Planet Sakai

August 28, 2014

Michael Feldstein

Cal State Online: Public records shed light on what happened

Last month I shared the system announcement that the Cal State Online (CSO) initiative is finished. Despite the phrasing of “re-visioning” and the retention of the name, the concept of a standalone unit to deliver and market online programs for the system is gone. Based on documents obtained by e-Literate through a public records request:[1]

  • The original concept of “a standardized, centralized, comprehensive business, marketing and outreach support structure for all aspects of online program delivery for the Cal State University System” was defined in summer 2011, formally launched in Spring 2013, and ultimately abandoned in Fall 2013;
  • CSO was only able to enroll 130 full-time equivalent students (FTES) in CY2013 despite starting from pre-existing campus-based online programs and despite minimum thresholds of 1,670 FTES in the Pearson contract;
  • CSO was able to sign up only five undergraduate degree-completion programs and two master’s programs offered at four of the 23 Cal State campuses;
  • Faculty groups overtly supported investments in online education but did not feel included in the key decision processes;
  • Pearson’s contract as a full-service Online Service Provider was in place for less than one year before contract renegotiations began, ultimately leading to LMS services only; and
  • The ultimate trigger to abandon the original model was the $10 million state funding for online education to address bottleneck courses.

That last one might seem counter-intuitive without the understanding that CSO did not even attempt to support matriculated Cal State students in state-funded programs.

Terminology note: CSO measured course enrollments as “one student registered in one online course”, such that one student taking two courses would equal two course enrollments, etc. Internally CSO calculated 10 course enrollments = 1 FTES.

Below is a narrative of the key milestones and decisions as described by the public documents. I’ll share more of my thoughts in a future post.

2011

Based on foundational work done in 2010 by the Technology Steering Committee (TSC), a group of nine campus presidents along with six Chancellor’s Office staff, a contract is awarded to a consultant (Richard Katz and Associates) to produce five reports on online learning (link will download zip file) and Cal State Universities work to date. TSC then produced an overview document for what would become CSO in June 2011, including 10 guiding principles and the first schedule estimate. An October 2011 update document further clarified the plans. Some key decisions made in 2011 included forming a separate 501(c)3 organization owned by Cal State University and funding the creation of CSO by the contribution of $50,000 from each of the 23 CSU campuses.

Two key decisions from this period are worth highlighting, as they explain much of the trajectory of CSO in retrospect. The first one defined the need for an Online Service Provider (ultimately chosen as Pearson).

A business partner for CSU Online might be needed in order to provide the necessary student support services, including, for example, advising, financial aid, career services, and tutoring. In addition, a business partner could provide the 24/7/365 help desk support absolutely critical for CSU Online. Market research and marketing of programs are other potential areas for the contributions of a business partner. Instructional design support for faculty is another potential area, as is technological support for the effort.

The second decision defined a strategy in terms of which types of online programs to add in which order.

Following from the bedrock of our Principles, the TSC supported a tactical entrance into CSU Online by focusing on those areas in which CSU campuses are already strong and proficient. We believe that it is imperative to start from a position of program strength rather than to straggle into the market in areas as yet not fully defined or ready for implementation. Accordingly, the TSC recommends that CSU Online address six areas, with two ready for immediate roll out.

  1. The 60 or so Masters level programs that exist throughout the CSU should comprise our initial effort with an eye toward serving the extensive mid-career professional and unemployed adults who are in need of this level of education to advance their careers.
  2. Our second focus should entail the presentation of two or three degree completion programs in an effort to enhance workforce development.

An important note on both of these areas is that they are both self-support, offered through continued or extended education groups and not eligible for state funding. These self-support programs do not have the same constraints on setting tuition and tend to it significantly higher than state-support mainline programs.

The overview also estimated the timeline to include an RFP for commercial partner (OSP) to be released in Fall 2011.

By late 2011 there were already signs of faculty discontent with the inclusion of faculty in CSO decision-making and with the planned usage of a commercial partner. The Cal State Dominguez Hills faculty senate resolved in November:

Growing faculty concerns about the minimal faculty input in the development of the Online Initiative, as well as the direction the Initiative may be taking have led three Academic Senates (CSUSB, CSU Stanislaus, and Sonoma State) to pass resolutions calling for the suspension of the Initiative until basic issues are addressed and approved by campus senates. In addition a “CSU Online Faculty Task Force,” consisting of over 80 faculty across the CSU, has been actively questioning features of the Initiative and has written an open letter to Chancellor Reed expressing opposition to outsourcing to for‐profit online providers or attempts to circumvent collective bargaining.

The task force open letter can be found here.

2012

The RFP was actually released in April 2012. To my reading, the document was unorganized and lacked enough structure to let bidders know what to expect or what was needed. On schedule and enrollments, the RFP advised the following:

1.5 Cal State Online expects to officially launch in January 2013, with as many as ten degree programs. For the late fall 2012 term (beginning in late October 2012) Cal State Online anticipates offering two to three courses in several programs in a live beta test term.

1.6 ENROLLMENT PROJECTIONS Vendors should base proposals on 1,000 three unit course enrollments in year one and 3,000 three unit course enrollments in year two.

The RFP evaluation process was described in the first CSO Advisory Board meeting notes from June 2012, showing the final decision to select between Pearson and Academic Partnerships. Pearson was selected as the partner, and their contract[2] has an unexplained change in enrollments.

The spending amounts detailed below (which may also be increased as appropriate, in Pearson’s discretion) are dependent on Cal State Online meeting the defined Enrollment thresholds for the prior calendar year. If Cal State Online does not meet such thresholds, the spending amounts for the then-current calendar year will be adjusted to reflect the actual number of enrollments achieved during the previous calendar year.

Pearson Thresholds

I do not know how the numbers went from an estimate of 1,000 course enrollments for 2013 in the RFP to a minimum of 16,701 course enrollments for 2013 in the contract. In retrospect, this huge increase can be described as wishful thinking, perhaps with the goals of making the financial case work for both CSO and Pearson.

The Advisory Board also decided in the June 2012 meeting to set standardized tuition for CSO at $500 per unit (compared with approximately $270 per unit for traditional campus student with 12 units per semester).

By October CSO had identified the specific campus programs interested in participating, document in the Launch Programs Report. The first page called out two of the first programs bringing in 200 students and 20 students – in other words, CSO migrated several hundred students to get started.

Launch_Programs_Report_October_2012_pdf__page_1_of_3_

2013: Winter and Spring

In the Spring 2013 term, CSO kicked off with the Launch Programs described in the February 2013 Advisory Board meeting minutes.

Launch Programs: 6 Programs from 3 Campuses

  • CSU Fullerton launched 3 courses in their online Business BA program January 14th 2013; marketing and recruiting of next group of students in progress. 35 + 18 Existing Students.
  • CSU Dominguez Hills will launch their BA MBA and PA MPA online programs in spring 2013; marketing and recruiting students is in progress. BA Applied Studies will launch in summer 2013; first CSU reconnect program.
  • CSU Monterey Bay will launch two new masters programs, Technology and MS in IT Management in spring 2013 and MS in Instructional Science and Technology will launch in summer 2013. Marketing to begin ASAP.

The notes also call out a financial model (document not shared with Advisory Board but notes taken) with three scenarios.

