Planet Sakai

April 16, 2015

Michael Feldstein

Interesting Comment on Pearson’s LMS Plans From Customer

On April 1, long-time eCollege (aka Pearson’s LearningStudio) customer Texas Christian University (TCU) gave an update on their LMS selection process to the student newspaper TCU360. In this article there was an interesting statement[1] worth exploring [emphasis added].

“eCollege” will soon be a thing of the past.

TCU has narrowed its search for a Learning Management System to two platforms, Blackboard and Desire2Learn (D2L).

“We’ve had feedback, from faculty specifically, that it’s time for change,” Assistant Provost of Educational Technology and Faculty Development Romy Hughes said.

TCU has used Pearson’s Learning Studio system since 1999.

“Pearson is out of the learning management system game,” Hughes said. “We need something to evolve with the Academy of Tomorrow and where we’re moving to at TCU.”

That last comment got my attention. The eCollege / LearningStudio platform has been around for a long time, and there have been questions about where Pearson was going in the LMS market based on 2011’s introduction of OpenClass. Would OpenClass replace LearningStudio over time, and would it strongly change the LMS market? Would both OpenClass and LearningStudio continue as standalone LMS products? It is quite clear by now that OpenClass itself has not changed the market, but LearningStudio has a long-time customer base of fully online programs – many in the for-profit sector.

Furthermore, with Pearson’s reorganization around efficacy, their core document states (p. 14):

The overarching idea was that our investments should be driven towards those products which deliver the highest impact for learners while sustaining us financially so we can continue to invest in new models and improvements.

There is a question of whether Pearson’s internal reviews around LearningStudio and OpenClass are leading to strategic changes around their position in the LMS market.

I asked for Pearson to provide official comment, and David Daniels, president of Pearson Education, responded with the following clarification.

Pearson has not left the LMS space and will continue to invest in our current generation MyLabs and support our many customers on LearningStudio into the future. Pearson’s Learning Studio still powers over 3 Million enrollments annually in the fully remote, online learning space. Our commitment to servicing these students and their institutions is unwavering. Our focus has been and will be on how we support these students within the learning environment. Our range of support services includes learning design and assessment support, integration, data and analytics , student retention, tutoring, and technical support.

This statement is quite clear that there is no imminent end-of-life for LearningStudio, and it is also quite clear about their focus on the “fully remote, online learning space”. This system is primarily used by fully online programs, but there have been a handful of campus-wide clients such as TCU still using the system from the early days. That Pearson LearningStudio would not be appropriate for TCU’s future is partially explained by this focus on full online.

The statement does make an interesting distinction, however, between investing in MyLabs and supporting LearningStudio. My read is that Pearson is not investing in LearningStudio in terms of major product advances and next generation plans but is continuing to fully support current customers. My read is also that Pearson would add new customers to LearningStudio if part of a broader deal tied to content or online “enabling” services (such as Embanet), but that there is no plan for the company to compete in pure LMS competitions.

To help back up this reading, I discovered that the TCU360 article was updated as follows:

“Pearson is out of the learning management system game,” Hughes said. “We need something to evolve with the Academy of Tomorrow and where we’re moving to at TCU.”Hughes said Pearson withdrew from the LMS search process for TCU but remains an LMS provider.

At TCU, at least, the competition is down to Blackboard and D2L, with D2L in the driver’s seat. This competition is also notable by Canvas not being one of the finalists (haven’t seen this situation lately).

One final note on TCU’s selection process described in the article.

These percentages were based on a 214-item questionnaire called the Review Request for Information (RFI) document. These questions were used to assess whether or not a system had the features that TCU was looking for.

“Most LMS vendors told us it took them exactly three months to complete [the questionnaire] because there were so many specific details we were looking for,” Hughes said.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – making a strategic platform selection by a laundry list of hundreds of detailed feature requirements is not a healthy process. I would not brag that it took vendors three full months to complete a questionnaire. But we have one more example to clarify Michael’s classic “Dammit, the LMS” post.

Do you want to know why the LMS has barely evolved at all over the last twenty years and will probably barely evolve at all over the next twenty years? It’s not because the terrible, horrible, no-good LMS vendors are trying to suck the blood out of the poor universities. It’s not because the terrible, horrible, no-good university administrators are trying to build a panopticon in which they can oppress the faculty. The reason that we get more of the same year after year is that, year after year, when faculty are given an opportunity to ask for what they want, they ask for more of the same.

I’d be willing to bet that the vast majority of those 214 items in the RFI are detailed features or direct derivatives of what TCU already has. Even if I’m wrong, it makes little sense for a school to specify the future with detailed requirements; they’re selecting a vendor, not specifying a new design. I wish TCU the best in their LMS selection process, but I would recommend that they put more emphasis on strategic analysis and less on counting check-boxes.

  1. Statement from the original article before it was updated.

The post Interesting Comment on Pearson’s LMS Plans From Customer appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at April 16, 2015 12:20 PM

April 15, 2015

Sakai Project

2015 Election - Apereo Foundation Board of Directors

From Ian Dolphin: 

I am pleased to announce the timeline for the 2015 elections to the Apereo Foundation Board of Directors.

