Planet Sakai

July 23, 2014

Michael Feldstein

CCSF Update: Accreditation appeal denied, but waiting for court date

It looks like I’ll have the California trifecta for the past week, having already posted on Cal State and University of California news recently. Maybe I should find a Stanford or some other private university story.

In my last post on CCSF from January:

Last week, as expected, a California superior court judge ruled on whether to allow the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)  to end accreditation for City College of San Francisco (CCSF) as of July 31, 2014. As reported inmultiple news outlets, the judge granted an injunction preventing ACCJC from stripping CCSF’s accreditation at least until a court trial based on the city of San Francisco lawsuit, which would occur in the summer 2014 at the earliest. This means that CCSF will stay open for at least another academic term (fall 2014), and it is possible that ACCJC would have to redo their accreditation review.

 In the meantime, ACCJC reviewed CCSF’s appeal of the accrediting decision, and ACCJC is sticking to its guns on the decision, as described in the San Francisco Chronicle:

City College of San Francisco remains out of compliance with eight accreditation standards, so the threat to revoke its accreditation stands, said the commission that set July 31 for the action that would shut the college down.

Accreditation won’t be revoked on that date, however, because a judge delayed the deadline until an October trial can determine if the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges properly conducted its 2012 evaluation of City College.

In other words, ACCJC has changed its determination that CCSF should lose accreditation. There are only two caveats at this point:

  • The injunction that prevents ACCJC from revoking accreditation until the October court date; and
  • A new loophole called “restoration status”.

From the SF Chronicle again:

Besides pinning its hopes on the lawsuit – which could trigger a completely new evaluation – the college has one more option, made possible in June when the U.S. Department of Education firmly explained to the reluctant commission that it had the power to extend the revocation deadline.

As a result of that intervention, the commission created a new “restoration status” for City College – and any other college that finds itself in such a precarious position – giving it two more years to improve and comply with a new range of requirements.

City College would have to apply for the new status by July 31.

But Phil, you say, I am fascinated by the accreditation review process and want more! To keep you going, here is the letter from ACCJC to CCSF rejecting the appeal. In the letter ACCJC calls out the areas where CCSF is still not in compliance:

I.B   Improving Institutional Effectiveness

II.A  Instructional Programs

II.B  Student Support Services

II.C  Library and Learning Support Services

III.B Physical Resources

III.C Technology Resources

III.D Financial Resources

IV.B Board and Administrative Organization

For historical context of how we got here, see this post.

The high-profile game of Chicken continues.

The post CCSF Update: Accreditation appeal denied, but waiting for court date appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at July 23, 2014 07:30 PM

Dr. Chuck

Sakai 10 Released – The Magic of Open Source

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 21, 2014

Michael Feldstein

University of California’s $220 million payroll project reboot

Chris Newfield has an excellent post at Remaking the University about the University of California’s budget situation and how it relates to the recent Moody’s negative outlook on higher education finances. The whole article is worth reading, but one section jumped off the page for me [emphasis added].

The sadder example of ongoing debt is the request for “external financing for the UCPath project.” UC Path was UCOP’s flagship solution to UC inefficiencies that were allegedly wasting taxpayers’ money–in other words, new enterprise software for the systemwide consolidation of payroll and human resources functions. This is boring, important back office stuff, hardly good material for a political campaign to show the state “UC means business,” but that’s what it became. Rather than funding each campus’s decades-old effort to upgrade its systems on its own, UCOP sought centralization, which predictably introduced new levels of cost, complexity, and inefficiency, since centralization is often not actually efficient.

I had heard nothing good about UC Path from people trying to implement it on campuses, and have tried to ignore it, but this week it has resurfaced as a problem at the Regental level. The project timeline has grown from 48 to 72 months, and its costs are said to be $220 million (it had spent $131 million by May 2014) . Worse, the repayment schedule has mushroomed from seven to twenty years. Annual payments are to be something like $25 million. Campuses are to be taxed to pay for 2015-era systems until 2035, which is like taking out a twenty year mortgage to pay for your refrigerator, except that your fridge will be working better in 2035 than next year’s PeopleSoft product. Since the concurrent budget document notes efficiency savings of $30 million per year (top of page 4), UCOP may be spending $220 million to save a net $5 million per year over a couple of decades–and going into debt to do it. In the end, an efficiency measure has turned into a literal liability.

