We’ve been tracking Sakai Open Academic Environment (OAE) progress (formerly known as Sakai 3; see project plans here) and thought you’d be interested in a recent announcement.
On November 5, 2010, New York University launched the first pre-release pilot of the Sakai OAE — a revolutionary platform for academic networking and collaboration. The NYU instance will be known as the ATLAS Network (Advanced Teaching, Learning, And Scholarship Network). The pilot will grow to include 5,000 students and faculty from six different NYU schools.
Below is a 13-minute screencast of their implementation.
The NYU pilot focuses on two important areas of need.
- It provides a single NYU network for many diverse university communities to use.
- And it provides a flexible set of options for implementing portfolios.
- searchable profiles,
- group spaces and uploaded content, and
- two portfolio implementations.
The pilot is being overseen by a cross-school, academic-led committee charged with oversight of the development and implementation of the Sakai OAE environment at NYU. Initial funding for Sakai at NYU was provided by a 2008 National Endowment for the Humanities Digital Humanities Start-Up grant.
It’s exciting to see the work of so many come together! Congrats!
In their book, Implementing Change: Patterns, Principles and Potholes, Gene Hall and Shirley Hord identify ten principles that have been observed repeatedly when organizations and people are engaged in change.
One principle is: Change is a process, not an event.
We thought it might be useful, then, to look back at the earliest beginnings of the Sakai Pilot at UNC starting in February 2007 through to today. Seeing the process from this vantage point highlights the efforts of many who were able to try, to learn, to do, and to change over time. The combination of your efforts helped to create the timeline below. As always, thank you!
The UNC Sakai Pilot: A Retrospective
(3 years in 3 minutes)
One of the benefits of Sakai is that it allows you to upload a file once and easily move it within or across your sites.
Whether you are a student, faculty or staff member, this tip is useful and simple. Take a minute (literally) to find out how!
We tip our hats to the Carolina Digital Story Lab for inspiring us to embed this tutorial in a hypothetical mini-story. You can learn more about this innovative student group @ http://www.uncstorylab.org/.
We have creative faculty who like developing web pages for courses. Sometimes course pages are publicly accessible while others are password-protected. For years, faculty have used the Course Web Space Tool to do this. Unfortunately, the tool is being retired but we are pleased to offer Sakai as an alternative.
- See an example of a BIOLOGY 101 course web site that is publicly available to you but hosted on a Sakai site. (At the bottom of this post, you can see the actual URL — it’s long!)
Here’s a 1-minute “big picture” overview of what’s involved.
The videos below, demonstrate how you can use Sakai as a way to serve up your own course web pages.
There are a few considerations:
- You have your web site files stored in a single folder
- You don’t mind having students log into Sakai -or- have a long URL (see below)
- You are fearless with a can-do attitude (We salute you!)
See our playlist of short videos each about 1 minute in length. Wow! Six minutes of free professional development!
As promised, here is the URL containing our sample BIOL 101 course site:
- https://sakaipilot.unc.edu/access/content/group/52b150c8-6e07-4112-9b8b-645b4867df92/public/BIOL 101/index.html
If you are faculty who used to use the Course Web Space Tool, we’re here to help you make the transition! Simply call 962-HELP or open a Help Request for “Sakai Support.”
- Taking it to the next level (learn to hide menu items, create a TinyURL, view as a student, and create a class listserv!)
- Making changes (decide where the “canonical source” of your web site files will reside and then drag and drop as appropriate; edit your HTML pages as you normally would!)
If you are new to Sakai, one of the first things you will hear is how active and engaged the community is. This is true and you can become a contributing member whether you are a faculty, student, artist, designer, programmer, etc. There are so many ways to give!
We like this video because it does two things: (1) highlights the energy and dedication of developers who “innovate” Sakai in useful and interesting directions, and (2) shows an essential segment of the community that we haven’t recognized on our blog yet. Shame on us!
We correct that wrong here and invite our talented UNC developers to check things out and get involved, too! (Click the image to enlarge.)
No 4th of July weekend is complete without picnics, water parks, family fun, and some quality time spent with your computer! When you have a moment, try this very simple, quick trick to streamline your menu.
We comprehend and learn better when information is “chunked.” (See Brain Rule #4: Can You Read This)
The video below shows how you can create a simpler, organized menu. We call this trick the Fake Divider Tool.
But wait, there’s more! You will also learn how to change your course site view from Instructor to Student - and - you’ll use Page Order to reorganize the menu and hide items as appropriate.
