Edit a Module

Once modules and content are created, you can go back and edit at any time.

From the Author View page, click the title of the module you want to edit.

You will be directed to the Edit Module page where you can make changes.

Once you have changed the module properties, complete the process:

Co-Authoring Tip: It is recommended that only one instructor make changes to a module at a time. If you will co-author content, establish regular authoring times with your partner or split modules to avoid conflicts when saving your work.

Editing Sections of a Module

While on the Author View page, expand the module list to show all its sections (that is if your view is not set to expanded mode by default). Then, click on the title of the section you want to edit. You are directed to the Edit Section page.

While editing your content, be sure to save frequently using the Save button.

On the Editing section... page, you can change the following information:

You CANNOT change the method for creating content. In other words, if the section was originally created using the content editor, you can change the contents within the editor, but you can't switch this section to be a link to a URL.

If you had originally created content as a link to a web page using a URL, you can replace that URL, but you can't make this section now be a downloadable document.

After editing the section, complete the process:

Co-Authoring Tip: It is suggested that only one instructor make changes to a module at a time. If you will co-author content, establish regular authoring times with your partner or split modules.

You can navigate from a module's edit screen to the first section by clicking on the Edit Section Link.

You can navigate through all the sections of a module (back to back) to edit them or review them in Author View by clicking on the Next and Prev links. These edit links help you navigate through the sections of "one" module only to edit them. When you reach the last section of a module, you need to click to the Table of Contents to choose another module.

Right (Indent) and Left (Outdent)

Make sure you are in Author View to perform these functions:

Moving content left and right can further organize your content. Here is an example of using right indention to make the two pieces of content "Mary Leakey" and "Richard Leakey" appear under the heading "The Leakey Family.":

File indentation for sections

To indent (move right) or outdent (move left) content:

To indent (move right) or outdent (move left) content:


Make sure you are in Author View to perform the following functions:

Sort allows you to reorder the content. You can sort the modules, or the content within the modules. To sort:

Sort Modules

Sort Sections

Move Sections

This option allows you to move content from one module to another.


Delete permanently removes content. The content is also removed from the Lessons inventory.

Delete Module Warning


Modules can be archived. They are removed from the list of available modules, but can be restored from the archive for later use. Modules are archived as a whole. Individual content items cannot be archived.

Restore an Archived Module

View or Hide Modules by Dates

Hidden from student view by expired date

Note: If you have one or more modules not open to students, you will see at the bottom of the screen that is not accessible to students. Students can see the titles and the start but cannot open the module or sections. Notice that the Module title and the Content Sections titles will also be italicized for you. If you do not see the titles beside any of the modules in italics, the students can see all the modules and their contents.

Print a Module

Print a Module:

  1. In the Lessons home page, while in the Authoring mode (if you are not in the Authoring mode, click Author in the Lessons menu bar) click the Print icon next to the module you want to print.
  2. Click Print in the left top corner of the pop-up and continue as you would for any print job.

Note: If you choose to allow students to print modules (see Change Module Preferences), they will also be able to print out entire modules. Disabling this feature for students does not affect instructor’s ability to print.

Export Modules

One or more modules can be exported from one site and imported into any site using Import. At the beginning of a new term, you can import your modules from a previous site. You don’t have to re-do all that work again. You may want to share your files with a colleague. Or you may want to keep a backup copy of your modules. You can export them and save them on your desktop or even within Resources in your My Workspace.

NOTE: You can export/import modules through the Lessons tool or you can use the Site Editor tool.

Exporting modules does not affect the current site’s modules. This export functionality exports all of your modules and sections into an IMS Content Packaging (CP) zip file that you can import into your next term’s site or other system that support IMS CP.

  1. In the Lessons home page (Author view mode), click [Manage] in the Lessons menu bar.
  2. Click .
  3. From the What to export list of modules, select which module(s) you want to export.
  4. Click Export.
  5. Save the zipped folder, which contains all your chosen modules, in a convenient location. You DO NOT need to open, unzip, or view inside the folder. However, if you want to see or edit the files, you will need to UNZIP the folder. (WinZIP on a PC or UnStuffIt on a Mac are two applications to unzip files) You can now import the zip file into another site’s Lessons tool.

