Planet Sakai

August 14, 2018

Michael Feldstein

OPMs are a Subset of a Bigger Market

We are seeing a tremendous surge in interest regarding Online Program Management (OPM) companies. Certainly many of the major higher education news outlets are running stories on them and many analyst firms are publishing white papers. That's a sign that others who pay attention to this space are hearing...something. But it's not a strong signal by itself.

In our own work, we are definitely hearing more interest in OPMs, and we are also hearing from OPM companies (and OPM-like companies) that there is a pick-up in incoming requests from universities. For example, we had an opportunity to facilitate an institution-wide approach at UCLA to vet and pre-qualify OPM vendors as individual colleges determine their online strategy. There was a pretty robust and diverse range of responses. Equally importantly, the pre-qualification approach indicates a sense that different schools and other stakeholder groups within large universities or systems may have different needs.

You can see this as well in Open SUNY's system-wide Request for Information (RFI). Here is one of the largest university systems in the country, and they are essentially casting a wide net, asking, "What do you think we should know about this space in order to serve our 64 very different campuses with a wide range of needs, while also serving the needs of the system as a whole?"

That wide open RFI from SUNY really speaks to the good news/bad news of the current state of the OPM market. The good news is that there is an increasingly broad range of options for colleges—or schools within those colleges—with different needs. The bad news is that the market is such a mess right now that it's hard for colleges to find the right vendors to talk to and hard for vendors to find potential customers who need what they're offering.

A lot of the analysis we've seen so far has been variations on a theme: "There's a lot of [mostly unspecified] innovation in the the OPM market. For example, revenue sharing isn't the only financial model anymore!"

While there is indeed increasing variation in the OPM space—only some of which we would call genuine "innovation"—we believe the expanding range of financing options is the tip of the iceberg. The deeper cause of the current chaos in the market is largely the result of a more profound broadening out of demand. This, in turn, is driven by a tectonic shift in how universities go about fulfilling their core mission of enabling student success. As new change management needs emerge, we don't yet have names for the solution categories that meet those needs. But since the new solutions share elements with solutions to online program management problems, everything is getting lumped under the heading of "OPM."

There are several factors that are major contributors to the current rush to by vendors to call themselves OPMs:

  1. The variation between kinds of programs that universities are looking to launch is significant and increasing. As a result, different OPM vendors are specializing in different kinds of programs.
  2. More universities are making fine-grained choices about which aspects of their online programs they want to outsource to a specialist, which aspects they want to pay a consultant to help them get started or improve, and which aspects they believe they can do themselves. This broadening out of customer choices is creating further variability in in OPM business models and OPM-like services offered by an increasingly wide range of companies.
  3. As the OPM business disaggregates, universities are increasingly recognizing that certain functions that OPMs perform, like recruiting students who are likely to be successful in a program, redesigning courses to maximize student success, providing early interventions to promote student success, and working with employers to help with career readiness and post-degree employment are all services that might be useful for improving the success of their traditional programs.

The common theme with all three factors is that customers who think they are all looking for "OPMs" are, in fact, trying to solve a wide range of different problems. So wide a range, in fact, that the term "OPM" is on the verge of becoming meaningless.

We believe that all of these needs belong under a larger umbrella that we call "Digital Enablement Services." In general, colleges and universities are beginning to move from having a philosophical commitment to student success toward operational excellence at enabling student success. The idea here is to use modern tools—and more importantly, the educational practices and organizational processes enabled by those tools—to do a better job of making sure that students don't fall through the cracks.

It's easiest for universities to see the need to improve their operational excellence when they are launching a new, (hopefully) revenue-generating and net cashflow-positive degree or certificate programs. They are making a substantial upfront financial investment in the hope that future tuition will make that investment pay off for the university as well as for the students. To do this, they need to keep students happy enough that they stay in the program, even as the university loses the traditional face-to-face touchpoints that they have relied on to engage with their students and have to figure out how to build digital equivalents. It can feel like a scary (and potentially career-ending) undertaking. This is why 2U—a publicly traded OPM with a $3.9 billion valuation—made a smart branding choice with their tag line, "No back row."1 It is also why universities have been willing to accept revenue share arrangements. They reduce the up-front cost of the program—sometimes to the point of making an otherwise unaffordable program possible—and shift some of the risk to the vendor in return for a share of new revenues and some sharing of control over certain aspects of the program design and management.