What the hell – a $220 million project to save money? How did this project get in this much trouble?

The UCPath project concept originated in 2009 with the project announcement coming in late 2011. The goal is to replace the Payroll Personnel System (PPS) that runs separately for each of the 11 UC locations with Oracle’s PeopleSoft payroll and HR systems. PPS is over 30 years old, and there are major risk issues with such an old system as well as a host of inefficient processes. The original project plans were based on a $170 million budget1 with the first wave of go-live for the Office of the President and 3 campuses scheduled for early 2013. All campuses would be live on the new system by late 2014.2

In a presentation to the Board of Regents in January 2012:

Over the same period, cost reductions are expected to be approximately $750 million from technology efficiency gains, process standardization and consolidation of transactional activities into a UC-wide shared services center. Overall, the project has a net present value of approximately $230 million (at a nine percent discount rate) with breakeven in year 5.

Subsequent promises were made in March of 2012:

We think this project is likely to pay for itself within five years, and UC could be accruing over $100 million in annual savings by the eighth year,” said Peter Taylor, UC’s chief financial officer. “We also expect to deliver HR and payroll services with increased efficiency, accuracy and quality.”

At the Board of Regents’ meeting last week, the project team gave the first update to the regents since January 2012 (itself a troubling sign). See this Sharestream video from 2:56:10 – 3:22:40.

By Fall 2013 the project was in trouble, and UC leadership brought in new leadership for the project: Mark Cianca as Deputy CIO and Sabu Varghese as Program Director. Their first act was to do a health check on the project, and the results were not pretty (as described in last week’s Board of Regents’ meeting).

  • The project team and implementation partner (Oracle) had treated the project as a software replacement rather than a fundamental business transformation initiative.
  • The individual campuses had not been consulted on changes in business processes, and in fact they had not even been asked to sign off on future state business processes that each campus would have to run to stay in operation.
  • The new project team had to go through more than 100 future state processes with campuses and get agreement on how to proceed.

The result, as described by UC President Janet Napolitano at last week’s meeting, was the team having to “reboot the entire project”.

Based on the reboot, the current plan is $220 million with first wave complete by February 2016 and all campuses live by mid 2017. That’s $50 million over budget and 24 months over schedule.

Deployment Schedule Jul 2014

But the planning is not complete. They are working up their “final” replan of budget and timeline, which they will present in January 2015.

Topics for Jan 2015

How solid is the current estimate? The implementation schedule is listed as the highest risk, even with the delays.

Major Risks Jul 2014

The project financing has changed so much that UC is now facing the need to use external financing over a much longer term, as described in the material for last week’s board meeting.

Therefore, this item seeks approval to refinance the UCPath loan out of CapEquip and into external financing to achieve the financing customization required. As indicated above, the original repayment plan based on the $220.5 million budget was expected to have been repaid with annual debt service of $25 million. This would have resulted in a 12-year loan term once principal was to be repaid. In January 2015, UCPath project leadership plans to present a revised project timeline, a revised project budget and a revised estimated loan repayment schedule. Project leadership will work with the campus budget officers (and campus budget department staff) to develop: (1) an appropriate campus cost allocation strategy; (2) an estimated repayment schedule that will reflect commencement of principal repayments in conjunction with the final campus deployment (estimated to be early 2017); and (3) an estimated 15-20 year loan repayment period.


  • The new project team seems quite credible, and for the most part they addressed the right points during the briefing. Kudos to UC for making this change in leadership.
  • This is a major project turnaround (or reboot, in Napolitano’s words), but I’m not sure that UC had communicated the significance of the project changes to system campuses (and certainly not to the media).
  • I would view the current plan of $220 million and Q1 2017 full deployment as best case situation – the team told the regents that they were going to update the plan, and ERP project almost never come in earlier than planned.
  • The actual amount is much higher than $220 based on this footnote: “The $10 million in tenant improvements approved for the UCPath Center Riverside site as well as the $17.4 million purchase of the facility (UCPath is currently projected to use no more than 50 percent of the building) are not included in the figures above.”
  • How do you go 2.5 years between updates from what is now a quarter billion dollar project?
  • What about the current estimate of benefits – is it $30 million per year as Chris described or closer to $100 million per year? One big concern I have is that the information on project benefits was not updated, presented to the regents, or asked by the regents. While I question the $25 million financing and $30 million benefits numbers, I think Chris got it exactly right by noting how UC administration is failing to ask hard questions:

Moving forward, I’m afraid that officials are going to have to get much better at admitting mistakes like UCPath, and then actually undoing them. I couldn’t listen to the recording of the UCPath conversation, but Cloudminder made it sound like a lot of restrained finger-pointing with no solution in sight. Did anyone say, “well, this seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s not. Let’s just cancel it, figure out where we went wrong, and come up with something better”?

It is possible that continuing with the rebooted project is the right answer, but UC is not even asking the question. Failing to ask whether 15-20 year financing of a new ERP makes sense seems like a major oversight. Won’t this lock UC into an Oracle system that is already antiquated for another two decades or more? It seems stunning to me that UC is planning to commit to $220 million of external financing without asking some basic questions.

  1. one regent last week stated the original request was actually $156 million.
  2. All public projects should fear the Wayback Machine for checking old web pages.

The post University of California’s $220 million payroll project reboot appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at July 21, 2014 10:11 PM


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

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

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

July 20, 2014

Michael Feldstein


It would be deeply unfair of me to mock Blackboard for having a messy but substantive keynote presentation and not give equal time to D2L’s remarkable press release, pithily entitled “D2L Supercharges Its Integrated Learning Platform With Adaptive Learning, Robust Analytics, Game-Based Learning, Windows® 8 Mobile Capabilities, And The Newest Education Content All Delivered In The Cloud.” Here’s the first sentence:

D2L, the EdTech company that created the world’s first truly integrated learning platform (ILP), today announces it is supercharging its ILP by providing groundbreaking new features and partnerships designed to personalize education and eliminate the achievement gap.

I was going to follow that quote with a cutting remark, but really, I’m not sure that I have anything to say that would be equal to the occasion. The sentence speaks for itself.

For a variety of reasons, Phil and I did not attend D2L FUSION this year, so it’s hard to tell from afar whether there is more going on at the company than meets the eye. I’ll do my best to break down what we’re seeing in this post, but it won’t have the same level of confidence that we have in our Blackboard analysis.

Let me get to the heart of the matter first. Does it look to us like D2L has made important announcements this year? No, it does not. Other than, you know, supercharging its ILP by providing groundbreaking new features and partnerships designed to personalize education and eliminate the achievement gap. They changed their product name to “Brightspace” and shortened their company name to D2L. The latter strikes me as a particularly canny PR move. If they are going to continue writing press releases like their last one, it is probably wise to remove the temptation of the endless variety of potential “Desire2″ jokes. Anyway, THE Journal probably does the best job of summarizing the announcements. For an on-the-ground account of the conference and broader observations about shifts in the company’s culture, read D’Arcy Norman’s post. I’ve been following D’Arcy since I got into blogging ten years ago and have learned to trust his judgment as a level-headed on-the-ground observer.

From a distance, a couple of things jump out at me. First, it looks to me like D2L is trying to become a kind of a content player. Having acquired the adaptive platform in Knowillage, they are combining it with the standards database that they acquired with the Achievement Standards Network. They are also making a lot of noise about enhancements to and content partnerships for their Binder product, which is essentially an eBook platform. Put all of this together, and you get something that conceptually is starting to look (very) vaguely like CogBooks. It wants to be an adaptive courseware container. If D2L pulls this off it will be significant, but I don’t see signs that they have a coherent platform yet—again, acknowledging that I wasn’t able to look at the strategy up close at FUSION this year and could easily be missing critical details.

Second, their announcement that they are incorporating IBM’s Cognos into their Insights learning analytics platform does not strike me as a good sign for Insights. As far as we have been able to tell from our sources, that product has languished since Al Essa left the company for McGraw Hill. One problem has been that their technical team was unable to deliver on the promise of the product vision. There were both data integrity and performance issues. This next bit is speculation on my part, but the fact that D2L is announcing that they plan to use the Cognos engine suggests to me that the company has thus far failed to solve those problems and now is going to a third party to solve them. That’s not necessarily a bad strategy, but it reinforces our impression that they’ve lost another year on a product that they hyped to the heavens and raises questions about the quality of their technical leadership.

