(2012-06-18) Michigan Indiana Drop From Sakai Oae
*In news that seems to be well understood in the Sakai community but not elsewhere, Sakai founding members the University of Michigan and Indiana University have collectively decided to pause investment in the SaKai Open Academic Environment (OAE) project - formerly known as Sakai 3. Most institutions working with Sakai are using the Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE), formerly known as Sakai 2 - think of CLE as an enterprise LMS like Blackboard or Desire2 Learn. Sakai OAE is a next-generation learning platform based on learner-center, collaboration design originally released as version 1.0 in September 2011. I cannot think of a direct comparison to OAE in a commercial offering, but that is part of the difference. CLE is essentially an evolutionary approach to the LMS, whereas OAE is a revolutionary approach to a learning platform based on different use cases. The Michigan and Indiana decision affects their participation in OAE but does not change their participation in CLE... In an earlier email, representatives from the University of Michigan and Indiana University notified several peer institutions, stating that “the last six months appear to signal some important shifts that merit a fresh lens on all options for LMS successors”.
I believe that one of the biggest impacts of the decision will be to raise further questions about the sustainability of the Community Source model as practiced by Sakai. One major challenge of the community source model is that the model can have too much top-down control, which removes one of the strengths of Open Source. By having implied or actual “control” over real contributors, it replaces the personal relationships and commitments that make the “Bazaar” function in the more organic forms of Open Source and relies too much on institutional politics and management structures. Furthermore, open source typically follows an evolutionary model, providing freer, higher quality solutions to existing categories. Sakai OAE is a revolutionary technology, attempting to leapfrog other platforms. This puts Sakai into uncharted territory, seeking to define a new product or platform Vision. To do so, the Sakai OAE project needs a cohesive vision with more buy-in from key contributing institutions. The University of Michigan and Indiana University announcement provides fresh evidence that there is not a unified vision within the community.*
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