There is increasing interest from universities to step away from revenue sharing agreements and be more selective in how they use external vendors to plan, launch, and manage new online programs. That's a real trend, though it is being somewhat hyped by shallow market coverage and some industry players who are looking to differentiate themselves against more established competitors. As far as we can tell, there is growth across the different models, particularly since the range of program types universities are looking to offer increasingly have different kinds of risk profiles.

Think about the differences in launching and running the following different types of programs: (1) a largely synchronous online nursing degree, including a required face-to-face practicum at a hospital, (2) a mostly self-paced, competency-based MBA, (3) a "micro-masters" degree in cyber-security, and (4) a code academy. Think about what it would take to design and launch each type of program, how much new expertise each would require of the university, how much support the students would need in each case, how hard it would be to recruit students, to track them in the existing ERP system, and so on.

Given the differences in these challenges, there should be demand for significant variety in OPM services with different sweet spots. OPMs with different models do end up competing head-to-head in the market sometimes, but that's partly because customers don't yet have a good way of sorting out what kinds of characteristics are most important to support their specific goals. In its current state, the market isn't efficient at enabling customers and vendors to determine if there's a good fit.

The chaos we are seeing now is nothing compared to what's coming. Universities are beginning to see needs for OPM-like services elsewhere. As budgets continue to tighten and pressure to improve outcomes continues to rise on public colleges and universities, academic leaders are increasingly realizing that improving degree completion and decreasing time to degree are good for both the student and the financial health of the institution. At the same time, changing student expectations are putting pressure on high-end private colleges and universities to recognize that the formula which has made them successful for the past century is not guaranteed to bring them top students and generous alumni in the next one. This has the potential to be a Pandora's box. Where is the line for defining an OPM? And how can universities find vendors with the kinds of OPM-like services and business models that are appropriate for helping solve their particular problem?

Over the next months, we at e-Literate are going to try to put some definition around this market, first by defining the boundaries of the OPM solution category—and the variation within those boundaries—and then by naming and defining other, similar-looking solution categories that solve different problems. We will be blogging about it and releasing at least one report about it as well.

Stay tuned.

  1. Disclosure: 2U is one of the sponsors of the Empirical Educator Project.

The post OPMs are a Subset of a Bigger Market appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at August 14, 2018 11:55 PM

D2L Fusion 2018: Product improvements and potential signs of addressing challenges

This year’s D2L Fusion conference in Houston carved out a space somewhere between the carnival atmosphere of InstructureCon in Keystone and the subdued feel of BbWorld in Orlando (note: we plan another post on each of these conferences to share more details of our observations). This  was the perfect note to hit for where D2L is in its evolution as an educational technology company. A number of things seem to be falling in place for D2L1 with its LMS product, but we will have to see if the recently expanded management team will be able to address the ongoing challenges that D2L faces with customer experience and expectations.

Like Blackboard and Instructure, D2L is in the middle of a transition partially driven by financial considerations. In D2L's case, the issue is that the two rounds of $165 million aggregate funding in 2012 / 13 lead to expectations of larger market gains. In August of 2017 we shared that “D2L is on a roll, racking up significant client wins in higher education, and the company shows real signs of change in its ability to truly listen to and empathize with customers.” Two months ago we described D2L's concerted effort to move customers to the cloud and some promising improvements surfacing in the new Daylight user experience. Despite these improvements, however, D2L has lost some marquee customers such as the University of Wisconsin system to offset some of the wins, and the company has remained steady or made slight gains in North America, European and Latin American LMS market share.

At D2L Fusion, our goal was to get a better read on how actual customers and prospects are reacting to the cloud deployment move and streamlined user experience that we have observed. A second goal we had was to get a better sense of whether D2L will be able to improve its customer service and delivery on promises made to customers.

Reactions to Cloud and User Experience

From customers we spoke to at D2L Fusion, the value of the move to the cloud as well as user experience improvements have provided breakthroughs. On the cloud front, D2L now has upwards of 98% of their customer base either hosted through Amazon Web Services (AWS) or in the company's data centers.  According to a company spokesperson, 55% of what they describe as cloud implementations are hosted by AWS, the remainder by D2L in their leased data centers. All new implementations moving forward will be hosted by AWS and by fall 2019 D2L estimates that nearly all implementations will be on the AWS infrastructure. This will be a significant achievement for a legacy on-premises software provider to make this transition. From our June post:

D2L has long worked on managed hosting options, but in late 2013 the company introduced Continuous Delivery where software releases are pushed to customers incrementally, such that customers would jointly run the latest versions of Brightspace, their LMS. This move is important, as one primary benefit of cloud deployment is to remove the explosion of software configurations and versions that make it expensive and difficult to diagnose and fix bugs and to release new features.

Three years later in 2016 D2L announced their move to AWS for cloud deployment.

At Fusion 2018 we saw a continuation of this strategy, and we heard largely positive reception from customers and prospects, and we are not hearing the grumblings from customers as was evident in late 2016 / early 2017. We should also note that this move to the cloud is more aggressive than that being made by Blackboard and Learn SaaS, but more on that in a future post.

As for the new user experience and recent changes in product design, it’s useful to first establish context for what’s been happening internally at D2L. About three years ago D2L brought in a new chief operating officer, Cheryl Ainoa, and a new VP of Product, David Koehn. One of their goals was to turn the product development process on its head and, drum roll, put the users first. This means engaging with users, listening to users, understanding their problems and viewing them as partners in the effort to deliver better software. It also means solving the small things that annoy users on a daily basis and shifting away from feature releases as the key metric of progress. For companies that have been engaged in agile methodology and iterative development, this likely sounds basic. For D2L, it was a fundamental cultural shift in how development is done. At this year’s Fusion, we are seeing concrete signs that change has taken root both with the company and with customers.

Daylight Experience is the name for D2L's redesign of its streamlined user interface. When it was first announced in early 2017, we were somewhat skeptical as the initial changes were evident in different fonts and cleaner look-and-feel but not significant improvements in the workflow for faculty and students.

As time goes on and we see more advanced demos, our view is changing. The Daylight Experience does have some real improvements not just in look-and-feel but in fewer and more intuitive clicks to get the same job done. A major focus on the Emerald Release this summer (in time for D2L Fusion users conference) is more fully encouraging usage of the activity stream for higher ed clients (this feature was initially targeted at K-12 market but has been adapted for colleges and universities).

The product showcase slide that arguably got the most enthusiastic response from the crowd was the one that focused on the small changes that users had been clamoring after for years – things like “Due Dates in Manage Dates Tool”, “Fixed Headers in Grades”, “Learning Groups”.

New features from D2L Fusion conference

These are not sexy, headline-making announcements, but they matter to users. D2L has long been viewed as a platform for people and institutions that like to have a lot of control over how to configure and run an LMS; however, the breadth and complexity of options often came at the expense of an intuitive user experience. While D2L has had a solid product for a sub-set of the market for years, they have had difficulty being viewed as ‘intuitive’ or ‘easy to use’, at least since the advent of Canvas and the resultant change in user expectations. The streamlined design afforded by the Daylight Experience, and the progressive disclosure of more advanced features, could change this situation if they're able to get it in front of potential customers for a serious look.

Customer Experience and Expectations

On the second question regarding customer service and delivery on promises there are several reasons to be upbeat, but also reason for concern. Several new customers we spoke with, from Europe, Latin America and North America, all spoke about “partnership” as being a key reason for their choosing D2L over the competition. During lengthy procurement processes, these institutions got the sense that D2L was eager to engage and work with them to achieve their goals with broad service offerings as well as an eagerness to shape product development to suit these new clients.

That said, D2L has a mixed record on follow through. A number of sources we have spoken with over the past 6-12 months have discussed a pattern of the company over-promising and under-delivering when it comes to implement promised changes. For example, these sources have told us they went into the relationship with this same expectation of a partnership, of having a voice in product direction, only to find out they are having trouble getting D2L staff to respond in a timely manner. It is not clear yet on how prevalent these concerns are, but we do believe they will need to be addressed in order for D2L to make material changes in overall market share.

D2L has made two key hires in recent months, seemingly in recognition of potential market opportunities as well as persistent internal challenges. One targets growth, the other customer satisfaction. Puneet Arora, a former sales executive with several SaaS companies, has been brought in as chief revenue officer, and April Oman, a veteran customer success executive with a number of enterprise software companies, has been added as as Senior VP of Customer Experience. Arora is new to the education space but seems to be asking a lot of the right questions, and his task is to grow the user base in a meaningful way. Expect to see some changes in how D2L positions itself and who they try to sell to, shifting the balance away from administrators and towards faculty and student end users. Oman’s role is a new one and speaks to the need to develop a stronger relationships and partnerships with customers. This will be critical as D2L tries to establish themselves as much more than a software solution and as they attempt to improve customer experience.

