LMS Outage: Exclusive view of UC Davis contract with Scriba

When I first heard about the recent LMS outage at UC Davis – which left the school with no LMS access for a full week and without a fully functional LMS through the remainder of the spring term – it was quite clear that this was an unusual situation. There have been plenty of other LMS outages, but with this one not only did UC Davis lose days of system access, during the outage they had no idea if and when the system would be restored. Any useful communication with the vendor ceased, and the school had to scramble and invent their own disaster recovery on the fly.

What we didn’t know at the time was whether UC Davis staff had planned for such a contingency and had reasonable controls in place. Thanks to the media relations and IT teams at UC Davis, we at e-Literate now have the contract with Scriba to help answer these questions. I have also talked to Ian Dolphin, executive director at the Apereo Foundation that runs the Sakai project, and Michael Sanders, CEO of Scriba, to gather and verify the data in this post.

In a nutshell, this was a screwup of colossal proportions by Scriba and Scriba alone. Furthermore, Scriba is no longer a Sakai Commercial Affiliate. Continue reading

Posted in Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Personalized Learning at Law Schools

I recently had the honor of speaking at the CALI (Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) conference. I was invited by one of my early heroes, John Mayer. When I first arrived on the ed tech blogging scene, John was already here, doing stuff. He inspired me.

Anyway, you may or may not know that law schools are currently experiencing an enrollment crisis. As a result, they are accepting students who are below their normal standards. These students are, unsurprisingly, not doing as well (on average) as their predecessors. So I ask the question: Is the problem that the students are “worse,” or is it that nobody is actually teaching law school students, and that the ones being admitted could succeed if only somebody taught them?

Here’s the video of the keynote, if you’re interested:

Posted in Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We’re Giving a Course on Personalized Learning Next Month

Working with our good friends at ELI, we’re going to be offering a three-session synchronous course called Personalized Learning: Finding the Model That Fits Your Institution July 6th through 20th. As you know, we’re still in early days for personalized learning. Most campus communities are still trying to figure out what it is and what it’s good for—if they’re aware of it at all as a group. Plus, one size most emphatically does not fit all. The goal of the course is to help participants sharpen their own ideas for appropriate ways to facilitate exploration of the topic at their own institutions.

The format will be highly participatory, especially in the second and third sessions. Phil and I expect that we will all learn a lot from each other.

Join us!

Posted in Tools, Toys, and Technology (Oh my!) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

SmartSite Goes Dumb: A student’s view of the UC Davis LMS outage

[ed. Cydney Jones is a junior at UC Davis, and she was kind enough to share information and insights during my coverage of the UC Davis LMS outage (their Sakai-based LMS is branded as SmartSite and hosted by Scriba). I asked her if she could write a post giving a student’s inside view of the situation. You can follow Cydney on Twitter at @crabbyCyd.]

By: Cydney Jones

UC Davis’ SmartSite, the learning management system we love to hate, earned that hate when it went missing two weeks before the end of the Spring quarter. As used and abused by students and faculty, SmartSite is accessed constantly. Need to read new class materials, log into SmartSite. Want to learn about assignments and turn them in, access SmartSite. Curious about your grade, look it up on SmartSite. Accessible from anywhere, on campus or off, via smartphone or computer terminal, SmartSite was the glue that held most courses together.

It seemed odd that something so integral to every class and course would need to go down for maintenance in the middle of the term for more than two and a half days. But, the UCD IT department shared their communication from our LMS’s host, Scriba, saying that the system had suffered “failures in our primary data center.” It seemed odd that we were only give a day’s notice. We should have been more prepared, students, faculty, and administration alike. Continue reading

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update on UC Davis LMS Fiasco: Finishing the term with two partial systems

After the LMS outage that started May 20th – covered here, here, and here at e-Literate – UC Davis has finished its spring academic term as of June 9th using two partial systems, one for faculty and one for students and neither of which is fully functional. In other words, UC Davis never fully recovered its LMS (Sakai system branded as SmartSite) functionality from the outage. UC Davis staff have indicated they will provide more information to us by interviews and public records, but they have not said when they will be ready to talk. Scriba (the Sakai commercial affiliate and hosting provider that caused the outage) has not replied to requests for an interview or statement. When and if these occur, I’ll post updates.

For a short timeline:

  • May 19th: Scriba notifies UC Davis of an emergency maintenance planned for May 20 – 23 as they changed data centers. Regarding the data center move, CEO Michael Sanders stated “The failures are as of a result of a third party and are outside of our control.” (irony alert inserted here)
  • Continue reading

Posted in Higher Education, Notable Posts, Openness | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment