Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments

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Kenneth Romeo Kenneth Romeo
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Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments


Sorry for the cross-posting!

 

 

These comments are in response to the Sakai 3.0 Proposal.  A somewhat longer
version is posted at
http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro/essays/Sakai3ProposalComments.html.

 

Overall, I found the possibilities raised in the Sakai 3 Vision proposal to
be quite exciting.  The proposal to strengthen Sakai as an academic
collaboration tool is very encouraging, since online tools have so much to
offer in this area.  Improving the content creation ability is also a
welcome addition to the proposal, especially because the idea of a "flexible
widget-based user experience" reflects current trends in consumer-based
operating systems.  Also, the move to look "beyond sites" will add much
needed flexibility to Sakai, perhaps even in areas beyond those discussed in
the proposal.

 

However, while these are all very important potential improvements, I felt
that perhaps there might be other areas that deserve consideration.  There
is a need for more focus on the enhancements to one of the tasks that Sakai
already does rather well:  managing courses.  There is huge potential for
improvement in the way that Sakai can support teachers, beyond
student-teacher and peer relationships, but I see nothing in the vision
proposal related to these areas.  For example, it addresses how awkward
content creation is, but does not mention how this varies by role.  Students
(in "access" role) may spend many hours working in Sakai, but it is usually
across several courses, while instructors (in "manage" role) must plan
courses and lessons, and then assess the range of students in the class.
User interface issues are immediately apparent:  most student-level pages
will fit on one screen, while instructors usually have to scroll to see a
full page, often with the Save button at the bottom.  

 

However, beyond user interface issues, Sakai seems to be designed with only
a two-dimensional teacher-student interaction in mind, especially when
looking at the roles and possible permissions.  The proposal's emphasis on
collaboration addresses peer level interactions, but there is no mention of
any possibility for establishing hierarchy.  However, hierarchy is a reality
of education around the world:  teachers are often grouped together into
units such as grades and departments with administrators such as
coordinators and department heads.  Curriculum is mandated from above, or
shared among instructors, but often delivered to students in a very
different form.  In the department where I work, we have tried to create a
set of permissions that would enable a coordinator, who is in charge of a
group of instructors, but we ended up just creating new "resource" sites
just for instructors to get mandated material and assignments.  Even then,
however, the roles are not what we would like:  If the instructors are made
students in that site they can download documents, but cannot export
assignments.  Consequently, they are left as instructors, but coordinators
have found cases where instructors have accidentally deleted material.
Also, coordinators create certain required assignments that instructors
import from these resource sites and use for the term, but if they find
there is a mistake, they need to have instructors download them again.
Ideally, however, if the author makes a change, it should propagate out to
all copies.  This has been implemented for assignments within a site here,
after considerable planning and effort by the developers, but there is no
concept of a hierarchy beyond the site.

 

The vision proposal also does not show an understanding of the different
areas where teacher-student interactions happen.  Sakai seems to be almost
entirely skewed toward facilitating homework such as assignments and reading
materials, with very little in the way of facilitating a 70 minute classroom
lesson.  If our concept of a 70 minute lesson is simply a lecture where
students take notes, then, indeed, there certainly is not much to
facilitate, but if we look at the types of activities that expert teachers
might make use of in a lesson, we can see many more possibilities.  Small
groups are almost always part of these activities, so it seems that the
ability to quickly make ad-hoc groups of students, and provide each one with
unique, permission specific resources would be a good place to start.  

 

Also, I found myself somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of social
networking among the primary driving forces in designing the next generation
of Sakai.  If this is meant to be an effort to enable RSS feeds to be sent
out and pulled in, then I can see many benefits *if* authentication and
privacy issues are addressed.  However, many institutions use Sakai as a
course management system, and therefore rely heavily on the ability to
implement authentication so that students can't see what teachers do until
they need to and the public can't ever see what students do.  Social
networking is very exciting and useful, but it seems that Sakai would be
better going with its strengths, rather than trying to do something that
Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will always do better.  Sakai does a good job
of facilitating course management, and can offer the benefits of working
with an open community, but institutions need to retain and guarantee
control of privacy and of resources in their own implementations.

 

Finally, there is also mention of open teaching practices.  While this may
be a worthy initiative to contribute to education on a global scale, I think
that many teachers are not very comfortable with the idea of their materials
being available to an audience beyond the students enrolled in their course.
The lessons they create are the product of all of their education, work and
experience and some teachers are very hesitant to just give that away.  Just
as facilitating classroom interactions would be an area for Sakai to
improve, the ability to facilitate distance learning is another important
area to develop, but it is difficult to imagine how a conscientious teacher
could commit to providing a useful level of interaction with an unspecified
number of students.

 

Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Ken Romeo

 

[http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro]

Academic Technology Specialist [http://ats.stanford.edu]

Stanford Language Center [http://language.stanford.edu]

 


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Clay Fenlason Clay Fenlason
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Re: Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments


I think it's true that the proposal can appear unsettling to the
degree that it doesn't directly drive at current frustrations - course
management among them - but I think it's also true that the proposal
is attempting to emphasize what the broader conceptual shifts would
be, rather than refinements on existing patterns.  Some of the
omissions are of this sort, and I can imagine some of these conceptual
shifts (like freeing permissions from the site boundary) addressing
some of our course management pain points, however indirectly.  But
not everything that's imagined appears in the proposal.  I know that
another big concern of mine - more flexible assessment workflows -
also appears nowhere in this proposal.  At the same time I see how
what's proposed sets the stage for some of our ambitions in this area,
the dissolution of tool and site silos for more flexible task flows
and permissioning again chief among them.