All of this 4th of July fun in only 2 minutes! Enjoy your holiday weekend!
[The following is a guest blog entry by Rob Moore, Manager of the Foreign Language Resource Center in the Department of Romance Languages. Since this posting Rob has moved to the UNC School of Government as an Instructional Technology Developer in Teaching and Learning Support. Thanks, Rob!]
I attended the 11th Annual Sakai conference in Denver, Colorado, and had a fantastic time! For the last two years, I have been singing the praises of Sakai to all of the instructors that I support in the language departments at UNC. Attending this conference gave me the opportunity to share our great experiences with, well, the world! It was great to get to meet other Sakai users sharing and trading ideas. The great advantage of Sakai is that it is open-source, which allows institutions to share ideas and code in a way that is not possible with Blackboard. I am excited to see some of the new enhancements that we may be able to implement in the fall including a new “Tests and Quizzes” interface, a new syllabus setup, and other aesthetic changes. In addition to networking and attending informative sessions and demonstrations, I also made two presentations.
My first presentation titled, “How Sakai solves the training and support challenge” looked at the training and support considerations for the ROML Sakai Pilot. There are over 4,000 undergraduate students enrolled in introductory courses in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Unfortunately, the tech support available to support the learning management systems for these languages is limited. By transitioning these introductory language courses into Sakai, training and support has been more manageable while still allowing for instructors to have control over content and materials in the class.
My second presentation titled, “How Sakai solved the multi-section problem for Romance Languages” looked at the ROML Sakai Pilot from a faculty perspective. The Department of Romance Languages has several large section courses, which can have as many as 45 sections taught by multiple instructors with one course coordinator. Besides the coordinator’s own course load, he/she provides syllabi, assignments, and tests for the sections. Using Sakai’s section aware tools, these courses were moved from Blackboard to Sakai, which significantly improved communication and coordination between coordinators and instructors as well as benefiting students. The video and PowerPoint (in PDF format) can be seen at http://flrcvideos.unc.edu/video.php?link=884/.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope that more instructors will make the transition from Blackboard to Sakai.
This is the last in our five-part series called, “Sakai 5 Big Ideas.”
Group-aware tools can be a new concept for many of us — one that is very powerful!
Group-aware tools allow an Instructor (or site Organizer) to streamline communications with multiple groups of people within a single site. Furthermore, those groups can have their own sets of private collaboration tools to self-organize as they wish!
There are two key points to keep in mind:
- Groups can refer to Sections (course sections automatically created from the Registrar/Student Information System) or groups that you create manually.
- Your site has to be populated with people before you can manually create groups and “release” tools to them.
This 4-minute video should help explain…
The list of group-aware tools in our Sakai 2.6 environment includes:
- Discussions & Private Messages
- Site Statistics
- Tests & Quizzes
This is the third in our five-part series called, “Sakai 5 Big Ideas.”
You can change permissions. You have roles in your site such as Instructor role, Student role, Tech Support role, and so on. Each role has an associated “bundle” of permissions. Whenever you see the Permissions option on a tool (Big Idea #2), you can change the permissions associated with a role.
This means you can enable students to contribute more to your course site — whether that is by creating and sharing content, adding announcements, working in groups, and more! (See Craig Carroll’s video about student-generated content.)
Further, for those who want it, there is a lot of control to tweak permissions at a very fine-grained level. Our pilot faculty really like the flexibility of permissions. (See this video of Barbara Wildemuth, Professor in SILS, discussing permissions streamlining committee collaboration).
Only 2 more ideas left to go: public vs. private content and group-aware tools!
[This is a guest entry from Brian Moynihan, Program Manager & Sakai Lead at UNC School of Medicine. Thanks, Brian!]
One of the things that faculty have enjoyed about using Sakai at the UNC School of Medicine is its ability to bring faculty and students together as a community.
Many features of Sakai work on the principle of bringing community together. For instance the ability to see student pictures in the roster and in the discussion forums have helped faculty learn their students’ names and connect a personality with a student’s post.
Because many tools in Sakai are group-aware, it becomes easy to email a group of people in the course or to create a forum specifically for a small group section. These tools can thus provide a friendly, dynamic way to foster group cohesion and cooperation.
In this video Dr. Kurt Gilliland and Dr. Ed Kernick, co-directors of a first year medical school course with 160 students, discuss the ways that Sakai enabled collaboration in and out of the classroom.