Three positions will be open as the following members complete their term -

Josh Baron, Marist College, stepping down and not seeking re-election
Tim Carroll, University of Illinois
John Lewis, Unicon

April 15, 2015 11:47 PM

Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award Winners for 2015

Award Highlights Innovative Community

The Apereo Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA) for 2015.

April 15, 2015 03:56 PM

Michael Feldstein

Ellucian Buys Helix LMS, But Will It Matter?

At this year’s Ellucian users’ conference #elive15, one of the two big stories has been that Ellucian acquired the Helix LMS, including taking on the development team. I have previously described the Helix LMS in “Helix: View of an LMS designed for competency-based education” as well as the subsequent offer for sale in “Helix Education puts their competency-based LMS up for sale”. The emerging market for CBE-based learning platforms is quickly growing, at least in terms of pilot programs and long-term potential, and Helix is one of the most full-featured, well-designed systems out there.

The Announcement

From the announcement:

Ellucian has acquired Helix Education’s competency-based education LMS and introduced a 2015 development partner program to collaborate with customers on the next-generation, cloud-only solution.

As the non-traditional student stands to make up a significant majority of learners by 2019, Ellucian is investing in technologies that align with priorities of colleges and universities it serves. CBE programs offer a promising new way for institutions to reduce the cost and time of obtaining a high-quality degree that aligns with the skills required by today’s employers.

I had been surprised at the announcement of intent-to-sell in December, noting:

The other side of the market effect will be determined by which company buys the Helix LMS. Will a financial buyer (e.g. private equity) choose to create a standalone CBE platform company? Will a traditional LMS company buy the Helix LMS to broaden their reach in the quickly-growing CBE space (350 programs in development in the US)? Or will an online service provider and partial competitor of Helix Education buy the LMS? It will be interesting to see which companies bid on this product line and who wins.

And I am surprised at the answer – a private equity owned ERP vendor. Throughout the mid 2000s there was talk about the ERP vendors like SunGard Higher Education (SGHE) (which combined with Datatel in 2011 and renamed as Ellucian in 2012) and Oracle entering the LMS market by acquisition, yet this did not materialize beyond the dreaded strategic partnership . . . until perhaps this week. But the Helix LMS was designed specifically for CBE programs, not general usage, so is this really a move into the broader LMS market?

When I interviewed Helix Education about the LMS last summer, they stated several times that the system could be used for non-CBE programs, but there is no evidence that this has actually occurred. I’ll admit that it is more likely to expand a CBE system into general usage than it is to convert a course-based traditional LMS into a CBE system, but it is not clear that the end result of such an expansion would remain a compelling product with user experience appreciated by faculty and students. The path is not risk-free.

Based on briefings yesterday at #elive15, there is evidence that:

  • Ellucian plans to expand the Helix LMS (which will be renamed) beyond CBE; and
  • Ellucian understands that there is development still remaining for this broader usage[1].

Ellucian LMS

Courtesy Ryan Schwiebert:

Support for broad set of delivery models: CBE, Online, Hybrid, Blended, Traditional, CE/WFD

One Challenge: Strategy

But there are already signs that Ellucian is not committed to deliver an LMS with “support for broad set of delivery models”. As described at Inside Higher Ed:

At its user conference in New Orleans, Ellucian announced the acquisition of Helix Education’s learning management system. The company will “blend” the software, which supports nontraditional methods of tracking student progress, into its student information system, said Mark Jones, chief product officer at Ellucian. While he stressed that the company is not planning to become a major learning management system provider, Ellucian will make the system available to departments interested in offering competency-based education.

“The initial goal and focus is on enabling competency-based education programs to flourish,” Jones said. “In terms of being a broader L.M.S. solution, if our customers find value… we will certainly have that conversation.”

I asked Jim Ritchey, president of Delta Initiative and who is attending the conference, for his reaction to Ellucian’s strategy. Jim noted the reaction at the conference to the news “seemed to be more of a curiosity than interest”, and then added:

To me, one of the key questions is how Ellucian will “blend” the software. Do they mean that schools will be able to post the results of the competency based courses to the SIS, or are they talking about leveraging other products within the LMS? For example, some of the capabilities of Pilot could be leveraged to deliver additional capabilities to the LMS. The concern I would have is that tying the LMS to other products will cause the LMS development to be dependent on the roadmaps of the other products. Ellucian will need to find the right level of independence for the LMS so it can grow as a solution while using other products to enhance capabilities. Will the LMS get lost?

In addition there the differing nature of the products to consider. The Helix LMS is centered on the learner and the learner’s schedule, while Banner, Colleague, and PowerCampus are centered on academic terms and courses. These differing design concepts could cause the blending process to remove some of the unique value of the LMS.

Another Challenge: Execution

On paper, this deal seems significant. The company with arguably the greatest number of US higher ed clients now owns an LMS that not only has a modern design but also is targeted at the new wave of CBE programs. The real question, however, is whether Ellucian can pull this off based on their own track record.

Since the 2011 acquisition of SGHE by the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, Ellucian has endured wave after wave of layoffs and cost cutting measures. I described in 2011 how the SGHE acquisition could pay for itself.