Three scenarios:

  • Scenerio [sic] 1: Baseline Growth Modeling where projected enrollments grom [sic] from 188 to 7500; programs grom from 3 to 25; revenues from to over $11 million and additional investment required $2.2 million. Break even in FY 12/14.
  • Scenario 2: Break Even in fiscal year 2012/14 Modeling where enrollments from from 188 to 15,750, programs grom from 3 to 30, revenues grom to over 23 million and additional investment required is $1 million.
  • Scenario 3: Best/Strong Growth where enrollments grow from 254 to 36,250, programs grow from 3 to 50, revenues grow to over $54 million and additional investment required is $1 million.

The budget planning seems to fall on fiscal years (Jul 1 – Jun 30), whereas all other CSO planning was based on calendar years. Note that the best case scenario included an additional $1 million in CSU investment, and the baseline scenario estimated 7,500 course enrollments from Fall 13 thru Spring 14. Based on an email exchange with CSU Public Affairs, Fall 13 saw almost 1,200 course enrollments, which would have required a six-fold increase in Spring 14 just to make the baseline scenario.

Update: Also in February, CSO executive director Ruth Claire Black testified at the Little Hoover Commission (an independent state oversight board in California) describing the CSO initiative as part of discussion on state needs in higher education.

By the April Advisory Board meeting, CSO was seeing some positive interest from campuses, although the numbers were fairly modest compared to previous CSO estimations.

April Launch Report

  • Fullerton business degree completion program is making good progress; 83 applications pending, 17 admitted for fall. Heavily oversubscribed for Fullerton. Good review from stundents on coaching. 50% of inquiries are for Fullerton program.
  • Dominguez Hills BS Applied Studies program starts May 4. Large cohort of existing students. 13 students admitted for summer; fall 17 students admitted.
  • The next undergraduate program will be the Northridge Reconnect program. In the next 30 days website will be updated to reflect Reconnect.
  • Fresno MBA 60 inquiries; 1 applicant and 1 admission
  • Other 4 grad programs slow build; redirect marketing resources towards masters programs
  • Fresno Homeland Security Certificate website and Humboldt Golden Four are up on website. We are seeing equal demand across the courses (3 GE courses)
  • Interest list has grown significantly; campuses who are not currently participating Cal State Online is full for fall. If existing Cal State Online campus may have capacity. Sociology at Fullerton. Dominguez Hills QA for fall start. Taking advantage of launch financial model.

The notes showed the group watching new activity from the California state legislature regarding online education, including the infamous SB 520.[3] This raised the question of what Cal State Online’s role should be with this new emphasis. [emphasis added below]

Can Cal State Online fulfill the role of putting all online? Where should we focus? State side or Cal State Online. Chancellor wants this to happen. Ruth and Marge are working on a plan. Need to be cautious to not cause confusion to students and not diminish Cal State Online.

Requirement of bill is that courses must be articulated statewide. Makes sense for Cal State Online to take ownership.

In May the CSU faculty senate passed a resolution calling on Cal State Online to promote all online programs and not just the six run through CSO.

RESOLVED: That all online degree programs offered by CSU campuses be given the same degree of prominence on the Calstateonline.com and Calstateonline.net websites as the online degree programs offered through Cal State Online; and be it further

RESOLVED: That there should be no charge for listing state­support online degree programs on the Calstateonline.com and Calstateonline.net websites;

By the June Advisory Board meeting, there was some progress for Fall enrollments, and there was concern that the state legislature did not understand the bottleneck problem.

Legislature thinks that if students knew about online courses our bottleneck problem would be solved. State is not funding FTES. Enrolling students online will need state subsidy. There is a belief that we can educate students online cheaply. There is a disconnect in Sacramento. Enrollment caps are more the issue, not bottlenecks.

There was also an enrollment presentation for the June meeting:

Download (PDF, 221KB)

2013: Summer and Fall

Despite planned meetings every two months, the CSO Advisory Board did not meet again until October, and in this interim the decision was made to abandon the original concept and to change the Pearson contract. Advisory Board members were not pleased with the process.

In early summer Pearson requested changes in the CSU/Pearson contract; wanted to increase CSU costs for services. The quality of the marketing provided by Pearson was not adequate. There were multiple meetings between Pearson and Cal State Online to resolve concerns resulting in changes to the contract.

The new marketing firm for Cal State Online is DENT; replaces Pearson; started in July 2013. So far there is a high level of satisfaction

A communication was distributed to the Advisory Board and CSU system stakeholders on October 17th regarding the Pearson/Cal State Online contract changes. The communication can be found on the Cal State Online CSYOU site [ed. no longer available].

Discussion/Comments: 

  • Members of the Advisory Board stated that there was little to no communication to them about the changes taking place. The last board meeting was a telelconference call in June and the August in-person meeting was cancelled.
    • There was a need to keep only a small number of people involved during the complicated negotiation process

The CSO entity was never formed as a 501(c)3 organization, and with the summer changes CSO would now report to Academic Affairs. The meeting notes further describe the changes.

The current Cal State Online business model will be in place until the end of 2013 and will then change. The Advisory Board will help identify opportunities and provide direction. It is anticipated that this will result in some changes in current program participation but hope that the current campuses will continue. Since campuses now have the option to use the LMS platform of their choice some campuses may elect to change to their own platform. [snip]

The Governor contributed $10 million to increase online education within the CSU. AB 386 Levine. Public postsecondary education: cross-enrollment: online education at the California State University was approved by the Governor on September 26, 2013 [emphasis added].

  • With the changes in the Pearson relationship and the passing of AB 386 we are now taking a much broader view of Cal State Online; will be used as a store front for CSU online courses. All online courses and programs in system will have Cal State Online as the store front.

The CSU faculty senate unanimously passed another resolution related to CSO in November. The resolution applauded the movement of CSO to report to Academic Affairs and the allowance for campus selection of LMS, but the real focus was the lack of faculty input in the decision-making.

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate of the California State University (ASCSU) express its dismay that recent changes to Cal State Online were announced to system constituencies without review or input from the Cal State Online Advisory Board; and be it further [snip]

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU contend that the dissolution of the Cal State Online Board should not occur until a plan for a new governance structure that includes faculty is established, and be it further

RESOLVED: That the ASCSU recommend the establishment of a newly configured Cal State Online system­ wide advisory committee to include at least 5 faculty members, and the creation of a charge, in a partnership between the ASCSU and the Academic Affairs division of the Chancellor’s Office;

This issue – involvement in decision-making – was continued at the final Advisory Board meeting just three days after the senate resolution.

Ephraim Smith (VP Academic Affairs): The Cal State Online Board was originally created for a 501c3 organization but there was a change in direction and did not pursue 501c3; board then acted as advisory. Now that Cal State Online hase moved to Academic Affairs the question is how should it interact with constituencies; work through existing committees? Need to discuss.

There are three full pages of notes on the resultant discussion, ended in a plan to form a Commission that looks broadly at online education across the CSU.

2014

Despite the decision being made in Fall 2013 on the major changes to Cal State Online, the systemwide communication listed in my July post was not made until June 2014. The above description is mostly based on CSO documentation, but I plan to add a few of my own thoughts of the lessons learned from this short-lived online initiative in a future post.

  1. CSU officials did not respond to requests to be interviewed for this story. The offer is still open if someone would like to comment.
  2. The contract is no longer available in public, so I will only share one excerpt here.
  3. Disclosure: Michael and I wrote a white paper for 20 Million Minds Foundation calling out how Cal State Online did not attempt to address relieving bottleneck courses for matriculated students, which was the purported goal of much of the state legislative debate.

The post Cal State Online: Public records shed light on what happened appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at August 28, 2014 08:35 PM

Sakai@UD

Managing Announcements and Notifications

As the fall semester begins, IT staff members have received a number of inquiries related to notifications and sending announcements to students, especially with the growing number of instructors opting to use Canvas instead of Sakai. Below are some options and “gotchas” regarding notifications in UD-supported technologies, including Canvas, Sakai, and P.O. Box. I. Verify […] more >

by Mathieu Plourde at August 28, 2014 05:55 PM

Michael Feldstein

Numbers: Administrative Costs Soaring? Maybe not

August 27, 2014

There’s just a mind-boggling amount of money per student that’s being spent on administration

Andrew Gillen, quoted in “New Analysis Shows Problematic Booming Higher Ed Administrators,” Huffington Post, August 26, 2014

 Administrative growth drives up costs at state-owned universities

Debra Edrleu, TribLive, July 28, 2013

 Across U.S. higher education, nonclassroom costs have ballooned, administrative payrolls being a prime example.

Wall Street Journal as quoted by Phil Hill, e-Literate, January 2, 2013

 Administrative costs on college campuses are soaring.

J. Paul Robinson, quoted in “Bureaucrats Paid $250,000 Feed OutcryOver College Costs, Bloomberg News, November 14, 2012

 Administrative Costs Mushrooming

Georget Leff , John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, September 15, 2010

 

Are these true, or generalizations that lack the rigor of research? What does the data say?

Since 2004 The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) financial survey of colleges and universities has reported the costs of Institutional Support in a standard form. This broad category includes “general administrative services, central executive-level activities concerned with management, legal and fiscal operations, space management, employee personnel and records, … and information technology.” In business this is often called “administration.”

Data from NCES’s Digest of Education Statistics 2012 shows decreases in cost per student from 2003-2004 through 2010-2011 except for public 4 year colleges and universities that increased expenses by 4.1% as shown in Table 1.

Institutional Support per Student

2003-04

2010-11

Change

Public 4 year

$2,212

$2,302

4.1%

Private 4 year

4,611

3,887

-15.7%

Public 2 year

1,045

875

-16.3%

Private 2 year

783

401

-48.8%

Table 1 – Cost of “administration” per enrolled student

These data are expressed in July 2014 dollars adjusted using the Consumer Price Index CPI-U so the results would be unaffected by inflation. The year 2003-2004 was selected for comparison because the data definitions and formats were the first consistent with 2010-11. Because private colleges and universities do not report operation of plant, that cost was omitted from the percentage computations of both. Headcount was used since administrative expenses are more closely related to enrollment of real students than to a mythical full-time equivalent (FTE).

These data are shown graphically in Figure 1.

Figure1

Figure 1 – Comparative Administrative Expenses 2003-2004 and 2010-2011

Data showing administration as a percent of institutional expenses omitting independent organizations, hospitals, and auxiliary enterprises, is shown in Figure 2.

Figure2

Figure 2 – Administration Expenses as a Percent of Institutional Expenses

The percentages are near equal for the two years though the administration expenses per student declined during this period except for the public 4 year colleges and universities. This reduction, likely true also for the cost of instruction, is influenced by increased enrollment and institutional budget that was typically less or about the same as 2003-2004.

The IPEDS revision introduced in the late 70s early 80s was based on program budgeting. The mission of the college or university was considered to be a combination of instruction, research, and public service—sometimes call direct costs. The library and computing was consolidated into academic support upon the belief that books would transition into electronic documents. Student services was another indirect category that includes admissions, registrar, and activities that contribute to students emotional and physical well-being, intramural athletics, and student organizations. Intercollegiate athletics and student health services may be included “except when operated as self-supporting auxiliary enterprises.”

IPEDS tried to avoid financial aid in institutional expenses of mission-based programs since, for example, it is a transfer payment of one student (tuition paid) to another (tuition discount).

NCES now makes the data from these surveys available using several different statistical tools (software).

The NCES data are very useful in analysis and in communicating with the public that seem to be receiving more opinions than facts.

This analysis is an example of verifying assertions that administration expenses are mushrooming, soaring, or ballooning.

Are administrative expenses soaring? The evidence is “no.” But that doesn’t make a sensational headline.

The post Numbers: Administrative Costs Soaring? Maybe not appeared first on e-Literate.

by Jim Farmer at August 28, 2014 03:19 PM

August 27, 2014

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE Griffin is now available!

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is excited to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Griffin or OAE 8.

OAE Griffin brings a complete overhaul of the collaborative document experience, metadata widgets, full interactive REST API documentation and improved Office document previews. Next to that, OAE Griffin also introduces a wide range of incremental usability improvements, technical advances and bug fixes.

Changelog

Collaborative documents

The collaborative document experience in OAE Griffin has been completely overhauled. Whilst OAE's collaborative note taking capabilities have consistently been identified as very useful during usability testing, the actual Etherpad editor user experience has always tested poorly and never felt like an inherent part of the OAE platform.

Therefore, OAE Griffin introduces a fully skinned and customised collaborative document editor. The Etherpad editor has been skinned to make it fit seamlessly into the overall OAE interface and a number of under-utilised features have been removed. The editor and toolbar now also behave a lot better on mobile devices. All of this creates a much cleaner, more integrated and easier to use collaborative document experience.

At the same time, the activities and notifications generated by collaborative documents have also been fine-tuned. OAE Griffin now detects which people have made a change and will generate accurate activities, providing a much better idea of what's been happening inside of a document.

Metadata widgets

It is now possible to see the metadata for all content items, discussions and groups. This includes the full title of the item, the description, who created it and when it was created. For content items and discussions, it is also possible to see the full list of managers and people and groups it's shared with. All of this will provide a lot more context to an item, for example when discovering an interesting content item or when wondering who's involved in a discussion.

At the same time, the long-awaited download button has been provided for all content items, ensuring that the original file can easily be downloaded.

REST API Documentation

OAE Griffin introduces a REST API documentation framework and all of the OAE REST APIs have been fully documented. This work is based on a REST API documentation specification called Swagger, and offers a nice interactive UI where the documentation can be viewed and all of the REST endpoints can be tried.

This documentation is available on every OAE tenant and sits alongside the internal API documentation. All of this should provide sufficient information and documentation for widget development and integration with OAE.

Office documents

The OAE preview processor has been upgraded from LibreOffice 3.5 to LibreOffice 4.3. This brings tremendous improvements to the content previews that are generated for Office files (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Especially the display of shapes, pictures and tables has been much improved, whilst some additional font support has been added as well.

Email improvements

The email notifications have been tweaked to ensure that emails sent out by OAE are as relevant as possible. At the same time, a number of visual improvements have been made to those emails to ensure that they look good on all devices.

Embedding improvements

Browsers have started introducing a set of new new cross-protocol embedding restrictions, which were causing some embedded links to not show correctly in the content profile. Therefore, OAE Griffin puts a number of measures in place that improve link embedding is and provide a fallback when a link can not be embedded.

CAS Authentication

It is now possible to pick up and use SAML attributes released by a CAS authentication server. This allows for a user's profile metadata to be available immediately after signing into OAE for the first time, without having to pre-provision the account.

Icons

The icons used in OAE Griffin have been upgraded from FontAwesome 3 to FontAwesome 4.3, allowing for a wider variety of icons to be used in widget development.

Apache Cassandra

OAE Griffin has been upgraded from Apache Cassandra 1.2.15 to Apache Cassandra 2.0.8, bringing a range of performance improvements, as well as the possibility of setting up simple database transactions.

Try it out

OAE Griffin can be tried out on the project's QA server at http://oae.oae-qa0.oaeproject.org. It is worth noting that this server is actively used for testing and will be wiped and redeployed every night.

The source code has been tagged with version number 8.0.0 and can be downloaded from the following repositories:

Back-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/tree/8.0.0
Front-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/tree/8.0.0

Documentation on how to install the system can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/blob/8.0.0/README.md.

Instruction on how to upgrade an OAE installation from version 7 to version 8 can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/wiki/OAE-Upgrade-Guide.

The repository containing all deployment scripts can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/puppet-hilary.

Get in touch

The project website can be found at http://www.oaeproject.org. The project blog will be updated with the latest project news from time to time, and can be found at http://www.oaeproject.org/blog.

The mailing list used for Apereo OAE is oae@apereo.org. You can subscribe to the mailing list at https://groups.google.com/a/apereo.org/d/forum/oae.

Bugs and other issues can be reported in our issue tracker at https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/issues.

by Nicolaas Matthijs at August 27, 2014 01:14 PM

August 26, 2014

Michael Feldstein

Community Source Is Dead

As Phil noted in yesterday’s post, Kuali is moving to a for-profit model, and it looks like it is motivated more by sustainability pressures than by some grand affirmative vision for the organization. There has been a long-term debate in higher education about the value of “community source,” which is a particular governance and funding model for open source projects. This debate is arguably one of the reasons why Indiana University left the Sakai Foundation (as I will get into later in this post). At the moment, Kuali is easily the most high-profile and well-funded project that still identifies itself as Community Source. The fact that this project, led by the single most vocal proponent for the Community Source model, is moving to a different model strongly suggests that Community Source has failed.

It’s worth taking some time to talk about why it has failed, because the story has implications for a wide range of open-licensed educational projects. For example, it is very relevant to my recent post on business models for Open Educational Resources (OER).

What Is Community Source?

The term “Community Source” has a specific meaning and history within higher education. It was first (and possibly only) applied to a series of open source software projects funded by the Mellon Foundation, including Sakai, Kuali, Fedora, and DSpace (the latter two of which have merged). As originally conceived, Community Source was an approach that was intended to solve a perceived resource allocation problem in open source. As then-Mellon Foundation Associate Program Officer Chris Mackie put it,

For all that the OSS movement has produced some runaway successes, including projects like Perl, Linux, and Mozilla Firefox, there appear to be certain types of challenges that are difficult for OSS to tackle. Most notably, voluntaristic OSS projects struggle to launch products whose primary customers are institutions rather than individuals: financial or HR systems rather than Web servers or browsers; or uniform, manageable desktop environments rather than programming languages or operating systems. This limitation may trace to any of several factors: the number of programmers having the special expertise required to deliver an enterprise information system may be too small to sustain a community; the software may be inherently too unglamorous or uninteresting to attract volunteers; the benefits of the software may be too diffuse to encourage beneficiaries to collaborate to produce it; the software may be too complex for its development to be coordinated on a purely volunteer basis; the software may require the active, committed participation of specific firms or institutions having strong disincentives to participate in OSS; and so on. Any of these factors might be enough to prevent the successful formation of an OSS project, and there are many useful types of enterprise software—including much of the enterprise software needed by higher education institutions—to which several of them apply. In short, however well a standard OSS approach may work for many projects, there is little reason to believe that the same model can work for every conceivable software project.

This is not very different from the argument I made recently about OER:

In the early days of open source, projects were typically supported through individual volunteers or small collections of volunteers, which limited the kinds and size of open source software projects that could be created. This is also largely the state of OER today. Much of it is built by volunteers. Sometimes it is grant funded, but there typically is not grant money to maintain and update it. Under these circumstances, if the project is of the type that can be adequately well maintained through committed volunteer efforts, then it can survive and potentially thrive. If not, then it will languish and potentially die.

The Mellon Foundation’s answer to this problem was Community Source, again as described by Chris Mackie:

Under this new model, several institutions contract together to build software for a common need, with the intent of releasing that software as open source. The institutions form a virtual development organization consisting of employees seconded from each of the partners. This entity is governed cooperatively by the partners and managed as if it were an enterprise software development organization, with project and team leads, architects, developers, and usability specialists, and all the trappings of organizational life, including reporting relationships and formal incentive structures. During and after the initial construction phase, the consortial partners open the project and invite in anyone who cares to contribute; over time the project evolves into a more ordinary OSS project, albeit one in which institutions rather than individual volunteers usually continue to play a major role.

A good friend of mine who has been involved in Mellon-funded projects since the early days describes Community Source more succinctly as a consortium with a license. Consortial development is a longstanding and well understood method of getting things done in higher education. If I say to you, “Kuali is a consortium of universities trying to build an ERP system together,” you will probably have some fairly well-developed notions of what the pros and cons of that approach might be. The primary innovation of Community Source is that it adds an open source license to the product that the consortium develops, thus enabling another (outer) circle of schools to adopt and contribute to the project. But make no mistake: Community Source functions primarily like a traditional institutional consortium. This can be best encapsulated by what Community Source proponents refer to as the Golden Rule: “If you bring the gold then you make the rules.”[1]

Proponents of Community Source suggested even from the early days that Community Source is different from open source. Technically, that’s not true, since Community Source projects produce open source software. But it is fair to say that Community Source borrows the innovation of the open source license while maintaining traditional consortial governance and enterprise software management techniques. Indiana University CIO and Community Source proponent Brad Wheeler sometimes refers to Community Source as “the pub between the Cathedral and the Bazaar (a reference to Eric Raymond’s seminal essay on open source development).” More recently, Brad and University of Michigan’s Dean of Libraries James Hilton codified what they consider to be the contrasts between open source and Community Source in their essay “The Marketecture of Community,” and which Brad elaborates on in his piece “Speeding Up On Curves.” They represent different models of procuring software in a two-by-two matrix, where the dimensions are “authority” and “influence”:

Note that both of these dimensions are about the degree of control that the purchaser has in deciding what goes into the software. It is fundamentally a procurement perspective. However, procuring software and developing software are very different processes.