The post Desire2Wha? appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at July 20, 2014 02:16 PM

July 17, 2014

Sakai Project

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

This video talks about how Open Source participation is one of the few measures where there is some balance between the normally dominant northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere. In nearly all economic and technology measures there is a great disparity between the north and south. But open source participation is one of the areas where there is more parity regardless of geographic region.

July 17, 2014 02:05 AM

July 16, 2014

Adam Marshall

Sakai Virtual Conference – Call for presentations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We look forward to your proposal!


Ian Dolphin, Executive Director, Apereo Foundation

Neal Caidin, Sakai Community Coordinator, Apereo Foundation

Wilma Hodges, Sakai Virtual Conference 2014 Planning Committee Chair

Martin Ramsay, Sakai Virtual Conference 2014 Planning Committee Member 


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

Steve Swinsburg

Sakai Quartz example bundle receives an update

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

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

by steveswinsburg at July 16, 2014 11:48 AM

Adam Marshall

Wikipedia editors named in US law suit

Referring to my earlier post encouraging volunteers to write articles for Wikipedia, here is a cautionary tale about a US law suit against four Wikipedia editors by a person who claims they defamed him in an editors’ discussion forum.

[Thanks to Caroll Mitchell for forwarding this link.]

The article describes the support being provided to the editors by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Another link from Caroll Mitchell:

Victory in Italy – Court rules in favour of Wikimedia

by Jill Fresen at July 16, 2014 10:39 AM

July 14, 2014

Adam Marshall

Using Wikipedia in education

This posting is a brief summary of the keynote address given by Dr Toni Sant (Wikimedia UK) at the 6th International Integrity and Plagiarism Conference held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 17 to 18 June 2014.

  • Who has used Wikipedia?
  • Who has edited Wikipedia?
  • Who has written an article for Wikipedia? (Think about doing this, or setting an assignment for your students to do so – see more information below about developing an article for Wikipedia.)

The Wikimedia Foundation is the organisation that runs Wikipedia – it is donor funded, there is no advertising, it employs 150 people and operates in 286 languages. The project includes many specialist areas:


Five pillars of wikipedia

  1. It is an encyclopedia – has exactly the same scholarly authority as any other encyclopedia.
  2. Written from a ‘neutral point of view’ – should this rather be ALL points of view?
  3. Free content than anyone can edit/use/modify/share
  4. Editors should respect each other
  5. Does not have many firm rules, but there are some fundamental principles (enter the given shortcut in the Wikipedia search bar for more information):
  • notability; conflict of interest; verifiability (WP:V); neutral point of view (WP:NPOV)
  • plag (WP:Plag) – e.g. flag: ‘citation needed’; fair use (WP:NFC)
  • civility (WP:Civil); consensus (WP:Con); assume good faith (WP:AGF)

How can we address concerns about the use or misuse of Wikipedia?

  • Editing Wikipedia: every page has an edit button at the top – anyone can do it. Get your students to write a wikipedia article as part of their assignment – you can get help on the process of ‘Developing an article’
  • Evaluating Wikipedia: there is a hierarchy of article types – you can start with a ‘stub’ if you have just the beginnings of an idea for an article (e.g. see ‘Fatberg’):wiki_article types
  • Wikipedia education programme (available online to redistribute freely) – all about Wikipedia, plus a 12-week course on how to use Wikipedia as a teaching tool.

Dr Sant concluded by saying that Wikimedia and academia are natural allies – Wikipedia is often the starting point for essays, assignments or research, BUT it can lead students back to the primary sources (via the Reference list). Wikipedia provides a support mechanism – students can discover, understand (collaboration and crowd sourcing), comprehend, and learn to distinguish between diff types of sources (reliable, less reliable, unreliable) for  use in their own writing.

by Jill Fresen at July 14, 2014 03:33 PM

July 08, 2014

Sakai Project

Press Release: Sakai 10

Apereo Foundation Announces Availability of Sakai 10

July 08, 2014 08:52 PM

Bedework 3.10 Released

We are pleased to announce the production release of Bedework 3.10

July 08, 2014 04:25 PM

July 04, 2014

Dr. Chuck

Current Demographics for My Programming For Everybody Session 2 on Coursera

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

Demographics PR4E#002 (PDF)

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

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

June 30, 2014

Steve Swinsburg

Sakai 10 released

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

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

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

by steveswinsburg at June 30, 2014 10:58 PM

June 23, 2014

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE Falcon (7.0.0) Released

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely proud to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Falcon, or OAE 7.

