Planet Sakai

July 19, 2018

Apereo Foundation

2nd Annual Learning & Student Analytics Conference

2nd Annual Learning & Student Analytics Conference

LSAC 2018 (October 22-23rd) and/or follow-on hackathon (October 24-25th) in Amsterdam.
The abstract submission date has been extended to the end of July.

by Michelle Hall at July 19, 2018 05:51 PM

In Memoriam: David Kahle

In Memoriam: David Kahle

The Apereo community is saddened by the news of founding board member David Kahle's passing.

by Michelle Hall at July 19, 2018 05:46 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 11, 2018

Michael Feldstein

What’s Important about the Blackboard Market Share News

My last post on Canvas' US market share surpassing Blackboard's predictably got a fair bit of attention, including some follow-up press elsewhere on the internet. There were a few comments to the press made by Blackboard executives and industry experts that merit some further examination.

But let me start by being crystal clear about one point: In and of itself, the fact that (by our count) Canvas now has two more primary systems than Blackboard Learn in the US market, is purely symbolic. It has historic significance for those of us who have been long-time watchers (or sufferers) in the LMS market. But if Blackboard's number were ten higher or ten lower, it wouldn't change the big picture.

The more important question is this: If the crossing of the lines is purely symbolic, then what is it symbolic of? What actually matters about this story to colleges and universities, and why?

Let's see if we can separate the signal from the noise by working our way through a couple of well-sourced articles and the commentary that they contain.

First, there's Lindsay McKenzie's piece in Inside Higher Ed. She chased down a number of customer reactions. Some of these were the usual pile-on of "we hate these guys and we love those guys."1 But she also got an interesting pricing anecdote, which is helpful given how opaque LMS pricing tends to be:

Now that Canvas is the “hot product,” Instructure has been trying to aggressively increase its fees, said [Emporia State University's Rob] Gibson. A 5 percent increase per year for such services is not unusual, but Instructure has been asking for more. Gibson said his institution has had to push back against further increases.

Blackboard, on the other hand, was “desperate to keep us,” said Gibson. They offered a 50 percent discount to stop Emporia from making the switch. “I think they could see the writing on the wall,” he said.

Customers take note: Blackboard's change in fortunes may affect the behavior of all the LMS vendors.

The article also has a quote from Lou Pugliese who, in addition to being a current senior innovation fellow at ASU and CEO from Blackboard's early days, was CEO of Moodlerooms when Blackboard acquired it. In other words, he knows something about the LMS market. He raised an interesting question:

Pugliese said that the statement that Canvas is “now the primary LMS in more U.S. colleges and universities than Blackboard Learn” is misleading. “The real measurement metric should be akin to website traffic. Statistical data on number of unique users, not total ‘installations,’” he said.

For a long time, Blackboard has been at the top of the LMS food chain not only in raw market share but in terms of having a high percentage of the largest customers. In fact, at one point the company killed off Learn Basic precisely because the company calculated that small colleges were not profitable enough to justify continuing to sell the cheaper, no-frills version of Learn.

So, if we look at number of students served in the US market rather than the number of universities served, is the market share picture substantially different?

USA Enrollement.png


Second lesson: Blackboard's customer loss is no longer contained to smaller colleges. Both the IHE piece and the Bloomberg piece that I will be commenting on next mention that Cornell, which is the birthplace of Blackboard, has announced that they will be moving to Canvas. This is another example of a milestone with more symbolic than literal significance. Blackboard's loss of Cornell may sting from an emotional perspective, but it's probably not material to the company's balance sheet in and of itself. On the other hand, the loss of schools like Cornell is material. As is the loss of schools like Pugliese's current professional home, ASU.

Lastly from the IHE piece, there's a substantial quote from Blackboard's Chief Learning and Innovation Officer Phill Miller:

Phill Miller, chief learning and innovation officer at Blackboard, said that the data shared by Feldstein were “not consistent with our own,” which show that “Blackboard remains the dominant ed-tech company around the globe.” He added that Blackboard Learn is not the only service that the company offers -- “we have thousands of Blackboard Collaborate, Moodle and Blackboard Ally clients,” he said.

Miller said that over the past year and a half, Blackboard has “taken a hard look as a company at what we need to do to better serve our clients.”

In response to customer feedback, Blackboard has been working to improve existing products and develop new ones. Though Miller notes that development of Ultra “took longer than we anticipated,” he says institutions are reacting positively to the changes.

“We’re in a much different and better place than we were a year ago,” said Miller. “We’re seeing that RFPs are slowing down, our renewal rate is strong and we’ve won in a number of competitive situations recently.”

