Planet Sakai

January 17, 2017

Adam Marshall

New version of Turnitin: Feedback Studio

turnitinlogoTurnitin has released a major product upgrade that is now available at Oxford University. The new version of the service (which has been live since the afternoon of Monday 16th Jan 2017), is called Turnitin Feedback Studio and offers all the functionalities of Turnitin, but with a simplified, more intuitive interface designed for the modern classroom.

Turnitin Feedback Studio makes it faster and easier to promote academic integrity via Originality Check, and use GradeMark to provide feedback and evaluate student learning. (The PeerMark product is not included in Feedback Studio, but can still be used via Turnitin Classic.)

Turnitin Classic and Feedback Studio are quite similar, however, there are some key differences which are highlighted in this video:

Toggle between the two versions

It will be possible, within the document viewer, to toggle between Feedback Studio and Turnitin Classic until August 2017:

To switch from Feedback Studio to Turnitin Classic you may use the button is at the bottom of the screen:


To switch from Turnitin Classic to Feedback Studio: the button is at the top of the screen:


Integration between WebLearn and Turnitin

Please note that these changes are totally unrelated to the proposed new (IMS LTI) integration between WebLearn and Turnitin. The switch-over to the new integration has been postponed for the time being due to a change in policy by Turnitin. We will keep you informed of any developments in this area. In the meantime administrators may go ahead and set assignments in WebLearn without any concerns.

Useful links:


by Adam Marshall at January 17, 2017 01:49 PM

Call for Entries: Apereo Teaching and Learning Awards (ATLAS) 2017

apereo-logoThe Apereo Teaching and Learning community is seeking submissions for the annual Apereo Teaching and Learning Awards competition. The award recognises innovation and excellence in the use of digital technologies to enhance teaching, academic collaboration, and student engagement and learning.

If you are thinking of entering then please contact the WebLearn Team. We will be happy to support your application and work with you to ensure the best possible submission. You may find it useful to read this post about the 2015 winning entry ‘Conservation Statistics’ authored by Oxford’s very own Dr Lucy Tallents.

Application Submission

Opening Date: 15 January 2017   Deadline: 20 March 2017

Each applicant needs to submit an in-depth description of the innovative teaching method, practice or strategy, together with evidence to support the claims, based on the award criteria.

The details of how to complete the application can be found at  

Winners will be announced in early April 2017 and recognized at the Open Apereo Conference June 4 – 8, in Philadelphia, PA. Registration and travel expenses will be covered for award winners.

by Fawei Geng at January 17, 2017 10:40 AM

January 10, 2017

Michael Feldstein

Recommended Reading: ED Clarifies Its Intent on State Authorization Reciprocity

Last year Russ Poulin from WCET and I wrote an essay for Inside Higher Ed (also published at e-Literate) describing and countering attempts by the Century Foundation and other activists who were arguing against the State A

A coalition of consumer groups, legal aid organizations and unions object to the state of New York joining an agreement that would change how colleges offering distance education courses in the state would be regulated. As coalition members asserted in an Inside Higher Ed article, the state would be ceding its authority to other states. Students would be left with no protection from predatory colleges and it would make it easier for “bad actors to take advantage of students and harder for states to crack down on them.”

That all sounds ominous. It would be, if it were true.

The story has taking a series of dramatic turns. First, New York state did join SARA. But in a surprise move in the final regulatory language from the Department of Education (ED), they included language proposed by the Massachusetts AG and supported by the Century Foundation that appeared to undermine the concept of reciprocity. Most analysts and insiders, including WCET and SARA themselves came to the same conclusion that Massachusetts’ AG did – SARA and the concept of reciprocity agreements would not survive as long as the regulation survived. In a surprise move, however, anonymous staffers at ED called Russ Poulin (the person to follow on this subject), letting him know that their intent is not at all to undermine SARA.

