Ohloh comparison of Sakai and Moodle


Jim Farmer points to a comparison of the Sakai and Moodle projects done by Ohloh, a very cool site that provides objective information about open source projects. Instead of looking at Jim’s PDF file, you can check out the Sakai and Moodle reports directly on the Ohloh site. Ohloh’s reports are produced by looking at the source code repository (either Subversion, CVS or Git are currently supported) and it’s value is in creating human readable (and very attractive) reports on empirical data that such repositories capture. The sparklines depicting developer activity make it really obvious how many regular contributors there are to a project, and the Project Cost estimator provides a cute way to scare your pointy headed boss out of thinking you could accomplish the same thing in-house in a few evenings and a couple of cases of Red Bull. – SWL

Comparison of CMS, Course Materials Life Cycle, and Related Costs


My colleagues Bruce Landon and Russ Poulin were commissioned last year by MIT to produce a report which compared the CMS practices and costs, as well as the life cycle of course materials, at ‘peer’ institutions in an effort to provide a benchmark for future decision making. I was just informed that MIT has generously made the report more widely available online at the above location. In addition to MIT itself, the peer institutions surveyed included Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, Columbia, Berkeley, Harvard (College of Arts and Sciences), University of Chicago, Middlebury, University of Texas at Austin, Princeton and Yale.

So while you might not consider your institution a “peer” (but hey, why not, in this global,online economy) I expect there will be something of interest to anyone involved with the management of institution-wide CMSes. It’s a lengthy report (90 pages) but in it you’ll find such things as costing and support information from a wide variety of scenarios, though one of the findings was that

most of the institutions did not have a better handle on cost data and that (for many of the respondents) costs were not a principle driver in decision-making.

It should also not be surprising to anyone having to deal with higher ed content management practices that the survey shows them to be all over the place and largely still a matter left up to the whims of the individual instructor. Which might seem fine to many except consider that “the annual costs of course materials can exceed the cost of the C/LMS by millions” and we all know at some point, something is going to give. – SWL

Map of Sakai Stakeholders


Want to know where Sakai is in production and who the other partners are? Check out this map from Chuck Severance, recently named the head of the Sakai Foundation. An interesting point that Dr. Severance points out in this short video is that 46% of people paying into the Sakai foundation are not in fact implementing it at all yet, either as a pilot or in production; he explains this as being about people paying to “make the market a better place.” Here’s hoping it does. Would love to see a similar map of Moodle adoption throughout the world! – SWL

Sakai 2006 Conference Presentations available

Conf2006Vancouver/Conference Sessions

My only regret about going to the BC ETUG sessions last week is that it coincided with the Sakai conference being held just across the Straight in Vancouver which would also have made for an informative few days.

Alas, all is not lost, as the good folks there are posting their slides and podcasts of the sessions to this wiki. See also their conference ‘facebook’, a great idea for any conference, but especially one like this trying to create community.

Lots to digest here; a good presentation on small institutions implementing Sakai, (though clearly the concept of ‘loosely coupled‘ is understood a little differently here.) But that’s just nit picking, lots of exciting things going on, but it left me wondering about two things. Why were there only 3 Canadians in the facebook for a conference hosted in Canada (presumably the rest are just shy?) and is there a whole segment of the edu-blogosphere I don’t know about that is simply buzzing about this conference, because I haven’t heard a peep in my aggregator. – SWL

Unicon provides Sakai ‘Test Drive’ sites


If you haven’t already had the chance, Unicon has made it even easier to have a look at Sakai 2.1 (just released on December 1, 2005) through their new “Test Drive” sites. The sites, available for free for 90 days, give you access to a demo course and worksite and allow you to change roles so as to see the system from various user perspectives. The background here is that Unicon once developed a CMS on top of uPortal called Academus, but appear to now be piggybacking on offering Sakai support and other uPortal support based on their years’ of experience.

This will not change anyones’ mind who had already decided they were not down with the ‘course managed’ approach, but for those looking for an alternative to their current CMS, this provides one more method to kick the tires, and just in time for Christmas! – SWL

Presentation: “Licences, Features, and Community: The Path to Sustainability”


Slides from the recent “Building Open Source Communities” conference held in Edinburgh have now been posted. My favourite so far was the above by Jim Farmer of uPortal and now Sakai fame. It’s quite a sprawling piece that covers many aspects of the “business” of open source and higher education. I appreciated the lack of dogmatism and the willingness to acknowledge some of the risks in software development, and also the notion that open source can help customers take care of the ‘core’ by helping to address the ‘context.’ – SWL

Sakai 2.0 Review posted on Edutools site


I don’t normally post notifications of every new review we do on the Edutools site, but in the case of Sakai there has been a lot of interest from this community and so I thought it might be warranted. As always, we endeavor to provide descriptive, non-evaluative reviews of the software within a framework that allows you to compare it with other known quantities and for you to make the judgements yourself. For instance you can view a side-by-side comparison of Sakai 2.0 with Blackboard 6 and WebCT CE 4 and Vista here, or look at it in comparison to some other open source CMS (Moodle, Atutor and .LRN) here. – SWL

Sakai 2.0.0 Release Available


A lot of folks have been waiting for this, and here it is – the Sakai project have release version 2.0, which amongst other things includes a Gradebook feature in addition to updates to the Samigo assessment tool. I am undertaking a review of Sakai 2.0 for Edutools right now that we will hopefully have up in a few weeks, and so should have a much better idea by then of what is actually all there. – SWL

U of T’s CMS Selection Consultation Process


Early this year the University of Toronto issued an RFI to select an organization-wide CMS. This site is part of the public documentation of the process. The results of the faculty and student surveys are of particular interest to me – in some places there seem to be a slight disconnect (say between the facultys’ and students’ perception of the need for quiz and test support) while in others I feel rather vindicated by the results (in particular, the overwhelmingly lackluster demand for PDA and mobile device access to the CMS.)

I have so far not been able to track down anything public on the results of their RFI process, but this news item posted today on the Sakai site which states “Our intended long-range goal is to use Sakai as the educational platform for its more than 65,000 students and 6,000 faculty members. A pilot group of units (including FIS) have committed themselves to adopting it immediately and demonstrating its long-term viability in the U of T context” as well as the nomination of Jutta Treviranus to the Sakai Board of Directors seems like a strong indication of what the results might be. Expect more of these types of competitions to be happening in the next year as people are faced with license renewals and the need for large scale change management processes to facilitate product “upgrades.”- SWL

A-HEC Survey on Open Source


Too bad there weren’t more respondents (79 does not a huge sample make) but this survey from the Association for Higher Education Competitiveness presents at least some interesting insight into changing attitudes towards open source. What do we learn – Sakai has a good marketing campaign (at least in terms of name brand recognition), and people who are already interested in open source (I’m questioning the randomness of the sample here) are dissatisfied with the existing offerings almost across the board. Still, the rankings of the predicted successes seems roughly right (though placing uPortal below Sakai in terms of garnering market share just seems plain wrong by definition – Sakai currently employs uPortal). Worth a quick look in any case – SWL