There's a lot to unpack here. Let me preface my comments by saying that I've known Phill for well over a decade and have a high opinion of his integrity. I feel the need to say this because his comment about our data not being consistent with Blackboard's own comes across in the context of the article as a dodge that I don't believe Phill would make in regular conversation. Our numbers likely do differ modestly from Blackboard's. Counting installations is more complex and requires more methodological decisions than you might think, such as the date when you officially register a switchover. But I don't believe our numbers are different by much, and I don't believe anyone can credibly deny that Canvas has achieved rough parity with Blackboard Learn in US market share.

The comment about Blackboard having "taken a hard what we need to do to better serve our clients" is the right thing for any executive at a company with declining market share to say, and I believe it is also true in this case. Blackboard has had a long reputation hangover from former CEO Michael Chasen, who was notorious for his disregard of customer satisfaction. For what it's worth, Blackboard is not that company anymore. Emphasis added here because people still have strong feelings about the company's behavior from that era and don't always realize that there has been a complete turnover in company management since then. (Twice.)

Case in point: To his credit, Miller owned up to the delays in Ultra. This isn't new, but it is ongoing, so Blackboard needs to continue to be up front about the problem until customers are satisfied that it has been fully resolved. The company may be struggling to bring Ultra up to a level that customers consider "feature-complete," but they have made a consistent and visible effort to take responsibility for their results.

Miller's point that Blackboard sells more than just Learn is a valid and important one, but has to be weighed in the context of the company's short- and medium-term financial challenges. The real issue of concern is the potential behavior of their debt and equity owners. I'll come back to the point about Blackboard's total product portfolio in that conxt.

Miller's last comment, about seeing RFPs slowing down and a strong customer renewal rate, is the most consequential. Given that the market has been chasing Instructure on reliable SaaS, usability, and high-quality customer service, there has been (and continues to be) an outstanding question of how long Blackboard's customer base will remain patient as it tries to catch up on these fronts. To be honest we at e-Literate are somewhat skeptical of Blackboard's ability to forecast. Jay Bhatt, the company's previous CEO, did enormous damage to the company's sales force, which is an essential component of any company's sensory apparatus. If customers are getting nervous and thinking about bolting, the sales reps should pick that up early. But it's not clear that Blackboard's early warning system is working properly at the moment. When the e-Literate team is at BbWorld next week, we'll be looking for clues about customer sentiment.

The second "Blackboard alert" article worth reading is the one by Katherine Doherty and Eliza Ronalds-Hannon at Bloomberg News. This one wasn't a reaction to our piece but rather coincidental timing triggered by the same underlying concerns. I spoke with Doherty, whose beat includes companies with distressed debt.

The debt is the real existential issue. Without it, Blackboard would just be a company that continues to struggle with its flagship product but which would have enough runway to turn itself around over time, one way or another. In the Bloomberg article, Blackboard CEO Bill Ballhaus repeats Miller's reminder that the company sells other products and services. And as we have pointed out repeatedly here on e-Literate, the international markets are an increasingly large percentage of Blackboard's financial picture. The fundamentals of the company may not be great, but they're not dire either. Given time, good leadership, and low debt, a company in this position should be able to right itself.

But because Blackboard has high debt, their situation potentially a lot more volatile. One major reason why the market share milestone matters is that it's an apt metaphor for Blackboard's financial waterline. At their current debt levels, the company can't afford for their market share to continue to drop.

Contract losses have sent Blackboard’s revenue and earnings sliding, according to people with knowledge of the matter, making it harder to carry more than $1.3 billion of rated debt. With some of Blackboard’s bonds selling at deeply distressed levels, Ballhaus is crafting a comeback, and possible options include the sale of its payment processing division, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Even in this situation, the results for Blackboard Learn customers won't necessarily be bad, or even noticeable—depending on how the finances are resolved. If Blackboard sells off Transact, gets a good price for it, pays down some debt, and otherwise sticks with the current management's plan, that could buy them some time and some ability to survive further erosion of market share around Learn. If the company's owner, Providence Equity, decides to take more drastic steps, then the potential impact on customers is unpredictable. And Providence's calculations regarding how much drastic action is required must be at least partly driven by their assessment of how close Blackboard is to bottoming out in LMS market share loss.

So what are the take-aways for LMS customers?