This may seem like an arcane policy issue, but it has enormous consequences for any online program that enrolls students residing in different states than the home of the institution. 47 states and 1,300 institutions have voluntarily joined SARA as the best way to follow federal and state regulations.

Russ Poulin has posted on the WCET blog the results of his phone call, and it is well worth reading.

To paraphrase Mark Twain: “The report of SARA’s death was an exaggeration.”

Department of Education officials recently told me that they recognize the hard work over many years in creating interstate reciprocity agreements for state authorization. They also expressed surprise over the perceptions that their new state authorization regulations would harm reciprocity.

In a call initiated by the Department and a subsequent call to answer some follow-up questions, well-placed Department officials clarified widespread “misconceptions” advanced by me and many others. This blog post presents my interpretation of what was said in those calls. Due to these discussions, my view of the intent of the Department’s new reciprocity definition has changed.

This is welcome news.

Russ goes on to describe a somewhat bizarre call.

Again, this blog post presents my interpretation of what Education Department leadership intended all along, but was hard to determine from the final regulation. A Department official suggested that we submit a request to the Department to officially clarify (perhaps through a “Dear Colleague” letter) the intent of the reciprocity agreement definition. WCET, the State Authorization Network, and SARA will, together, promptly draft an official request for clarification.

Meanwhile, this places me in an awkward position. The Department staff reached out to me to clarify their intent. They are completely aware that I will share my impressions publicly, but they asked that those participating in the calls not be named. You can draw your own conclusions, but I think it has much to do with the calendar.

Like Russ, I find this to be welcome news. But I wouldn’t pop the champagne corks yet, as ED needs to actually clarify their intent in a legally binding manner such as a Dear Colleague letter. Until then, this virtual parking garage meeting is just another entertaining twist for those following higher ed policy in the US.

In the meantime, go read Russ’s post to find full description of the issue and the clarified intent of ED in the matter.

The post Recommended Reading: ED Clarifies Its Intent on State Authorization Reciprocity appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at January 10, 2017 06:08 AM

January 09, 2017

Adam Marshall

WebLearn and Turnitin courses: Hilary term 2017

IT Services offers a variety of taught courses to support the use of WebLearn and the plagiarism awareness software Turnitin. Course books for the formal courses (3-hour sessions) can be downloaded for self study. Places are limited and bookings are required.

Click on the links provided for further information and to book a place.

WebLearn 3-hour courses:

Plagiarism awareness courses (Turnitin):

Byte-sized lunch time sessions:

These focus on particular tools with plenty of time for questions and discussion

User Group meeting:

by Jill Fresen at January 09, 2017 12:15 PM

January 08, 2017

Michael Feldstein

The Intended Consequences of California’s Online Education Initiative

Last month we presented two explainer videos on the growing usage of course exchanges, where multiple institutions pool resources in creating or extending online courses.[1] If online courses or programs breaks down the barriers of campus walls and enables anytime, anywhere education, then why not explore how collaboration can open up access and improve quality. While we tend to not write e-Literate about our consulting work through MindWires, in this case we have heard a general interest from other systems to learn more about what the California Online Education Initiative (OEI) at the community college system is doing.

The first two videos explored the concept of course exchanges in general and the required infrastructure needed to create them. In our third explainer video from this series we go back to the OEI to look at how their investment in academic infrastructure should provide benefits that go well beyond the courses and students participating in the course exchange. This extension of benefits, however, was not a surprise to those creating OEI; rather, these broader benefits represent the intended consequences of their approach to collaborative online education.

(Video source:

While MOOC mania and coding bootcamps, among other initiatives, have generated a lot of attention to specific forms of online education, in my opinion collaborative programs such as California’s OEI deserve similar attention. As we described in the initial post, California is not the first state to try such an initiative.

We thought it would be useful to explore this concept of course exchanges more broadly. OEI is not the first course exchange – Colorado Community College System, University of North Carolina SystemMississippi Virtual Community College, Kentucky Virtual Campus, to name a few other initiatives.[2]

These are some of the most important digital learning initiatives to watch.