Import Modules

  1. In the Author View click the Import/Export link in the Lessons menu bar.
  2. Click Browse, find the zipped folder you want to import, and click Open.
  3. Click Import. The files will be imported and placed are the bottom of the list under any existing modules. Click Cancel if you don't want to save your action.


Lessons Preferences Options
  1. In the Lessons home page (Author view mode), click Preferences in the Lessons menu bar.
  2. Change any of the preferences by selecting the appropriate radio button(s). The descriptions below explain your choices:

Regardless of the choice made here, when you look at the module list in Author view, the modules and sections will have numbers.

  1. Click 'Save. You will see the Your preferences been set successfully confirmation on the preferences screen.
  2. Click Author to return to the Authoring screen.

Copyright Status Options

o be in compliance with the Copyright Act of Canada, it is mandatory to designate the copyright status of uploaded or linked material(s).
Copyright Status options include:

  1. Public Domain.
  2. Copyright of author.
  3. I have obtained permission to use this material.
  4. I have not yet determined copyright (This option will no longer be available as an option but will be in the display until all previous resources are classified.)
  5. Material is available as Open Access.
  6. Material is licensed by the U of W library.
  7. Material falls under a Creative Commons License.
Copyright Status Options Lessons

More information on copyright is available at Campus Copyright Information website.

Bookmarking, Exporting Notes and Last Visited in Modules

Lessons has the ability to create bookmarks that can be set, managed, notes added and printed.
See the article on Bookmarking in Lessons, Exporting Notes and Last Visited flag.

Special Access

You may modify the access dates of a module for one or more students to accommodate special needs (i.e. extend the open days or grant earlier access to modules). This is especially helpful for students with disabilities, or those with special circumstances. See the Lessons Special Access article for more information.

Duplicating a Module

Duplicate Module icon

If you click on the Duplicate Module icon, that entire module and all the included sections is duplicated and placed at the bottom of the module list. You can tell which is the duplicated material because all titles (module & section) include, in parentheses, the date it was copied. You'll probably want to go in and edit those extra-long titles.

If you edit either the original or the duplicated version, the other is not affected.

Next Steps

On the Modules List page (Author View), to the right of the module title, there is an action button that is used for setting "Next Steps".

You can set instructions at the end of every module to let students know what they should do after reading through that module. You may direct them to a quiz, assignment, or simply ask them to continue with the next module. See the Lessons Next Steps article for instructions.


Co-Authoring Tip: It is highly recommended that only one instructor make changes to a module at a time. If you will co-author content, establish regular authoring times with your partner or split modules to avoid conflicts when saving your work.

Upload Restrictions

  1. In the manage screen you can upload up to 10 items at a time, with a 50 MB file size limit.
  2. HTML files cannot be uploaded. You can upload image formats (.png, .gif, .jpg), word, excel, powerpoint, pdf, etc.

Manage Resources in Modules

Handle tasks such as uploading many files at once, adding resources and links or deleting unnecessary files.

If you upload or add links to more than 30 resources, you will get a drop-down menu with pagination options.

Manage Content

Manage Content allows you to upload files, create links to URL addresses, preview previously uploaded files, and delete content items. You can create up to 10 file uploads or URL links at a time. The advantage of using this method to upload files or create links is that it is MUCH, MUCH FASTER than creating these items one at a time. Once files have been uploaded or URL links created, you can easily use these resources when you're creating your module sections.

How to Manage Your Content

In Modules, click on the Manage link at the top of the window

Click on Manage Content link in the Managing options… area

Under New Item, choose to add File Upload or Create URL

Choose the number of items to upload - anywhere from 1 to 10 at a time

When the next box appears, fill in the correct information: either browse your local computer to identify the files you want to upload, or type in the correct URL addresses and titles (required) for web pages you want to upload.

Click Continue at the bottom of the page to upload your files or create your URL links.

The items you just created will now be listed in the bottom portion of the page.