I think it's also true that the social networking case has not been
advanced as thoroughly as it might be.  The vision is not to
transplant social networking as it exists elsewhere, and to that
extent reinvent the wheel.  Rather, it's an attempt to apply the
lessons of social networking: that the power of the Web is not just in
raw information, it's also in how relationships can help surface and
make sense of that information, make connections that no search engine
could achieve, or open new horizons.  Perhaps we should seek a new
term to underscore the point - 'academic networking' or some such - to
make it clear that what we're driving at is not mere repetition of the
latest fad.  Our aim is to work out what social networking might look
like if adapted to an academic society, with its different sets of
relationships characteristics of people in those settings. In any
event I think the insight is sound, and I hear from faculty and
students a great deal that touches on these issues:  students who talk
about the value of serendipitous encounters with instructors and
advisors, the advent of "living-learning communities" in campus
housing, researchers who feel that they're missing out on
opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and try to think of
programmatic ways to discover more of the activity of their
colleagues, and so forth.  MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn will never
adequately address the academic character of some of these needs.  You
mention privacy, and that's one thing we can do differently, but it
also extends to a qualitatively different set of information and
activities that will be relevant for academic purposes.

For what it's worth, the technical underpinnings for hierarchy are
going into place in the "kernel" work, and I do expect it to be among
the achievements of the 3-series.  It might have appeared in this
proposal, but I think the list of fundamental differences was starting
to grow unwieldy, and against that backdrop hierarchy might not have
looked fundamental enough - or maybe that since we've been talking
about it for so long it seemed like it might go without saying.  Plug
such a paragraph into place in the proposal, however, and I don't
think you'd alter current plans or development activity:  hierarchy is
coming, though we would have a wealth of requirements and
implementation details yet to work through.  It would be terrific if
you could be part of that.

--
Clay Fenlason
Director, Educational Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
(404) 385-6644

