Sakai Day in China: HuaZhong Normal University

HuaZhong LogoOn Saturday, March 1st, HuaZhong Normal University (also known as Central China Normal University) hosted the first official Sakai Day in China. HuaZhong is located Wuhan, a city of about 10 million people that is located about 1000 km south of Beijing and is the capital of Hubei province. If you have a stereotype of a crowded, dynamic, polluted and energetic Asian city with riotous traffic, Wuhan pretty much matches that picture (I was reminded of Hyderabad). This is in contrast to Beijing, which was clean and orderly and looking very much ready to host the Olympic games.

HuaZhong Cherry BlossomsHuaZhong Normal is perched atop a hill, thankfully, and the air was markedly cleaner (I even went for a run one morning, which I didn’t think would be possible when we were driving from the airport). There is a serviceable hotel right on campus where the conference was held. It’s a really beautiful campus, with a mixture of older and modern buildings, very nice parks and gardens.

The host organization for the conference is the Engineering & Research Center For Information Technology On Education. The lab is an official Ministry of Education laboratory and is directed by Professor Yang Zongkai, who is also Vice President of the University.

The conference was well attended and featured the following presenters/presentations:

  • Myself. A general Sakai overview (in English)
  • Melissa Zhuo from Claremont McKenna. A “Sakai Best Practices” presentation (Chinese)
  • Xingtang Hu from Indiana University. A technical presentation on Sakai (Chinese)
  • Professor SanYa Liu from HuaZhong. A very energetic and excellent presentation on HuaZhong’s work with Sakai. (Chinese)
  • William Wan of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. A description of the Sakai implementation at HKUST. (English, as they speak Cantonese in Hong Kong.)

All these presentations can be downloaded from the Sakai China page on the Sakai wiki. The formal proceedings were followed by tech demos given by various members of HuaZhong Univeristy. The conference website (in Chinese) is still up an running if you want to take a look.

Sakai China WelcomeI really want to thank everyone at HuaZhong Normal for organizing the conference as well as everyone who attended. Special thanks go to Professor SanYa Liu, who really has taken the lead on Sakai at HuaZhong and with whom I have been working over the last six months.

What is abundantly clear is that there is great opportunity for Sakai in China. Both for the use of Sakai in aiding teaching and learning (and research, but especially teaching and learning) and for contributions the Chinese universities can make to the rest of the community.

Our next step is to begin to explore how to create a working community there. The time difference, geographical distance and most importantly the language barriers make it advantageous to have a semi-independent Chinese Sakai community. Of course this community needs to be meaningfully connected to the rest of Sakai. I’ll be working with the Sakai Foundation board of directors and the interested universities in China to try craft something that works for everyone.

We also discussed the possibility of a longer workshop in the 2nd half of the year focused on Sakai developer and administrator training. More on these subjects as they develop…


One Response

  1. Thanks so much for blogging so extensive on your China visit. I appreciate it very much.

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