Beijing Visit, Day 2

The second day in Beijing (Thursday February 28th) we visited Beijing University (also called Peking University and not to be confused with Beijing Normal University) in the morning and Beijing University of Post and Telecom (BUPT) in the afternoon.

Peking University LogoPeking Univeristy was founded in 1898 and has about 30,000 students, equally divided between graduate students and undergraduates. We met with a small group led by Professor Wang Qiong, who is Director of the Center of Education Technology, and Shengqing Wang (whose business card is only in Chinese…where are Melissa and Xingtang when I need them!). They will undertake a Course Management System selection process during this year. They were under the impression that it was necessary to join the Sakai Foundation to be able to use of Sakai and participation in the Sakai community. Needless to say, we corrected this misapprehension and explained that while joining the Foundation is appreciated, it is certainly not required. They were extremely happy to hear that news, of course. While they have a much smaller team than, for example, Tsinghua University, like most of the universities we met with they work with java technologies on a daily basis.

BUPT Cyber logoIn the afternoon we met with BUPT who, along with HuaZhong University (who would be hosting the Sakai China conference), has done the most advanced work with Sakai in China. Professor Wen Fuan and Professor Li Qing had assembled a large group of faculty, staff and students. They gave us a general presentation about their lab, the Institute for Cyber Education Technology, and about their work with Sakai. Li Qing has spent time at University of Michigan working on Sakai and has provided the community with a Chinese localization of Sakai, among other things. It’s clear they are a very talented bunch and will be able to contribute a considerable amount to the Sakai community. Li Qing is someone to seek out (he attended the Sakai Conference in Newport Beach) and get to know (it helps that his English is really good).

BUPT is a distance learning university and, as such, has some specific requirements for their students and instructors that are not currently met by the tools in Sakai. They are working on modifying Melete to meet their needs and we even got to see some screen shots (in Chinese, of course, but I think I got the basic idea…I’m working on getting screen shots) of their work-in-progress. Given the vast geography and population in China, pure distance learning is obviously a critical part of their overall higher education picture. I think it won’t be too long they will be making significant contributions to the Sakai community.

I’ve begun to collect the presentations we saw in China and make them available in the new Sakai China wiki space.

Finally, BUPT has a second project that is using Sakai as a platform. It is called “Towards A Smokeless China” and uses curriculum developed by Johns Hopkins. It is targeted at health workers. You can see their presentation on the wiki page. I’m trying to track down the URL for the portal as well.

Next a summary of the first Sakai Day in China….

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