Better Position but Needing Results

The center of gravity of D2L's executive team is more diffuse than it used to be. Much of the longer-tenured leadership of D2L is based out of the Kitchener, Ontario home office: John Baker, CEO; Nick Oddson, CTO; Melissa Howatson, CFO; Jeremy Auger, SVP Strategy; and Ken Chapman, VP of Market Research. Ainoa, Koehn, Arora, and Oman (the new hires), however, are all in the Bay Area in California, and Tracy Strauss, SVP Marketing, is out of Los Angeles. There seems to be a deliberate approach to finding new ways of thinking from a broader field of expertise.

D2L appears to have largely revamped its approach to product development that is more responsive to customer needs, and is putting resources into building partnerships. Yet they have not made the market gains envisioned after winning the Blackboard patent wars and then raising two large rounds of financing. We still see a two-horse race for new implementations (LMS product switches) in higher education, largely shared between Canvas and D2L, but the second horse that is looking better than it used to still needs to make further adjustments and run faster.

  1. Disclosure: Blackboard, Instructure, D2L, and Schoology are subscribers to our LMS Market Analysis service. Blackboard, Instructure, D2L, and Pearson are sponsoring participants in our Empirical Educator Project.

The post D2L Fusion 2018: Product improvements and potential signs of addressing challenges appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at August 14, 2018 03:15 AM

August 13, 2018

Sakai Project

Sakai Community Survey - Number of Users at Your Institution

We would like your help in tallying up the total number of Sakai users worldwide.

by MHall at August 13, 2018 04:33 PM

Apereo Foundation

August 09, 2018

Dr. Chuck

Tsugi Support for WebSockets

I just finished adding support for a WebSocket based notification service to Tsugi.   It is not a full-up WebSocket server or SocketIO server where you can put a bunch of business logic and data storage in the socket server – it is just a low-latency notification service that can be used to make applications quicker and more efficient compared to techniques like polling.  Here is some documentation on the approach:

Here is a simple test harness that exercises Web Sockets that you can run in your Tsugi:

Here is a more complete chat application with messages, presence, and history and uses notification to work better.  It functions whether or not WebSocket notification is available – it is just more sluggish and has a performance impact when WebSockets are not available:

You can play with the Chat tool at:

I am going to record a walkthrough video of socket-test and michat sometime soon.

by Charles Severance at August 09, 2018 04:41 AM

August 08, 2018

Michael Feldstein

Schoology, NEO, Claroline, Chamilo: The beginning of the LMS long tail

With reporting contributions from Jeanette Wiseman and O'Neal Spicer

We have described how the global LMS market is converging in the sense that the Big Four - Moodle, Blackboard, Instructure, and D2L - end up being the primary competitors in more and more global regions, often with similar dynamics. We have also described Sakai and its decline in some detail. But what about the next level down? Let's consider four LMS solutions that are still quite active but with fewer institutional users than Sakai - Schoology (whom we have described before), NEO, Claroline, and Chamilo.1 The following graphic shows both primary and secondary system usage in higher education in six different global regions, and all four systems have more than 100 active implementations.

LMS higher ed counts by global region


Schoology NEXT

  • The Schoology NEXT conference occurred at the same time as BbWorld this year. This is a mostly K-12 conference - as that is the primary market for Schoology - with a different attendance demographic than most LMS conferences with the majority of the attendees being actual classroom teachers or instructional designers, not the typical administrators or IT staff that you see at the other user conferences. This audience is more focused on the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning in their classrooms, to assist with assessment, or to fill a requirement of use of technology for professional development. The break-out sessions reflected this academic focus.
  • The only new features or development that were discussed at any length during the keynote presentations involved the vague promise of “Personalized Learning” support. There was little information about what new features would look like, what they would encompass, or if they would entail additional charges like Schoology's assessment platform. In an interview with CEO Jeremy Friedman and the new President Justin Serrano, they said that the vagueness is by design. The company is still working through their users’ needs and will be completing development on those features once that assessment was complete.
  • When discussing if the company saw Google Classroom's continued growth in the K-12 market as a threat, Friedman said it is the opposite. They see that in K-12 space Google Classroom fills a need for a classroom, a school or a district that are dipping their toes in the LMS space, and once the school starts actively using the technology they quickly outgrow it. In these cases, Schoology sees Google Classroom as seeding the market for them, and they actively target those Google Classroom schools. In most cases, if responding to an RFP, it will be Canvas they will be up against. Rarely do they see Blackboard or even Moodle in these situations. They feel like, and this was reiterated by their users, that one of the most significant benefits that Schoology users see in the platform is their ease of use. The interface is reminiscent of Facebook; it is familiar to the teachers they quickly can navigate and load announcements and content to their site with very little training or IT support. It may not carry with it the bells and whistles of a Blackboard Learn or even Canvas by Instructure, but for what these K-12 teachers need, it fits the bill. For now.
  • Regarding targeting customers in higher education, the company stayed the course from January 2017 in which they will continue to support their higher education customers and will take easy sales opportunities, but are not planning to aggressively pursue that market. While this strategy only lightly targets higher education, Schoology has over 100 clients at universities and colleges worldwide - mostly small private schools, and often as secondary systems - using their platform. Customers using as a primary system include Wheaton College and Saint Vincent College in the US and the Universidad Metropolitana de Monterrey in Latin America. Schoology is also used as a secondary system at schools including UC San Diego.