  1. Disclosure: Our e-Literate TV series of video case studies and explainer videos is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Disclosure: Besides OEI, Colorado Community College System and Mississippi Community College System are past clients of either MindWires or its predecessors.

The post The Intended Consequences of California’s Online Education Initiative appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at January 08, 2017 10:59 PM

January 05, 2017

Michael Feldstein

Chan/Zuckerberg: The “Tech” is not the Hard Part in “Ed Tech”

Phil and I were recently interviewed by KQED’s Sarah Tan for a story about the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Summit platform. As often happens when our comments are just one bit of a larger story—particularly when we are asked to provide a more critical external perspective as a check on the enthusiastic reports of a project’s participants—some interesting parts of the interview conversation inevitably ended up on the cutting room floor. Ms. Tan was kind enough to grant us permission to repurpose some of the source material from the interview for this blog post.

To be clear, Phil and I have no direct experience with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and have only seen the publicly available information on the Summit platform that it has released (although we both took some time to review that information carefully in advance of the interview). The value of the conversation snippet we provide here is in answering the questions, “Even if you think an ed tech platform seems well designed and the creators seem well intentioned, why might it fail anyway? And while we’re at it, how should we even define success?” These are questions that rarely get asked and answered clearly in discussions about ed tech, including in much ed tech research.

The context of our comments below is that Ms. Tan had asked us about how different the Summit platform is from other personalized learning platforms and whether its potential for transforming education is overhyped.[1]

Michael: Well, there are two separate questions in there. One is whether the platform is truly different from other personalized learning platforms out there and the other is whether it truly is going to revolutionize the classroom. From what we’ve seen, the Facebook platform—should we really call it the Facebook platform? It’s not really Facebook’s. I don’t think that’s fair…

Phil: It’s really the Summit Platform.[2]

Michael: From what we’ve seen, the Summit Platform is quite different from many of the products that are labeled as “personalized learning” in the sense that it is more focused on the curricular level—at helping students identify the projects and skills that they want to work at next—rather than focusing on helping students master those skills through targeted and data-adjusted problems given to the student to work through the skill. So it is much more aimed at fostering students’ sense of self-directed learning, and maybe a sense of wonder and curiosity. Those are all good things. It also is more focused on facilitating a relationship between the students and the teacher. Many personalized learning platforms are designed to have students working alone on their computers. There’s a much bigger emphasis on collaboration—both student/teacher collaboration and student/student collaboration—in the Summit platform.

The degree to which it will revolutionize education is a separate question. The good thing about the Summit platform is that it really focuses on facilitating good teaching and classroom techniques. It’s focused on encouraging teachers to move out of lecture mode and into student-driven learning projects. But that’s also its challenge. Because in order for that to work, you need to have skilled teachers and, to a certain degree, you need to have students who have some basic skills—both self-efficacy skills and a sense of empowerment as well as basic math, reading, and other sorts of skills—to be able to work in a project-based environment. That kind of curricular approach probably works very well in affluent communities like Silicon Valley. And while we would want it to work well in less advantaged communities, those communities are going to need a lot more support in order to make this work properly.

Because the platform is not the magic. The magic is in the teaching that the platform facilitates. And that requires skilled teachers, and it requires students who are coming to the class with certain skill levels.

Phil: I would add, the platform does look different. It’s not just a copycat and it’s got some really nice elements to it. And I can see within the context of it being used, it being a very powerful approach. The risk is—and I fear that Facebook is falling for the technology disease, where they think anything that works can be scaled and scaled to multiple contexts, ignoring other contexts, if you will. And so, when they start talking about “revolutionizing education,” it implies that you’re extrapolating way past Summit and you can solve other people’s problems without even understanding what their challenges are.

So I seriously question—I don’t think they’re going to revolutionize education this way. But I do think they have a very nice approach and they need to have some humility to think that they can’t automatically scale it.