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 7:28 AM, Michael Feldstein
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> Ken, you may find some simultaneous support for your point about hierarchy
> and challenge of your point about open education in this chapter on
> Bodington in Opening Up Education. There are some aspirations to support
> Bodington-like permissions in Sakai 3 (although I leave it to more
> knowledgeable community members to explain how likely this is to happen and
> how fully realized it will be).
>
> - m
>
>
> Kenneth Romeo wrote:
>
> These comments are in response to the Sakai 3.0 Proposal.  A somewhat longer
> version is posted at
> http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro/essays/Sakai3ProposalComments.html.
>
>
>
> Overall, I found the possibilities raised in the Sakai 3 Vision proposal to
> be quite exciting.  The proposal to strengthen Sakai as an academic
> collaboration tool is very encouraging, since online tools have so much to
> offer in this area.  Improving the content creation ability is also a
> welcome addition to the proposal, especially because the idea of a "flexible
> widget-based user experience" reflects current trends in consumer-based
> operating systems.  Also, the move to look "beyond sites" will add much
> needed flexibility to Sakai, perhaps even in areas beyond those discussed in
> the proposal.
>
>
>
> However, while these are all very important potential improvements, I felt
> that perhaps there might be other areas that deserve consideration.  There
> is a need for more focus on the enhancements to one of the tasks that Sakai
> already does rather well:  managing courses.  There is huge potential for
> improvement in the way that Sakai can support teachers, beyond
> student-teacher and peer relationships, but I see nothing in the vision
> proposal related to these areas.  For example, it addresses how awkward
> content creation is, but does not mention how this varies by role.  Students
> (in "access" role) may spend many hours working in Sakai, but it is usually
> across several courses, while instructors (in "manage" role) must plan
> courses and lessons, and then assess the range of students in the class.
> User interface issues are immediately apparent:  most student-level pages
> will fit on one screen, while instructors usually have to scroll to see a
> full page, often with the Save button at the bottom.
>
>
>
> However, beyond user interface issues, Sakai seems to be designed with only
> a two-dimensional teacher-student interaction in mind, especially when
> looking at the roles and possible permissions.  The proposal's emphasis on
> collaboration addresses peer level interactions, but there is no mention of
> any possibility for establishing hierarchy.  However, hierarchy is a reality
> of education around the world:  teachers are often grouped together into
> units such as grades and departments with administrators such as
> coordinators and department heads.  Curriculum is mandated from above, or
> shared among instructors, but often delivered to students in a very
> different form.  In the department where I work, we have tried to create a
> set of permissions that would enable a coordinator, who is in charge of a
> group of instructors, but we ended up just creating new "resource" sites
> just for instructors to get mandated material and assignments.  Even then,
> however, the roles are not what we would like:  If the instructors are made
> students in that site they can download documents, but cannot export
> assignments.  Consequently, they are left as instructors, but coordinators
> have found cases where instructors have accidentally deleted material.
> Also, coordinators create certain required assignments that instructors
> import from these resource sites and use for the term, but if they find
> there is a mistake, they need to have instructors download them again.
> Ideally, however, if the author makes a change, it should propagate out to
> all copies.  This has been implemented for assignments within a site here,
> after considerable planning and effort by the developers, but there is no
> concept of a hierarchy beyond the site.
>
>
>
> The vision proposal also does not show an understanding of the different
> areas where teacher-student interactions happen.  Sakai seems to be almost
> entirely skewed toward facilitating homework such as assignments and reading
> materials, with very little in the way of facilitating a 70 minute classroom
> lesson.  If our concept of a 70 minute lesson is simply a lecture where
> students take notes, then, indeed, there certainly is not much to
> facilitate, but if we look at the types of activities that expert teachers
> might make use of in a lesson, we can see many more possibilities.  Small
> groups are almost always part of these activities, so it seems that the
> ability to quickly make ad-hoc groups of students, and provide each one with
> unique, permission specific resources would be a good place to start.
>
>
>
> Also, I found myself somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of social
> networking among the primary driving forces in designing the next generation
> of Sakai.  If this is meant to be an effort to enable RSS feeds to be sent
> out and pulled in, then I can see many benefits *if* authentication and
> privacy issues are addressed.  However, many institutions use Sakai as a
> course management system, and therefore rely heavily on the ability to
> implement authentication so that students can't see what teachers do until
> they need to and the public can't ever see what students do.  Social
> networking is very exciting and useful, but it seems that Sakai would be
> better going with its strengths, rather than trying to do something that
> Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will always do better.  Sakai does a good job
> of facilitating course management, and can offer the benefits of working
> with an open community, but institutions need to retain and guarantee
> control of privacy and of resources in their own implementations.
>
>
>
> Finally, there is also mention of open teaching practices.  While this may
> be a worthy initiative to contribute to education on a global scale, I think
> that many teachers are not very comfortable with the idea of their materials
> being available to an audience beyond the students enrolled in their
> course.  The lessons they create are the product of all of their education,
> work and experience and some teachers are very hesitant to just give that
> away.  Just as facilitating classroom interactions would be an area for
> Sakai to improve, the ability to facilitate distance learning is another
> important area to develop, but it is difficult to imagine how a
> conscientious teacher could commit to providing a useful level of
> interaction with an unspecified number of students.
>
>
>
> Thank you very much for this opportunity.
>
> Ken Romeo
>
>
>
> [http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro]
>
> Academic Technology Specialist [http://ats.stanford.edu]
>
> Stanford Language Center [http://language.stanford.edu]
>
>
>
> ________________________________
> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab
> (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Teaching & Learning
> site.
> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace > Preferences.
>
> --
>
>
>
> Michael Feldstein | Principal Product Manager | +1.818.817.2925
> Oracle Academic Enterprise Solutions Group
> 23A Glendale Road, Glendale, MA 01229
>
> [see attachment: "oracle_sig_logo.gif", size: 658 bytes]
>
> Attachments:
>
> oracle_sig_logo.gif
>
> ________________________________
> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab
> (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Teaching & Learning
> site.
> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace > Preferences.
>
----------------------
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Clay Fenlason Clay Fenlason
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Re: Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments


I neglected one point - the opening up of site content to public view.
 Opinions in this area vary widely - my entire College of Computing,
for example, will not be moving to our Sakai installation until we
have this worked out - while others feel like they want to see
materials from others in their department but not beyond that, and yet
others just want to play their cards very close to their chest.  I
think the emphasis of the proposal is the *support* of more open
access, and easy ways to accomplish that, without requiring it.  I
know our default stance will be "closed" with the road paved toward
openness where it's desired, but better support of this is certainly a
keen interest.  So while my campus isn't lined up behind an OCW
initiative, it's a powerful concern for some of them, and then when
you extend Sakai's use cases beyond mere coursework the concern
becomes more powerful yet.