OAE Falcon comes with a complete overhaul of the OAE email notification experience, as well as a more complete set of utilities for user and system management.


Email Preferences

A frequent request from OAE users is to provide greater control over how often they receive email. OAE Falcon provides the ability for users to specify how often they wish to receive email:

  • Immediately - When selected, users will receive an e-mail immediately after an important activity has taken place. When multiple important activities happen in quick succession, they are aggregated into a single e-mail
  • Daily - When selected, users will receive an e-mail once per day containing all the notifications the user received in the last 24 hours
  • Weekly - When selected, users will receive an e-mail once per week containing all the notifications the user received in the last 7 days

Regardless of the email preference, users can still access their notifications from the OAE user interface in real-time as they occur.

Account Settings Modal Screenshot


Email Templates

The e-mail templates have been completely overhauled to provide a gorgeous design inside your inbox. When recent notifications are sent by e-mail, the design will be more consistent with what is seen in the regular OAE user interface as well as take on the branding configuration of your institution.

In addition to being branded to an institution, the e-mail templates are now completely translated using the standard Crowdin translation approach.

All of this greatly simplifies the maintenance of e-mail templates in Apereo OAE.

Single File Share Email 2 Comments Email 2 Emails Some Aggregated

User Management

OAE Falcon provides the ability for global and tenant administrators to perform a variety of maintenance tasks to help support their users, including:

  • "Become" a user, allowing an administrator to browse the tenant on behalf of the user
  • Reset user account passwords
  • Update user profile information and visibility
  • Create new user accounts
  • Search all user accounts in the tenant

Administrative User Search Update User Profile Administrative Become User

System Maintenance

In addition to an enhanced set of tools for managing users, OAE Falcon improves administration for the Global Administrator by providing tools to reindex items in the search index and reprocess content previews based on content and revision filters.

Automated Testing

Support for UI unit tests based on the web browser emulator "PhantomJS" has been added to the automated build process, starting with over 600 unit tests and more to come. These are being added to the existing automated test suite of over 1000 back-end API unit tests, providing even more stability to the release process.

Try it out

OAE Falcon can be experienced on the project's QA server at 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 numbers 7.0.0 and can be downloaded from the following repositories:


Documentation on how to install the system can be found at:

Instruction on how to upgrade an OAE installation from version 6.0 to version 7.0 can be found at

The repository containing all deployment scripts can be found at

by Branden Visser at June 23, 2014 02:50 PM

June 19, 2014

Aaron Zeckoski

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 ( at June 19, 2014 07:18 PM

Dr. Chuck

Dear Google – You Need A Tip Jar So I can Show the Love

Google – Yesterday you saved me $2000 and there is no way to say ‘thank you’. If there were a place to “tip” Google I would certainly give you a nice tip.

Here is my story.

Two days ago, my wife came into the house and wondered why it was so hot even though we had turned the air conditioner on hours earlier. It did seem to be a bit warm so I went out to look at the compressor.

The fan was not spinning but it was hot and making a low hum – not good. Then I used a stick to push the fan to see if it was bad or sticking bearing – the fan spun freely but did not start. Our house was built in 2001 and many of the homes in the neighborhood have been replacing their 15-year old air conditioners. And it was in a series of very hot days so I knew it would take forever to get it fixed – groan. I turned off the power and figured I would use Google Search to do some research on how much this would cost me.

First I just tried to find out how much a new condenser would cost installed – so I googled “AC Condenser price” and “installation cost AC condenser” . There was no clear answer so I figured I would just go get the model number of my existing Carrier condenser and Google it to find the replacement cost of the exact same condenser.