Michael: I wonder, though, if “revolutionizing education” is even the right question to ask. We don’t believe in silver bullets for education. It’s very complicated. Students are individuals. There is no industrial, large-scale solution to solving the problem of educating millions of individuals. The Summit Platform is focused on encouraging teaching practices that enable the teachers to focus on what makes those individuals unique—their strengths, their weaknesses; more importantly, their passions and their interests. That can’t be a bad thing, in and of itself. There will be a lot of hard work getting that to be effective in more challenging contexts, just as there is a lot of hard work in getting any educational improvement to work in more challenging contexts. But maybe it’s not entirely fair to the effort to judge it by the yardstick of whether it’s going to revolutionize education.

Phil and I keep banging the drum about the importance of distinguishing between a set of technologies like “adaptive learning” and a set of teaching practices like “personalized learning.” This is why. If we aren’t careful about making this distinction, about the difference between needing a softare tool and needing a teaching skill, then we can develop as many cutting-edge platforms as we like and still have little impact on education, particularly for those students who need the most support. The flip side of that coin is that setting the success bar for ed tech products at “revolutionizing” or “disrupting” education encourages the development of platforms with unrealistic goals and disregard for context while discouraging the development of platforms that can making a meaningful, measurable difference when appropriately cast in a supporting role in the classroom. If we don’t understand all that, then we won’t put our investments in the places where they could have the most impact, including professional development.

If you’re curious about the original KQED interview, here it is:

  1. The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
  2. The Summit Platform is funded by the Zuckerberg Chan Initiative, which is a separate legal entity from Facebook that happens to be owned by Facebook’s most famous founder and his wife. This distinction did come up several times throughout the interview, although we slip into incorrectly calling it the “Facebook platform” once in this snippet.

The post Chan/Zuckerberg: The “Tech” is not the Hard Part in “Ed Tech” appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at January 05, 2017 08:58 PM

December 15, 2016

Apereo Foundation

December 13, 2016

Apereo Foundation

Save the Date: Apereo Teaching and Learning Awards (ATLAS) 2017

Save the Date: Apereo Teaching and Learning Awards (ATLAS) 2017

This year, the award applicant selection process opens on January 15, 2017 and closes on March 20, 2017.

by Michelle Hall at December 13, 2016 11:41 PM

Dr. Chuck

Abstract: Becoming a Full-Service Indie Publisher of Open Tools and Content using

If open educational resources are to truly compete with commercial publishers, we must provide a full set of open capabilities that support a book. Publishers provide learning resources in a learning object repository (LOR) that allows remixing and easy integration into learning management systems using protocols like LTI. Publishers provide learning resources like slides, assignment, and interactive software to help those who use the book. Every open book should also have a truly free and open MOOC associated with the book that does not depend on any institutional LMS or MOOC hosting provider. We need the ability to have a OER website for a book, a “LOR of my Own”, an “LMS of my Own” and a “MOOC of my Own” using only our locally owned and controlled resources. The project in effect is the WordPress for Open Education. By downloading, configuring, and hosting a simple PHP application augmented by free content delivery networks, it is possible to deploy a scalable worldwide MOOC with surprisingly low cost. This presentation will introduce the software and show how it is used to build sites like

Submitted to: Open Textbook Summit 2017 – May 24-25, 2017 at SFU Harbour Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

by Charles Severance at December 13, 2016 02:52 PM

Abstract: Sakai Community Update

The past year has been very eventful for Sakai. The Sakai-11 release was completed with the new frameless (Morpheus) portal, new Grade Book, responsive design, and many other game changing features to bring Sakai very much in line with the best LMS systems in the marketplace. A large number of Sakai sites are moving their production to Sakai 11 and we are working on a Sakai-12 release. This presentation will will give a brief summary of the Sakai project to date as well as expectations for the next year. The presentation will also feature a question and answer session with members of the Sakai Project Management Committee (PMC).

