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NITLE Conference: LMS at LAC : 13 (sakai at small colleges) November 15, 2006

Posted by ficial in conference, LMSLAC2006.

[I really need to finish off this NITLE series so I can get to more recent stuff. I completely see why people do their conference blogging in situ – it’s way to easy to get caught up in other work afterwards and never get to the writing one so meant to do. Blogging has some good effect as a way to force me to review my notes afterwards, but that’s lost if I never get around to it. Conversely, it’s handy as a snapshot of the moment when used as the talk is happening, but then I may not go back and read it over. I’ve tried at a recent conference taking notes in a text editor with the idea that it’s then pretty easy to convert to a post later, and so I’ll hopefully get the best of both worlds. We’ll see how that goes…]

“Implementing Sakai in a Liberal Arts College” by Mike Osterman of Whitman

[this talk was all about Sakai and its implementation process at Whitman, but there was a lot of generally useful info and ideas tucked into an otherwise very focused presentation.]

  • why Sakai
    • had all needed features
    • sustainable, community sourced
    • good timeline
    • on a platform they already knew
    • cost is ‘free’
      • servers
      • conference/meeting attendance
      • project participation fees [I think Sakai may have ended that part…]
      • bribes to get people to use/learn the system (meals, workshop attendance stipend, prizes, etc.)
      • 1/4 to 1/2 FTE for project implementation
      • 1/10 to 1/4 person for ongoing admin
      • docs/support of 40 hrs / term
      • developer/designer of 8/hrs
      • contribute to the community (citizenship, not necessarily code)
      • NOTE: costs are fixed, not scaling!
  • the process
    1. survey to identify needed features
    2. test instance
    3. attend tech meetings for the product
    4. pilot program
      1. install
      2. present to users
      3. recruit volunteers
      4. CMS admin does docs and training
      5. solicit incoming faculty for using new LMS
      6. NOTE: it’s a long term process
    5. regular (1/term) survey of both fac and students [I really like this – so much of what we end up doing is implementation with out any real review/feedback to know what’s working and what’s not and what adjustments are needed.]
  • key points of the process
    • get buy in from the administration
    • lots of communication work
    • build a community
    • get faculty support (official, not just informal and individual)
    • don’t add useless features, and document well what you do need
    • ask the open source community for help
    • lobby the development community for the features you want

[Notes to self for Williams (not tied to any particular LMS):

  • Brand the CMS for our institution
  • look and feel is very, very important – a good tool that doesn’t get used is not actually a good tool
  • We should have an advisory / steering group (IT, admin, faculty, and student reps) for our LMS, whatever it happens to be
  • Sakai specific:
    • What tech skills are needed?
    • Research the Rutgers link tool – good for Sakai, maybe a good model for others]


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