zaterdag, september 30, 2006

Anonymous browsing in Sakai

Last Thursday Charles Severance was one of the keynote speakers at the "Over de grenzen van de ELO" conference, where Stanley already reported about in this blog. His official announcement of the 7th Sakai conference to be held in Amsterdam, next June, was great news!!
But there was more news than that of course. I will share two news items with you. I have some more, but i am not able to share them here.
The first newsitem newsworthy item was spawned by Keith Russell of the University of Utrecht (mentioned earlier on this blog), who raised the question of anonymous use of Sakai during the Q&A session with Chuck. The answer by Chuck was very clear: in the near future it will be possible that (part of) a course or project site can be made public. That is: you could make the Announcements public, so for everyone to read (including Google!), but the rest of your tools in Sakai private (so only for site members). See Jira for more details on Google indexing. This feature would really be an great improvement for Sakai. Actually we have exactly the same problem with our current VLE.
One other newsitem (from the hallways) is that one of the larger institutions for vocational education in The Netherlands will start piloting with Sakai real soon.
If you want to read more on "Over de grenzen van de ELO" conference, please go to Wilfred Rubens (in Dutch) or Marc Dupuis (in English) or Scott Wilson (one of the other excellent keynotes that we were offered!) And maybe Willem van Valkenburg will be ready to share some comment with us, once the VVD congress is over :-)
More pictures at Flickr

vrijdag, september 29, 2006

Sakai Foundation present at Dutch ELO Conference

The Dutch conference "Over de grenzen van de ELO II" (Beyond the boundaries of the electronic learning environment), held on Sept. 28th-29th, included two interesting contributions made by Chuck Severance, Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation. See for a reflection of the first conference day.

Sakai Announces June 2007 Amsterdam Conference

The Sakai Foundation is pleased to announce that the June 2007 Sakai Community Conference will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The dates will be Tuesday -Thursday, June 12-14, with pre and post conference sessions and activities on Monday the 11th, and Friday, the 15th. This will be the first European venue for the Sakai Community Conference and we look forward to working with all our community and especially the Universiteit van Amsterdam on the conference. The site will be the new Movenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Center for the Tuesday-Thursday meetings. See you in Atlanta this December, and Amsterdam next June.

- Joseph Hardin, Sakai Conference Chair

The Universiteit van Amsterdam and the City of Amsterdam are very pleased that Amsterdam will host the Sakai 2007 June conference. The university will work closely with the Sakai Foundation and the Sakai Community to make the meeting a huge success. The conference itself is happening in one of the most modern buildings of Amsterdam in an astonishing setting on the waterfront, next to the canal area and the city center, and we intend to host the pre- and post- conference meetings in university buildings in the historic center. The open cosmopolitan spirit of Amsterdam fits perfectly with the open source spirit of the Sakai community.

- Frank Benneker, Universiteit van Amsterdam

maandag, september 25, 2006

Keith's take at Sakai 2.2

Keith Russell (University of Utrecht) contacted me a few weeks ago. I provided him with some testing oppurtunities on our Sakai pilot installation. He quite hits the right spots, I think, in his review: "I had a go at the new version of SAKAI (2.2.0) which was so kindly provided by Wytze Koopal. It was very interesting to give it a go and I learnt a number of new things. So here a quick resume..." I left some comments on his weblog.
Keith will co-lead the Dutch delegation to the upcoming Educause annual conference in Dallas, with a special emphasis on coursemanagement systems. Check out the wiki of this Dutch bunch for the different themes that they will be focusing on. They also have a weblog. Both the wiki and the weblog are in Dutch btw.

donderdag, september 21, 2006

Shift towards multi-channel learning

The september poll by Brandon-hall.c0m shows that 78% of the respondents predict a further shift towards a multi-channel learning paradigm. Multi-channel as an alternative for the traditional tell-test model of e-learning. Even the definition of "content" becomes broader as in any online experience or task that leads to learning (Woodill & Brandon Hall Research, 2006). The focus is now on mental models through the cooperative an collaborative construction of knowledge based on discussion and guided exploration (Jochems et al., 2004). Provided that this is the educational development mainstream for the next couple of years, I think this provides excellent possibilities for Sakai. As stated in Luebeck - two weeks ago- especially the collaborative and groupware functions are considered USP's in Sakai, which perfectly matches with current and future educational paradigms.