Notice they are in Type order. The screen shot shows the URLs above the file uploads. You can sort type to show the other way around.

Notice the titles are links. When you click on the title, it opens in a new window so you can preview - either the file or a URL.

Delete a Content Item

You can delete a content item by clicking the Remove Item link in the right column of Manage Content.

You will get a confirmation box. If the item is currently being used in a section, there will be a warning that the item is IN USE. If the item is not currently in use, you'll get a confirmation box without the warning. In either case, click on Continue to delete the item or Cancel to leave it in place.

Use a Content Item

You will use the uploaded files and/or URL links when you create your content sections. For example, if you've uploaded several images, then when you go to add your images into your content, they are already uploaded onto the server, saving you the time (and effort) of uploading them one at a time.

If you want to add a link to a web page, that link is already created. All you need to do is to click it in the list of content items, choose to open it in a blank window, and you're done.

FAQ – Lessons

Why would I use Lessons over Resources?

  1. You can have an INSTANT backup of all your content (lessons + uploaded media) on your desktop using the export feature.
  2. It allows you to guide students' learning by unit - by providing all your lectures notes, ppt, links to external resources, etc. in a sequential way for students. You can use dates to help them with pacing.
  3. Having all the material for a unit together (in sections) reduces the need for students to search around in other areas of the course, such as resources, to find it. The easier the path to finding information for students, the better.
  4. Modules automatically create a nice navigation structure for students and enables you to add "descriptions" for the modules and "instructions" for your sections (web links and documents that you upload) so that students know what they are supposed to do with the material you have posted.

In sum, you can guide students. It's not just a place with a bunch of stuff.

How do I . . .?

Add a Link in my Section

The best way to create links within your text is to use the Insert Link icon. The key here is to FIRST--Type in a name for your link. i.e. "Museum of Modern Art." Next, highlight the text, THEN--click on the Insert Hyperlink Button and enter the actual URL in the space provided. When you finish the process; the TEXT you entered and highlighted turns into a hyperlink! This is the way to have a "pretty" link name appear in your Section instead of a big 'ol ugly URL...

Important Tip: When inserting a hyperlink: Be sure to select Blank in the Target Frame drop-down menu. This tells the browser to open the URL in a NEW PAGE when the hyperlink is clicked. This is standard practice on the Internet and has the advantage of leaving the section page with the link alone so the student can come back to the section and not get lost on the web!

Related Articles

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Other articles about Sakai tools and how instructors can use them:

Core Tools: Announcements | Assignments | Email | Forums | Gradebook | Quizzes & Tests II | Resources | Site Editor | Syllabus

More Tools: Polls | Chat | Drop Box | Home | Discussions | News | Feedback | Sections | Lessons | Site Stats | Web Content | Wiki

Related articles: How to add tools to CLEW | Using the Text Editor | Manage Groups | Permissions and Roles | Contact the CTL for help

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We are constantly trying to improve the information in this Wiki.
If you notice any errors or omissions with this material, please advise the LMS Team or submit a Service Request at http://www.uwindsor.ca/bbhelp.


JForum (or as it is known in the University of Windsor Sakai implementation as Discussions) has been customized and integrated with Sakai by Etudes under the direction of Vivie Sinou, Executive Director. Murthy Tanniru is the lead developer of JForum, Etudes team. The Melete (or as it is known at the University of Windsor Sakai implementation as Lessons) lead developers are Mallika Thoppay and Rashmi Maheshwari, Etudes. Murthy Tanniru, also Etudes team member, has contributed to the Melete code, particularly IMS Content Packaging. Several individuals and organizations from Sakai have contributed to Melete's development. See credits in release notes per version for contributions.

We are grateful to The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the funding support for JForum development, and to Rafael Steil for making his work available as open source. Enhancements in JForum 2.5 and 2.6 were made possible with funding support from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office. The original JForum source code is licensed under the BSD License.


Open Source Initiative Certified

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Melete and JForum are licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0


Some content on this page has been derived with permission from the University of Florida e-Learning Support Services.

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