Submitted to: Open Apereo 2017 – Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel, PA | June 4-June 8, 2017

by Charles Severance at December 13, 2016 12:56 PM

Abstract: Tsugi Update: Progress towards the NGDLE

The past year has brought a lot of progress and adoption in the Tsugi project. A NodeJS version of Tsugi has been developed in addition of the existing PHP and Java implementations. The library code has been refactored to focus on providing the Tsugi libraries using the Composer dependency management system. Support for IMS Common Cartridge and IMS Content Item has been added so as to allow Tsugi to function as a Learning Object Repository in addition to an Application Store. These new functions have been combined together to produce a truly “next generation” Learning Management System that enables an “indie” publisher to deploy a topic-oriented, LMS, MOOC, LOR, and App Store using low-cost readily available hosting infrastructure. This presentation will provide an over view of the current status and plans for Tsugi going forward.

Submitted to: Open Apereo 2017 – Sheraton Philadelphia Society Hill Hotel, PA | June 4-June 8, 2017

by Charles Severance at December 13, 2016 12:55 PM

December 01, 2016


What’s Coming in Sakai 11?

In just over two weeks – the Fall 2016 term will end.  At almost the same time, Sakai, the learning management system used by Johnson University (Tennessee, Florida and Online) will undergo an upgrade from Sakai 10.2 to 11.2.


Sakai 11 Interface for Johnson University

This upgrade has been planned for well over 6 months and as with any upgrade hopes to bring better continuity and usefulness to a tool as used by both faculty and students within the context of face to face, hybrid and online courses offered by Johnson University.

So what are the biggest changes you can expect to see?  Apart from reading through the detailed list of changes and new features here’s a simple bullet point list:

  • Gradebook upgrade providing spreadsheet grade entry
  • Clean, modern interface
  • Significantly improved mobile functionality (responsiveness)
  • New and improved features in the Lessons tool
  • Favorite and better organize sites

If you’d like to see an overview provided by New York University – you can see it here. Other videos and tutorial information will be made available in the coming weeks.

by Dave E. at December 01, 2016 06:12 PM

Sakai Project

Sakai 11.2

Even though we have release notes [1], I was wondering if it would be helpful to make a blog post about our maintenance releases. Also motivated by the fact that in 11.2 we had to turn off one of the new features of Sakai 11 for the mobile view, and thought that would be important to communicate. This blog post is really about both Sakai 11.1 and Sakai 11.2 since combined there are 350 improvements since the 11.0 release on 23 July 2016. 


by NealC at December 01, 2016 04:59 PM

November 14, 2016

Sakai Project

SakaiCamp Un-conference in Orlando Florida January 21 - 25, 2017

We are pleased to announce a SakaiCamp un-conference in Orlando Florida January 21 - 25, 2017.

SakaiCamp is an informal gathering that is focused solely on Sakai. The people who show up decide on the topics of discussion, and in some cases, working sessions. Attending we get a nice mix of developers, instructional designers, managers, etc. And we have break out sessions so that developers can talk tech and users can talk function. And we all come together in full group debriefs and discussions.

by MHall at November 14, 2016 07:29 PM

October 27, 2016

Sakai Project

Case Study Video: Sakai At University of Virginia

The University of Virginia has released a short promotional video highlighting the power and potential available in its instance of Sakai, as well as the role of its instance in expanding the university’s mission into the digital world.

by MHall at October 27, 2016 03:08 PM

August 25, 2016

Steve Swinsburg

Migrating to GradebookNG?

GradebookNG is now included in the recently released Sakai 11!

If you want to use the Import From Site feature to migrate content from previous sites to new sites, you need to have GradebookNG in the previous site.