A Case Study in Failure and Success

The Sakai community and the projects under its umbrella provide an interesting historical example to see how Community Source has worked and where it has broken down. In its early days, Indiana University and the University of Michigan where primary contributors to Sakai and very much promoted the idea of Community Source. I remember a former colleague returning from a Sakai conference in the summer of 2005 commenting, “That was the strangest open source conference I have ever been to. I have never seen an open source project use the number of dollars they have raised as their primary measure of success.” The model was very heavily consortial in those days, and the development of the project reflected that model. Different schools built different modules, which were then integrated into a portal. As Conway’s Law predicts, this organizational decision led to a number of technical decisions. Modules developed by different schools were of differing quality and often integrated with each other poorly. The portal framework created serious usability problems like breaking the “back” button on the browser. Some of the architectural consequences of this approach took many years to remediate. Nevertheless, Sakai did achieve a small but significant minority of U.S. higher education market share, particularly at its peak a few years ago. Here’s a graph showing the growth of non-Blackboard LMSs in the US as of 2010, courtesy of data from the Campus Computing Project:

Meanwhile, around 2009, Cambridge University built the first prototype of what was then called “Sakai 3.” It was intended to be a ground-up rewrite of a next-generation system. Cambridge began developing it themselves as an experiment out of their Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies, but it was quickly seized upon by NYU and several other schools in the Sakai community as interesting and “the future.” A consortial model was spun up around it, and then spun up some more. Under pressure from Indiana University and University of Michigan, the project group created multiple layers of governance, the highest of which eventually required a $500K institutional commitment in order to participate. Numbers of feature requirements and deadlines proliferated, while project velocity slowed. The project hit technical hurdles, principally around scalability, that it was unable to resolve, particularly given ambitious deadlines for new functionality. In mid-2012, Indiana University and University of Michigan “paused investment” in the project. Shortly thereafter, they left the project altogether, taking with them monies that they had previously committed to invest under a Memorandum of Understanding. The project quickly collapsed after that, with several other major investors leaving. (Reread Phil’s post from yesterday with this in mind and you’ll see the implications for measuring Kuali’s financial health.)

Interestingly, the project didn’t die. Greatly diminished in resources but freed from governance and management constraints of the consortial approach, the remaining team not only finally re-architected the platform to solve the scalability problems but also have managed seven major releases since that implosion in 2012. The project, now called Apereo OAE, has returned to its roots as an academic (including learning) collaboration platform and is not trying to be a direct LMS replacement. It has even begun to pick up significant numbers of new adoptees—a subject that I will return to in a future post.

It’s hard to look at the trajectory of this project and not conclude that the Community Source model was a fairly direct and significant cause of its troubles. Part of the problem was the complex negotiations that come along with any consortium. But a bigger part, in my opinion, was the set of largely obsolete enterprise software management attitudes and techniques that come along as a not-so-hidden part of the Community Source philosophy. In practice, Community Source is essentially project management approach focused on maximizing the control and influence of the IT managers whose budgets are paying for the projects. But those people are often not the right people to make decisions about software development, and the waterfall processes that they often demand in order to exert that influence and control (particularly in a consortial setting) are antithetical to current best practices in software engineering. In my opinion, Community Source is dead primarily because the Gantt Chart is dead.

Not One Problem but Two

Community Source was originally developed to address one problem, which was the challenge of marshalling development resources for complex (and sometimes boring) software development projects that benefit higher education. It is important to understand that, in the 20 years since the Mellon Foundation began promoting the approach, a lot has changed in the world of software development. To begin with, there are many more open source frameworks and better tools for developing good software more quickly. As a result, the number of people needed for software products (including voluntaristic open source projects) has shrunk dramatically—in some cases by as much as an order of magnitude. Instructure is a great example of a software platform that reached first release with probably less than a tenth of the money that Sakai took to reach its first release. But also, we can reconsider that “voluntaristic” requirement in a variety of ways. I have seen a lot of skepticism about the notion of Kuali moving to a commercial model. Kent Brooks’ recent post is a good example. The funny thing about it, though, is that he waxes poetic about Moodle, which has a particularly rich network of for-profit companies upon which it depends for development, including Martin Dougiamas’ company at the center. In fact, in his graphic of his ideal world of all open source, almost every project listed has one or more commercial companies behind it without which it would either not exist or would be struggling to improve:

BigBlueButton is developed entirely by a commercial entity. The Apache web server gets roughly 80% of its contributions from commercial entities, many of which (like IBM) get direct financial benefit from the project. And Google Apps aren’t even open source. They’re just free. Some of these projects have strong methods for incorporating voluntaristic user contributions and taking community input on requirements, while others have weak ones. But across that spectrum of practices, community models, and sustainability models, they manage to deliver value. There is no one magic formula that is obviously superior to the others in all cases. This is not to say that shifting Kuali’s sustainability model to a commercial entity is inevitably a fine idea that will succeed in enabling the software to thrive while preserving the community’s values. It’s simply to say that moving to a commercially-driven sustainability model isn’t inherently bad or evil. The value (or lack thereof) will all depend on how the shift is done and what the Kuali-adopting schools see as their primary goals.

But there is also a second problem we must consider—one that we’ve learned to worry about in the last couple of decades of progress in the craft of software engineering (or possibly a lot earlier, if you want to go back as far as the publication of The Mythical Man Month). What is the best way to plan and execute software development projects in light of the high degree of uncertainty inherent in developing any software with non-trivial complexity and a non-trivial set of potential users? If Community Source failed primarily because consortia are hard to coordinate, then moving to corporate management should solve that problem. But if it failed primarily because it reproduces failed IT management practices, then moving to a more centralized decision-making model could exacerbate the problem. Shifting the main stakeholders in the project from consortium partners to company investors and board members does not require a change in this mindset. No matter who the CEO of the new entity is, I personally don’t see Kuali succeeding unless it can throw off its legacy of Community Source IT consortium mentality and the obsolete, 1990′s-era IT management practices that undergird it.

  1. No, I did not make that up. See, for example, https://chronicle.com/article/Business-Software-Built-by/49147

The post Community Source Is Dead appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at August 26, 2014 05:21 PM

August 25, 2014

Chris Coppola

Kuali 2.0

Last Friday, the Kuali Foundation made an announcement that stirred up quite a buzz. Kuali has formed a new Kuali Commercial entity (referred to below as Kuali-Company) that is a “for profit” enterprise owned by and aligned with the higher ed community through Kuali.org. As a Kuali.org co-founder and community leader, rSmart has naturally been asked for comment, clarity, and information.

Kuali 2.0 logoLet’s start with some facts…

  • Kuali software will continue to be open source.
  • Kuali will continue to be driven by higher education.
  • Kuali will continue to engage colleges and universities in the way that it always has.

… and we expect that…

  • Kuali-Company will be better at engaging the higher education community from a marketing and sales perspective.
  • Kuali will have a more effective product development capability organized in Kuali-Company.
  • Kuali-Company will deliver Kuali software in the cloud.

The Kuali mission is unwavering, to drive down the cost of administration for colleges and universities to keep more money focused on the core teaching and research mission. Our (the Kuali community) mission hasn’t changed, but the ability to execute on it has improved dramatically. The former structure made it too difficult for colleges and universities to engage and benefit from Kuali’s work. This new model will simplify how institutions can engage. The former structure breeds a lot of duplicative (and even competitive) work. The new structure will be more efficient.

People have been calling and asking what this means to rSmart. rSmart is made up of people who, like me, are passionate about the mission. We wake up every day and work hard to achieve the mission. rSmart has been involved in the leadership of Kuali since the day it started… actually before that since we are one of Kuali’s founders. This change is no different, and we believe that this change is going to better enable us to fulfill our mission.

We’re excited about Kuali’s future. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know Joel Dehlin a bit and I’m confident that he is going to be a great addition and I look forward to working with him. rSmart is committed to our customers, to the Kuali mission, and to supporting this new direction.


Tagged: business, commercial-os, community, education, erp, future, kuali, open source, rSmart

by Chris at August 25, 2014 06:27 PM

Sakai Project

Help Organize Open Apereo 2015 - Baltimore

Open Apereo 2015 will be held in Baltimore between Sunday, May 31 and Wednesday, June 3.

