donderdag, december 06, 2007

Apples & pears

The keynote of day two by Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM was partly about something very familiar to Dutch innovators in Higher Education. Sutor spoke about something that has also been coined 'Generation Einstein' in the Netherlands. A new generation of learners entering the schools with a lot of computer skills and therefore more technological demands. But his talk 'from closed to open' was also about the role of open software in this development. Reasoning from the deception that the new generation faces when confronted with 'boring' educational software, open source developments in conjuction with the 'read/write' web 2.0 offer a possibility to start creating better educational systems that meet the demands of the new learners.

UC Berkely showed some of this in practise as they demonstrated their 'OpenCast' initiative. In collaboration with Apple they work on an architecture for producing, sharing and delivering webcasts in education. And it integrates with Youtube too, speaking about new demands. All together a far from trivial and challenging combination of technology, didactic concepts, new (open) business logic and so forth.
Like the OpenCast project, a general observation is that there are many professional and well-structured developments going on, that are either built in Sakai or integrated with it. Just take Sakai as given and you can put energy in shaping the environment to your philosophy of education.

I will be representing the Dutch Sakai SIG in the panel session “Sakai in your backyard' about organizing regional Sakai events. And it actually feels a bit like the backyard when I have to mention that in the Netherlands we are still busy comparing apples with pears in the backyard, whereas we should be reasoning about what kind of neat features and innovations we could develop within the community! Take Sakai as given, and direct the resources to make Sakai match optimally to your philosophy of education. Sometimes i think this is what it's all about: either you model the software to your organisation (open source) or you model your organisation to the software you have (closed source).

Next up for today is the technical demo of the Sign-up tool that Porfolio4U and Edia developed in the last month. A hot item because it turned out to be a classic case of concurrent development. Yale university, Stanford university and University of Michigan have or have had Sign-up projects. So what will happen? Can we agree to synchronize requirements and come up with one tool, or will there be different sign-up tools in the future? Think of it, there are in fact a lot of use cases for a sign-up tool, ranging from student meetings, tutoring sessions or even seminars and workshops.
Does anybody know a good alternative name for a tool that allows people to sign up for events such as seminars, workshops and the like?

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