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:

Rhode Island is grappling with this dilemma head on and allows schools to include portfolio work as part of a student’s graduation requirements. This is fighting the good fight. It is among the most important work related to teaching in learning that the public schools systems are engaged in. You can read more about Rhode Island’s efforts here. Without these types of authentic assessment mechanisms, I shudder to think what will happen to US schools over the next decade.

Oh, it is probably worth mentioning, the Rhode Island Electronic Portfolio System (RIEPS) runs on Sakai’s Open Source Portfolio (OSP), and is supported by rSmart. And one quick note just announced at the conference: Rhode Island has over 13,000 course sites on their Sakai instance!

The conference itself was attended by approximately 150 teachers, administrators, technology support staff and even students. The purpose was two-fold. First, to bring together those who are using (or interested in using) Sakai in K-12 settings, identify common interests and discuss how to work together. That happened on Tuesday and the results will eventually make their way to the K-12 wiki space. One of the themes of the day was how higher education and K-12 could work together. Four ideas caught my attention:

  • E-Portfolios, which need to follow students from K-12 through college and beyond. I’ve blogged about this before.
  • Teacher professional development. This is a great application and is already happening successfully in several places.
  • Credit capture. Occasionally a student needs to pick up a missing credit from high school that they need for entry into some higher education program.
  • AP or college credit courses offered to high school students. This is a place where K-12 and higher ed are already collaborating and introducing technology could have a very positive impact.

A big thanks to RINET for organizing this great event, especially Steve Foehr. His leadership in organizing the K-12 community is very much appreciated.

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2 Responses

  1. I am wondering what percentage of rhode island k-12 schools are using sakai vs. other lms systems. would you be able to provide me with that statistic?

    • You can contact Steve Foehr who will know the details. I believe Sakai is the only system connected to the officially supported student system that Rhode Island runs and is used by most or all of the schools who use that student system. At least that’s what it was a year ago. I’ll send you Steve’s contact info separately.

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