Category Archives: LMS

Notre Dame wants to get to know a Sakai developer – is that you?

Shameless plug for a Learning Management Developer (One Year Limited Term) …

Sunrise over St. Mary's lake, late summer...Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

Sunrise over St. Mary’s lake, late summer…Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame

You should come work for the Office of Information Technologies. And here’s why –

The University of Notre Dame ranks 9th among “Best Places to Work in IT” for the third year running. 

We were cool before that, but lately it’s official.

We have a one year contract position open for a senior developer for Sakai. Are you scared to apply?

If you’re experienced, you could be married, you could have children. You’re probably comfortable where you are. A one year contract? Are you kidding?

No. I’m not kidding. Come to Notre Dame. Plan on staying. I did. I’ve been here 17 years. That initial one year contract was an opportunity for Notre Dame to get to know the values I hold, the work ethic I bring, my extraordinary creativity, not to mention that I always think strategically. (Like this post – we have great talent at Notre Dame, but we want to add to our talent pool, to seek out and convince the best talent).

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s me. Is it you too?

Apply. Check it out. What’ve you got to lose? The posting: https://jobs.nd.edu/postings/3256

Advertisements

Working with the Ents

Enterprise architecture, the endeavor of building technical reference architecture for the business, or, in this case, for higher ed, is a deliberative iterative and s l o w process.

Here I am in Madison, Wisconsin joining phenomenally gifted and wise senior enterprise architects such as Rich Stevens (University of Maryland), Jim Phelps (U of Wisconsin and current chair of ITANA*), Leo Fernig (U of British Columbia) and Scott Fullerton (U of Wisconsin) in creating a Learning Reference architecture for presentation at Educause in the fall. Knock on wood.

Wood, you say? Or trees? Not only the things architects see through on their way to categorizing the whole forest, but really, these deliberate conversations with their careful measured tone …which I am learning from in enormous measure… think before you speak, Laura, hear the rationale of that statement on the inside of your brain before you say it on the outside…, these deliberate conversations make me feel as foolish as the Hobbits among the Ents.

Even my fellow subject matter experts, Jeanne Blochwitz (Asst. Director of Academic Technology, Wisconsin) and Jeff Bohrer (Instructional Technology Consultant, Wisconsin) seem more tuned to this pace than I am.

Remember this Lord of the Rings council of war by the Keepers of the Forests, the Ents? (There are Hobbits in this photo perched in an Ent, but you can’t really see them).

many_ents

*ITANA, by the way, is a constituent group of Educause, an outreach arm for Enterprise, Business, and Technical Architects in Academia.

Look for the presentation of our work at Educause this fall. Knock on wood (but not in an Entish forest) we’ll be done!

Stalking Sakai

I’m new to the open source model. To supporting it. To participating in the community. To seeing how it’s built and how features are added. But I’ve been watching for nigh unto 15 years. And I’m here to tell you: higher ed is generally bullish on software derived from this open source model.

It’s almost as if open source were the answer to all the budgetary , visionary, and advocacy issues we all face. From Community Jr. College to State School to Private – we’ve summoned open source to give us more freedom, more features, more revenue, more integration points, more responsiveness to our constituencies,  and more control of our destinies.

Software derived from and supported by the open source model is more and more under investigation by more and more institutions of higher ed. Cautiously under investigation in some cases, but under investigation nevertheless.

Sakai began around 2004 initially as a collaboration between University of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT and Stanford. By 2005 Foundation Staff on the Sakai CLE were 5 people- salaries based mostly on contributions from higher ed IT.

Institutions joined up. Commercial affiliates formed. Synergies developed. The coalition worked diligently. Advocated. Listened. Built. Deployed. Software developed by higher ed for higher ed and ‘owned’ by all.

Very cool.

Except when too many institutions want to take and not give back.

That was the message I was shocked to internalize last week when one of the chief Sakai advocates and architects this past 8 years, Dr. Chuck Severance, defended his decision to take employment from – Blackboard. He took a position at Blackboard that furthers his goals (shared by the Sakai community) of making learning technologies interoperable. Below, website by website, is a visual of his considerable breadth of reach. From development acknowledgements at Moodlerooms, and Blackboard’s Edugarage , to standards work at IMS Global and thought leadership published by Gilfus, Delta Initiatives, Campus Technology, edu1World and InsideHigher Ed. (As well as a frequently referenced though ‘unpublished’ work…!).

dr chuck severance internet presence

But today, according to Dr. Chuck, since about 4 months ago,  Sakai Foundation Staff actively working on the Sakai CLE (version 2.9 now) is zero.  Instead, the only remaining +dedicated+ release management resources moving the release forward come from commercial affiliates, NOT higher ed.

In Dr. Chuck’s call to action posting last week, he says, “Does it bother you that about 40 higher educations stopped supporting the Sakai Foundation over the past five years?” We remember the past five years- In budgetary terms, everyone ran for the hills, dug in where we could. The difficulty is that if higher ed doesn’t sustain this effort, who will?

