Sakai in Valencia

I spent a few days last week in Valencia, Spain, my new favorite European city. As you probably don’t know, the French school system has a 2 week vacation every 6 weeks. Yes, you read that right. This is a difficulty for working parents because, although you may think the French get enough holiday time to simply take a 2 week vacation every 6 weeks, it is simply not true. So we tackled a part of this February’s issue with a working vacation in Valencia. My wife’s mother joined us so there was extra child care on hand. A rented apartment with good internet connectivity made for a (relatively) productive and fun few days.

I gave a talk  to about 30 members of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and a few folks from Lleida and Santiago. Leida is a long time Sakai school and Santiago is considering replacements for WebCT. I also met with Salva Pellicer, formerly of Valencian International University, and Diego del Blanco of Samoo (and formerly from UPV).  Samoo is installing Sakai for VIU and is starting a Sakai support business in Spain. There are other exciting developments in Spain as well (another post as they become more concrete and I can actually talk about them) and Anthony Whyte just announced a new production instance of Sakai in Portugal at Instituto Politécnico de Bragança. So the Iberian peninsula seemed to be teeming with Sakai activity.

My talk (slides here) covered three general topics:

  • A review of Sakai activities in 2008
  • A look at developing plans for Sakai 3
  • A preview of what I have been working on with the board

I think the talk went well. At least everyone was nice enough to say so. We also talked about a few other Sakai related topics:

  • UPV’s plans to upgrade from 2.4 to 2.6 this summer.  This should help them a great deal. Lleida confirmed that their own upgrade from 2.4 to 2.5 helped them a great deal. Previously they were spending too much time troubleshooting Sakai issues. Now they have lots of time to work on new tools.  Which brings me to the next item….
  • Lleida demonstrated a tool they are building for the Bologna process. Pretty specific to Europe and, in some ways at least, to Leida.
  • The need for a non English-speaking group of Universities to take charge of internationalization for Sakai 3. Hopefully some folks in Spain (and elsewhere) will help lay the groundwork for Sakai 3 to make sure localization is as easy as possbile.
  • The transition to Sakai 3. Nothing conclusive here, but I encouraged everyone to check out Stephen Marquard’s document on that subject.

I also learned some interesting things about university governance in Spain. Rather than being hired by a board of directors the rector of the university (the equivalent of the university president in the US) is elected by students, staff & faculty. The elections take place every 4 years and the faculty votes, as you might expect, have the most weight.  The candidates generally present a slate of their vice-rectors and even directors.

I thought this was an interesting way to do things and am surprised that I don’t know of any US institutions that do things the same way (are there some?). The elections are this Thursday and one of our Sakai community members, Aris Cañero, is part of one of the slates. So good luck to Aris this week!

Finally, I really want to thank Jaime, Aris, Raul and Salva for their hospitality. I enjoyed learning more about what is happening at UPV and my family really enjoyed the city of Valencia. I highly recommend it as a family vacation spot.


2 Responses

  1. Michael,

    It was a pleasure for us to host you. Come back whenever you want.


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