You can do this in two ways:

  1. Add GradebookNG to the sites you are migrating FROM. You can do this manually, or via a database script or a web service.
  2. Convert all of the Gradebook Classic tools in the existing sites to GradebookNG.
    In the upgrade from Sakai 10 to Sakai 11 there is an optional database conversion that you can run that will do this:

    UPDATE SAKAI_SITE_TOOL SET REGISTRATION='sakai.gradebookng' WHERE REGISTRATION='sakai.gradebook.tool';

Note: If you don’t have GradebookNG in the site you are migrating content TO, you can add this to to have it added automatically when you use Import From Site.


by steveswinsburg at August 25, 2016 10:02 PM

August 24, 2016

Steve Swinsburg

Oracle 12c via Vagrant

I’ve just finished building a new Vagrant box for Oracle 12c. This one uses only Vagrant and a shell script.

Grab it from github:

During the course of this install I came up against several issues with the Oracle silent installer itself. There were files missing, an incomplete compilation of binaries (but Oracle reports a successful install!) and then problems running scripts that ship with the installer. The issues were buried in log files, and sometimes those log files pointed at other log files!

Oracle, if you are listening, you really need to work on your installer…

Check it out, I would love to know what you think.

N.B. For reference, the problems I encountered are here and here.


by steveswinsburg at August 24, 2016 11:59 AM

June 28, 2016

Ian Boston

Referendums are binary so should be advisory

If you ask the for the solution to the multi faceted question with a binary question you will get the wrong answer with a probability of 50%. Like a quantum bit, the general population can be in any state based on the last input or observation, and so a Referendum, like the EU Referendum just held in the UK should only ever be advisory.  In that Referendum there were several themes. Immigration, the economy and UK Sovereignty. The inputs the general population were given, by various politicians on both sides of the argument, were exaggerated or untrue. It was no real surprise to hear some promises retracted once the winning side had to commit to deliver on them. No £350m per week for the NHS. No free trade deal with the EU without the same rights for EU workers as before. Migration unchanged. The Economy was hit, we don’t know how much it will be hit over the coming years and we are all, globally, hoping that in spite of a shock more severe than Lehman Brothers in 2008, the central banks, have quietly taken their own experts advice and put in place sufficient plans to deal with the situation. Had the Bank of England not intervened on Friday morning, the sheer cliff the FTSE100 was falling off, would have continued to near 0.  When it did, the index did an impression of a base jumper, parachute open drifting gently upwards.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 20.08.07

The remaining theme is UK Sovereignty. Geoffrey Robertson QC  makes an interesting argument in the Guardian Newspaper, that in order to exit the EU, the UK must under its unwritten constitution vote in parliament to enact Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. He argues that the Referendum was always advisory. It will be interesting, given that many of those who have voted now regret their decision, if they try and abandon the last theme that caused so many to want to leave. The one remaining thing so close to their heart that they were prepared to ignore all the experts, believe the most charismatic individuals willing to tell them what they wanted to hear. UK Sovereignty, enacted by parliament by grant of the Sovereign. I watched with interest not least because the characters involved have many of the characteristics of one of the US presidential candidates.

If you live in the UK, and have time to read the opinion, please make your own mind up how you will ask your MP to vote on your behalf. That is democracy and sovereignty in action. Something we all hold dear.

by Ian at June 28, 2016 07:09 PM

June 21, 2016


Upgrade Date Announced

DATE CHANGED: Original Date was August 6, 2016

Sakai has been re-scheduled to be upgraded on:

December 19, 2016 from 12am to 1pm EST.

The upgrade will take several hours. During this time Sakai will be completely inaccessible to faculty and to students.

A confirmation email will be sent following the upgrade, letting you know that you can again login to Sakai.

The upgrade will take Sakai from version 10 to version 11, and includes updates some new features and most of all a new look that’s meant to make accessing Sakai on mobile and tablet devices much easier. See this list for a full list of the new features and changes. You can track availability of Sakai using the Johnson University Internet Services page. Login credentials will not be affected.

The User Guide is a good place to start when you have immediate questions.

Contact the Help Desk if you have issues following the upgrade.

by Dave E. at June 21, 2016 03:36 PM