Bb and D2L Settle

Well, I suppose you’ve seen by now that Blackboard and Desire2Learn have settled their legal battles and cross-licensed their e-learning patent portfolios. Given that the respective press releases (Bb and D2L) were identical and extremely short, I don’t expect to hear much discussion from either company, although D2L did add some commentary on their patent blog and Ray Henderson of Bb had a good blog post as well. Perhaps Bb’s public filings will shed some further insight into whether any payments are changing hands but, at the end of the day, any one-time payments won’t matter much to the future and I highly doubt there are ongoing royalty payments as part of the settlement (I could be wrong…there is no way to tell right now).

Of course a combination of factors went into this decision on both sides. I’m personally very pleased that this is finished although slightly nauseous when I think about the amount of money that was spent on legal action.

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Sakai Foundation Board Candidates Announced

Today the impressive slate of candidates for the Sakai Foundation Board were announced. You can find the candidate profiles and platform statements on the Sakai website.

This year four new Board Members will be elected from the group of 13 candidates. Voting occurs by Sakai Foundation member representatives from October 31 – November 13 and we will announce the new members soon after that. The newly elected members will start their terms with the first Board meeting of the new year and their terms last 3 years.

It’s a great slate and makes me wish we could have more board members!  Congratulations to all the candidates for their nomination and a big “thank you” to them for their willingness to serve.

If you’re reading this and your organization is a Sakai Foundation member please encourage your member representative to vote. If you aren’t sure who that is, feel free to contact Mary Miles.

Sakai at University of Florida

Logo_UF

A couple of tweets in the last few days mentioned blog posts about the University of Florida and Sakai. So I thought it was worth mentioning pointing to them here. First, Sakai Foundation Product Manager Clay Fenlason made the drive from Georgia Tech to visit the Sakai team at UF and wrote about it on his blog. He mentions the infamous disaster preparedness plan that included a zombie attack scenario. I really appreciate that kind of irreverent humor and hope that the UF team will bring that creative spirit to the Sakai community. Although maybe not on the official website…

The second tweet from Mathieu Plourde pointed to Doug Johnson’s UF blog post announcing the selection of Sakai. A brief excerpt:

Ultimately, [the committee] decided that the power and flexibility of Sakai, coupled with the advantages of the open source model and the Sakai community, best met the needs of UF as envisioned in our strategic academic and IT plans.

A big welcome to the University of Florida!

Universiteit van Amsterdam and Edia

As part of my recent trip to Amsterdam to present at the OpenIC symposium, I also spent some time with the good people of UvA and Edia (a small company that provides Sakai services). I learned a great deal about what they’ve been up to, which was more extensive than I expected. Sakai has really become an integral part of life at UvA and Edia has done some very nice development work.

UvA Sakai Activities (courtesy of Frank Benneker)

  • UvA uses Sakai for something it calls webklas. These are three or four week distance eduction courses for prospective students who are interested in studying at the UvA. A webklas is based on a specific template with its own look and feel and selection of tools. This is an interesting example of open education that serves a strong need for UvA–ensuring students are applying to the correct program at the University.
  • Portfolios -UvA is also experimenting with OSP, Sakai’s portfolio tool set.  They’ll be getting some consulting help from Janice Smith at Three Canoes. As you probably know, making portfolios successful involves far more than usable software and a willing faculty member. It typically depends in curriculum reform at a higher level and a group of dedicated faculty, students and support staff. It will be interesting to watch the portfolio work at UvA as it matures.
  • The UvA Communities E-Collaboration site hosts a number of interesting projects.  One of these is Proeve, an internal project group for collaboration and knowledge management. Another (in English!) is Conflictstudies — a collaboration and knowledge site. This platform serves several courses on conflict studies and a growing community of scholars in this field. It makes it possible for participants in different courses to participate in discussions, make their work accessible to others and build on each other’s results in future courses.
  • There are also a couple of interesting E-Research projects. Testweeklab is research environment for research on psychology data sets.  A special tool has been developed to connect a Sakai site with a Fedora repository to store, manage and publish complex data sets. And specialised workflow to manage access to the data set is part of the tool. Continue reading

Amsterdam OpenIC Symposium

Photo by MorBCN

Photo CC-BYNCSA by MorBCN

I spent part of last week in Amsterdam at the invitation of University of Amsterdam for the OpenIC Symposium (program in Dutch, running on Sakai). I learned a lot about what’s happening at UvA (great things!),  visited Edia, a consulting company that provides Sakai services, and the Vrije Universiteit. I even gave a lecture on Open Source governance to a class of Masters students who are learning about OS technology (also at UvA). This post is about the symposium itself. Later this week I’ll blog about the other things I learned…. Continue reading

AuSakai 09

AuSakai 09 Logo

AuSakai 09 Logo

I just returned from a great week in Australia, primarily for AuSakai 09. I also had meetings with many groups at Charles Sturt University (where the conference was held) and visited University of New England in Armidale.

Clay Fenlason and I arrived early Monday morning on the same flight from SFO and took the short flight to Bathurst, where Charles Sturt has one of its campuses. Monday was spent recovering from the trip and going out to dinner with Ian Boston and Matt Morton-Allen. On Tuesday Clay and I had a series of meetings with groups at CSU. Charles Sturt has just taken an official decision to provide resources for Sakai 3 development. This is great news for everyone, including CSU. They are currently running 2.4.x and have several substantial local customizations. This makes upgrading more difficult, a fact that they have recognized. By engaging early in Sakai 3 development, they should be able to ensure that their requirements are met by the base version of Sakai 3 and, therefore, reduce their customization costs. Continue reading

Sakai Staff Meetings

I’m writing this blog post from Bathurst Australia, home of Charles Sturt University which is hosting AuSakai 09, the Australian Sakai Conference. I traveled here with Clay Fenlason, Sakai Product Manager, after he spent last week in Berkeley for the Sakai staff meetings. All the other staff members were in attendance, including Lance Speelmon who has joined the staff on a temporary but long-term assignment.

The meetings were half tactical, half strategic and several staff members used the time to make local site visits (to Stanford and Berkeley) and participate in some ongoing work (Groups and Test & Quizzes). In terms of the staff meeting itself, though, we covered the following items: Continue reading