JISC and Sakai

I spent yesterday morning at Berkeley, which was hosting a delegation from JISC and HEFCE, both institutions that support higher education in the UK. Given the increasing presence of Sakai in the UK, I thought it worthwhile to explain a little about these organizations to the Sakai community. Others know more than I do (Sakai Board member Ian Dolphin is working at JISC, on loan from Hull).

First, almost all universities in the UK are public (the exception is University of Buckingham). Public dollars flow to these institutions through a complex system administered by HEFCE (The Higher Education Funding Council). A fascinating read if you’re interested in how to distribute large amounts of public money. And we are talking large amounts…HEFCE distributes over 7 billion pounds (14+ billion US dollars) every year. Wow.

Some of this money (I think about $150 million US) goes to JISC. The mission of the JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) is to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of information and communications technology to support education and research. Essentially, they are trying to do work that benefits all the institutions that get HEFCE money. In that way, it is a lot like what we’re trying to do in the community source worlds of Sakai, Kuali and JA-SIG.

JISC covers a number of strategic theme, which of course change over time. Currently, they are:

  • e-Learning (improves the quality of learning)
  • e-Research (technologies used in research)
  • e-Resources (digital information an e-content)
  • e-Administration (improves administrative processes)
  • Access management (secure authentication and authorization)
  • Network (UK research and education network, including JANET)
  • Information environment (convenient access to resources)
  • Business and community engagement (knowledge transfer)

Again, the overlap with the goals of Sakai should be fairly evident and, in fact, JISC have funded some exciting projects related to Sakai. If you haven’t already, you should take a look at the Virtual Research Environments programme. There are two excellent video (bottom of that same page) that describe a number of the projects. You’ll see some familiar faces along the way.

In any case, there was a very interesting exchange between Berkeley and the JISC delegation, led by JISC Executive Secretary (read: CEO) Malcom Read and Berkeley CIO Shelton Waggoner. Shelton’s description of how things were being done at Berkeley and across the UC System (a system of comparable complexity to the UK system) was of particular interest to the group. IT governance and strategic planning were the main themes.

Mara Hancock and her team gave a presentation about their work, including a very exciting presentation of Berkeley’s webcast activities. They even have their own YouTube channel. As you may know, Berkeley is working on a project to radically improve their webcasting and podcasting process on campus and will be integrating that work in Sakai for everyone to enjoy. I, personally, can’t wait to see it (back to work, Josh).

The JISC/HEFCE folks were headed down to Stanford and will be at Educause next week, where I hope to have a chance to compare notes on the relative merits of Pacific Northwest microbrews and British bitter. I don’t know what future collaboration may occur between Sakai and JISC but I’m looking forward to the conversations and results.

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One Response

  1. […] CRUE: Sakai in Valencia Published March 11, 2008 Sakai , e-learning Tags: e-learning, Sakai, valencia Every country runs their educational funding in a different way. There is a big contrast, for example, between the United States (many private universities and even for-profit institutions and fairly diverse sources of funding of public institutions) and the United Kingdom (mostly private universities where a vast amount of the funding flows through a central, government-run organization called HEFCE). […]

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