If Hellman & Friedman can achieve reasonable efficiencies by combing SGHE with Datatel, this investment could potentially justify itself in 5 – 7 years by focusing on cash flow operating income, even without SGHE finding a way to reverse its decline in revenue.

Add to this Ellucian’s poor track record of delivering on major product upgrades. The transition from Banner 8 to Banner 9, or later to Banner XE, was described in 2008, promised in 2010, re-promised in 2011, and updated in 2012 / 2013. Banner XE is actually a strategy and not a product. To a degree, this is more a statement of the administrative systems / ERP market in general than just on Ellucian, but the point is that this is a company in a slow-moving market. Workday’s entry into the higher education ERP market has shaken up the current vendors – primarily Ellucian and Oracle / Peoplesoft – and I suspect that many of Ellucian’s changes are in direct response to Workday’s new market power.

Ellucian has bought itself a very good LMS and a solid development team. But will Ellucian have the management discipline to finish the product development and integration that hits the sweet spot for at least some customers? Furthermore, will the Ellucian sales staff sell effectively into the academic systems market?

A related question is why Ellucian is trying to expand into this adjacent market. It seems that Ellucian is suffering from having too many products, and the LMS addition that from the outset requires a new set of development could be a distraction. As Ritchey described after the 2012 conference (paraphrasing what he heard from other attendees):

The approach makes sense, but the hard decisions have not been made. Supporting every product is easy to say and not easy to deliver. At some point in time, they will finalize the strategy and that is when we will begin to learn the future.

In The End . . .

The best argument I have read for this acquisition was provided by Education Dive.

Ellucian is already one of the largest providers of cloud-based software and this latest shift with Banner and Colleague will allow its higher education clients to do even more remotely. Enterprise resource planning systems help colleges and universities increase efficiency with technology. Ellucian touts its ERPs as solutions for automating admissions, creating a student portal for services as well as a faculty portal for grades and institutional information, simplifying records management, managing records, and tracking institutional metrics. The LMS acquisition is expected to take the data analytics piece even further, giving clients more information about students to aid in retention and other initiatives.

But these benefits will matter if and only if Ellucian can overcome its history and deliver focused product improvements. The signals I’m getting so far are that Ellucian has not figured out its strategy and has not demonstrated its ability to execute in this area. Color me watchful but skeptical.

  1. See the “development partner program” part of the announcement.

The post Ellucian Buys Helix LMS, But Will It Matter? appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at April 15, 2015 03:14 PM

Adam Marshall

Change in WebLearn Email Support

From the 20th April 2015, IT Services will move to a new system for logging and managing IT support calls.

Users will notice the following changes:

  • When you send an email asking for help or guidance, the response will look different and will be sent by our the service desk software (called ‘FrontRange HEAT’) from the evening of Friday 17th April
  • You will be able to check on the status of your support request via a self-service portal. Details on how to access the portal will be contained in the acknowledgement email for each new support call and these will also be published on http://help.it.ox.ac.uk/

Later in the summer, IT Services will be introducing a dedicated telephone number for a new consolidated Service Desk. This will replace the general IT Services ‘Helpdesk’ number and may be used for any IT support matter.

What will not change?

  • Your existing points of contact within IT Services and the Student Systems Support Centre
  • The E-mail address(es) you already use to get IT support

Thanks to the Student Systems Support Centre for the original message which was used as a basis for this communication.

by Adam Marshall at April 15, 2015 10:14 AM

April 13, 2015

Sakai Project

Adam Marshall

Typical Daily Usage Pattern: 10 April 2015

I thought this chart showing the pattern of usage of WebLearn over a typical day (10 April 2015) may be interesting

Charts showing WebLearn usage on 10 April 2015

WebLearn usage on 10 April 2015

by Adam Marshall at April 13, 2015 04:53 PM

April 12, 2015

Michael Feldstein

GSV 2015 Review

The basic underlying theme of the 2015 GSV Ed Innovation conference is “more is more.” There were more people, more presentations, more deal-making, more celebrities…more of everything, really. If you previously thought that the conference and the deal-making behind it was awesome, you would probably find this year to be awesomer. If you thought it was gross, you would probably think this year was grosser. Overall, it has gotten so big that there is just too much to wrap your head around. I really don’t know how to summarize the conference.

But I can give some observations and impressions.

More dumb money: Let’s start with a basic fact: There is more money coming into the market.

If there is more total money coming in, then it stands to reason that there is also more dumb money coming in. I definitely saw plenty of stupid products that were funded, acquired, and/or breathlessly covered. While it wasn’t directly conference-related, I found it apropos that Boundless was acquired right around the time of the conference. I have made my opinions about Boundless clear before. I have no opinion about Valore’s decision to acquire them, in large part because I don’t know the important details. It might make sense for a company like Valore to acquire Boundless for their platform—if the price is right. But this doesn’t appear to be a triumph for Boundless or their investors. To the contrary, it smells like a bailout of Boundless’ investors to me, although I admit that have no evidence to prove that. If the company were doing so awesomely, then I don’t think the investors would have sold at this point. (Boundless, in typical Boundless fashion, characterizes the transaction as a “merger” rather than an “acquisition.” #Winning.) Of course, you wouldn’t know that this is anything less than the total takeover of education from the breathless press coverage. Xconomy asks whether the combined company will be the “Netflix of educational publishing.”

