Paris conference highlights

Sakai Paris Logo

Sakai Paris Logo

I’m sitting at the Cambridge Hackathon with an amazing group of Sakai contributors and I’m sure there will be a variety of good outcomes and stories from this week, but I’m remiss in providing a summary of last week’s 9th Sakai Conference in Paris.

Despite some logistical challenges (the hotel was too far away from the University) and unwelcome heat & humidity (and insufficient air conditioning in some rooms), I thought it was a very successful week. It was all made possible by our colleagues at UniversitĂ© Pierre et Marie Curie who really can’t be thanked too much for all the work they did.

Everyone has a different experience of the conference, of course, and mine is probably one of the most unusual. There area a few things I wanted to note a few highlights from my week at the conference:

  • The project coordination meetings are working a lot better than they did last year. While some portions fell flat (notably my session on 2.6 and beyond), overall there were productive sessions that resulted in deliverables and action items.
  • The teaching and learning community emerged. Wednesday was emblematic of this. The morning opened with the presentation of the first Sakai Teaching and Learning Innovation Awards, followed by Diana Laurillard’s excellent keynote address, presentations from both of the Sakai T&L Award winners and, finally, an excellent panel discussion with Diana, Josh Baron, Chuck Severance and Maggie Lynch. You can see these presentations (and others!) on the page UPMC used for webcasting the conference.
  • The “Better, Faster, Lighter Sakai UX” presentation from the folks at CARET and Nathan Pearson’s UX Improvement presentation. CARET has been working on a new way of developing Sakai tools using JavaScript “gadgets” that consume JSON formatted data provided by the underlying Java services. We’re using this approach at the hackathon to, among other things, implement Nathan’s UX Improvement project designs. And the good news is that some folks from Fluid are here as well. All this work is clearly an important development for Sakai and that should produce a number of significant benefits for the community. CARET has a (slightly out of date) page on the Sakai wiki. The Sakai Foundation staff will help them improve this and disseminate the knowledge throughout the community.
  • The focus on building a “content/page authoring” capability for Sakai. A number of folks are working on this and have tool prototypes available. These range from structured (OpenSyllabus by University of Montreal and HEC Montreal…I’ll say more about this later) to semi-structured (the Subject Research Guides from Sakaibrary) to unstructured (free form editing in OSP and some interesting widget-based work from Cambridge). We all agreed that there is an underlying set of capabilities that are shared and that we should be able to combine efforts in some way. Stay tuned.

I need to get back to the hackathon now. More posts about Paris and Cambridge as I have time (and think of them)!


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