2009 Sakai Fellow Nominations

This is a quick reminder that the deadline for Sakai Fellow nominations–Monday, May 4th– is fast approaching. You can find all the information about the program on the Sakai wiki, but here is a quick summary:

  • There will be 6 fellows per year. These can be contributors to Sakai in any area, from code to UX to evangelism.
  • Terms will be 1 year and the stipend will be $2500. Conference registration fees will be waived.
  • The terms will start with the summer conference and go through the next summer’s conference.
  • Nominations are due by May 4th.

Getting the fellows nominated and selected in time for Boston will be a bit of a challenge. But please submit your nominations via email to Peter Knoop. You can find the nomination form here.

Get those nominations in soon!


Naval Postgraduate School Adopts Sakai

nps-logoIn case you missed it in the Sakai newsletter, rSmart recently announced that the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) has become part of the Sakai Community. The NPS, in Monterey, California, is a postgraduate educational institution with an enrollment of 2,500 students from the US Military, Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and allied foreign military and government officials. NPS provides top-quality, relevant and unique advanced education and research programs to increase combat effectiveness of the Naval Service, other Armed Forces of the US and our partners to enhance our national security.

From the rSmart press release:

NPS is implementing the rSmart Sakai CLE to improve the educational effectiveness of its growing distributed learning enrollment by giving faculty members more flexibility in how they conduct their distributed learning classes. Additionally, Sakai is being used to help NPS researchers coordinate their collaborative research efforts with other educational institutions and Department of Defense organizations. rSmart, through its configuration and implementation process, assisted NPS in installing an instance of Sakai that met all functional and security requirements. “rSmart’s expertise was instrumental in configuring our Sakai instance in a way that balanced our functionality and security concerns. With their help and support, we are able to more quickly deliver a more functional instance of Sakai than we otherwise would have been able to,” says Jon Russell, Manager of Educational Technologies for NPS.

Congratulations to NPS. We hope to see you at the 10th Sakai Conference in Boston.

Sakai and Google Summer of Code (GSoC)

Last year Chuck Severance mentored the first two Sakai Google Summer of Code students. This year there are three (!) accepted students who will be working with Sakai.

Congratulations to the following students:

  • Shashank Agrawal  (in-line editor for Sakai3; lead mentor Amyas Phillips)
  • Andre Leger  (OpenSyllabus; lead mentor Claude Coulombe)
  • Yuri Vishnevsky  (Annotations system for Sakai3; lead mentor Oszkar Nagy)

Thanks also to the mentors who will be working with these students and especially to Laura James from Cambridge who spearheaded the application process.  She created a brainstorming page on the Sakai wiki and the Sakai GSOC home page. I guess we should thank Google as well for sponsoring this terrific program.

Also, congratulations to Ricardo Fleck, a student who will be working on 3akai during the summer at Cambridge (outside the scope of the GSoC program). Ricardo is studying in Brazil and is very much on the UI side, and the CARET menotrs (Amyas and Oszkar) will mentor him as if he was a GSOC student.

Job Listings

I’m now accepting applications for both of the previously announced Sakai job openings. You can find them both on LinkedIn.

Product Manager Job Description

Communications Manager Job Description

LinkedIn requires that you specify a location for the job and the job lists “SF Bay Area”. In fact, applicants from anywhere will be considered. Ability to travel extensively is a requirement for the Product Manager job.

If you are interested you should apply via LinkedIn or directly to me.  I will be accepting applications through Friday, May 8th.

Changes to Sakai Foundation Staff Positions

As you probably know, we’ve recently announced changes to the Sakai development process. We’re also making some related changes to the role the Sakai Foundation plays in how it supports the community and, as a result, I am making some changes to the staff roles.  Two new positions are being created, one for a Product Manager and a one for Communications Manager. Between the two, the goal is for the Foundation to increase communication overall and to play a more proactive role in developing and executing the product roadmap.

The Sakai Product Manager will lead the new development process for Sakai and will drive both greater engagement from users and contributors as well greater roadmap predictability for adopting institutions. He or she will also serve as the liason between the community and the Sakai Product Council. This will be a challenging and invigorating role since the Product Manager will, in a very real sense, “own” the Sakai roadmap.

The Sakai Communications Manager will be responsible for both internal and external communications for the Sakai Foundation. He or she will own the content for the Sakai website and the overall organization of our wiki and other communication vehicles for Sakai. This will be a very hands on role and will involve everything from developing a communications strategy to writing lots of content. Continue reading

Sakai statement on 2nd Bb-D2L patent suit

The Sakai Foundation today issued the following official statement on the new Bb-D2L lawsuit:

As you may have already read, Blackboard has filed a new lawsuit against Desire2Learn for patent infringement. This recent lawsuit is based on a patent that Blackboard was awarded in February (#7,493,396). This new patent is actually a revised version of the patent originally at issue (#6,988,138). The revision was a result of the patent re-examination process undertaken by the USPTO that was initiated by requests from the Software Freedom Law Center (on behalf of Sakai, Moodle and ATutor) and, separately, from Desire2Learn.

Blackboard has added the new patent to its patent pledge—their promise that they will not enforce these patents against open source software, including Sakai. They did this without any request from the Sakai Foundation and we appreciate the pro-active addition. However, as we stated in February 2007, the pledge does not go as far as we would have liked and the addition of the new patent does not change those misgivings.

The Sakai Foundation’s position on the legal action and the patent itself remains the same. We are concerned that this very broad patent, especially when litigated repeatedly, could stifle innovation in educational software. At a time when there is tremendous public pressure on the cost of education, we are also distressed to see another multi-million dollar installment of this patent distraction. We would like the higher education community to be able to make a choice of collaboration and learning software without fearing that their right to use such software will be terminated through the courts. We again urge the parties involved to find a definitive end to this distraction that has been harmful to the free expression of ideas and the development of tools for education.

Michael Korcuska
on behalf of the Sakai Foundation and its Board of Directors

Related Links:

Blackboard Patent Pledge
Desire2Learn Patent Blog
February 2007 Sakai statement on Patent Pledge

10th Sakai Conference

Don’t forget, the deadline for proposals for the 10th Sakai Conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts is coming up soon:  April 10th!  This is earlier than it has been in the past but, fret not, it doesn’t take very long to submit a proposal or register for the conference at the conference website.

The deadlines to keep in mind are as follows:

April 10, 2009 — Deadline for submitting proposals
June 5, 2009 — Deadline for earlybird (discounted) registration for the conference.
June 5, 2009 — Deadline for hotel reservations at the Sakai rate

We look forward to seeing you at the conference in July!