~Clay

On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 9:55 AM, Clay Fenlason
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> I think it's true that the proposal can appear unsettling to the
> degree that it doesn't directly drive at current frustrations - course
> management among them - but I think it's also true that the proposal
> is attempting to emphasize what the broader conceptual shifts would
> be, rather than refinements on existing patterns.  Some of the
> omissions are of this sort, and I can imagine some of these conceptual
> shifts (like freeing permissions from the site boundary) addressing
> some of our course management pain points, however indirectly.  But
> not everything that's imagined appears in the proposal.  I know that
> another big concern of mine - more flexible assessment workflows -
> also appears nowhere in this proposal.  At the same time I see how
> what's proposed sets the stage for some of our ambitions in this area,
> the dissolution of tool and site silos for more flexible task flows
> and permissioning again chief among them.
>
> I think it's also true that the social networking case has not been
> advanced as thoroughly as it might be.  The vision is not to
> transplant social networking as it exists elsewhere, and to that
> extent reinvent the wheel.  Rather, it's an attempt to apply the
> lessons of social networking: that the power of the Web is not just in
> raw information, it's also in how relationships can help surface and
> make sense of that information, make connections that no search engine
> could achieve, or open new horizons.  Perhaps we should seek a new
> term to underscore the point - 'academic networking' or some such - to
> make it clear that what we're driving at is not mere repetition of the
> latest fad.  Our aim is to work out what social networking might look
> like if adapted to an academic society, with its different sets of
> relationships characteristics of people in those settings. In any
> event I think the insight is sound, and I hear from faculty and
> students a great deal that touches on these issues:  students who talk
> about the value of serendipitous encounters with instructors and
> advisors, the advent of "living-learning communities" in campus
> housing, researchers who feel that they're missing out on
> opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and try to think of
> programmatic ways to discover more of the activity of their
> colleagues, and so forth.  MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn will never
> adequately address the academic character of some of these needs.  You
> mention privacy, and that's one thing we can do differently, but it
> also extends to a qualitatively different set of information and
> activities that will be relevant for academic purposes.
>
> For what it's worth, the technical underpinnings for hierarchy are
> going into place in the "kernel" work, and I do expect it to be among
> the achievements of the 3-series.  It might have appeared in this
> proposal, but I think the list of fundamental differences was starting
> to grow unwieldy, and against that backdrop hierarchy might not have
> looked fundamental enough - or maybe that since we've been talking
> about it for so long it seemed like it might go without saying.  Plug
> such a paragraph into place in the proposal, however, and I don't
> think you'd alter current plans or development activity:  hierarchy is
> coming, though we would have a wealth of requirements and
> implementation details yet to work through.  It would be terrific if
> you could be part of that.
>
> --
> Clay Fenlason
> Director, Educational Technology
> Georgia Institute of Technology
> (404) 385-6644
>
> On Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 7:28 AM, Michael Feldstein
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> Ken, you may find some simultaneous support for your point about hierarchy
>> and challenge of your point about open education in this chapter on
>> Bodington in Opening Up Education. There are some aspirations to support
>> Bodington-like permissions in Sakai 3 (although I leave it to more
>> knowledgeable community members to explain how likely this is to happen and
>> how fully realized it will be).
>>
>> - m
>>
>>
>> Kenneth Romeo wrote:
>>
>> These comments are in response to the Sakai 3.0 Proposal.  A somewhat longer
>> version is posted at
>> http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro/essays/Sakai3ProposalComments.html.
>>
>>
>>
>> Overall, I found the possibilities raised in the Sakai 3 Vision proposal to
>> be quite exciting.  The proposal to strengthen Sakai as an academic
>> collaboration tool is very encouraging, since online tools have so much to
>> offer in this area.  Improving the content creation ability is also a
>> welcome addition to the proposal, especially because the idea of a "flexible
>> widget-based user experience" reflects current trends in consumer-based
>> operating systems.  Also, the move to look "beyond sites" will add much
>> needed flexibility to Sakai, perhaps even in areas beyond those discussed in
>> the proposal.
>>
>>
>>
>> However, while these are all very important potential improvements, I felt
>> that perhaps there might be other areas that deserve consideration.  There
>> is a need for more focus on the enhancements to one of the tasks that Sakai
>> already does rather well:  managing courses.  There is huge potential for
>> improvement in the way that Sakai can support teachers, beyond
>> student-teacher and peer relationships, but I see nothing in the vision
>> proposal related to these areas.  For example, it addresses how awkward
>> content creation is, but does not mention how this varies by role.  Students
>> (in "access" role) may spend many hours working in Sakai, but it is usually
>> across several courses, while instructors (in "manage" role) must plan
>> courses and lessons, and then assess the range of students in the class.
>> User interface issues are immediately apparent:  most student-level pages
>> will fit on one screen, while instructors usually have to scroll to see a
>> full page, often with the Save button at the bottom.
>>
>>
>>
>> However, beyond user interface issues, Sakai seems to be designed with only
>> a two-dimensional teacher-student interaction in mind, especially when
>> looking at the roles and possible permissions.  The proposal's emphasis on
>> collaboration addresses peer level interactions, but there is no mention of
>> any possibility for establishing hierarchy.  However, hierarchy is a reality
>> of education around the world:  teachers are often grouped together into
>> units such as grades and departments with administrators such as
>> coordinators and department heads.  Curriculum is mandated from above, or
>> shared among instructors, but often delivered to students in a very
>> different form.  In the department where I work, we have tried to create a
>> set of permissions that would enable a coordinator, who is in charge of a
>> group of instructors, but we ended up just creating new "resource" sites
>> just for instructors to get mandated material and assignments.  Even then,
>> however, the roles are not what we would like:  If the instructors are made
>> students in that site they can download documents, but cannot export
>> assignments.  Consequently, they are left as instructors, but coordinators
>> have found cases where instructors have accidentally deleted material.
>> Also, coordinators create certain required assignments that instructors
>> import from these resource sites and use for the term, but if they find
>> there is a mistake, they need to have instructors download them again.
>> Ideally, however, if the author makes a change, it should propagate out to
>> all copies.  This has been implemented for assignments within a site here,
>> after considerable planning and effort by the developers, but there is no
>> concept of a hierarchy beyond the site.
>>
>>
>>
>> The vision proposal also does not show an understanding of the different
>> areas where teacher-student interactions happen.  Sakai seems to be almost
>> entirely skewed toward facilitating homework such as assignments and reading
>> materials, with very little in the way of facilitating a 70 minute classroom
>> lesson.  If our concept of a 70 minute lesson is simply a lecture where
>> students take notes, then, indeed, there certainly is not much to
>> facilitate, but if we look at the types of activities that expert teachers
>> might make use of in a lesson, we can see many more possibilities.  Small
>> groups are almost always part of these activities, so it seems that the
>> ability to quickly make ad-hoc groups of students, and provide each one with
>> unique, permission specific resources would be a good place to start.
>>
>>
>>
>> Also, I found myself somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of social
>> networking among the primary driving forces in designing the next generation
>> of Sakai.  If this is meant to be an effort to enable RSS feeds to be sent
>> out and pulled in, then I can see many benefits *if* authentication and
>> privacy issues are addressed.  However, many institutions use Sakai as a
>> course management system, and therefore rely heavily on the ability to
>> implement authentication so that students can't see what teachers do until
>> they need to and the public can't ever see what students do.  Social
>> networking is very exciting and useful, but it seems that Sakai would be
>> better going with its strengths, rather than trying to do something that
>> Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will always do better.  Sakai does a good job
>> of facilitating course management, and can offer the benefits of working
>> with an open community, but institutions need to retain and guarantee
>> control of privacy and of resources in their own implementations.
>>
>>
>>
>> Finally, there is also mention of open teaching practices.  While this may
>> be a worthy initiative to contribute to education on a global scale, I think
>> that many teachers are not very comfortable with the idea of their materials
>> being available to an audience beyond the students enrolled in their
>> course.  The lessons they create are the product of all of their education,
>> work and experience and some teachers are very hesitant to just give that
>> away.  Just as facilitating classroom interactions would be an area for
>> Sakai to improve, the ability to facilitate distance learning is another
>> important area to develop, but it is difficult to imagine how a
>> conscientious teacher could commit to providing a useful level of
>> interaction with an unspecified number of students.
>>
>>
>>
>> Thank you very much for this opportunity.
>>
>> Ken Romeo
>>
>>
>>
>> [http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro]
>>
>> Academic Technology Specialist [http://ats.stanford.edu]
>>
>> Stanford Language Center [http://language.stanford.edu]
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________
>> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab
>> (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Teaching & Learning
>> site.
>> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace > Preferences.
>>
>> --
>>
>>
>>
>> Michael Feldstein | Principal Product Manager | +1.818.817.2925
>> Oracle Academic Enterprise Solutions Group
>> 23A Glendale Road, Glendale, MA 01229
>>
>> [see attachment: "oracle_sig_logo.gif", size: 658 bytes]
>>
>> Attachments:
>>
>> oracle_sig_logo.gif
>>
>> ________________________________
>> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab
>> (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Teaching & Learning
>> site.
>> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace > Preferences.
>>
>



