woensdag, december 05, 2007
Day One in Newport Beach
Today the main Sakai conference started in Newport Beach, about 55 miles south of Los Angeles. The hotel and surroundings (picture taken from the hotel) provide an excellent environment for the coming days. I have been told that 411 people have registered for the conference, and I have counted three Dutchmen among them.
So what was on this morning? The day started off with an inspiring key note talk by Joel Thierstein, Executive Director of Connexions and Associate Provost of Rice University. The Connexions platform is definitely worth some further investigation. From a conceptual point of view, one could compare it with Dutch activities within the ‘educatieve contentketen’. Like in the Netherlands , (business)models of open content, re-use and sharing within a community are new, and therefore also require new and challenging forms of governance and leadership within such communities.
In another session, 'converting from an existing course management system to Sakai' by David Melone, I heard some interesting remarks on integrating Sakai with an existing Question Mark Perception instance. I turns out that they are interested in sharing an LDAP between the two systems and possibly report QMP grades to the Sakai gradebook. Since the University of Amsterdam now uses a QMP instance for their ICTO - Digital testing programme, I think it might be something to keep on our radar.
The Sakai Foundation executive director Micheal Korcuska gave an update on the Sakai Foundation in the third session. It seems that there has been a good debate within the foundation about the mission statement of Sakai and the priorities of the Sakai Foundation. The mission could be ‘Beat Blackboard’ , but Michael came up with a few more thoughtful statements:
· Create flexibility for education
· Facilitate innovation
· Reduce total costs of VLE’s
· Increase user satisfaction
· Promote openness
Next to that the two top priorities of the Sakai foundation should be to ‘create the highest quality core software’ and ‘Seek to engage new members of the community’.Regarding the last point, there is in fact some debate about the adoption of Sakai. The question is whether it is desired to have ( a lot) more institutions new to Sakai at this moment and seeing the complexity of managing the already large community rise.
This discussion also relates to the type of institutions, e.g community colleges, corporations etc. that are moving into the direction of Sakai. Mike Zackrison, vice-president of marketing and strategy at rSmart also touched on the debate in his session. rSmart has done a survey investigating various types of institutions and their future plans with regard to (open source) VLE’s, and they found some interesting issues. Those who are interested should contact rSmart to get a copy of the survey results. What made the talk especially interesting is that there seem to be differences in views on open source across different types of institutions. For example the rSmart survey concluded that community colleges (in the U.S) see open source as risky and do not tend to be interested in Sakai. Well, we all now that in The Netherlands community colleges have the largest install base of Sakai-OSP in the Dutch educational system, using the hosted solution by Portfolio4u. That shows the need of more market investigations throughout different regions and sharing them with the community, because the Sakai Foundation is debating these issues! The general idea however about the adoption of Sakai is that an increase of institutions using Sakai would be the preferred development. And in the end that is no surprise to me.