  • It is no longer the case the Blackboard is the big dog and Instructure is the underdog. And, as is suggested in the customer quote above about pricing, that may have consequences for the behaviors of all the vendors.
  • Blackboard is in a financially precarious situation in the short term. They have a number of options for getting themselves out of this situation, some of which are more impactful on customers than others. This is worth watching closely.
  • In the medium term, the fate of the company depends on them staunching the bleeding of market share, not because the loss of Learn customers is in danger of driving them out of business in and of itself, but because they need to buy time with their equity owners so that they can execute a turn-around strategy that will keep the company (relatively) intact. Ally may be a runaway hit in the market, but if its revenues aren't growing faster than Learn revenues are shrinking, that will not go over well with equity investors.
  • The current situation is real trial by fire for Blackboard's executive leadership, including some new players. Phill Miller in particular may have been in senior management for quite a while, but with the departure of Katie Blot, he is now very much in the hot seat now. And he's not the only one. In the same company blog post that announced Phill's promotion, Ballhaus announced a new Chief Portfolio Officer, Chief Strategy Officer, and Teaching and Learning product line lead. This is a particularly challenging moment to be an executive at that company.
  • All of this puts a lot of pressure on Blackboard to get customers migrated over to SaaS and convince the market that Ultra is ready for prime time now.
  • Blackboard may be in a tight spot, but don't conflate that with behavior of the previous management in the bad old days. Schadenfreude may feel good, but it doesn't help when you're making strategic decisions. Evaluate Blackboard based on what they do today, not on what they did 10 years ago.

Watch this space.

  1. See the comments on my original post; LMS personal commentary tends to be just a few steps removed from primal scream therapy. I'm not judging; just observing.
  2. But the picture of Brightspace's market share relative to Moodle's does.

The post What’s Important about the Blackboard Market Share News appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at July 11, 2018 06:46 PM

July 08, 2018

Michael Feldstein

Canvas Surpasses Blackboard Learn in US Market Share

As of July 6th, our data partner LISTedTECH informs us that Canvas is now the primary LMS in more US colleges and universities than Blackboard Learn. By a margin of two; Canvas has 1,218 installations, while Blackboard Learn has 1,216. Statistically speaking, the two companies are tied for US market share:


Still, this is a stunning development for a company that seemed to have established an unbreakable market dominance a decade ago. When Blackboard, the number-one US platform in early 2005, announced that it would be acquiring its closest competitor (WebCT) in early 2006, the combined company owned approximately 70% of the US and Canadian market. Their next largest competitors were far, far behind. A few platforms, most of which no longer exist, were vying with "homegrown" to become the Dr. Pepper of the LMS market at the time that the Coke acquired the Pepsi.


Blackboard's acquisition of WebCT hit the market like a thunderbolt. At the time, I wrote,

Yes, yes, we've all heard the news by now. BlackCT Wednesday has hit. Will it be remembered as The Day the Music Died? I don't think so. Unfortunately, it could be remembered as The Day the Music Was So Badly Wounded That It Became Barely Listenable for a Really Long Time.

You know. Kinda like the '80's. Except with software.

Blackboard was already viscerally disliked, both as a product and as a company, by a large segment of the market in those days. Customers responded to the merger by talking with their feet. Moodle, Sakai, and Desire2Learn—A.K.A. Brightspace—all surged in 2006 and 2007 as customers began fleeing the Blackboard behemoth.

Blackboard responded by suing D2L1 for patent infringement in 2006, acquiring ANGEL Learning in 2009, and acquiring Moodlerooms—the largest US Moodle support company—in 2012. It seemed like the US LMS market was done. Any time a competitor grew large enough to become a threat, Blackboard would acquire them and force migrate their customers to Learn. If they couldn't acquire the company, then they would attempt to sue them into submission.

Nobody would have predicted that a project started by two graduate students Brigham Young University and assisted by their professor, who happened to be a bored former executive from a pioneering cloud storage company, would become the product that could break through Blackboard's dominance. Yet that is exactly what happened. The Canvas LMS was concieved, and Instructure formed, in 2008. The combination of a reliable, cloud-based offering, updated user interface, reputation for outstanding customer service, and brash, in-your-face branding, the company surpassed all of the more established contenders to take the crown (at least in the US).

Not just symbolic

Anybody who has paid attention to this market at all knows that Blackboard's market share has been dropping while Instructure's has been rising. But this symbolic end of an era marks more than just those two market share lines crossing. Bigger changes are afoot.

Humans have a tendency to assume that what is true now and has been true for a while will continue to be true in the future. The LMS market was more vulnerable to change than we thought it was in 2006, and it is more vulnerable to change than many realize today. Blackboard in particular is in a precarious position. Their long-delayed Ultra user experience refresh has been dragging out for so long now that customers who have been hanging on waiting for it are in danger of losing patience. It's not clear whether, as of the upcoming BbWorld conference this month, Ultra will finally be feature-competitive with either the original Blackboard Learn interface or the competition. And even if it is, it's unclear whether that will be enough to prevent another mass exodus of Blackboard customers, nevermind attract new ones.