Jochems, W., Merrienboer, J., and Koper, R. (Eds.) (2004). Integrated E-learning: Implications for pedagogy, technology and organization. London: Routledge Falmer.

vrijdag, september 15, 2006

Check out Planet Sakai!

While in Luebeck i heard the newest buzz! It is called Planet Sakai. And Steve Githens is THE driving f0rce behind it and has just released it 'officially. He says: "Planet Sakai is a wonderful world of aggregated camaraderie amongst Sakai users, coders, pedagogy folks, admins, etc etc."
So check it out at ! (and yes, this weblog gets aggregated too!).

donderdag, september 14, 2006

Meeting notes available

Yesterday we had our second official meeting of the Sakai SIG NL. I was pleasantly surprised to see some new faces at the table (well actually this is what I am aiming at ofcourse!). We heard some great stories about Sakai. I have tried to capture anything of interest in the meeting notes (that are in English, for our non-Dutch speaking friends around the world).
Sakai SIG NL: Verslag 13 sep (editie 2): "Op 13 september was de tweede officiële bijeenkomst van de Sakai Special Interest Group NL. Het was een interessante bijeenkomst met nieuwe en bekende gezichten.
Het verslag is te vinden in de bijlage. Volgende bijeenkomst is gepland op 22 november 2006. Iedereen met interesse in Sakai is van harte welkom."

dinsdag, september 12, 2006

Pedagogy, education or...

During the European Sakai Days I noticed that the term pedagogy was mentioned a few times. Personally, I believe this is not the best concept to use in the Sakai context. Although it is nowadays used in a broader context, the emphasis is still on teaching children. Moreover, pedagogy includes a lot more issues about raising children from birth till they are adults. I have another reason not to prefer pedagogy instead of concepts like education, learning or didactics. In the context of education, pedagogy is most times referred to as the correct use of teaching strategies or the science of teaching, i.e. the teacher is in control. However, in the context of Sakai and the Bologna issues the focus is on learning. The educational process becomes demand driven: the student is in control of his own learning process. Collaboration and groupwork are key issues. How to organise groupwork is not a matter of pedagogy but of educational or learning design.

European Sakai Day in Free Software Magazine

Alan Berg wrote a nice article in the newsletter of the Free Software Magazine.

Link to article

zondag, september 10, 2006

Further Luebeck impressions

In addition to the posts that were already submitted by Frank and Wytze, for me it was a key issue (e.g. explicitly stated by Rolf Granow and confirmed by Chuck Severance) that the focus within the Sakai community should now shift from the development approach to the user approach. The learners and instructor are the real stakeholders, although development should continue for further improvement of Sakai. Perhaps the European partners should take a lead in this. I think this approach fits perfectly well within the approach we have taken in Twente: starting with the educational user requirements and then see how ICT can facilitate.

I had an interesting talk with John Norman, right after my own presentation. It comes down to an offer by Cambridge to help with the startup of a development workflow process. What issues do you have to deal with when starting up, how to deal with requirement lists, releases, setting priorities, deployment to the community are some aspects that could be addressed. The Cambridge people are willing to come over if we like. It may also be considered to relate this to a possible development group within the Dutch SURF Sakai SIG.

A third point which became clear to me is that there's a market for commercial affiliates. Several people I talked to are interested in using Sakai, but simply don’t have the expertise for development and support capacity within their own resources. Hosted solutions (based on major releases), integration with existing infrastructure (e.g. student administration), implementation support and helpdesk are a few services that would help out to make these organisations use Sakai. It's good if organisations would join the community on that basis, because it's important for the future of Sakai to have as much as possible a large install base.