--
Clay Fenlason
Director, Educational Technology
Georgia Institute of Technology
(404) 385-6644
----------------------
This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Strategy & Advocacy site.
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John Norman John Norman
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Re: Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments

In reply to this post by Kenneth Romeo

Hi Ken

Good to hear from you and thanks for these thoughtful comments. I'll  
respond inline below, but please don't take any of this to close down  
discussion. Quite the reverse, if you can be more specific about what  
you would like to see (perhaps with the sort of hand drawn sketches  
Matthieu does e.g. toward the bottom of page http://confluence.sakaiprojectorg/confluence/x/kQF1Ag)
  then we would really like to engage with your ideas.

On 29 Dec 2008, at 09:37, Kenneth Romeo wrote:

> These comments are in response to the Sakai 3.0 Proposal.  A  
> somewhat longer version is posted at http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro/essays/Sakai3ProposalComments.html 
> .
>
> Overall, I found the possibilities raised in the Sakai 3 Vision  
> proposal to be quite exciting.  The proposal to strengthen Sakai as  
> an academic collaboration tool is very encouraging, since online  
> tools have so much to offer in this area.  Improving the content  
> creation ability is also a welcome addition to the proposal,  
> especially because the idea of a “flexible widget-based user  
> experience” reflects current trends in consumer-based operating  
> systems.  Also, the move to look “beyond sites” will add much needed  
> flexibility to Sakai, perhaps even in areas beyond those discussed  
> in the proposal.
>
> However, while these are all very important potential improvements,  
> I felt that perhaps there might be other areas that deserve  
> consideration.  There is a need for more focus on the enhancements  
> to one of the tasks that Sakai already does rather well:  managing  
> courses.  There is huge potential for improvement in the way that  
> Sakai can support teachers, beyond student-teacher and peer  
> relationships, but I see nothing in the vision proposal related to  
> these areas.  For example, it addresses how awkward content creation  
> is, but does not mention how this varies by role.  Students (in  
> “access” role) may spend many hours working in Sakai, but it is  
> usually across several courses, while instructors (in “manage” role)  
> must plan courses and lessons, and then assess the range of students  
> in the class.  User interface issues are immediately apparent:  most  
> student-level pages will fit on one screen, while instructors  
> usually have to scroll to see a full page, often with the Save  
> button at the bottom.

