vrijdag, april 27, 2007

Sakai conference 2007 Logo, Dutch Design!!!!

Portfolio4u and some of the members of the Sakai Foundation (Susan Hardin and Joseph Hardin) worked together to design the new Sakai Conference logo.

Dutch Graphic Designer, Rik Laurentzen, did the design. so..this is really Dutch Design.

We went to lots of designs with Windmills, Wooden Shoes and finally the one with the Tulips.

The Tulip stands as a central point and reflects one of the main (export)products of The Netherlands.

You can also see the wavy blue Sakai lines, they represent the water in The Netherlands. And maybe you know, but there is a lot of water in The Netherlands.

The new logo will be seen on all the conference items like poster, programs and t-shirt's.

The Portfolio4u team is proud the Sakai community choose the Dutch designed logo.

Zoom in on the Sakai Google map and see what is happening in The Netherlands

Portfolio4u and the University of Michigan work together to fresh up the Dutch Sakai Google map.
So check it out and zoom in to The Netherlands to see how many Sakai installations we did over the last year. And the number of schools that are starting with Sakai is growing fast.
Link to Sakai map: http://sakaiproject.org/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=588

donderdag, april 19, 2007

Sakai and/or Sharepoint?

As Wytze mentioned in his last post, yesterday there was a workshop at SURFFoundation initiated by the coordinators of the SURF SIGs Sakai-NL and Sharepoint. Some of the participants were expecting a sort of product comparance between Sakai and Sharepoint (SP). Probably the two are basically the two mainstreams in Dutch Higher Education that have a high amount of interest at the moment as possible alternatives for current VLE's like Blackboard, TeleTOP, N@tschool, etc. In some discussions the two are considered to be equal alternatives. Simply stated: when we are looking for a new VLE we might consider Sakai or Sharepoint. Or can we also think of a combination of both? As a reader of this blog you probably know that the University of Twente is conducting a profound pilot project in which Sakai is taken into consideration. There were some attempts to include Sharepoint in the final phase of the pilot project. For several reasons, we did not include that in the current project because the deadline says that it has to be finalised by the end of May. Moreover, a similar investigation should be taken seriously and not as a sort of epilogue of a Sakai study. But can you actually compare them? Sharepoint - already starting in 2001 - could be found in the support of business processes, workflow optimalisation and quality assurance processes. I remember being the external consultant for a Dutch water management company which had a primary goal to organise their document management (especially version management, make specific employees responsible for a workflow process. They also wanted a portal page in which documents, and information from other resources could be displayed.

My basic statement is that the conceptual design behind SP is completely different compared to Sakai. SP originates from a business approach, Sakai was developed in an educational environment. Examples show that SP is missing typical educational functions. We already see pilots in which SP is combined with a VLE like It's Learning. Is it any use to compare Sakai with SP as if they were completely interchangeable? Isn't it comparing apples with pears (as we say in Dutch)? A product oriented discussion is always difficult. What are the functional and technical criteria and what about bridging different policies? We have seen that in our recent efforts to achieve a virtuel learning environment for the three technical universities (3TU). Our current approach is to take it from the archictecture side: first define business processes (functional services), then functional components and finally decide which (parts of) applications may deliver a specific function. This rather open approach also enables us to include other information processes (student adminstration, HRM, finance) and build a truly integrated environment.

Basically, the lack of integration is what is truly bothering most of the end users: searching for information in system A gives a different result from searching the 'same' information in system B.

It's interesting to hear how others perceive these issues. Anyone commenting?

Diverse needs for our IT systems

Yesterday I facilitated a workshop for around 60 people, representing quite a few (>15) institutions for Higher Education from The Netherlands, as well as a few commercial ICT-partners that have some affinity with (Higher) Education. This workshop was part of a yearly event that SURFfoundation organizes for the special interest groups that are facilitated by SURFfoundation. The workshop was jointly organized by the coordinator for the Sharepoint Special Interest Group (Nico Juist is his name) and me, as the acting coordinator for the Sakai SIG NL.
Just our joint announcement of the workshop was a big success; within a few days after the online announcement we had more than 70 registered participants! Since we wanted to keep things organized and workable we decided to shutdown the online registration for this workshop after that. In the end we had approximately 60 people in the room.
I will not dwell too much on the non-interactive part of the meeting, where we presented our Special Interest Groups. The workshop-part (for which you really never have enough time!) was much more interesting. We grouped the participants in 10 groups. We asked them to imagine being someone else, for example an undergraduate student, or the administrative staff, or the Chief Information Manager, or the faculty in the institution. From this standpoint we then asked the groups to look at processes and IT-components needed for these processes with regard to an optimal IT-solution.
There were some fascinating results actually. There was an enormous amount of very diverse suggestions that people came up with. Some highlights that stood out for me:
  • The post-graduate student has a urgent need for incorporating study and work. So IT stuff should be efficient and should cover both work and study (ideally).
  • The administration people wanted a completely integrated system.
  • The faculty would really great IT applications with which they can collaborate outside of their institution.
  • The CIO-perspective is the ‘most’ challenging, because they need to balance all the needs that do exist.
  • Several groups asked for better (synchronous) communication tools within our IT infrastructure.
In conclusion I would say that we need flexibility in IT (and thereby providing the right stuff for the very different actors and roles within our institutions) and on the other hand there is a need for structure and stability. I would argue that the Sakai framework might well be the structure on which the need for a lot of different tools can be fulfilled. I am thereby thinking of all the great tools that are in development or will be promoted for the Sakai 2.4.0 release. Unfortunately Agora from Lancaster University, which is a toolset for online collaboration within the Sakai framework, is not yet ready for production.
Some pictures of the workshop are at Flickr.