For further impressions by the CBUS team from Twente look at:

vrijdag, september 08, 2006

Oslo and Stockholm

Oslo and Stockholm where the universities that sent out very thought-provoking (and excellent English-speaking) presenters for the first European Sakai Days (ESD). Susanne Koch from Oslo University talked about three tasks that we have as the Europeans within the worldwide Sakai community:
1. Identify European challenges and ideas about pedagogy and education; these can be derived from the Bologna process and EU's Lisbon process
2. Ask ourselves seriously: "Does the Sakai framework currently or potentially help us better than, say, Blackboard, and why?" So, for example how well does Sakai support lifelong learning and other things.
3. And if and when the previous questions are answered positively, then we should ask ourselves: "How do we format, maintain and cultivate the network?" One thing that Susanne mentioned (and that was also said at our Euro BOF in Vancouver), was that we could try to apply for EU funding. The complete presentation by Susanne can be found online.
And after this very interesting talk by Susanne, there was even a more interesting one by Frerik Oldsjö from Stockholm University. He really gave us a thorough insight in the Bologna process and the pedogical implications. Fredrik made very clear that the Bologna process will result in a pedagogical shift in our educational systems for higher ed! The purpose of Bologna process (which started in 1998) is to create one European Area of Higher Education (EHEA). And don't be fooled: this is not a EU endeavour. The Bologna process has been ratified by 45 European countries! There are ten operational goals, all revolving around comparability, compatibility and transparancy of the systems for Higher Education.
One of the most mindboggling things that I heard is that this whole process essentially means that there should be focus on learning outcomes and assessing these, instead of content. Or take this consequence: much more focus on (peer) feedback!
Fredrik very neatly had translated the Bologna process into some basic requirements for a VLE / LMS or CMS:
1/ should at all times be possible to have an open dialogue over time
2/ full integration of online and offline activities
3/ discussion / dialogue between all involved
4/ summative and formative assessment -> combine in portfolio, but also basic simple assessment tools (!)
5/ seperate group discussions (threads, visual structure), fora, blogs, chat etc
6/ inspiring and secure (socialization): they need to get to know their peers, present themselves to the group
7/ the teacher (the tutor) should have tools that allow for getting a picture of the learning process.
Fredrik's presentation will be online shortly hereafter. I recommend it!
So, all in all I really liked both contributions a lot!

woensdag, september 06, 2006

Lubeck, Valencia and Porto

In the title of this post you will find the universities that delivered their presentations last afternoon over here in Lubeck.
Lubeck is a very interesting case, you could say. Under de Oncampus brand they are delivering very much distance learning programmes (80% distance, 20% f2f), using Sakai. They depend heavily on online content in their network of partners around the Baltic Sea.
Valencia is another special case: they need to provide their ICT tools in two languages, being Spanish and Catalan. This is why they did some work in realizing this in Sakai.
The last presentation was of our collegues from Fernando Pessoa (Porto, Portugal). They had a lot of the same issues we have encountered in our preparation for our pilots. But also they created some provisional tools, that we are deploying right now in our pilots. For example Site Stats.

Looking back

In his keynote address at the European Sakai Day in Lubeck Chuck Severance took the audience on a history ride. Going back to the days before the Sakai project started he provided the listeners with the reason why the collaborative effort of all the universities that are working together in the Sakai Foundation provide them with true control of their destiny.
Being an eloquent speaker Chuck told about the route the people had planned in past, the detours, the undiscovered "lands" and the sometimes difficult decisions that had to be made. He combined this with his nice sense of humor and appetite for good food and drinks.
The scaffolding is removed and Sakai is now ready for the real thing. It has to prove itself as a sustainable solution as a collaborative and teaching solution for our campuses.

A link to the website with the slides of Chuck Severance presentation

We are in Luebeck right now

Originally uploaded by wytze.
The European Sakai Days have just officially started. There is a great audience of about 100 people. Even people from Africa have taken the effort to come over. Prof Dr Rolf Granow is delivering his talk right now. I you want to see the powerpoint, then go to confluence, go here.
Last night we had a great walk around the old town of Luebeck. The weather was very good. And Luebeck is a nice city to walk around.

maandag, september 04, 2006

A promising week lies ahead.

1st European Sakai Days
Originally uploaded by wytze.
This week is a very significant week. First of all it is the week where our prime minister officially opens our academic year. Secondly this is the week where our first two pilots with Sakai are starting.
And thirdly this week marks the first European Sakai Days, that will be held in Luebeck, Germany. In this weblog you will see extensive coverage of this conference. So keep coming back (or read our RSS or Atom feed through your feedreader)!
Oh yeah, also this morning in the news-headlines was a manifest of all our Dutch universities to invest more in higher education. Why now? Well, our parliament elections are coming up (next November).