Really?

So yeah, there’s plenty of dumb money funding dumb companies, aided and abetted by dumb press coverage. But is there proportionally more dumb money, or is there just more dumb money in absolute terms as part of the overall increase in investment? This is an important question, because it is a strong indicator of whether the idiocy is just part of what comes when an immature industry grows or whether we are in a bubble. This particular kind of market analysis is somewhat outside my wheelhouse, but my sense, based on my fragmented experience of the conference added to other recent experiences and observations, is that it’s a bit of both. Parts of the market have clearly gotten ahead of themselves, but there also are some real businesses emerging. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest successes are not the ones that are out to “disrupt” education. Apparently the ed tech company that got the most money last year was Lynda.com which, in addition to being a good bet, doesn’t really compete head-on with colleges (and, in fact, sells to schools). Phil has written a fair bit about 2U; that company only exists because they have been able to get high-end schools to trust them with their prestige brands. This brings me to my next observation:

More smart money: 2U is a good example of a company that, if you had described it to me in advance, I probably would have told you that it never could work. The companies that do well are likely to be the ones that either figure out an angle that few people see coming or execute extremely well (or, in 2U’s case, both).[1] 2U is also one of very few ed tech that have made it to a successful IPO (although there are more that have been successfully sold to a textbook publisher, LMS vendor, or other large company). I am seeing more genuinely interesting companies getting funding and recognition. Three recent examples: Lumen Learning getting angel funding, Acrobatiq winning the ASU-GSV Return on Education Award, and Civitas closing Series C funding a couple of months ago. I also had more interesting and fewer eye-rolling conversations at the conference this year than in past years. Part of that is because my filters are getting better, but I also think that the median educational IQ of the conference attendees has risen a bit as at least some of the players learn from experience.

Textbooks are dead, dead, dead: McGraw Hill Education CEO David Levin was compelled to start his talk by saying, essentially, “Yeah yeah yeah, everybody hates textbooks and they are dying as a viable business. We get it. We’re going to have all digital products for much less money than the paper textbooks very soon, and students will be able to order the paper books for a nominal fee.” He then went on to announce a new platform where educators can develop their own content.

Pay heed, OER advocates.

I saw Mark Cuban: He has noticeably impressive pecs. Also,

Arizona is nicer than Massachusetts in early April.

  1. Corollary: Companies trying to be the “Netflix of education” or the “Uber of education” or the “Facebook of education” will usually turn out to be as ridiculous—meaning “worthy of ridicule”—as they sound.

The post GSV 2015 Review appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at April 12, 2015 05:06 PM

April 01, 2015

Adam Marshall

WebLearn unavailable on Tuesday 14 April 2015 from 7-9am

On Tuesday 14th April from 7am, IT Services will be replacing the firewall that protects a large number of services (including WebLearn)  in order to increase capacity and enhance out ability to meet future network security requirements.

From 7am services will be shut down, and the firewall will be replaced at 7.30am. From 8am services will be coming back on line and we expect all to be back up by approximately 9am. This work will be followed by an at-risk period when any issues reported will be addressed.

Users are advised to save their work prior to the work starting and not to log in to these services until it is complete. An email will be sent to this list once the work has been completed, after which time any problems experienced should be reported through the normal support channels. In addition updates will be posted to http://status.ox.ac.uk.

IT Services apologises for any inconvenience this essential work will cause.

Rob Hebron (Operations Team Leader)

by Adam Marshall at April 01, 2015 04:09 PM

February 15, 2015

Dr. Chuck

The most clever spam comment I have ever seen

If you run a blog – you have a periodic task of clearing out spam comments. I don’t get too much spam so every few weeks is enough. But I thought this spam comment was worth keeping. It is clearly a grammar to generate many variations of similar comments. Apparently the spammer forgot to generate the text – they just posted the input to the spam text generation process. Perhaps they mis-read their “Dummy’s Guide to Spam Commenting as a Profession”.

I think it would be super cool to have a Python assignment to read this data and pick amongst the choices and randomly generate the real comments. It should be pretty straightforward. So without further ado, here is a very flexible and repurposable spam comment:

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours
today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
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bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much
more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
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find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or
{newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
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I appreciate it!|
{I love|I really like|I like|Everyone loves} it {when people|when individuals|when folks|whenever people}
{come together|get together} and share {opinions|thoughts|views|ideas}.
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work|stick with it}!|
Thank you for the {auspicious|good} writeup. It in fact was
a amusement account it. Look advanced to {far|more} added agreeable from you!
{By the way|However}, how {can|could} we communicate?|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hey there|Hello|Hey} just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem to be running
off the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}.
I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something to do with {web browser|internet browser|browser} compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let
you know. The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look great though!
Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon.
{Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}|
This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my heart…
{Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}!
{Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?|
It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out any {topic|matter} on
{net|web} as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this
{article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web page}.|
Does your {site|website|blog} have a contact page? I’m having {a tough time|problems|trouble} locating it but,
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blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great {site|website|blog} and
I look forward to seeing it {develop|improve|expand|grow} over time.|
{Hola|Hey there|Hi|Hello|Greetings}! I’ve been {following|reading} your {site|web site|website|weblog|blog}
for {a long time|a while|some time} now and finally got the {bravery|courage} to go
ahead and give you a shout out from {New Caney|Kingwood|Huffman|Porter|Houston|Dallas|Austin|Lubbock|Humble|Atascocita} {Tx|Texas}!
Just wanted to {tell you|mention|say} keep up the {fantastic|excellent|great|good} {job|work}!|
Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles|California}!
I’m {bored to tears|bored to death|bored} at work so
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the {knowledge|info|information} you {present|provide} here
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on my {mobile|cell phone|phone} .. I’m not even
using WIFI, just 3G .. {Anyhow|Anyways}, {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|good|wonderful|fantastic|excellent|great} {site|blog}!|
Its {like you|such as you} {read|learn} my {mind|thoughts}!
You {seem|appear} {to understand|to know|to grasp} {so much|a
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{I think|I feel|I believe} {that you|that you simply|that you just} {could|can} do with {some|a few} {%|p.c.|percent} to {force|pressure|drive|power} the message {house|home} {a
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{great|wonderful|fantastic|magnificent|excellent} blog.
{A great|An excellent|A fantastic} read. {I’ll|I
will} {definitely|certainly} be back.|
I visited {multiple|many|several|various} {websites|sites|web sites|web pages|blogs} {but|except|however} the audio {quality|feature} for audio songs {current|present|existing} at
this {website|web site|site|web page} is {really|actually|in fact|truly|genuinely} {marvelous|wonderful|excellent|fabulous|superb}.|
{Howdy|Hi there|Hi|Hello}, i read your blog
{occasionally|from time to time} and i own a similar one and i was just
{wondering|curious} if you get a lot of spam {comments|responses|feedback|remarks}?
If so how do you {prevent|reduce|stop|protect against} it, any plugin or
anything you can {advise|suggest|recommend}?
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{It is the|It’s the} little changes {that make|which will make|that produce|that will make} {the biggest|the largest|the greatest|the most important|the most significant} changes.
{Thanks a lot|Thanks|Many thanks} for sharing!|
{I really|I truly|I seriously|I absolutely} love {your blog|your site|your website}..

{Very nice|Excellent|Pleasant|Great} colors & theme.
Did you {create|develop|make|build} {this website|this site|this web site|this amazing site}
yourself? Please reply back as I’m {looking to|trying to|planning to|wanting
to|hoping to|attempting to} create {my own|my
very own|my own personal} {blog|website|site} and {would like to|want
to|would love to} {know|learn|find out} where you got this from or {what the|exactly what the|just
what the} theme {is called|is named}. {Thanks|Many thanks|Thank you|Cheers|Appreciate it|Kudos}!|
{Hi there|Hello there|Howdy}! This {post|article|blog post}
{couldn’t|could not} be written {any better|much better}!

{Reading through|Looking at|Going through|Looking through} this {post|article} reminds me of my previous roommate!
He {always|constantly|continually} kept {talking about|preaching about} this.
{I will|I’ll|I am going to|I most certainly will} {forward|send} {this article|this information|this post} to him.
{Pretty sure|Fairly certain} {he will|he’ll|he’s going to} {have a good|have a very good|have a great} read.
{Thank you for|Thanks for|Many thanks for|I appreciate you for} sharing!|
{Wow|Whoa|Incredible|Amazing}! This blog looks {exactly|just} like my old one!
It’s on a {completely|entirely|totally} different {topic|subject} but it has pretty much the
same {layout|page layout} and design. {Excellent|Wonderful|Great|Outstanding|Superb} choice of colors!|
{There is|There’s} {definately|certainly} {a lot to|a great deal to} {know
about|learn about|find out about} this {subject|topic|issue}.
{I like|I love|I really like} {all the|all of the} points {you made|you’ve made|you have made}.|
{You made|You’ve made|You have made} some {decent|good|really good} points there.