So I started typing ‘carrier 38ckc036340’ and as I was typing – the following screen came up:

I was intrigued by the mention of ‘capacitor’ as I knew that it was pretty common for lots of electronic things to fail because of capacitor failure. So I looked at a few pages and then switched my search to ‘carrier 38ckc036340 fan stopped’ and quickly found this page:

Carrier A/C condenser not working (fan doesn’t come on)

The picture looked pretty easy to interpret so I turned off the power to my AC unit and opened it up. Not only was my capacitor top obviously bulging, I had a stripped wire that I was surprised had not shorted these past 15 years.

A couple of machine screws later I had the capacitor off. A quick motorcycle ride to the appliance parts store and $35.00 later I had a new capacitor. I popped it back in and the AC started working immediately:

So here is the upshot. Google’s type ahead saved me as much as $2K – not only did it save me money but I was able to complete the repair in about the same amount of time it would have take a repair company to call me back.

I know who helped me here and want to share the love. But there is no “tip jar” to drop $5 or $20 into to thank “Google”.

I think that you should make this part of AdWords. Put it in the AdWords rectangle as shown below. I know that I need to show the love to (a) the site with the money-saving knowledge and (b) Google for getting me there – so a profit split from the tip jar would put the right incentives in place for all.

Now in the future as search ads become less and less valuable (especially on the non-video internet) – you might find that a tip jar model is a great source of revenue.

Let me know if this works out for you. You could share a bit of the love for me coming up with such a cool idea by clicking on my little Leave Tip button.

by Charles Severance at June 19, 2014 06:34 PM

May 29, 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 or join the mailing list
We hope to see you in Miami at Open Apereo 2014!

by Aaron Zeckoski ( at May 29, 2014 03:33 PM

April 09, 2014

Apereo OAE

Apereo OAE is now responsive!

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely proud to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Emperor Penguin or OAE 6.

OAE Emperor Penguin brings a fully responsive UI, ensuring that OAE works seamlessly on mobile and tablet devices. OAE Emperor Penguin also adds a range of usability improvements and a full Brazilian Portuguese translation.


Responsive UI

An increasing number of people expect to be able to use applications on mobile and tablet devices, and Apereo OAE is not an exception. Usage statistics already show that many of our users are accessing OAE through these devices.

Apereo OAE uses Twitter Bootstrap as its CSS framework. When they released their latest version, introducing support for responsive applications, it seemed like an appropriate time to make the OAE UI fully responsive. Despite using this responsive CSS framework and the fact that OAE has been designed tablet first, making the UI fully responsive has been a massive undertaking that has ended up touching most of the application.

However, we are extremely pleased with the end result and OAE now works well on a wide range of mobile and tablet devices. Whilst all OAE functionality works seamlessly on these devices, it is especially pleasant to keep track of your user and group activity feeds.


Brazilian Portuguese translation

A complete Brazilian Portuguese translation is now available for the OAE UI. Many thanks to César Goudouris for providing this translation!

Try it out

OAE Emperor Penguin can be experienced on the project's QA server at 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 numbers 6.0.0 and can be downloaded from the following repositories:


Documentation on how to install the system can be found at

Instruction on how to upgrade an OAE installation from version 5.0 to version 6.0 can be found at

The repository containing all deployment scripts can be found at

Get in touch

The project website can be found at The project blog will be updated with the latest project news from time to time, and can be found at

The mailing list used for Apereo OAE is You can subscribe to this by sending an email to

Bugs and other issues can be reported in our issue tracker at

by Nicolaas Matthijs at April 09, 2014 06:24 PM

April 07, 2014

Chris Coppola

Managing Climate Change in Higher Education

It seems that Arizona has been the beneficiary of climate change this winter. Friends and colleagues from across the eastern United States have experienced severe storms and frigid temperatures while our weather here in the desert southwest has been unusually pleasant. Don’t worry friends, we’ll get what’s coming to us when it’s 130 degrees this summer and we run out of water. But for now, I’m enjoying it and trying to be responsible about my water and energy use. In fact, every time I walk by one of my Nest thermostats it reminds me with a friendly little leaf icon that I’m contributing to the 1,774,469,650 kWh that nest users around the world have saved.

There’s another, mostly unrelated, climate change going on in higher education today and it’s causing clouds of a different sort. Colleges and universities, like many of their industry counterparts, are moving systems off campus into aggregated above campus services at an accelerated pace. These above campus or cloud services take advantage of great economies of scale so that computing capacity and application services like email, learning platforms, and even ERP systems can be quickly and easily scaled up and down to meet business demand.

I’m seeing evidence of the trend from several angles:

  • The Educause Core Data Survey (2013) found more than half of all institutions had at least one core information system in the cloud, half of those had two, and twenty-five percent had three.

  • The Campus Computing Project Survey (2013) reported that more than half of all institutions consider it strategic to move their ERP to the cloud. The survey also predicts thousands of instances of mission-critical applications like research administration, HR, student services, and financials will move to the cloud by 2018.

  • Eight of the Top Ten IT issues highlighted in the Educause Review for 2014 include some cloud angle.

Personally, I’m finding it increasingly common to hear that an institution’s strategy is to first look for new application services in the cloud. And, to only consider introducing new services in the campus data center after cloud options have been ruled out.

At rSmart, we’re both a provider and a consumer of cloud services. Strategically we look for services that increase our effectiveness as a team without taking focus away from delivering on the company’s mission. We want as much of our energy focused on helping colleges and universities keep their money in their mission, and as little as possible running our email, marketing, and finance systems. The same seems to be true for an increasing number of higher education institutions.

There are enormous benefits to treating computing and application services like an elastic commodity that can scale and adapt with an organization’s needs. There are also material risks that need to be thoughtfully addressed and managed. Mission-critical applications that are highly configured to the organizations business processes, and have hundreds or thousands of campus users, deserve particular consideration.

Brad Wheeler, CIO at Indiana University and Kelley Business School professor, recently recorded a guest lecture at Stellenbosch University in South Africa on the economics of open source. The full presentation is a good listen, but if you only have a few minutes, Brad touches on an important aspect of the trend toward cloud computing at about 28 minutes into the lecture

Rights and Provisioning Matrix

Rights and Provisioning Matrix

His focus is on two dimensions: Ownership (Y-axis) and Location (X-axis). Brad makes it clear that giving up control on both dimensions dramatically increases the risk. If you don’t own it and it’s off-site, you better hope that the vendor’s values and direction stay aligned with yours.

I use a lot of cloud-based services so I understand this risk well and have occasionally experienced the impact. One recent example happened when Beats Music acquired MOG. Many years ago I decided that there was no need to own physical media for music anymore. I could get the music I like streamed to me at home, in the car, at work, and on the road. My service of choice has been MOG. It is integrated with my Sonos at home and set up on all of my devces. I have all of my playlists there, etc. When they announced the acquisition I hoped that Beats would leverage MOG’s great platform and that I’d eventually move to Beats. Well, as it often happens, it didn’t work out that way and now I’m starting over with Spotify. So it goes.

Music playlists and personal entertainment are trivial examples compared to the disruption that occurs when mission-critical enterprise systems are used by hundreds or thousands of people in the organization. When the application is running in the cloud and the vendor owns the software, the vendor holds all the cards. And in a situation where the vendor goes in a direction that’s not aligned with your organization, you just don’t have many options.

Fortunately, there is another option. Kuali (the “K” in Brad’s slide) is a global collaboration of more than seventy colleges, universities, and companies working together to create an option that is “owned” by higher education. rSmart, a co-founder of Kuali, is one of those organizations and our unique role is to provide colleges and universities with a trusted cloud option for these mission-critical systems. With rSmart and Kuali in the cloud, institutions can leverage the economies of scale of the cloud and retain peace of mind. That’s because control of the software’s direction lies firmly in the hands of higher education.

Climate change in higher education is inevitable. As consumers of higher education continue to face soaring tuition costs, their expectations are rising accordingly. Now is the time for institutions to find ways to be more agile and leverage the benefits and economies of scale that come with the cloud.

With rSmart and Kuali, we can help you make sure your cloud resembles the kind that accent on a beautiful blue sky day. And, you won’t be put in a position to have to weather an untimely storm with ominous looking thunderheads.


Tagged: cloud, education, erp, kuali, open source, rSmart, SaaS

by Chris at April 07, 2014 08:10 PM