Our conferences have been hugely successful - and the main reason for that success is the engagement and commitment of volunteers from the community in the planning process. With a growing community, and growing community of projects, it's particularly important that make that process both inclusive and innovative.

August 25, 2014 04:48 PM

August 18, 2014

Sakai@UD

Sakai@UD Planned Outage for 2.9.3 Upgrade

On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, Sakai@UD will be unavailable from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow the code to be upgraded to version 2.9.3. Sakai 2.9 contains significant performance improvements, updated technical infrastructure, hundreds of bug fixes (over 600 bug fixes and over 20 security improvements), and accessibility improvements. Significant features have been added […] more >

by Mathieu Plourde at August 18, 2014 06:28 PM

August 15, 2014

Zach Thomas

Sakai and Ansible Sittin’ In a Tree

I love data center automation. It’s funny, I know, since I don’t even have a data center. But I started my software development career back when it took weeks to order and procure any servers, and the developers were definitely not allowed to ever touch them. Each one was a finely-crafted jewel, fussed over by an attentive sysadmin. Fast forward to now, and I can spin up a fleet of servers with a single line from a terminal. With good automation in place, you can keep all your configuration under version control, and should any server disappear without warning, you can be confident that you’ll have a new one completely ready in a matter of minutes.

I first got started with puppet, which, together with chef, is one of the giants of IT automation. I created modules for my company’s build environment, staging environment, and a generic development environment for Sakai.

More recently, I discovered ansible, thanks to the ThoughtWorks technology radar. Ansible is different from puppet in some superficial ways (python instead of ruby!), but I also found it much easier to understand and much quicker to get up and running.

One of the things that’s tricky to get right in puppet is which tasks depend on other tasks. For example, if you’re going to download a file using cURL, that task will depend on the one that ensures cURL is installed on the system. With puppet, you say that one task requires one or more other tasks. But if you forget, you’ll find out when it fails.

With ansible, tasks run in the order they appear in your specification. What could be more intuitive than that? That is pretty much what you would expect to happen.

Another cool thing about ansible is that it doesn’t require an agent to be running on the machine you’re trying to provision. It just needs an ssh daemon and python, and those are standard equipment on (nearly) any server distribution you’re going to find.

I have converted our staging environment to ansible, and it’s working great. If you take the extra step (optional) of installing ansible on the server, you can have the server refresh itself with a command called ansible-pull. You just put that in a cron job, and it can pick up any changes you might want to make from a git repository.

I have been wanting to try ansible for the Sakai develeoper environment, and I finally did it. You’ll find that here on github. The most frustrating part is still waiting for the Subversion checkout of close to 540MiB of source files, but it’s pretty cool that you can have everything you need (java jdk, maven, tomcat, svn) in a vm without having to worry that you left out a step, or that anything might conflict with versions that you already have installed on your own machine.

August 15, 2014 01:28 PM

August 07, 2014

Sakai Project

Sakai Virtual Conference 2014

Sakai Virtual Conference 2014
Bridging Education with Technology
November 7, 2014 - Online
http://virtconf.apereo.org/   #SakaiVC14

August 07, 2014 04:15 PM

Dr. Chuck

Sakai 11: iFrames are starting to vanish

You have been hearing a bunch about the new responsive Morpheus portal and the removal of the iFrames from Sakai 11. Lots of work has been going on. Last night I committed the first of many changes to the portal code in trunk to start Sakai 11 down the path to being iframe free. The Morpheus effort is already well on the way to making our default portal mobile friendly and responsive.

If you go to the nightly server as of this morning, you will see that there are no more iframes except for the following tools:

Lessons, Samigo, Preferences, Resources, DropBox, and Home

If you want to a fun test, go to:

http://nightly2.sakaiproject.org:8082/portal

Make an account, make a site, add the Gradebook and a few other tools to the site – then click the four buttons across the top of Gradebook and then click the Back button four times – watching the URL change. No iframes, real REST looking URLs in the location box and flawless back button.

At this point we have not done anything that is irreversible, all we did was change two property defaults in trunk. You can restore yesterday’s behavior by setting these back to their old defaults:

portal.inline.experimental=false
portal.pda.iframesuppress=:all:

If you are playing with the morpheus portal, the next time you so an ’svn update’ the same settings and behaviors will be in effect. The morpheus portal is inlining all but the above tools as well.

None of this will be put into Sakai 10 – it will remain in trunk for Sakai 11. We know there will be lots of little issues as we completely rewrite how the portl works underneath our feet and so we really need the next six or so months to colletively test these major UI improvements.

Over the next few weeks, we will be working on tweaking little markup glitches to make it so all tools can be inlined in both the neo and morpheus portals. Lessons, Samigo and Preferences have small issues of markup conflicts, jQuery versions or local CSS bits that should be easily fixed to allow them to be inlined. DropBox and Home use Bootstrap Javascript and CSS and so they have significant markup conflicts between them and the portal – we may need to wait for morpheus to mature some more to get these two tools working in inline mode. Home has four tools on a single page and there is no way to inline more than one tool on a page other than using portlets so the Home page will take some work – or perhaps we just replace it with the Dashboard :).

As we make these changes, every effort will be made to keep the tools working in all variants of the portal (neo with frames, neo with no frames, and morpheus with and without frames). But at some point we will need to change tool markup in a way that it no longer works with the neo portal or works in a diminished mode in neo. By that point, morpheus will have nmatured to the point where it will be the default and only portal that we support for Sakai 11. When that happens there will be plently of communication and announcements and opportunities to do some testing and feedback from the community. So make sure to listen carefully to the developer and user lists in Sakai over the next few months as this bit of “evolution in place” happens.

You can track what is happening at this JIRA:

https://jira.sakaiproject.org/browse/SAK-27774

If you find a problem that appears to be a markup conflict between the portal and tool markup, please file a JIRA and link it to SAK-27774 and we will see what we can do.

Let us know what you think of this on the user and developer lists. One of the benefits of being part of the Sakai community is that we make changes like this in the open and invite broad disucssion about them. It is one of the hallmarks of an open community of developers and users guiding a product forward together.

This is the first of many steps to a state-of-the-art responsive and iframe-free user experience – the journey of a thousand commits starts with a single commit.

by Charles Severance at August 07, 2014 05:06 AM

July 30, 2014

Adam Marshall

WebLearn likely to be unavailable on Saturday 6th September 2014

A message from Mike Fraser (Director of Infrastructure Services):

Dear colleagues,

It is planned to power-down the IT Services data centre at Banbury Road on Saturday, 6 September 2014 with the loss of a significant number of IT services.  This outage is necessary in order for Estates Services to replace the end-of-life cooling system, which uses a refrigerant that will be illegal to maintain beyond December 2014; fit a by-pass switch to the data centre UPS to allow us to carry out maintenance on the UPS without the need to shut down the whole data centre; and to undertake mandatory electrical testing. The work is expected to be undertaken from 0800 with restoration of services by 1700. It is likely that some services that cannot be kept running will be powered down the previous evening (Friday 5 Sept) from 1700 onwards.

We are assessing the impact to IT services hosted in the data centre and, where possible, putting in place workarounds in order to try and minimise the overall impact to the University. We do not yet have a definitive list of services that will be unavailable on 6 Sept and so at this point in time all networked services provided by IT Services should be considered at risk on that day (with potential impact on local services). We intend to communicate a list of affected services by 6 August with further reminders leading up to 6 September.

