How my work might change: support again

(How my work might change if Notre Dame chose Sakai as its next LMS)

I posted our current and future hypothetical support structures back on October 12th. I’m still ruminating on it.

I’m still ruminating mainly because the current support structure is not sustainable. More users, same amount of support? Greater diversity of needs met, same amount of support? Continually increasing interfaces to other systems, same amount of support?

The upticks in the past 6 years have been gradual and mostly, but not completely, absorbable. For example, we’ve quietly added iTunes U, but don’t really market it. And there exists no documentation for a mashup between that content and our LMS. We’ve added Wimba tools, but only the Language programs officially know about it… and therefore the Language Resource Center is one to whom we direct support calls. We don’t regularily update any library of online support FAQs; recently instead we started writing blog posts, attempting to make them timely, and relying on their searchability so they can function also as online support resources.

But a new system rollout always brings more exploration and establishes new users even after the transition is over.

I think we should anticipate that some portion of ramped up resources for the transition will need to continue to support the new system.

And I’m saying this without reference to whether the new system is attached to an open source community with the added decision point for Notre Dame of: What kind of a giveback to the community do we want to maintain? Where and how do we participate in the community?

Those questions need to be addressed and resources allocated for their implementation.

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4 responses to “How my work might change: support again

  1. Laura:

    This is one of the most interesting individual explorations of the implications of an educational technology platform change I’ve seen—exactly what I’d expect from you! I hope others in your position will follow in your model, especially opening it up for dialog as you have done.

    I think one thing you may be stumbling over in your quest for total cost of ownership data or staffing models for Sakai is that Sakai is consumed by institutions falling all over a very broad continuum of engagement models.

    Many consume Sakai just like they would a proprietary LMS like Blackboard and have smaller staffs mostly focused on instructional design and/or training—those following this model are typically supported by Sakai commercial affiliates.

    Others engage with Sakai at every level: developing, playing deep roles in the community, building and maintaining their own distributions, innovating with pedagogy, evangelizing—those following this model may use some commercial support, but are more likely to have larger, internal teams with wider varieties of skills.

    But in between are institutions using every conceivable combination of engagement activities—and that possibility is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of Sakai’s community source model.

    Maybe the better question to ask is not what staffing model adopting Sakai would require of Notre Dame (or what skills Sakai would ask of you), but what activities Notre Dame and what skills you want to focus on. With those defined, I believe you will be able to find a way to engage with Sakai that fits the Notre Dame and Laura Gekeler model(s) like a glove.

  2. Like Nate has said, it really depends on the institution. I like Chris Coppola’s post on Apples, Oranges, and Open Source. There are varying levels to which one can engage in an open/community source project. Your staffing levels will reflect the extent to which you want/need to engage in the project.

  3. Pingback: links for 2010-10-21 « OEE@UTD

  4. ugh! My apologies to those of you who’ve posted comments. On 10/26 I attempted to use the 10/12 post as a template for further thoughts on how support may need to change at ND, and instead of creating a brand new posting, I’ve overwritten the previous published version (Windows Live Writer and WordPress conjuncion of the stars?). I’m trying to figure out now where that version may be cached because the FTE table of the previous post is now lost to me forever as far as I can tell.

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