vrijdag, juni 09, 2006

On presenting a complex message

Last Tuesday I was invited, by a former collegue (Lisa Gommer), to share some of our experiences and knowledge about our past, current and future activitities regarding our Virtual Learning Environment. I was happy to see quite a diverse audience at the Wageningen University and Research Centre.
I started out my presentation with looking back at what we have done in 2005. This was the project called ELO Advies (beware: links to a website in Dutch language). We did quite some work in this project.
And then I explained what we are doing right now, which is the definition phase of the project called CBUS (Campus Blend using Sakai). In this phase we are really get to grips with the Sakai product, but also with the Sakai community, procedures etc.
After this definition phase, there will be a pilot phase where we will do some pilots with Sakai with real students and teachers (the so-called "production pilots").
And within roughly one year from now there will be decision point on whether Sakai is a viable route for us to follow.
It was a good meeting at a university that is quite happy with what they are doing in this area. For example: they are quite extensively making use of the MS Sharepoint Portal Server. They will get some subsidy with a project proposal (beware: links to a website in Dutch language) on this matter with the SURF Foundation.
There are a few observations and remarks that I want to share with you regarding my visit to Wageningen:
  1. The presentation that I prepared was way too long! This is really something that I have to work on for upcoming engagements.
  2. People are very very eager to get a demonstration of the Sakai product. I used collab for this, because our own demonstration system is behind a firewall.
  3. There is a serious lack of information regarding Sakai. People tend to think only about the product Sakai, while there is so much more (and more important, such as the future vision and the collaboration between so many likeminded institutions).
  4. I guess I succeeded in conveying the message that at least one other strength of Sakai is the community, but this was not really easy to convey in a few minutes and bullet points (actually I needed a few examples as a sort of workaround).
  5. My audience was very critical about what we would measure in our pilots ("what will your reasoning be to say that Sakai is a viable route to follow"). I think they were right. This is something that I will work on: what will be our criteria?
For your convenience: the presentation (again: in Dutch!) that I carried with me (which took up almost two hours with this audience). I am also curious what the people from Wageningen think about my story. Any readers here from Wageningen?

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