I would like to hear more about these scenarios, but I will offer a  
couple of comments. (1) the demos emphasise only some aspects of the  
new way of thinking and are built on current Sakai, they are certainly  
not finished UI's and Nathan is starting work on some of the authoring  
pages now. The 'Save at the bottom of the page" is a known problem for  
long pages, but there will be other trade-offs too. I think a key  
aspect of the new approach is that the 'course admin' pages will start  
to become separated from the 'course presentation' pages allowing  
different compromises for different situations. Something that works  
for very large classes (>100 students (up to 20,000)?) as well as  
moderate size classes (20 - 100 students?) will be important to the  
design of admin pages.

>
> However, beyond user interface issues, Sakai seems to be designed  
> with only a two-dimensional teacher-student interaction in mind,  
> especially when looking at the roles and possible permissions.  The  
> proposal’s emphasis on collaboration addresses peer level  
> interactions, but there is no mention of any possibility for  
> establishing hierarchy.  However, hierarchy is a reality of  
> education around the world:  teachers are often grouped together  
> into units such as grades and departments with administrators such  
> as coordinators and department heads.  Curriculum is mandated from  
> above, or shared among instructors, but often delivered to students  
> in a very different form.  In the department where I work, we have  
> tried to create a set of permissions that would enable a  
> coordinator, who is in charge of a group of instructors, but we  
> ended up just creating new “resource” sites just for instructors to  
> get mandated material and assignments.  Even then, however, the  
> roles are not what we would like:  If the instructors are made  
> students in that site they can download documents, but cannot export  
> assignments.  Consequently, they are left as instructors, but  
> coordinators have found cases where instructors have accidentally  
> deleted material.  Also, coordinators create certain required  
> assignments that instructors import from these resource sites and  
> use for the term, but if they find there is a mistake, they need to  
> have instructors download them again.  Ideally, however, if the  
> author makes a change, it should propagate out to all copies.  This  
> has been implemented for assignments within a site here, after  
> considerable planning and effort by the developers, but there is no  
> concept of a hierarchy beyond the site.

These concepts are in the plans, but it will need K2, which is not yet  
implemented in the demos.

>
> The vision proposal also does not show an understanding of the  
> different areas where teacher-student interactions happen.  Sakai  
> seems to be almost entirely skewed toward facilitating homework such  
> as assignments and reading materials, with very little in the way of  
> facilitating a 70 minute classroom lesson.  If our concept of a 70  
> minute lesson is simply a lecture where students take notes, then,  
> indeed, there certainly is not much to facilitate, but if we look at  
> the types of activities that expert teachers might make use of in a  
> lesson, we can see many more possibilities.  Small groups are almost  
> always part of these activities, so it seems that the ability to  
> quickly make ad-hoc groups of students, and provide each one with  
> unique, permission specific resources would be a good place to start.
>
This is a target for the July release - rapid simple ad-hoc group  
creation modelled on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Not sure if linkage to  
class membership will be in for the summer though.

> Also, I found myself somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of social  
> networking among the primary driving forces in designing the next  
> generation of Sakai.  If this is meant to be an effort to enable RSS  
> feeds to be sent out and pulled in, then I can see many benefits  
> *if* authentication and privacy issues are addressed.  However, many  
> institutions use Sakai as a course management system, and therefore  
> rely heavily on the ability to implement authentication so that  
> students can’t see what teachers do until they need to and the  
> public can’t ever see what students do.  Social networking is very  
> exciting and useful, but it seems that Sakai would be better going  
> with its strengths, rather than trying to do something that  
> Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will always do better.  Sakai does a  
> good job of facilitating course management, and can offer the  
> benefits of working with an open community, but institutions need to  
> retain and guarantee control of privacy and of resources in their  
> own implementations.

There are some interesting trade-offs and contradictions here. For  
now, I'll just say that we think there are concepts we can borrow from  
social network sites for academic purposes and in serving academic  
purposes we will need to respect the privacy of those who wish to keep  
things private (currently a majority, but perhaps by unthinking  
habit). We want to make sure we can support those who want to work  
more openly without compromising the privacy of the more traditional  
approaches.

>
> Finally, there is also mention of open teaching practices.  While  
> this may be a worthy initiative to contribute to education on a  
> global scale, I think that many teachers are not very comfortable  
> with the idea of their materials being available to an audience  
> beyond the students enrolled in their course.  The lessons they  
> create are the product of all of their education, work and  
> experience and some teachers are very hesitant to just give that  
> away.  Just as facilitating classroom interactions would be an area  
> for Sakai to improve, the ability to facilitate distance learning is  
> another important area to develop, but it is difficult to imagine  
> how a conscientious teacher could commit to providing a useful level  
> of interaction with an unspecified number of students.
>
This if very much about supporting a small, but growing trend. If we  
don't offer support inside the institutional system, the teachers who  
are interested will be forced to go elsewhere. At present it is too  
early to tell how this trend will play out, but I know Chuck Severance  
is in his second year of open teaching. He makes the it clear what  
support (very little) is available to non-enrolled students in a  
similar fashion to the disclaimers for OpenCourseWare, and I don't  
believe there has been an undue burden. In his experiments he has even  
had outsiders answering student questions on his behalf (although that  
too raises concerns). Bottom line - it's too early to tell where this  
is going, but we plan to be supportive while not compromising more  
traditional models.

> Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Please stay engaged. The more teaching scenarios (and non-teaching),  
the better.
John

> Ken Romeo
>
> [http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro]
> Academic Technology Specialist [http://ats.stanford.edu]
> Stanford Language Center [http://language.stanford.edu]
>
>
>
> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab (https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal 
> ) from the DG: Teaching & Learning site.
> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace >  
> Preferences.

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Josh Baron Josh Baron
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Re: Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments


There are many interesting points being discussed in this thread but my
time is limited so I'll have to just pick two to comment on for now...

Although I recognize that the plans to include social networking may at
first appear to be reinventing the wheel, my experience to date has lead
me to feel that, at least in the US, that there are significant barriers
(privacy, disaster recovery/business continuity, legal) that prevent
institutions from fully adopting and supporting social networking tools in
their current form.  I also see value in adaptions of the current
applications that would make them more powerful instructional tools.  This
has lead me to see Sakai 3's vision as filling an important "social
networking" niche that could allow institutions to more fully integrate
these powerful applications into mainstream educational activities.  To
some extent, I think we've seen some of this differentiation already with
things like LinkedIn which I see as having filled the "professional"
network niche within the larger social networking arena.

Of particular interest to me is the potential for networking together
Sakai institutions using these types of capabilities.  Providing
networking tools that allow students studying Spanish at Marist to connect
with students in Spain learning English or mathematics faculty at Marist
connecting with researchers at MIT in the same way that I connect with my
high school buddy on Facebook would be tremendously powerful.

I do also want to agree with John's comment regarding support for open
education within Sakai.  I too am at an institution where the concept of
open education is very new and not embraced by many of the faculty...but I
too see this as potentially a very important trend that we, as a
community, will benefit from being on the leading edge with even if it is
not a local priority right now.  All too often I have seen the proprietary
solutions lag far behind important trends, sitting on the sidelines
waiting to see if the trend will become mainstream (and thus profitable to
jump on).  For me, one of the values of community-source solutions is that
they are not motivated by a profit margin and thus are more likely to play
a leadership role in important trends, helping them mature and become
mainstream.  Of course, I'm not suggesting that we jump on ever trend but
when one emerges that appears significant and of strong educational value,
I think it is part of our role as a community of educators to support
it....but, as John said, without compromising the current "status quo"
needs that are central to what Sakai is used for today.

Happy New Year everyone!

Josh

-----------------------------
Joshua Baron
Director, Academic Technology and eLearning
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, New York  12601
(845) 575-3623 (work)



From:
John Norman <[hidden email]>
To:
[hidden email]
Cc:
advocacy <[hidden email]>
Date:
12/30/2008 02:13 PM
Subject:
Re: Sakai 3.0 Proposal comments




Hi Ken

Good to hear from you and thanks for these thoughtful comments. I'll
respond inline below, but please don't take any of this to close down
discussion. Quite the reverse, if you can be more specific about what
you would like to see (perhaps with the sort of hand drawn sketches
Matthieu does e.g. toward the bottom of page
http://confluence.sakaiprojectorg/confluence/x/kQF1Ag)
  then we would really like to engage with your ideas.

On 29 Dec 2008, at 09:37, Kenneth Romeo wrote:

> These comments are in response to the Sakai 3.0 Proposal.  A
> somewhat longer version is posted at
http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro/essays/Sakai3ProposalComments.html 

> .
>
> Overall, I found the possibilities raised in the Sakai 3 Vision
> proposal to be quite exciting.  The proposal to strengthen Sakai as
> an academic collaboration tool is very encouraging, since online
> tools have so much to offer in this area.  Improving the content
> creation ability is also a welcome addition to the proposal,
> especially because the idea of a “flexible widget-based user
> experience” reflects current trends in consumer-based operating
> systems.  Also, the move to look “beyond sites” will add much needed
> flexibility to Sakai, perhaps even in areas beyond those discussed
> in the proposal.
>
> However, while these are all very important potential improvements,
> I felt that perhaps there might be other areas that deserve
> consideration.  There is a need for more focus on the enhancements
> to one of the tasks that Sakai already does rather well:  managing
> courses.  There is huge potential for improvement in the way that
> Sakai can support teachers, beyond student-teacher and peer
> relationships, but I see nothing in the vision proposal related to
> these areas.  For example, it addresses how awkward content creation
> is, but does not mention how this varies by role.  Students (in
> “access” role) may spend many hours working in Sakai, but it is
> usually across several courses, while instructors (in “manage” role)
> must plan courses and lessons, and then assess the range of students
> in the class.  User interface issues are immediately apparent:  most
> student-level pages will fit on one screen, while instructors
> usually have to scroll to see a full page, often with the Save
> button at the bottom.

I would like to hear more about these scenarios, but I will offer a
couple of comments. (1) the demos emphasise only some aspects of the
new way of thinking and are built on current Sakai, they are certainly
not finished UI's and Nathan is starting work on some of the authoring
pages now. The 'Save at the bottom of the page" is a known problem for
long pages, but there will be other trade-offs too. I think a key
aspect of the new approach is that the 'course admin' pages will start
to become separated from the 'course presentation' pages allowing
different compromises for different situations. Something that works
for very large classes (>100 students (up to 20,000)?) as well as
moderate size classes (20 - 100 students?) will be important to the
design of admin pages.

