Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sakai 2011 Conference Keynote

These are basically my personal notes of the presentations. These notes are not transcriptions but notes that I found interesting or useful.

Katzuo Yana spoke a little about about what is happening in the Sakai community in Japan. They call their project Ja-Sakai ("Ja" stands for Japan but also means "go for it!") in Japanese. He talked about the fact that despite all of the earthquake and nuclear issues they are moving forward and held their annual conference in March right after the earthquake. They started in 2008. Their mission includes the development of a Japanese language version of Sakai; promoting its use in Japanese universities. There are three major universities using Sakai campus-wide. A number of universities use it as well. The students get a life-long account.

There was a review of what happened over the last year. The foundation is now seen as a facilitator of communities rather than a software house. They have expanded internationally and with commercial partners.

Jens Haeusser spoke on "Open Source in Higher Education." He described the Jasig organization in great detail - a global coalition of educational and commercial partners focused on higher ed infrastructure projects. The board facilitates CAS (single sign-on project), uPortal, Bedework (enterprise-wide calendaring), etc. and communities of interest around open source.  They are also working on a mobile framework called uMobile - allows users to deploy native and mobile web apps. The communities of interest address the strategic use of open source, evaluating software, free identity framework for education and research, and reference architecture. Jasig has 8 graduated projects and 23 in incubation. Newcomers are going to need a glossary for all of these acronyms and jargon.

He then went on to talk about the role of open source in education. He described open source and the history of open source. His timeline of open source points out that open programming languages came first, then operating systems, and servers. Open source is good for education because ed institutions know how to share - "collaboration is in our DNA."  Commercial companies can't do this because they monetize proprietary code, processes, and information.

Do there really need to be 20 foundations that support open source for ed? Jasig and Sakai can get a lot out of merging. This would bring together 97 education institutions and 18 commercial partners. The foundation could free up the communities from licensing and translation work. It would provide better and stronger infrastructure.

Josh Baron got up to talk about "Higher Education Trends, Challenges, & the Next Five Years." He talked about the growth of Apple, Amazon, and Netflix and how they adapted to challenges by changing their business model. Some of the challenges include the cost of tuition, student loan debt, yet students are not better educated. Only 36% of our graduates complete a degree in four years. The challenges for the education will require the same kinds of changes that we see in other businesses. How will higher ed meet these challenges? "Open" will play a big role. He used MIT's open course ware, directory of open access journals, open textbooks, personal learning environments ("how long before we can integrate formal and informal learning opportunities into one environment?"), electronic portfolios, (he asked "how long before students are hired based on an e-portfolio rather than a diploma and transcript?" - ironically, I am in a room where phd's and credentials are very important.).

Openness trends will reduce costs, free instructors for innovation rather than content creation, provide new means for credentialing, empower self-directed learning.

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