NEO, Claroline, and Chamilo

The other three systems - NEO, Claroline, and Chamilo - are important in the global market, even if most academic buyers (in the US, at least) likely have not heard of them. All have more than 100 higher education implementations worldwide.

  • NEO is the academic LMS from Cypher Learning: Based on our conversations at the K-12 focused ISTE conference this summer, Cypher Learning has 60 employees and claims 2 million customers worldwide (combining NEO with the Indie and Matrix LMS for corporate markets). In higher ed, their largest implementation is with STI College in the Philippines with a systemwide deal that gives them 77 campus adoptions. The system has been designed native to the cloud and boasts a fairly intuitive user interface that addresses competency-based education and mastery learning.

  • Claroline Connect is an Open Source project run out of France: This system - which has the greatest adoption in Europe, Latin America, and Asia - is a second-generation open source project. In the early 2000s, the University of Lyon and the Université catholique de Louvain created two open source LMSs, and subsequently Claroline Connect combined these projects into the current system based on more modern technology. Get your French ready, or use captions.

  • Chamilo is an Open Source project run out of Spain: This system, used most often in Latin America and Europe, also has origins in the predecessors to Claroline, forking into the Dokeos project and then forking again to Chamilo in 2010. The system is supported by official supporting vendors in the following countries: Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany. The Belgian company also has offices in Peru. Again, get your French ready.

While we have only described this second tier of global LMS providers in broad strokes, we hope this post gives a richer view of the broader LMS market and available systems.

  1. Disclosure: Blackboard, Instructure, D2L, and Schoology are subscribers to our LMS Market Analysis service. Blackboard, Instructure, D2L, and Pearson are sponsoring participants in our Empirical Educator Project.

The post Schoology, NEO, Claroline, Chamilo: The beginning of the LMS long tail appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at August 08, 2018 06:16 PM

August 01, 2018

Sakai Project

Sakai 12.3 maintenance is released!

Dear Community,

I'm pleased to announce on behalf of the worldwide community that Sakai 12.3 is released and available for downloading [1]!

Sakai 12.3 has 65 improvements [2] including:

  • 27 fixes in Assignments
  • 7 fixes in Tests & Quizzes (Samigo)

Other areas improved include:

by MHall at August 01, 2018 05:05 PM

Apereo Foundation

Planning into Practice – Apereo Strategic Development 2018-2020

Planning into Practice – Apereo Strategic Development 2018-2020

Apereo relies to a significant extent on the participation and contributions of volunteers – both institutional and individual. The Foundation Board – who are elected and serve in a volunteer capacity - are now setting out to turn the strategic plan into practice. We are asking for your help.

by Michelle Hall at August 01, 2018 04:54 PM

Planning into Practice – Apereo Strategic Development 2018-2020

Planning into Practice – Apereo Strategic Development 2018-2020

Apereo relies to a significant extent on the participation and contributions of volunteers – both institutional and individual. The Foundation Board – who are elected and serve in a volunteer capacity - are now setting out to turn the strategic plan into practice. We are asking for your help.

by Michelle Hall at August 01, 2018 04:54 PM

July 31, 2018

Dr. Chuck

Experiences with Amazon Aurora Serverless

Recently I moved all my Amazon-hosted servers for my project from Amazon server-based Aurora to Amazon Serverless Aurora.  I was experiencing the classic problem where 98% of the time it vastly over paying for my servers and then when I hit a peak (like after I spoke at the Instructure conference), things would get slow.  Then I would upgrade my hardware and pay even more when things were slower.  So serverless is *perfect* for me.

I made a serverless cluster – in Aurora serverless you just make a cluster and do not make instances.  I was looking a this Amazon page – and it has said:

You pay on a per-second basis for the database capacity you use when the database is active, and migrate between standard and serverless configurations with a few clicks in the AWS Management Console.

I could not find the “migrate with a few clicks” bit in the Amazon user interface.  So I asked a question on Stack Overflow .

When I did not get an answer in a few days, I did the conversion two ways with different results so I figured I would share my results here. I would still love to hear a better approach.

  1. When I did the conversion using mysqldump and restore, with a short outage things were fine.
  2. When I used AWS Database Migration Service it went pretty badly.

First, you have to get the binary log format as “ROW” and binlog retention to 24 hours. That necessitated server restarts on my old clusters.

Then when I got the data migration working, the new database was badly broken.  I lost all my auto increments, then NULL settings in my columns, the UNIQUE clauses and foreign keys in the new tables.

Literally the only thing that migrated correctly was that the actual data and PRIMARY KEY indications. Also, I would recommend migrating one database at a time (i.e. schema) and don’t try to migrate the mysql internal schemas. I said “migrate everything” and the migration tool tried to migrate the MySQL stuff – sheesh – you would think it would know better.

The one thing the AWS Database Migration Service did that was really cool was the migrate and monitor (made possible by the binary logging on the rows). You could watch it moving rows.

So the lesson is use mysql dump and restore  when moving from Aurors server based to serverless.

by Charles Severance at July 31, 2018 02:45 PM

July 18, 2018

Adam Marshall

Replay (Lecture Capture Service) Downtime plus Mandatory Upgrade

From Steve Pierce (Replay Service Delivery Manager)

Dear Replay community,

  1. Mandatory client upgrade to 5.6 or above – July 21
  2. Downtime – July 24 18:00 – 21:00
  3. Downtime – July 28 23:00 – July 29 02:00
  4. Downtime – August 11 20:00 – 23:00

Mandatory client upgrade to 5.6 or above – July 21

On Saturday, July 21, we will require Panopto for Windows, Remote Recorders, and Panopto for Mac to be upgraded to version 5.6 or above. This change will be applied to the Panopto portal at 01:00 BST. For more information on the mandatory upgrade, see this article on the Panopto support site:

The latest versions of the Panopto for Windows and Panopto for Mac manual recorders (5.7) can be downloaded from:

The latest versions of the Remote Recorders can be downloaded from:

If you are updating an existing remote recorder you should not need to inform us, but if you are installing for the first time or on a new machine, please let us know via so that we can assign correct permissions.

Downtime – July 24 18:00-21:00

On Tuesday July 24 at 18:00 BST Panopto will be performing essential updates to the cloud database in preparation for integration with Oxford’s new Canvas VLE. The process will take up to three hours (21:00 BST). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

Downtime – July 28 23:00 – July 29 02:00

On Saturday, July 28, Panopto will update the cloud database. This update will require downtime from 23:00 BST July 28 for up to three hours (02:00 BST July 29). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

Downtime – August 11 20:00 – 23:00

On Saturday, August 11, Panopto will be making a number of updates to the Panopto Cloud infrastructure to increase performance and scalability. These updates will require downtime from 20:00 BST August 11 for up to three hours (23:00 BST). During this downtime, you will not be able to access recordings on your server, and any attempts to upload from clients will result in a “Server unable to connect” message.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please e-mail



by Adam Marshall at July 18, 2018 08:56 AM

July 13, 2018

Adam Marshall

Testing IMS LTI Support

SaLTIre is a very useful “tool” for testing IMS LTI support. The site provides a test Tool Provider and Tool Consumer which is great for quick checks of LTI support.

The website was originally developed as part of a JISC project.

by Adam Marshall at July 13, 2018 03:54 PM

July 04, 2018


F2F Course Site Content Import

If you’re tasked with teaching an upcoming course that you’ve taught in the past with the University – there’s no need to rebuild everything from scratch – unless you want to.

Faculty teaching face to face (F2F) courses can benefit from the course content import process in Site Info. This process allows you to pull in all your assignments, syllabus, gradebook, handouts and other files associated with the course – as used in a previous offering of the course.

To do this, you need to be an instructor in both course sites (the former and the upcoming). Go to the upcoming course site, and select Site Info>Import from Site:


Next, select the kind of import you wish to perform. I typically suggest using the replacement option “I would like to replace my data”. On the next screen select which course you’d like to pull content in FROM.  Be careful here making sure you select the SOURCE of the content you’ll import. Next click Continue.

