Notes on Sakai implementation webinar by Josh Baron, Director Academic Technology, Marist College


  • History -Sakai project started in 2004 as homegrown solutions getting old, helped to solve the “build (again) or buy” dilemna.
  • Sakai paradigm somewhere in the middle. (Early ‘owners’ Stanford, MIT, U of M).
  • Sakai now at version 2.6

What is Sakai?

  • an open-source model

no fees, no royalties

cannot be sold (codebased)


  • a community

includes institutions AND commercial vendors (Oracle, SunGard, etc)

  • a collaborative learning environment (CLE)




“My workspace”

  • the Foundation

(Least important? Did Josh really say that?)

Not a top-down organization. The community sets priorities, not the Foundation.

Mission (project intellectual property); Governance


Marist College Sakai Implementation

  • Liberal arts institution, Poughkeepsie NY, 5700 FTE students, 200 FT faculty, 500 part-time faculty; strategic plan calls for growth in distance learning (revenue growth)
  • Impetus way back in 2005 when VPs mentioned Sakai to Josh.
  • Reasons Marist chose Sakai:

1) “Built by educators for educators”;

2) Human collective of developers;

3) Ability to involve students and faculty;

4) Decoupling code from service (ie, you buy the product and the support from same vendor) you can switch service vendors without switching products, if dissatisfied with level of support;

5) Open standards support interoperability, ie IMS course cartridge, QTI. Faculty want to bring courses with them when they move from Institution A to Institution B; students want to bring their High School ePortfolios to college with them.

  • Myths vs Reality

1). You need lots of developers (not to run/maintain)

2. Best thing about OSS is that there is no licensing fee. Not necessarily, return on investment comes from investing in the human capital. (Because you can or need to with the money you saved on licensing fees?)

3). Can a bunch of volunteers produce the same quality? Research suggests fewer bugs were line of code?

4). Can’t run OSS because I need commercial support & none available. (Not true, rSmart, Unicon).

Marist College Decision Criteria

  • Functionality
  • Staffing and Support Requirements (didn’t add any, went to comercial affiliate for support). Currently have 2 to 2.5 FTEs in house.
  • Health of Sakai Community (is it here to stay?)
  • Reliability and Scalability
  • Innovation truly possible?

Transition Overview

  • Ran concurrent system. Goal of 15% faculty conversion 1 semester. Instead 65% transitioned.
  • Training includes Refresher, Open Labs,
  • Support Services: Best Practices booklet, FAQs, Web tutorials, Student Tip Sheets
  • Migration Services: course by course migration as detailed in Course Migration Guide.

Next Steps

  • Expanding ePortfolio pilots
  • Integration with SIS (rSmart assisting with Banner integration)
  • Teaching and Learning innovation: Instructors are moving from a transition mentality to an innovation mentality
  • 3rd party integrations, plenty existing (ShareStream, Wimba, Elluminate, Respondus).