Meanwhile, their private equity ownership has the company in financial peril. Even with a shrinking customer base, Blackboard has been a relatively well-run and financially healthy company—if you don't count the pile of debt that their private equity owner has saddled them with. But they have big interest payments to make. When Providence Equity bought Blackboard, they paid for it by taking out something analagous to a massive mortgage on Blackboard itself, with the plan that Blackboard would pay off that debt with the profit that it generates. This is a classic private equity investment strategy, but sometimes it backfires. Blackboard would be doing OK financially, despite its shrinking market share, were it not for those massive mortgage payments. The LMS market is seasonal, which means that Blackboard sells more in some months than in others. During the better months, the company can still comfortably make its debt payments. During the slower months, debt ratings company Moody's warns that Blackboard's margin for error on being able to make those debt payments is worryingly thin.

But it's worse than that. Sticking with the mortgage analogy, some of Blackboard's debt has what you can think of as very aggressive foreclosure terms, in the form of "lien covenants." If the company's cushion for making its debt payments drop below a certain level—even if it doesn't actually miss a payment—then the bondholders can demand that Blackboard pay off the principle. If this were to happen, it would likely force the Blackboard into bankruptcy. (Keep in mind that bankruptcy doesn't necessarily mean that the company disappears. But it's not good.)

So because of its financing, Blackboard's continuing loss of market share is at the tipping point of changing from a serious problem to an existential threat.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen.

What might happen next

Chances are good that we will see some fairly dramatic changes at Blackboard soon. Even if Ultra catches up with the competition this summer, and even if that is enough to prevent a major customer exodus, and even if all of that is enough for the company to avoid triggering the bankruptcy-inducing lien covenants, the company will have to take some steps to improve its financial soundness. The easiest place for them to start would be to sell off of some parts of the business so that they can pay down some of their debt. (Blackboard's Transact commerce and security line of business is the most obvious candidate.) But that may only be the beginning. The next possible move would be for Providence Equity, the company that owns Blackboard, to sell them off—either as a whole or in pieces. Depending on how all of this plays out, it could be good, neutral, or bad for current customers. All we can say with confidence right now is that there will probably be some significant changes fairly soon.

The other companies are not static either. Instructure lost much of its executive management team, and we are now hearing rumors of a second wave of departures in the Asia/Pacific region. Between these changes and Wall Street's pressure on the company to show more growth in the corporate training side of their business, it remains to be seen how much past performance will be predictive of future behavior. Meanwhile, D2L has quietly been improving their core product.

People tend to only focus on the top two competitors in any product category: Coke and Pepsi, Hertz and Avis, Uber and Lyft, and so on. And, as I noted at the top of the post, they also tend to underestimate potential for change. If Blackboard's situation changes dramatically enough to shake up these default assumptions among customers, then that could open up all kinds of possibilities. Maybe Brightspace will rise, or Moodle will be resurgent. Maybe Instructure will continue to gobble up market share until it owns the market the way Blackboard did back in the day. Maybe a couple of kids in some university somewhere will come up with the next big thing. Maybe Blackboard will pull a rabit out of a hat. It's hard to know right now. The market is approaching a tipping point, which means that a some basic assumptions about the LMS market that people could take for granted during the era of Blackboard's dominance are not safe to assume anymore.

We just released our Spring 2018 report for our LMS market analysis subscription service, which provides more context for these potential changes (including a more international view of the markets than I've provided in this post). As we enter LMS conference season, we will be providing increased coverage of the market, both here on the blog and in the monthly newsletter in the subscription service.

Buckle up, folks.

  1. D2L was called Desire2Learn at the time and shortened its name later.

The post Canvas Surpasses Blackboard Learn in US Market Share appeared first on e-Literate.

by Michael Feldstein at July 08, 2018 07:10 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 15, 2018

Michael Feldstein

Revisiting 2012 Post on Barriers That MOOCs Would Face

Inside Higher Ed published an article today, titled "Free MOOCs Face The Music", about edX quietly adding support fees for many of their courses. Dhawal Shah and I both commented that we were not surprised by the move.

Writing about the introduction of the fee, Dhawal Shah, founder and CEO of Class Central, a review site for online courses, said the announcement was the latest in a phenomenon he termed “the shrinking of free.” Regardless of MOOC provider -- be it edX, Coursera, Udacity or FutureLearn -- “all have cut back on what was originally free in MOOCs.”

Phil Hill, co-founder of Mindwires Consulting and an author of the e-Literate blog, agreed that the edX announcement was not surprising. Early MOOC providers like edX thought they would be able to “get really big for free,” said Hill. “Magic didn’t happen, and now they’re facing reality.”