I {looked|checked} {on the internet|on the web|on the net} {for more info|for more information|to
find out more|to learn more|for additional information} about the
issue and found {most individuals|most people}
will go along with your views on {this website|this site|this web
site}.|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, I {log on to|check|read} your {new stuff|blogs|blog} {regularly|like every week|daily|on a regular basis}.
Your {story-telling|writing|humoristic} style is {awesome|witty}, keep {doing
what you’re doing|up the good work|it up}!|
I {simply|just} {could not|couldn’t} {leave|depart|go away} your {site|web site|website} {prior to|before} suggesting that I {really|extremely|actually} {enjoyed|loved} {the standard|the usual} {information|info}
{a person|an individual} {supply|provide} {for your|on your|in your|to
your} {visitors|guests}? Is {going to|gonna} be {back|again} {frequently|regularly|incessantly|steadily|ceaselessly|often|continuously} {in order to|to} {check
up on|check out|inspect|investigate cross-check} new
posts|
{I wanted|I needed|I want to|I need to} to thank you
for this {great|excellent|fantastic|wonderful|good|very good} read!!
I {definitely|certainly|absolutely} {enjoyed|loved}
every {little bit of|bit of} it. {I have|I’ve
got|I have got} you {bookmarked|book marked|book-marked|saved as a favorite} {to check out|to look at} new {stuff you|things
you} post…|
{Hi|Hello|Hi there|What’s up}, just wanted to {mention|say|tell you}, I {enjoyed|liked|loved} this {article|post|blog post}.
It was {inspiring|funny|practical|helpful}. Keep on posting!|
I {{leave|drop|{write|create}} a {comment|leave a response}|drop
a {comment|leave a response}|{comment|leave a response}} {each time|when|whenever} I {appreciate|like|especially enjoy} a {post|article} on a {site|{blog|website}|site|website} or {I have|if
I have} something to {add|contribute|valuable to contribute} {to the discussion|to the conversation}.
{It is|Usually it is|Usually it’s|It’s} {a result of|triggered
by|caused by} the {passion|fire|sincerness} {communicated|displayed} in
the {post|article} I {read|looked at|browsed}. And {on|after} this {post|article} Dr.
Chuck’s Blog

by Charles Severance at February 15, 2015 04:10 PM

February 12, 2015

Sakai@UD

Known issue: Uploads in Resources using Firefox assigns wrong file type

Clients have reported that some files in Resources in certain Sakai sites do not download or open properly. After some testing, our team discovered that uploading files using the Firefox browser (Mac or PC) assigns the wrong file type, and creates issues for clients downloading or accessing the file. How to detect the issue: In […] more >

by Mathieu Plourde at February 12, 2015 10:28 PM

January 22, 2015

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE Accessibility Review

Are you reading this post with your eyes? To most of you, that probably sounds like a really strange question. For over six million people in the United States alone, however, the answer is not "Yes." That's how many adults have a visual disability, and for them the web is a completely different world than it is for those of us with full sight. That world is no less important, though, and in the OAE Project we want to make the Open Academic Environment a welcome environment for everyone, including those with visual and other disabilities.

The OAE's user interface has always included many features for the disabled, most of which are (deliberately) invisible to users that don't need them. We've designed and developed those features by careful attention to standards and best practices. All members of the core development team are fully abled, however, so we don't have all of the insights necessary to ensure that the OAE provides the best possible accessibility. Beginning with the Ibis release that's changing.

In the fall of 2014 we started working with WebAIM (Web Accessibility In Mind), a leading specialist in accessibility within the Center for Persons with Disabilities at Utah State University. The experts at WebAIM spent many weeks using and evaluating the OAE and prepared an initial report with many recommended improvements. The recommendations from that report are captured as specific issues for the OAE project's front end software, and we're dedicating resources to addressing them. Nearly a dozen improvements have already been incorporated into the Ibis release. We're continuing development on the remaining issues, and future OAE releases will include more accessibility features.

Working with the experts from WebAIM has been an amazing opportunity for the OAE development team. Standards and best practice checklists are helpful for ensuring accessibility, but they can't come close to replacing the guidance of real, expert users. Perhaps the most important lesson we've learned is that achieving outstanding accessibility requires thinking carefully about the OAE user interface as a whole and not just as a collection of individual widgets. 

As a specific example, consider the thumbnail images associated with many aspects of the OAE. You can see them with user comments.

Because users relying on screen readers cannot "see" thumbnail images, previous OAE versions added a special, hidden label to those images. The label contained the name of the user making the comment. Although this added label was invisible to sighted users, screen readers would detect it and read it aloud as a substitute for the image. This behavior conforms to relevant standards and checklists, and, before our work with WebAIM, we thought that it helped make the OAE more accessible. 

What we learned from working with WebAIM, though, is how much context matters. It turns out, as in the screen capture above, that almost every time the OAE displays a thumbnail image it also displays text with the user's name right next to the image. That text is in the form of a link, and screen readers also read links aloud. When a screen reader encountered an OAE comment, therefore, it would first read aloud the user's name from the hidden label, and then it would immediately read aloud the user's name again, this time from the text link. This needless repetition was quite annoying, especially for pages with many comments. The hidden label that we added in an attempt to improve accessibility turns out, in many cases, to have actually made the experience worse.

As we continue our work with WebAIM, there will certainly be other cases that overturn our preconceptions. And when we encounter those cases, we'll gladly adjust our assumptions so that the OAE becomes the most accessible platform possible.

And finally, if you are reading this post with your ears instead of your eyes, please let us know how we're doing. We truly do want to make the Open Academic Environment as enjoyable for you as it is for everyone else.

by Nicolaas Matthijs at January 22, 2015 03:51 PM

January 15, 2015

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE Ibis is now available!

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is excited to announce the tenth major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Ibis or OAE 10.

OAE Ibis brings the ability for institutions to completely customise the content and look of their tenant landing page. OAE Ibis also implements a detailed user tracking framework and brings the long-awaited full-text indexing and searching feature. Next to that, OAE Ibis also ships a range of other search improvements and a large number of accessibility improvements.

