Saginaw Valley State Turns on Sakai

SVSU LogoI recent spoke with the online learning team at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). They let me know that in May of this year, Sakai will become the enterprise learning management system at SVSU, replacing Blackboard. It’s great to see another smaller school (<10,000 students) using Sakai as an enterprise course management system. They are also joining the Sakai Foundation as a member, which is the icing on the cake.

SVSU made the following announcement to the Sakai email lists, so instead of my describing what they are doing….

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JavaScript Toolkits from Fluid

In case you don’t follow the Fluid lists/blogs, I want to draw your attention to an extremely high quality blog entry from Colin Clark, Technical Lead for the Fluid project. Colin’s post goes describes why you should use JavaScript toolkits rather than rolling your own and why, after considerable exploration, the Fluid Project chose jQuery as its library of choice. The criteria they used to make this decision included:

  • Cross-browser support
  • Easy debugging
  • Event abstraction
  • A solid DOM manipulation library
  • A strong community and clear roadmap for improvements
  • Accessibility

Thanks, Colin, for taking the time to articulate this. I encourage you to read the entry, read the latest happenings on the Fluid Project and check out jQuery.

Sakai Paris Speakers Announced

paris metro signI’m extremely pleased to announce that Diana Laurillard, Professor of Learning with Digital Technologies at the London Knowledge Lab, will be the keynote speaker for the 9th Sakai Conference in Paris. Diane is a recognized authority in technology-based teaching and learning and author of the excellent book Rethinking University Teaching: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technology.  She will be speaking on Wednesday morning, July 2nd. You won’t want to miss it.

I’m also pleased to note that we have confirmed two excellent featured speakers. James Dalziel, Director of the Macquarie E-Learning Centre Of Excellence at University of Macquarie and the creator of LAMS, will be speaking on Learning Design and pedagogy. Wendy Mackay, Research Director with INRIA, Futurs, in France, will be speaking about some of her lab’s work on interaction design. The lab is called In|Situ| and has a cool blog (check out the pico projector video…I want one of those).

And now is a great time to register for the conference and reserve your hotel room. For those who have submitted proposals we hope to get acceptances out by the end of next week.

See you in Paris!

Photo by Pedro Simões

Education and the feature-cost dilemma

Sakai board member Josh Baron drew my attention to a recent controversy in the MySQL community. The article describes MySQL’s plans to withhold some key features and source code from the community, reserving them for paying customers. I won’t weigh in on the controversy since I don’t really know much about the MySQL community.

I’m not surprised, though. MySQL is a business (now owned by Sun Microsystems) and as a for-profit enterprise they will need to find a way to make money. The standard way to do this in the software industry is to have different editions of the software at different price points. Here are a couple of examples:

You get the idea. More features, more cost. Nothing wrong with it.

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Sakai and Facebook: A student perspective

I thought I was done blogging about the Rhode Island Sakai Conference, but just before I left I attended such a fantastic session that I can’t resist another entry. The session was led by a history teacher at Warwick West High School and three of her sophomore honors students. They are using the discussion tool for a few class assignment. The students spoke about some of things they noticed about this process, and it was a terrific endorsement of even light use of learning technology in the classroom. Here are a few things they mentioned:

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Rhode Island Sakai Conference (K-12)

On Tuesday and Wednesday I participated in the Rhode Island Sakai Conference in Newport, RI. The conference has a K-12 focus and is, as far as I know, the first K-12 Sakai conference. The conference was organized by RINET, the Rhode Island Network for Educational Technology.

Rhode Island is doing incredibly important work with portfolios. The accountability pressures on schools threatens to degenerate into a curriculum based on multiple choice tests. I could go on and on about this (and have been known to on occasion) but I think Tom Chapin says it perfectly:

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Stanford Women’s Basketball

stanford athletic logoSo those of you from outside the United States probably don’t really understand the mania involved in major college athletics here. And I’m normally immune to most of it, but I have to admit a strong loyalty to my undergraduate institution, Stanford University, and especially the women’s basketball team. (Stanford is a founding member of the Sakai Project so I’m using that cover to slip this entry into my blog. It’s a pretty weak justification but the video below is worth watching.)

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