Given the number of individual pieces of hardware that will be powered-down on 6 September, and the risk of hardware failure, it is likely that some services will not come back on line within the expected time period. We will endeavour to maintain frequent communications to IT support staff during any period of service outage.

If you have any immediate concerns or questions please email help@it.ox.ac.uk in the first instance.

With regards,

Mike

by Adam Marshall at July 30, 2014 09:37 AM

July 25, 2014

Adam Marshall

Peer assessment coming in WebLearn 10

The WebLearn team is upgrading WebLearn to Sakai version 10 over the summer (2014). One of the great new features of the Assignments tool is that it allows peer review and grading (peer assessment). This screenshot shows two students who have each submitted an assignment, and each received one (anonymous) peer review with comments and a grade.

Note that the instructor needs to wait until the review period (specified when the assignment is created) is over, before checking the peer reviews and allocating a final mark:

peers

See more details on this blog post from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
http://blog.sakai.unc.edu/2014/02/17/new-peer-review-in-sakai/

by Jill Fresen at July 25, 2014 02:38 PM

July 23, 2014

Dr. Chuck

Sakai 10 Released – The Magic of Open Source

In this post I am not speaking for University of Michigan, Longsight Inc., or the IMS Global Learning Consortium.

It is always a great feeling for an open source community to finish a release. So much work goes into a release and so many volunteers are involved and work hard – so it is a proud moment for a lot of us. I tend to be involved in more of the up front development and working on crazy next gen stuff. So I am doubly grateful to those who put the finishing touches on these releases and then get them out to the public and put them into production.

Here is the official release notice for Sakai 10. There is a long list of great stuff in that link that I won’t replicate here.

As I said in the The Post-LMS LMS article in Inside Higher Education, the past year has seen a lot of incremental investment in all five of the major LMS systems in the marketplace. In a sense we were all reacting to changes in the market. As we gain experiences with larger sized classes that we hope to run at scale (i.e inspired by MOOCs) there are a number of MOOC-like features that are finding their way into products. Sakai-10’s peer-assessment and improvement of group-submitted are partially inspired by the MOOCs heavy use of peer features. It is not so much that MOOCs were the first to do peer-assessment – more that peer-assessment has gotten a lot of attention in the past two years.

If Sakai end-users feel strongly enough about a feature to bring funding or resources to the table, the features get built and added to the core product and are part of the next release surprisingly quickly. It is that simple – no product marketing layer or sales people to fight through. You find or hire the necessary resources and have a feature in the core product. There is no other product in the LMS marketplace where end-users personally know the core developers of the product on a first name basis.

Another big trend is making sure that LMS systems can function well in cloud environments (i.e. like Amazon). In the past two years, Amazon’s costs have dropped dramatically and their capabilities have grown significantly. The addition of Solid State Disk Drives in many of their offerings is a quantum leap forward in the ability to host “normal” applications in the cloud that was impractical a while back. Simply put, two years ago – you had to be pretty clever to move a large application into the cloud because of the subtle performance tuning that was required – but now Amazon’s cloud resources have very similar performance characteristics to locally-owned hardware – expecially if virtualization is used on that hardware.

Just a quick look at Amazon’s EC2 pricing is pretty amazing – especially the one and three year fixed contract pricing. A m3.medium instance with about 4G RAM, 4G SSD and one CPU is $172 for three years. A bit more capable two CPU, 8G RAM, 32G SSD m3.large server is $343 for three years. Why would I ever run a server under my desk at work with prices like that?

So there is a pull for both self-hosted schools and commercial companies that host LMSs in their own clouds to take advantage of these prices. This is true for all vendors. Based on my rumors and bar conversations, I think that Canvas is the only major hosting company that is mostly using Amazon – but all the other vendors are likely eyeing hosting new work and new expansion in the cloud and as servers get replaced in a company data center it is likely that there will be an urge to use Amazon instead.

But as we move the hosting of these systems into the Amazon cloud, we still want to spend as little money as possible. And if you look at what you are getting in Amazon, the most expensive element of the cost is the RAM followed by I/O. CPU is almost an insignificant concern on most LMS applications. So not surprisingly, if you want to optimize costs in a cloud version of Sakai, you find a way to trade CPU for RAM and database I/O. The solution of course for all applications is a shared cache like memcache or Reddis.

So not surprisingly in the above video you see three Sakai Commercial Affliliates (AshaiNet, Longsight, and Unicon) putting a lot of energy into cloud-tuning Sakai by reducing app server memory footprint and database I/O by adding a shared cache and switching to elastic search.

This kind of cloud tuning goes on for all of the LMS systems. For Moodle, Moodlerooms and RemoteLearner separately tune Moodle to scale for the cloud. Of course Instructure tunes Canvas for the cloud all the time but we never see the source code. Blackboard announced thair plans to host Learn on AWS at BBWorld14 – an impressive step – since I was not in Vegas, I had to settle for screen shots of slides in Twitter DMs.

But the essential difference in the Sakai community is that three competitors saw fit to pool their cloud tuning efforts and put their code into the community release. Even while the code was being built and tested, developers from AsahiNet, Longsight, and Unicon were communicating regularly, checking, testing, and fixing code written by one of their “competitors”. And when it was all done the code ends up in the open source trunk of Sakai. There are no secret repositories with the “magic sauce” – you don’t have to go to the bar and get a drawing on a napkin to find out the clever tuning tricks that are being done to make this possible. Just check out the source code and take a look.

Now while to a proprietary competitor, it might seem crazy to give away the “crown jewels”. But like many crazy plans, it is just so crazy that it might work. First, everyone is running the same code. Vendors don’t need a vendor fork for perfomance tweaks. Self-hosted schools can deploy the same solution as the commercial vendors if they like. If self-hosted schools are a little nervous about switching from the “app server” / “db server” architecture – they can just wait while the commercial Sakai vendors gain experience – but at any time – they have access to the exact same cloud code that the vendors are using in production when they are ready to start saving hardware costs.

The second and more important issue is that cloud performance tuning is a moving target. Amazon will continue to tweak their offerings and performance characteristics. You never really are sure how something will scale until you are running it at scale. Who knows if Unicon, LongSight, or AsahiNet will be the first one to encounter a little bit of code that needs a bit of tweaking as you add the millionth user. But as long as we avoid tweaks in vendor branches and keep the tweaks in the trunk, when the second vendor crosses that million user barrier – the code will be there for them – sitting in trunk and fully tested.

Again it might seem insane for one vendor to commit code that will allow other vendors to match their offerings in the marketplace or allow self-hosted schools to avoid out-sourcing their applications to a vendor because they have 100% access to the same code. But the reality is that it is far less risky to work together than to work separately. There is no single school or commercial vendor in the Sakai ecosystem that can go it alone and ignore everyone else. We are in this together. We sink or swim together.

We will all help each other find our way to the cloud together. That is the power of real open source. That is the magic of real open source.