>
> However, beyond user interface issues, Sakai seems to be designed
> with only a two-dimensional teacher-student interaction in mind,
> especially when looking at the roles and possible permissions.  The
> proposal’s emphasis on collaboration addresses peer level
> interactions, but there is no mention of any possibility for
> establishing hierarchy.  However, hierarchy is a reality of
> education around the world:  teachers are often grouped together
> into units such as grades and departments with administrators such
> as coordinators and department heads.  Curriculum is mandated from
> above, or shared among instructors, but often delivered to students
> in a very different form.  In the department where I work, we have
> tried to create a set of permissions that would enable a
> coordinator, who is in charge of a group of instructors, but we
> ended up just creating new “resource” sites just for instructors to
> get mandated material and assignments.  Even then, however, the
> roles are not what we would like:  If the instructors are made
> students in that site they can download documents, but cannot export
> assignments.  Consequently, they are left as instructors, but
> coordinators have found cases where instructors have accidentally
> deleted material.  Also, coordinators create certain required
> assignments that instructors import from these resource sites and
> use for the term, but if they find there is a mistake, they need to
> have instructors download them again.  Ideally, however, if the
> author makes a change, it should propagate out to all copies.  This
> has been implemented for assignments within a site here, after
> considerable planning and effort by the developers, but there is no
> concept of a hierarchy beyond the site.

These concepts are in the plans, but it will need K2, which is not yet
implemented in the demos.

>
> The vision proposal also does not show an understanding of the
> different areas where teacher-student interactions happen.  Sakai
> seems to be almost entirely skewed toward facilitating homework such
> as assignments and reading materials, with very little in the way of
> facilitating a 70 minute classroom lesson.  If our concept of a 70
> minute lesson is simply a lecture where students take notes, then,
> indeed, there certainly is not much to facilitate, but if we look at
> the types of activities that expert teachers might make use of in a
> lesson, we can see many more possibilities.  Small groups are almost
> always part of these activities, so it seems that the ability to
> quickly make ad-hoc groups of students, and provide each one with
> unique, permission specific resources would be a good place to start.
>
This is a target for the July release - rapid simple ad-hoc group
creation modelled on FaceBook and LinkedIn. Not sure if linkage to
class membership will be in for the summer though.

> Also, I found myself somewhat perplexed at the inclusion of social
> networking among the primary driving forces in designing the next
> generation of Sakai.  If this is meant to be an effort to enable RSS
> feeds to be sent out and pulled in, then I can see many benefits
> *if* authentication and privacy issues are addressed.  However, many
> institutions use Sakai as a course management system, and therefore
> rely heavily on the ability to implement authentication so that
> students can’t see what teachers do until they need to and the
> public can’t ever see what students do.  Social networking is very
> exciting and useful, but it seems that Sakai would be better going
> with its strengths, rather than trying to do something that
> Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn will always do better.  Sakai does a
> good job of facilitating course management, and can offer the
> benefits of working with an open community, but institutions need to
> retain and guarantee control of privacy and of resources in their
> own implementations.

There are some interesting trade-offs and contradictions here. For
now, I'll just say that we think there are concepts we can borrow from
social network sites for academic purposes and in serving academic
purposes we will need to respect the privacy of those who wish to keep
things private (currently a majority, but perhaps by unthinking
habit). We want to make sure we can support those who want to work
more openly without compromising the privacy of the more traditional
approaches.

>
> Finally, there is also mention of open teaching practices.  While
> this may be a worthy initiative to contribute to education on a
> global scale, I think that many teachers are not very comfortable
> with the idea of their materials being available to an audience
> beyond the students enrolled in their course.  The lessons they
> create are the product of all of their education, work and
> experience and some teachers are very hesitant to just give that
> away.  Just as facilitating classroom interactions would be an area
> for Sakai to improve, the ability to facilitate distance learning is
> another important area to develop, but it is difficult to imagine
> how a conscientious teacher could commit to providing a useful level
> of interaction with an unspecified number of students.
>
This if very much about supporting a small, but growing trend. If we
don't offer support inside the institutional system, the teachers who
are interested will be forced to go elsewhere. At present it is too
early to tell how this trend will play out, but I know Chuck Severance
is in his second year of open teaching. He makes the it clear what
support (very little) is available to non-enrolled students in a
similar fashion to the disclaimers for OpenCourseWare, and I don't
believe there has been an undue burden. In his experiments he has even
had outsiders answering student questions on his behalf (although that
too raises concerns). Bottom line - it's too early to tell where this
is going, but we plan to be supportive while not compromising more
traditional models.

> Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Please stay engaged. The more teaching scenarios (and non-teaching),
the better.
John

> Ken Romeo
>
> [http://www.stanford.edu/people/kenro]
> Academic Technology Specialist [http://ats.stanford.edu]
> Stanford Language Center [http://language.stanford.edu]
>
>
>
> This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab (
https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal 
> ) from the DG: Teaching & Learning site.
> You can modify how you receive notifications at My Workspace >
> Preferences.

----------------------
This automatic notification message was sent by Sakai Collab (
https://collab.sakaiproject.org//portal) from the DG: Strategy & Advocacy
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Preferences.




----------------------
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