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….

Saginaw Valley State University is pleased to announce its completed
transition to the Sakai CLE as the institution’s online learning and
portfolio system. We began in 2005 with an experimental OSP pilot, then
opened a Sakai-OSP setup to the campus in spring 2006. Now, we have
migrated over 2700 course sites and over 200 non-academic projects
(clubs, orgs, committees, department sites) to “VSpace” (our Sakai
brand). Additionally, we manage programmatic assessment for several
departments utilizing some OSP tools. Our stack always blends Sakai
core, provisional, contrib., and Foothill tools to produce a rich
learning environment and provide a flexible framework for digital
portfolio opportunities. When combined as such, the suite is flexible,
powerful, and stable for us. This is all possible in one cohesive system
due to the Sakai Project and its enthusiastic and hardworking

We are also proud to become one of the newest Sakai Educational
Partners for the next three years and look forward to continued fruitful
collaboration within this open community. The innovation advancements
here are difficult to keep up with, but it is loads of fun trying. We
aim to pitch into future efforts surrounding migration, archiving, and
importing processes, and to become more active in QA testing of Sakai
release code.

Blackboard’s BASIC learning system served SVSU since 2000 and will be
unplugged on May 14, 2008 (in just a few weeks!). Primary motivators to
migrate to an open-source system were to customize and enhance the
feature set and functionality, secure our LMS server, and unify
authentication and integration with other systems. All of that was not
possible without contracting one or more of Blackboard’s
enterprise-level offerings.

Special thanks go out to Noah Botimer, who built our first few Sakai
forks and taught us how to manage the code. We also send our gratitude
to Vivie Sinou and the Foothill de Anza team for their extensive work on
JForum, Melete, and, recently, Mneme.

The generosities extended to us via this list, Confluence pages, email
advice, JIRA details, future version road maps, excellent conferences,
shared tip sheets and tutorials, and countless words of caution and
wisdom have been priceless. A global network of support has proven to be
far more rewarding and effective than a contracted support professional
hailing from a stale corporate office.

If anyone would like to discuss migration practices, processes, or just
banter about how we pulled this off at a small state university, feel
free to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss it.

Thanks to all of you. We couldn’t have done it without you.


Dan, Jake, Bob, Leah
SVSU Sakai Team

You can find more information about online learning at SVSU on their website.

Please join me in welcoming SVSU to the group of enterprise production institutions! Congratulations!


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