There's more information in the article worth reading, but I would like to revisit a post here at e-Literate from 2012 to help explain the point I made. In "Four Barriers That MOOCs Must Overcome To Build a Sustainable Model", I noted:

The current generation of courses has proven the feasibility of massive online enrollments, but the Kolowich article reveals that the result is based on a form of adult continuing education. The majority of students in the Udacity and Coursera courses analyzed were professionals in the software industry – hardly the target audience for those seeking a change in how we educate postsecondary students. The current MOOCs provide a nice proof-of-concept, but hardly solve significant educational problems.

So what are the barriers that must be overcome for the MOOC concept (in future generations) to become self-sustaining? To me the most obvious barriers are:

  • Developing revenue models to make the concept self-sustaining;
  • Delivering valuable signifiers of completion such as credentials, badges or acceptance into accredited programs;
  • Providing an experience and perceived value that enables higher course completion rates (most today have less than 10% of registered students actually completing the course); and
  • Authenticating students in a manner to satisfy accrediting institutions or hiring companies that the student identify is actually known.

Given this short timeline and the nature of investment-backed educational experiments, I think the real focus should be on whether and how MOOCs or successor models build on current scalability and openness while overcoming these four barriers.

What have we seen since 2012?

  • Revenue Models: Coursera, FutureLearn, and edX moving towards an OPM business model, and Udacity focusing on corporate education;
  • Credentialing: All MOOCs offering some sort of verified certificates, and in the OPM cases offering actual degrees through their partner institutions;
  • Course Completion: MOOCs realizing that the two issues above lead to higher completion rates; and
  • Authentication: Verified certificates and OPM models requiring student authentication through webcams and approaches similar to online proctoring companies, and even partnering with proctoring companies.

At this stage  pretty much everyone recognizes a blatant 'I told you so' post written while Michael is on vacation and unable to talk me out of it, so I'll move along and cut off further commentary.

The post Revisiting 2012 Post on Barriers That MOOCs Would Face appeared first on e-Literate.

by Phil Hill at June 15, 2018 12:15 AM

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

June 02, 2018

Dr. Chuck

Deprecate and Remove support for IMS LTI 2.0 from Sakai

At this point, all the major LMS vendors that support LTI 2.0 have quietly decided to move away from LTI 2.0 and towards LTI 1.3 and ContentItem and follow-ons.

LTI 2.0 has a few good features and a lot of bad ideas.  Sakai’s LTI 2.0 (and almost LTI 2.1) is one of the best in the industry and one of only two formally certified LTI 2.0 LMS’s.

But even with all those positives, LTI 2.0 in Sakai is many lines of intricate code that if never used is a liability for security and maintenance – and as new features like LTI 1.3, its services, and new follow-on specs emerge – it is nice to clean up a large amount of code to make space for new stuff.

So at this point LTI 2.0 is deprecated in Sakai 12.x and will be removed in an upcoming release of Sakai.

If you have any concerns – or tools that require LTI 2.0 – please note them in this JIRA:

Or let me know using some other channel.

by Charles Severance at June 02, 2018 01:27 PM

May 14, 2018

Sakai Project

Sakai 12.1 Released

Sakai Project is pleased to announce on behalf of the worldwide community that Sakai 12.1 is released and available for downloading!

by MHall at May 14, 2018 07:35 PM

The Site Builder Project: Now Under Construction

The UVACollab Applications Group, which manages the instance of Sakai that serves the University of Virginia, has begun an exciting project to redesign its site creation and tool management workflows.

by MHall at May 14, 2018 07:33 PM

Dr. Chuck

Sakai 12.1 Released

The text of this post is taken from the announcement made by Wilma Hodges – The Sakai Community Facilitator.

I’m pleased to announce on behalf of the worldwide community that Sakai 12.1 is released and available for downloading! [1]

Sakai 12.1 has 97 improvements [2] in place including

  • 20 fixes in Gradebook (aka GradebookNG)
  • 9 fixes in Tests & Quizzes (Samigo)
  • 7 fixes in Assignments
  • 6 fixes in Resources
  • 5 fixes in Lessons

Other areas improved include:

  • Calendar
  • CKeditor
  • Dropbox
  • Forums
  • Portal
  • Preferences
  • Profile
  • Roster
  • Section Info
  • Security
  • Signup
  • Site Info
  • Statistics
  • Syllabus
  • Web Content

Four security issues fixed in 12.1 (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] 12.1 Fixes by Tool –



by Charles Severance at May 14, 2018 12:40 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