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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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

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

OER Conference Impressions

Photo by mlhradio

Photo by mlhradio

I spent Wednesday and Thursday of this week at the Open Educational Resources conference in (truly) beautiful Vancouver, Canada. It was my first time attending this event and I can highly recommend it for any one involved in the OER. A lot of good information and good people to meet. Here are a few of the highlights and takeaways from my perspective:

Sakai 2.6.0 Released!

I’m very pleased to announce that Sakai 2.6.0 is now officially available! Source, binary and demo distributions are available for download. For more information on what’s included in the release, see the release summary (in powerpoint) and the documentation page (in its fancy new format!).

This release is the second time we’ve taken Sakai through a revised process we originally put in place for 2.5. This process took the release through several beta and release candidate stages. While there will always be bugs in large complicated software packages like Sakai, we’re certain that the extra effort an attention that the community put into this process has resulted in a significantly higher quality release. In fact this process caused some significant delays to the release date as we found important bugs that needed to be fixed before the software was released (more on this below).

Also note that our release guidelines state that we will support the 2.6.0 release by producing maintenance releases for approximate 2 years.  And we support one major release back as well, so 2.5 will continue to get maintenance releases at least until 2.7 is available. The goal of the policy is to allow organizations to stay with the same version of Sakai for 2 academic years without needing to upgrade or follow the maintenance branch. The particulars details of how we manage this may change, but that’s the goal.

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Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA)

Last year the Sakai Teaching and Learning Community establiblished the Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA). This year the second set of winners were announced at the 10th Sakai Conference in Boston. A big thanks go to the award sponsors: IBM, rSmart and John Wiley & Sons.  The Sakai Foundation also provides financial support to bring the winners to the conference. You can read more details in the official press release.

The first and second place winners presented as keynotes on Thursday morning. We recorded their presentations and it is definitely worth watching them if you weren’t able to attend the conference. Here is the list of all four winners:

First Place

Dr. Andrea Crampton
Course: Introduction To Forensic Science
Charles Sturt University
Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Second Place

Dr. Edith Sheffer
Course: Germany and the World Wars, 1870-1990
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Honorable Mentions

Cherry Stewart
Course: Design Reflective and Interactive eLearning: Online Professional Development in Sakai
University of New England
Armidale, NSW Australia

Dr. Mark Van Dyke
Course: Spring 2008 Public Relations Case Studies; Fall 2008 Communication Capstone
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, NY

Sakai Foundation New Staff Members

As a result of a strategic review of its goals and activities, the Sakai Foundation has recently introduced some important changes to the Sakai Development Process. The introduction of this process and an examination of the role the Sakai Foundation should play in supporting the community resulted in the creation of two new staff positions: Sakai Product Manager and Sakai Communications Manager.  I’m pleased to announce that we have completed the interview process for both of those positions and will have two excellent new additions to the Sakai Foundation staff.

Clay Fenlason has been selected for the Sakai Product Manager position. If you’ve followed Sakai at all you’ll know the contributions Clay has made as a community member, a staff member of two Sakai adopters (Boston University and Georgia Tech) and as a member of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors. His skills and experience, coupled with his passion for and dedication to Sakai, will contribute a great deal to supporting the community and making the new Product Development Process successful.

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