In a discussion about MLE between Trish Roberts and Scott Wilson of the JISC framework programme and Chuck Severance, the technical committee chair of Sakai. Severance’s response to the first question, “What would you consider the major difference in the pedagogic goals of Sakai and the JISC Technical Framework Programme?” is memorable:
“Sakai does not make pedagogy a priority. Pedagogic approaches are still very much a matter of ongoing debate, and we can’t wait for that.”
So Sakai does not make pedagogy a priority — well that’s enough to rule it out for small Liberal Arts colleges — pedagogy is our top priority; teaching is our mission .
In response to “Why should an institution go with Sakai rather than, say, Blackboard or WebCT?”
“Good question! Those institutions that can afford it have always built their own stuff. We at Michigan did that too, and we once went through an exercise of figuring out why exactly. What we came up with is this: what we do at universities is teaching, learning and research. We can’t outsource the software that supports that- you can’t outsource your destiny. You shouldn’t have to negotiate with an outside commercial provider about things that directly affect your core business.”
“So building your own MLE software allows an organization to take charge of its own destiny. But building a completely unique package for your own use is really a bit lonely and somewhat expensive. By working together in Sakai, we can control our own destinies and avoid the cost and risk involved in the solo path. Major research institutions can build the large components and the framework, smaller ones can customise the tools they need.”
An interesting comment, this. Knowing some of the background to computing history at Michigan I can’t say I’m surprised. In the late 80s the developers of the Michigan Operating System developed on IBM/Amdahl mainframes in the 60s were still arguing that the university should sink millions into a single central mainframe running their own OS code rather than decentralise to Unix systems.
So, it’s now much clearer what Sakai developers are really about. Now add this quote into the mix from the proposal Integrating Licensed Library Resources with Sakai to the Mellon foundation from IU & Michigan. On p7 we read:
“Sakai itself is rapidly evolving and still undergoing steady changes in integration of the four lead institutions’ efforts. We are in essence adding customized functionality to a moving target that is barely in production and mostly a pilot effort itself.”
An admission that Sakai is still in pilot stage.Posted by markp at April 24, 2006 06:17 PM