UPV and Sakai

Valencia Logo On Thursday, March 6th, I visited the Universidad Politècnica de València. The day before I had been part of the CRUE conference which was hosted by UPV, but this day was dedicated to the activities of the University itself. My two most direct hosts were Raúl Mengod López and Aris Cañero Villegas, who both work in the IT function developing and supporting Sakai. Raúl  drew the short straw (by virtue of his home being very close to my hotel) and got to drive me around Valencia while I was there. The IT department is led by Vice-Rector Miguel Ferrando Bataller and is divided into two groups, Applications (led by Margarita Estelles Palanca) and Network & Systems (led by Jaime Busquets Mataix).

UPV has done a fantastic job with Sakai, both technically and in terms of supporting users. Their local instance is called PoliformaT and, as I mentioned in my previous post about the CRUE conference, contains an implementation of Citations Helper (among many other things). This is their second full academic year using Sakai as their production CMS and, by all accounts, it is a big success on campus. In addition to some nice local customizations of Sakai, they have contributed code to the community. Raúl was kind enough to describe some of this work as well as list some of their more important future requirements. I would expect, now that their local instance is running smoothly, to see greater contributions from the talented team at UPV.

UPV Awards In terms of supporting their users, I was privileged enough to attend (and speak at) an awards ceremonyConejo course for the top e-learning courses developed by UPV faculty.  There were 5 winners overall (you can see them pictured to the left) and the first place winner was a distance learning course about rabbit farming (on the right). Yes, for food. Conejo is an important ingredient in paella and Valencia is the capital of paella (paella means “frying pan” in Valencian, which is basically the same language as Catalan).

UPV has also put together an impressive set of studios for recording faculty lectures. They call them “Polimedia” studios and you may remember that Dr. Chuck showed off his presentation skills in one of these studios awhile back. I tried it out as well and I think the result is satisfactory for my first try. I absolutely love the setup though.  It is very easy to use and I think the format of the finished product is great. It has an excellent balance of presenter and content. Unlike formats where the presenter is a “talking head” or is shot in a real classroom, I think the Polimedia format gives a better sense of the individual while providing plenty of room for the content (in this case powerpoint slides). I’ll be posting more details about how they set up their rooms sometime soon.

All in all, it is easy to be impressed with what’s happening at UPV. I expect that Aris and Raúl (at least) will attend and present at the 9th Sakai conference in Paris and I encourage you to seek them out there. As a reminder, proposals for the conference are due at the end of this month.

One thing I forgot to mention is that, as part of the CRUE contingency, we got to visit an amazing art exhibition dedicated to a set of murals depicting Spanish life by the Valencian artist Sorolla. These murals are normally at the Hispanic Society of America headquarters in New York, but are on loan to a museum in Valencia. They are enormous and amazing. If you don’t see them while they are in Valencia it is definitely worth tracking them down when they return to New York.


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