vrijdag, april 13, 2007

Twee wegen naar Rome

Twee wegen naar Rome
Originally uploaded by wytze.

{Dutch} Next wednesday I will be facilitating a workshop (Het grote ELO spel 2.0) for quite a large audience (>75 people are expected). I am doing this together with the community manager for the Sharepoint SIG. We will be focusing on the trends in our society and the impact it has on education, and vice versa.
During the workshop we will be asking the audience to step into another perspective (e.g. adminstrative staff or CIO) and think about the innovative use of ICT from these perspective.

See the SURFfoundation website for more information (in Dutch).

Some questions answered

Updated on April 13. During Peter Bavinck's (Oracle, The Netherlands) talk on April 4, some interesting questions were asked. Peter has been so kind to gather the answers to the questions that were asked on content management, eportfolio and more. The answers will be sent directly by email by Peter to those that had questions.

donderdag, april 12, 2007

What do you think of Sakai conferences?

In case you missed it: there is an intensive and open discussion on when, where and how often Sakai conferences should take place. This is what is so good about Sakai: the open, positive athomospere that shines through in every discussion like these.

woensdag, april 04, 2007

Our meeting was great fun!

Today I had a great day. This was due to the great weather (at least if you were behind windows), but even more to the great meeting we had today with the Sakai SIG NL.
The following institutions were present: University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, Free University, University of Utrecht, University of Applied Sciences of Utrecht, Mondriaan Onderwijsgroep, Saxion University, Hotelschool The Hague and the Leidse Onderwijsinstellingen. Quite an large list, or not?
But not only that, also present were quite a few commercial parties involved in Sakai (in no particular order): Edia, Stoas, Oracle, A New Spring, Portfolio4U and Omix.
I would dare to say that Sakai is quite known in The Netherlands. The next step is that we all start using Sakai!
The concise meeting notes are available at our website. Some photos at Flickr.

dinsdag, april 03, 2007

Sakai and the University of Twente

Just a short note here, especially for those attending our meeting tomorrow that want to know the details of our status. All links in this post will give you information in Dutch, so be warned.
We are approaching the end of our pilots with Sakai at our University. Actually we have started writing our final reports that should be finished by the end of May 2007. It is currently a bit unclear to me what the next steps will be with our reports. What is clear to me is that MS Sharepoint right now is seen as a very serious alternative to Sakai at our University (which was not the case one year ago!).
{Dutch} Als je geïnteresseerd bent in de actuele stand van zaken, lees dan ons statusrapport op onze website.

maandag, april 02, 2007

Reflecting on Innovatium 2007

Last Tuesday the large Innovatium (photos) conference was held in Amsterdam. We were there with a booth (photo after the click). At first I was not so happy with our location. We were upstairs, where none of the action (workshops and presentations) was taking place. But during the lunchbreak people started moving by. Together with Stanley Portier (read his impressions), Frank Benneker and Martine Hilderink we had lots of interesting discussions with the passers-by. We handed out our official flyer, as well as other interesting articles (Morgaine and Wheeler, as mentioned earlier).
There were two conversations that I would like to make note of here. I had a rather interesting conversation with a teacher that was involved in educational projects for and in third world countries (in Africa). His questions were about using Sakai on outdated PC's (should work!) and regarding the bandwidth needed for Sakai on the end-user side (is not so high, not much graphics), as well as the horsepower needed for a server to install and deply Sakai properly (should be OK, you can do it all with opensource software for the whole stack). He already knew quite well that Sakai (but also Moodle) are opensource and therefore free to deploy, which was good to hear! This reminded me of the ITC institution here in Enschede, that has told us that they have some problems with using Blackboard with their partner institutions in the Far East (this kind of use is apparantly not allowed according to the licensing terms).
The other conversation that I found interesting was more a philosophical one: what do we, as an educational institution, really need to offer (with regard to ICT applications) to our students in this Web 2.0 world? Can we not make a proper VLE just by referring the students to stuff like Google (e.g. Gmail, Docs and Groups) and all the free content that is out there. The problem here is, in my opinion, that Google (or other Web 2.0 stuff) is not free in the same way that Sakai is free. There are a lot of restrictions that apply when using Flickr, for example.