Changelog

Customisable tenant landing pages

OAE Ibis makes it possible for institutions to completely customise their tenant landing page, allowing them to appropriately contextualise their tenancy, present themselves and explain the main purpose of the tenancy.

Tenant administrators are able to add any number of text, video and image blocks to the landing page, set their styling and determine their width on different devices, allowing for a fully responsive landing page to be configured. All configured text can also be fully internationalised.

We are already looking forward to seeing what the institutions will come up! We'll definitely publish a list of the best ones in an upcoming blog post.

User tracking

OAE Ibis introduces a detailed user tracking framework to provide a complete overview of how OAE is being used. Using an integration with a 3rd party service called Mixpanel, OAE can now keep track of almost all usage-related information: how many users have signed in, how many content items have been created and what is their distribution in visibility, how many comments were added, how many public groups are there and how does this evolve over time, etc.

This provides a solid basis for making product decisions based on real usage data and opens the door to performing A-B testing on new features. In a future release, we will also be providing this information to tenant administrators to give them a complete overview of how and how actively their tenancy is being used.

Full-text indexing

Following numerous rounds of performance testing, OAE Ibis brings the long-awaited arrival of full-text indexing and searching. The full content of all uploaded PDF, Office and text files will now be indexed and included in searches, making it a lot easier to find the content you're looking for or discover interesting new content.

Accessibility improvements

As the first step in the process of trying to obtain a WCAG 2.0 accessibility certification for OAE, a full external accessibility review of the OAE software has been undertaken by WebAIM. They delivered a review document containing a list of recommended accessibility improvements, which is something we'll be publishing and discussing in an upcoming blog post.

OAE Ibis includes accessibility improvements for the most critical issues that were identified in the review, with more accessibility improvements planned for upcoming releases.

Search improvements

Next to providing full-text searching, OAE Ibis also introduces a number of additional search improvements.

When searching for people, there will now be a slight bias towards people from your own institution. This should make it easier to find the people you're looking for, and is the first step towards making further improvements in this area.

Searches in content and discussion libraries will now also include the text of the comments and discussions posts, making it easier to find the content item or discussion you're looking for.

Try it out

OAE Ibis 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 10.0.0 and can be downloaded from the following repositories:

Back-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/tree/10.0.0
Front-end: https://github.com/oaeproject/3akai-ux/tree/10.0.0

Documentation on how to install the system can be found at https://github.com/oaeproject/Hilary/blob/10.0.0/README.md.

Instruction on how to upgrade an OAE installation from version 9 to version 10 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 January 15, 2015 02:47 PM

January 03, 2015

Dr. Chuck

Moving Virtual Box Images from Mac Internal Hard Drive to External Drive

There seem to be a lot of posts that show how to move a VirtualBox or Boot2Docker image to a new hard drive the hard way using the command line. I just came across an easy way to move a virtual box image to an external hard drive to free up space on my main hard drive. As I start playing more with docker I cannot affort to fill my main hard drive up with docker / virtualbox images. Here is the trick.

virtualbox-prefsGo to Virtual Box Preferences and change the Default Machine Folder to be on your external drive.

Then control-click on the image that is stored on your main disk and clone it. Since the default is now your external drive it will clone it to your external drive.

Then boot your cloned VM to make sure it is OK and then delete your original VM from the VirtualBox UI. Then just to be doubly sure it still works.

As an added bonus, if you make new VM’s (i.e. perhaps you downloaded and installed boot2docker) they will be placed on the external drive as that is now the location where all new VMs get created.

Of course it means that you need to plug in your external drive whenever you do anything with boot2docker of VirtualBox. But you have a bunch o disk freed up on your main hard drive.

by Charles Severance at January 03, 2015 05:31 PM

December 23, 2014

Steve Swinsburg

The spirit of giving

At work, we love cake. Everyone brings in cake, all the time. End of sprint, during sprint, because someone’s mum made way too much, or just because the day ends with ‘day’. It’s surprising that we aren’t all obese, and a little ironic since we work in health care.

So I decided to turn that into a fundraiser and over the past couple of weeks we have been asking for gold coin donations for the cakes, to go towards making some little kids Christmas’ a bit brighter this year through the Salvation Army Christmas Appeal and K-Mart Wishing Tree.

We raised $45 and over the weekend I took the boys out to help pick out some gifts. So this year some needy kids are going to enjoy a brand new digger, a ‘Planes’ Dusty Crophopper figurine and a ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Dragon Battle Kit!

Here’s a pic of my boy as we put the toys under the K-Mart Wishing Tree.

2014-12-20 12.09.54

by steveswinsburg at December 23, 2014 12:12 AM

December 21, 2014

Aaron Zeckoski

Apereo Learning Analytics @ Open Apereo 2014

I and other members of the Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative (LAI) will be presenting at the Open Apereo 2014 conference in Miami the first week of June.


You can see the schedule of Learning Analytics presentations on our Open Apereo 2014 conference Learning Analytics sessions wiki page. If you are not sure what Learning Analytics is, we have some information for you here (and a nifty diagram to help it make sense).