Even if you run a commercial LMS at your University – you should join us and be part of Apereo. Apereo is not just about Sakai. Apereo is where the next generation of teaching and learning technology will be collectively defined and built. Because what is next will be even more exciting than getting an LMS ready for the cloud.

by Charles Severance at July 23, 2014 01:17 PM

July 21, 2014

Sakai@UD

Guest management issue: Microsoft Email Accounts (Hotmail, Live, MSN, Outlook.com) prevent invitations from being delivered

As staff and faculty use the Sakai and Canvas Guest Accounts services, we have noticed that when they invite guests who use Microsoft-hosted email account domains, such as: @hotmail.com @live.com @msn.com @outlook.com or any country-specific ones, such as @msn.ca, or @hotmail.br … the original invitation is not delivered properly, preventing the guest from completing the […] more >

by Mathieu Plourde at July 21, 2014 01:47 PM

July 17, 2014

Sakai Project

Watch the Video: Open Source and Geographic Imbalance - Laura Czerniewicz

Laura Czerniewicz, of the University of Cape Town, discusses southern hemisphere engagement and participation in open source communities - which contrasts with the dominance of the northern hemisphere in technology related initiatives. This is a summary of a keynote presentation by Laura at the Open Apereo Conference in June 2014.

July 17, 2014 02:05 AM

July 16, 2014

Adam Marshall

Sakai Virtual Conference – Call for presentations

Following the earlier notification to ‘Save the date’, here are further details of the Sakai Virtual Conference which has now opened the call for papers: deadline 22 August 2014. See further details below.

Note that the online event on 7 November 2014 will emphasize the use of Sakai for teaching and learning – it would be great if we could have some Oxford academics (or students or admin/library/ITSS staff) presenting a session or two.

Please consider submitting a proposal and keep the central WebLearn team in the loop!

Now Open! Call for Proposals for the Sakai Virtual Conference 2014

The theme of the conference is “Bridging Education with Technology.”  Be the bridge by sharing your expertise with others!

You are invited to submit a proposal for the first ever Sakai Virtual Conference! The premise of the virtual conference is simple: An Online, Sakai Teaching and Learning focused conference to connect with colleagues across the globe and share stories and best practices. You can enjoy interaction with your peers in the Sakai community, all without leaving home!

We are actively seeking presenters who are knowledgeable about teaching with Sakai. You don’t need to be a technical expert to share your experiences! Submit your proposal today! The deadline for submissions is August 22, 2014.

This online event will emphasize the use of Sakai for teaching and learning. The conference committee has planned the following tracks/session types:

  • Faculty Course Showcase – Demonstrate exemplary instructional strategies and course design by showcasing your course.
  • Instructional Design/Support - How do you support your end users?  Share best practices for instructional design, training, and professional development at your institution.
  • Effective or Innovative Practice – Are you using Sakai in a unique or uniquely effective way? Show us your innovative practice.
  • Birds of a Feather – Lead an informal/unstructured online gathering/discussion about a topic of your choice.
  • Student Experience Lightning Talks – Do you have some amazing student projects or perspectives you’d like to share? Nominate a student to provide a 5 minute presentation during a combined lightning talk session.
  • Technical Session – Do you have a topic that would be of interest to Sakai developers or IT staff? Present on a technical topic “under the hood” of Sakai.

The Sakai Virtual Conference will take place entirely online on Friday, November 7. You’ll make your presentation in a virtual “room,” take live questions from the audience, and get the conference experience without the expense of travel. There will be opportunities for networking and informal discussions, as well as a chance to win prizes donated by our sponsors.

Help us make the inaugural Sakai Virtual Conference a great success!

We look forward to your proposal!

http://virtconf.apereo.org/home/call-for-proposals

Sincerely,

Ian Dolphin, Executive Director, Apereo Foundation

Neal Caidin, Sakai Community Coordinator, Apereo Foundation

Wilma Hodges, Sakai Virtual Conference 2014 Planning Committee Chair

Martin Ramsay, Sakai Virtual Conference 2014 Planning Committee Member 

 

by Jill Fresen at July 16, 2014 03:00 PM

Steve Swinsburg

Sakai Quartz example bundle receives an update

Six years ago I wrote a little bundle for Sakai that sets up a Quartz job and registers it with the Sakai Job Scheduler so you can setup triggers for it to run, just like a cron job. It was getting a little long in the tooth so it’s now had a makeover and now works for Sakai 11.

All of the bits of code are documented so if you are looking to write Quartz jobs for Sakai, this is what you need. Check it out:

https://source.sakaiproject.org/contrib/swinsburg/quartz-example/

by steveswinsburg at July 16, 2014 11:48 AM

July 04, 2014

Dr. Chuck

Current Demographics for My Programming For Everybody Session 2 on Coursera

This blog post is to share some of the demographic data with my students in Programming for everybody on Coursera.

Demographics PR4E#002 (PDF)

Please contact me if you want ot use this in a blog post or some other publication to make sure I get you the most up to date materials.

by Charles Severance at July 04, 2014 03:29 PM

June 30, 2014

Steve Swinsburg

Sakai 10 released

Sakai LogoThe Sakai Core Team is happy to announce the release of Sakai 10.0. Congratulations to our worldwide team on the successful completion of Sakai 10.0!

Sakai 10 builds on the solid work of the Sakai 2.9.3 release. We have two new tool contributions, better support for audio and video using HTML 5, infrastructure improvements, about 50 security fixes, performance improvements, a number of new features, and close to 2,000 fixes! Highlights include, but are not limited to:

  • Signup tool, previously a Contrib tool, is now part of Sakai core.
  • Delegated Access tool, previously a Contrib tool, is now part of Sakai core.
  • Updated and enhanced context sensitive help  includes step-by-step instructions, and in a format that is easier to modify to your institution’s needs.
  • IMS LTI 2.0 – first LMS (learning
    management system) with support for LTI 2.0.
  • IMS Common Cartridge (CC) upgrade. Support for reading CC files is able to read CC versions 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 and it can export data in CC version 1.1 or 1.2. User selectable.
  • Peer graded Assignments – Option for students to review each other’s work.
  • Group Assignments – Option for students to submit, and be graded upon, work as a group.
  • Test and Quizzes has new question types: Calculated question and Extended Matching Items. Plus improved precision on numeric answers and a new accordion-style interface for quiz setup.
  • Lessons (aka LessonBuilder) toolbar has been redesigned and simplified, better support for embedded Audio and video, new Table of Contents feature, support for inline use of polls, and better overall look and feel.
  • Resources has support for drag and drop adding of files from desktop for all browsers, and support for folder drag and drop in Chrome.
  • Syllabus Tool updated with a new interface, bulk update of syllabus items, accordion view, and better handling of link migration.
  • Gradebook added support for extra credit.
  • Distributed Cacheing provides support for JCache/JSR-107 which includes improvement to the default cache sizes and better control by configuration. Session replication to failover from one server to another without losing session data. Overall provides better performance for large Sakai installation (though please note that these features are not turned on by default OOTB).
  • Project Keitai (mobile) improved REST API support in anticipation of Sakai Mobile applications.
  • Security Updates – The Sakai community fixed about 50 security issues including various XSS issues and CSRF issues.  AntiSamy is on by default in Sakai 2.9.3 and Sakai 10. AntiSamy ensures that user supplied HTML/CSS is in compliance within an application’s rules.
  • Student Success Portal – new integration available.
  • Java – added support for JDK 7.x. JDK 8.x support is in process of being added.
  • Sakai technical organization simplified – Reincorporated many of the “Indies” to make management of Sakai releases and reporting of issues easier.Release notes available in English, Spanish and Chinese:
    https://confluence.sakaiproject.org/display/DOC/Sakai+10+Release+Notes

by steveswinsburg at June 30, 2014 10:58 PM