He goes on to ask,  “Are you uncomfortable that for-profit companies already provide all of the long-term committed resources for the Sakai CLE product?”

I am. I am very uncomfortable. Are you?

Summit Timed Announcements–Monday’s News

Just to recap for those of us sitting at home while colleagues text, tweet, mail, and blog Monday’s happenings from Las Vegas …

It’s not at all odd if you think about it that most of those announcements come from a SunGard partner, oops, a Datatel+SGHE, oops again! – I mean an Ellucian partner , the LMS provider, Blackboard.

SunGard –drats! I did it again, I mean,  Ellucian , after all, has partnerships with LMS providers around the IMS Global Consortium standard, LIS 2.0 , which is behind the Banner Event Publisher or BEP (affectionally pronounced beep ) and it’s new eLearning tool (a flexUI built upon Oracle streams). So yes, Blackboard and others often time marketing announcements around the annual Summit conference.

Monday’s announcements from Blackboard include a new division, new acquisitions, a new employee of the month, and that ANGEL, contrary to the previous WebCT LMS acquisition, will not in fact be decommissioned and blended in with the favored in-house LMS – Blackboard Learn.

I guess the timing is good. Although you’re probably noting a certain tinge of cynicism as I write. It’s not cynism about Blackboard or Ellucian as much as a weariness, a true bone-crunching weariness, with the churn created by the velocity of market change we’ve been experiencing for what? a year or two now?

I’m trying to have a good attitude. Change up all at once and get it over with, right? Wake up one morning and find a complete plot twist. Blackboard is wearing the white hat. Ellucian rolls off the tongue much easier than Datatel+SGHE or Illusion or Delusion – and hopefully I’m not succumbing to either of those…. Sakai community founder Dr. Chuck (Severance) now to work for Blackboard, newly boosted as GoodGuys, and still sporting his indelible, recently augmented, tattoo with Sakai at the center of the known universe . Oh, I get it now!

If you don’t get it too, start here: http://www.dr-chuck.com/csev-blog/2012/03/connecting-blackboard-sakai-and-open-source/

PS. Obviously the Star Trek metaphor for Blackboard as the Borg, or the “BlackBorg” doesn’t work anymore. Giulia Forsythe (@giuliaforsythe) put the news in Star Wars language  on Twitter, “In other news, The Empire buys The Jedi Academy; will help support training in The Force.”

#LMSunSIG Tweets: Strategic Vision

Vision_LMSunSIG

Vision_LMSunSIG2

Vision_LMSunSIG3

Vision_LMSunSIG34

Vision_LMSunSIG5

NERCOMP LMS UnSIG website: http://edtechgroup.org/lmsunconference/

#LMSunSIG Harvested Tweets

This thread of screen captures from the twitter stream, I’m calling “Training,” that is, valuable comments today related to Faculty training/workshops.

TrainingLMSunSIG1

TrainingLMSunSIG2

TrainingLMSunSIG3

TrainingLMSunSIG4

TrainingLMSunSIG5

TrainingLMSunSIG6

TrainingLMSunSIG7

TrainingLMSunSIG8

TrainingLMSunSIG9

TrainingLMSunSIG10

TrainingLMSunSIG11

TrainingLMSunSIG12

TrainingLMSunSIG13

TrainingLMSunSIG14

TrainingLMSunSIG15

TrainingLMSunSIG16

TrainingLMSunSIG17

TrainingLMSunSIG18

ToolsLMSUnSIG1

ToolsLMSUnSIG2

Making this easy: LMS Evaluations

My brain just did a flashback as my fingers poised over the keyboard ready to begin this post. The song, “War is a Science,” from Pippin has started to syncopate through my skull:

the rule that every gen-er-al
kno-ws by he-art:
it’s smarter to be lucky
than it’s lucky to be smart!

 

I value ‘smart’ (O how I value smart!) but  in my experience we overthink LMS evaluations.

It’s not about a Request for Proposal process. It’s not about a comparison of features. It’s not about the best software package out there. It’s not even primarily a decision of open source vs proprietary, although this exercise may help you characterize your institution’s culture as one or the other and that will get you started down the right track …

LMS Evaluations are like any other decision you have to make for your institution. It’s about trusting that the software you choose matches the way your institution does things.

It’s a cultural decision. Wasn’t always. But these days the market is mature enough that all these packages (Canvas, Sakai, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle) can do pretty much the same thing. It’s the way they do them that you care about. It’s the way your institution plans to use and support the software that will make the implementation project a smashing success or an unadopted disaster.

This is what you need to plan for and do:

1). Select the group of people at your institution that you trust to make this decision for you. Is it an already existing faculty committee? Maybe its composed of appointees to be representative of each college or department, with central IT or the Library thrown in because they have to run it?

2). Create and follow whatever rigor or metrics these people will need to document and communicate their decision for maximum buy-in.

That’s it.

No kidding. Institutions often publish their final LMS Eval reports. Read them. The variety they represent is as wide as the cultures of the institutions that created them. They’re not all smart. But the successes are the lucky ones who chose software that matches their institutions’ culture.