On the next screen select the tools/areas of content you wish to import. Keep in mind it’s always a good idea to import the Resources, because files referred to in Assignments, Quizzes, Lessons or Announcements could refer to those files, and in order for those links to work properly the corresponding resources must be likewise imported.

Finally complete the import process and watch for the email to be sent to you – notifying you of the import process being completed. You can find out more information about the process here.

Want to watch the whole process in real time? Take a gander here:

by Dave E. at July 04, 2018 06:56 PM

July 02, 2018

Adam Marshall

Add Interactive Video Content to WebLearn

Those wonderful people at H5P have made some improvements to their interactive video content type. (This allows one to embed a You Tube video in an HTML page or Lessons pages and overlay quizzes, pop-up text or other types of interactions.)

Improvements include

  • Submit screen in Interactive Video – The new Interactive Video submit screen will give the learners an overview of what they’ve done and achieved in the video, and let the submit their scores and answers when they are ready. Authors can make the submit screen pop up when they want it to pop up in the video, and learners may also open it whenever they want to check their progress.
  • Free Text Question in Interactive Video – Many questions don’t have an answer that is either right or wrong. The author may want the learners to reflect and write down their thoughts instead. This is now possible in Interactive Video

To use H5P, all you need to do is visit the H5P website, register, create your interactive element and then paste the “embed code” into your WebLearn page – use the “source” view of the text available in the WYSIWYG HTML editor.

H5p includes

  • Interactive YouTube videos (annotate, ask questions etc.)
  • Image juxtaposition
  • Drag and drop / Drag the words
  • Hotspots
  • Many many more content types

Useful Links

by Adam Marshall at July 02, 2018 03:28 PM

June 20, 2018

Sakai Project

Sakai 12.2 Released

Sakai 12.2 is released and available for downloading! Sakai 12.2 has 105 improvements and 2 security fixes (as compared to 12.1).

by WHodges at June 20, 2018 05:52 PM

Dr. Chuck

Sakai 12.2 Maintenance Release Is Available

This post is taken from a Wilma Hodges note to the Sakai mailing lists.

Dear Community,

I’m pleased to announce on behalf of the worldwide community that Sakai 12.2 is released and available for downloading [1] !

Sakai 12.2 has 105 improvements [2] in place including

  • 21 fixes in Assignments
  • 18 fixes in Tests & Quizzes (Samigo)
  • 8 fixes in Gradebook
  • 6 fixes in Forums
  • 6 fixes in Portal

Other areas improved include:

  • Chat Room
  • Lessons
  • Membership
  • Messages
  • PostEm
  • Preferences
  • Profile
  • Resources
  • Site Info
  • Statistics
  • Worksite Setup

There were 2 security issues fixed in 12.2 (details will be sent to the Sakai Security Announcements list).

Please also note the upgrade information page [3] for important notes related to performing the upgrade. 2 Quartz jobs need to be run to complete the conversion steps for Sakai 12, including a new one for the Job Scheduler in 12.1.

[1] Downloading information available at –

[2] 12.2 Fixes by Tool –


by Charles Severance at June 20, 2018 02:17 PM

June 11, 2018

Apereo OAE

Strategic re-positioning: OAE in the world of NGDLE

The experience of the Open Academic Environment Project (OAE) forms a significant practical contribution to the emerging vision of the ‘Next Generation Digital Learning Environment’, or NGDLE. Specifically, OAE contributes core collaboration tools and services that can be used in the context of a class, of a formal or informal group outside a class, and indeed of such a group outside an institution. This set of tools and services leverages academic infrastructure, such as Access Management Federations, or widely used commercial infrastructure for authentication, open APIs for popular third-party software (e.g. video conference) and open standards such as LTI and xAPI.

Beyond the LMS/VLE

OAE is widely used by staff in French higher education in the context of research and other inter-institutional collaboration. The project is now examining future directions which bring OAE closer to students – and to learning. This is driven by a groundswell among learners. There is strong anecdotal evidence that students in France are chafing at the constraints of the LMS/VLE. They are beginning to use social media – not necessarily with adequate data or other safeguards – to overcome the perceived limitations of the LMS/VLE. The core functionality of OAE – people forming groups to collaborate around content – provides a means of circumventing the LMS’s limitations without selling one’s soul – or one’s data – to the social media giants. OAE embodies key capabilities supporting social and unstructured learning, and indeed could be adapted and configured as a ‘student owned environment’: a safe space for sharing and discussion of ideas leading to organic group activities. The desires and requirements of students have not featured strongly in NGDLE conversations to this point: The OAE project, beginning with work in France, will explore student discontent with the LMS, and seek to work together with LMS solution providers and software communities to provide a richer and more engaging experience for learners.

