Sakai in UK Higher Education – seminar held at Oxford University, 9 December 2010

Twitter: #sakaiuk

At the behest of the UK Sakai Community (with sponsorship by rSmart and SunGuard HE ), Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS) hosted a briefing day about the use of the Sakai VLE UK Higher Education.

The day began with a brief welcome by Melissa Highton, (Head of Learning Technologies Group, University of Oxford) who then introduced Ian Dolphin, (Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation). Ian is based in Hull and is a former employee of both Hull University and the Joint Information Systems Council (JISC). Ian spoke about the role of the Foundation and the importance of the large Sakai community with particular reference to benefits to UK HEIs.

The University of Hull have recently moved from Blackboard to Sakai. Patrick Lynch, Head of eLearning at Hull, gave an overview of their experiences and the lessons that they learned. A post-migration survey showed a very great satisfaction with the new service. Patrick also paid tribute to the international Sakai community who are very active both in the Teaching and Learning and code development areas. (As a side note, moving from Blackboard to Sakai is now a very common process. A great many US institutions have made the move and there is extensive support both from the Sakai community and from Sakai commercial partners such as rSmart, SunGuard HE and Unicon.)

Stuart Lee, (Director of Computing Systems and Services, University of Oxford,) then outlined how he uses Sakai in his Old English course at Oxford. He highlighted how the system has been subjected to local enhancements to make it model the way that Teaching and Learning happens Oxford rather than force  academics to change their working practices in order to fit in with an off-the-shelf system such as that purveyed by the major educational software vendors.

Stuart has recently led a JISC project looking at how to accurately cost software services. Based on this work he explained how he is able to run a first rate VLE service for a ‘partial FEC’ cost of just over £200K.

After lunch, John Norman, who is Head of eLearning at the University of Cambridge, outlined the next generation of learning environment. The project to develop the Sakai Open Educational Environment (formerly Sakai 3) is gathering pace and is beginning to deliver results. John spoke about the philosophy behind the new system and gave a brief glimpse of a video made by NYU who have just launched the first pilot of this revolutionary learning platform. See:

A demo version of Sakai OAE is available for inspection. Please note that this instance is regularly updated and consequently is purged of all its data – it should not be used to run a course.

The last talk of the day was a joint presentation by Richard Forrest from SunGard HE and Nate Angell from rSmart. They outlined their software options (a commercial version  of Sakai)  and their support options which include help with migration from BlackBoard (or WebCT).

rSmart also highlighted MySakai which gives any interested parties the ability to test-drive Sakai. Lecturers are free to register themselves and their students and use as part of their University teaching.


10.30 Introductions – Melissa Highton, Head of Learning Technologies Group, University of Oxford

10.40 The Sakai Foundation: an introduction – Ian Dolphin, Executive Director, the Sakai Foundation

11.05 Migrating to Sakai – Patrick Lynch, Head of eLearning, University of Hull

11.50 OpenSource: Change the hole not the peg – Stuart Lee, Director of Computing Systems and Services, University of Oxford

13.30 Next Generation Sakai: the Open Academic Environment (formerly Sakai 3) – John Norman, University of Cambridge

14.30 The Path to Sakai –  SunGard HE, RSmart and Sakai – Richard Forrest, SunGard General Manager of Business Development and Nate Angell, rSmart Sakai Client Evangelist

This event was sponsored by SunGuard HE and rSmart

Posted in Sakai 2, Sakai Foundation, Sakai OAE, Sakai Support | Leave a comment

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