If you are interested in working towards a community sourced learning analytics infrastructure, incubating software, sharing requirements, cross validating analytics pilots, while working in a wider community of interest then please contact the Apereo LAI coordinator  analytics-coordinator@apereo.org or join the mailing list analytics@apereo.org
We hope to see you in Miami at Open Apereo 2014!

by Aaron Zeckoski (noreply@blogger.com) at December 21, 2014 12:08 PM

Apereo Learning Analytics Processor begins

The Apereo Learning Analytics Initiative is beginning work on our first open source analytics pipeline processor this week. Learn more about Learning Analytics Processor project on our wiki.
Our goal is to build an Open source Java based Learning Analytics Processor (LAP) which initially automates the Marist OAAI Student Early Alerts and Risk Assessment model. We also hope to establish a framework for automation and execution of learning analytics models (which is possible for others to extend with additional model pipelines). Finally we plan to establish input and output specifications for data used for learning analytics model processing.
The Learning Analytics Processor (LAP) is meant to flexible enough to be extended to support many possible models and pipelines for analytics processing. The first one will be Early Alert but we want to support future additions and even multiple versions of the Early Alert model.




by Aaron Zeckoski (noreply@blogger.com) at December 21, 2014 12:08 PM

December 16, 2014

Dr. Chuck

Idea: Split Secrets for OAuth

We are talking about ways to establish shared secrets where both the Tool Consumer and Tool Provider contribute key material to an overall shared key used to sign and validate OAuth messages. Often these “secrets” are treated as strings of varying length. Common practice is to choose random numbers wih something like the uniq() PHP function or Java’s UUID() and then hex encode the random bits for strings of varying length.

Using the current approach, (a) we cannot assume the serialization of this data and (b) the secrets can be of effectively any length (short or long). By not specifing an encoding that allows us to transmit bit-level randomness, we implicitly shorten key lengths by using a non-predictable encoding so we have to fall back to strings and likely strings with a very limited character set.

We have not yet seen situations where secrets include non-Latin1 characters. As we move to moving secrets across web services – serialization becomes inclreasingly important and if we get too tricky with character sets we might find ourselves with some interoperability problems.

My proposal is to define the binary bit-length of the two halves of the “split secret” and insist that these are serialized using a known serialization so both sides can de-serialize these pieces to cryptographically strong secrets with a well understood bit length.

So each of the sides contributes 512 cryptographically random bits to the shared secret. When each side communicates the secret – they are serialized and transferred using 128-character hex encoded using only lower case letters for a-f. An example of a half-secret is as follows:

941c7f8f929ad915b0a8810a6eedee5e5a5cedbab1bee5e4e2f05df6ed926e8042bca5127a7fac88ab581526e78b193b99fdfe234d40496eca32431447b752af

To form the OAuth consumer secret the two hex halves are just concatenated as hex strings. Since the OAuth signing simply appends the key to the message and computes a digest, we can make use of all 1024 bits of randomness by using a 256 character hex-encoded key. While this means that the pad has a known character set (0-9) and (a-f) – it makes up for that by being 4 times longer. Also we avoid any encoding problems if we allow non-latin1 characters in the OAuth shared secret.

By speicfing the bit length and encoding – both sides can build database models that store secrets in fixed length fields.

By insuring there are 1024-bits of cryptographically strong randomness – other uses like sending data between the sides with two-way encryption approaches like Blowfish or AES can create shorter bit length keys from the known 1024-bits of randomness.

I am just putting this up because I like openness in the design of any security scheme in case I made any mistakes or incorrect assumptions.

This design is not at all final – comments are very welcome.

by Charles Severance at December 16, 2014 11:03 PM

December 12, 2014

Sakai@UD

Submitting final grades to UDSIS

As the semester comes to an end, it’s time to submit your final grades to UDSIS. In addition to the regular process described on the Registrar’s Web site, Sakai users can use a Web form titled Grade Submission from Sakai to UDSIS A couple of caveats regarding the use of the Web form: 1. Must […] more >

by Mathieu Plourde at December 12, 2014 02:35 PM

November 24, 2014

Steve Swinsburg

Movember 2014

It’s the tail end of Movember, just a few days to go and my team has almost raised raised over a thousand bucks for the Movember Foundation!

What is Movember you ask? It’s about raising awareness for men’s health issues like depression, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. In Australia, the life expectancy of men is 5 years less than for women, 50% of men struggle with mental health issues at some point, and 50% of men will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85.

50%.

1 in 2.

Either you or me.

Fuck that.

I’ve been doing Movember for the past 6 years to try to tackle this issue and have raised a few grand in doing so. This year I setup a team with my work mates and we’ve collectively raised over $1000 already, with more donations promised this week. Our original goal was $1000, with your help we can make it $1500.

All donations are tax deductible  and you can donate here:
https://www.movember.com/au/donate/payment/member_id/51531/

Here’s a pic of my latest Mo efforts for your viewing pleasure. You can see past Movember efforts on my Movember page.

movember_20141124

by steveswinsburg at November 24, 2014 10:56 AM