Integration points and data flows

OAE has three principal objectives in this area:

  1. OAE has a basic (uncertified) implementation of the IMSGlobal Learning Tools Interoperability specification. This will be enriched to further effect integration with the LMS/VLE where it is required. OAE will not assume such integration is required without evidence. It will not drive such integration on the basis of technical feasibility, but by needs expressed by learners and educators.
  2. Driven by the significant growth of usage of the Karuta ePortfolio software in France, OAE will explore how student-selected evidence of competency can easily be provided for Karuta, and what other connections might be required or desirable between the two systems.
  3. Given the growth of interest in learning analytics in France and globally, OAE will become an exemplary emitter of learning analytics data and will act wherever possible to analyse each new or old feature from a designed analytics perspective. Learning analytics data will flow from learning designs embedded in OAE, not simply be the accidental output that constitutes a technical log file.

OAE is continuing to develop and transform its sustainability model. The change is essentially from a model based primarily on financially-based contributions to that of a mixed mode community-based model, where financial contributions are encouraged alongside individual, institutional and organisational volunteered contributions of code, documentation and other non-code artefacts. There are two preconditions for accomplishing this. The first, which applies specifically to code, is clearing a layer of technical debt in order to more easily encourage and facilitate contributions around modern software frameworks and tools. OAE is committed to paying down this debt and encouraging contributions from developers outside the project.

The second is both more complex and more straightforward; straightforward to describe, but complex to realise. Put simply, answers to questions around wasteful duplication of resources in deploying software in education have fallen out of balance with reality. The pendulum has swung from “local” through “cloud first” to “cloud only”. Innovation around learning, which by its very nature often begins locally, is often stifled by the industrial-style massification of ‘the hosted LMS’ which emphasises conformity with a single model. As a result of this strategy, institutions have switched from software development and maintenance to contract management. In many cases, this means that they have tended to swap creative, problem-solving capability for an administrative capability. It is almost as though e-learning has entered a “Fordist” phase, with only the green shoots of LTI enabled niche applications and individual institutional initiatives providing hope of a rather more postmodern – and flexible - future.

OAE retains its desire and ambition to provide a scalable solution that remains “cloud ready”. The project believes, however, that the future is federated. Patchworks of juridical and legal frameworks across national and regional boundaries alone – particularly around privacy - should drive a reconsideration of “cloud only” as a strategy for institutions with global appetites. Institutions with such appetites – and there are few now which do not have them – will distribute, federate and firewall systems to work around legislative roadblocks, bumps in the road, and brick walls. OAE will, then, begin to consider and work on inter-host federation of content and other services. This will, of necessity, begin small. It will, however, remain the principled grit in the strategic oyster. As more partners join the project, OAE will start designing a federation architectural layer that will lay the foundation to a scenario where OAE instances dynamically exchange data among themselves in a seamless and efficient way according to a variety of use cases.

ID 22-MAY-18 Amended 23-MAY-18

June 11, 2018 12:00 PM

May 01, 2018


Will Sakai look different following the upgrade?

While there are some improvements to accessibility and some on-going tweaks to improve color contrast issues, the upgrade to Sakai will not affect the overall appearance that much.  For mobile users – the difference in course navigation will be much-improved.

Desktop/Laptop view:

Sakai 11
Sakai - Pre Upgrade Desktop View

Following Upgrade:
Sakai - Post Upgrade Desktop View

Mobile view (Sakai 11/Post-Upgrade):
Sakai - Pre Upgrade Mobile View  Sakai - Post Upgrade Mobile View

More detail will be distributed in the coming weeks and those following the upgrade.

by Dave E. at May 01, 2018 07:53 PM

Gradebook Calculation Anomoly

In what appears to be a gradebook calculation anomaly, be sure items are categorized appropriately even if you course is only using categories for organization – otherwise final course grade calculations may be inaccurate – as the following video explains.


To address categorization of an item, check the Gradebook>Settings>Categories and Weighting to insure you’ve setup the gradebook correctly (specific to each course).  Next insure all items which have bearing on the overall grade are INCLUDED in the course grade calculation – making sure they DO NOT have a calculator with a slash through it AND that they are not in an uncategorized category:


by Dave E. at May 01, 2018 06:23 PM

April 01, 2018

Aaron Zeckoski