A New Job, Part II

In my last post, I announced that I will be taking a new job at Oracle and explained that the move will not affect my blogging. Now I’d like to take a moment to talk about why I’m so excited about this new opportunity to make a difference in the world of online learning.

I have long worried that folks who spend their days out on the bleeding edge discovering new and better ways to teach and learn online and the folks who spend their days working to increase the diffusion of baseline enhancements broadly across entire universities don’t speak the same language. We get brilliant small tools that individual practitioners can use flexibly to great effect, and we get scalable, supportable systems that make it easy to provide new services to everyone in a university (and, just as importantly, to help them learn how to use those services to provide at least modest improvements to the quality of the educational experience), but we don’t really get both. Innovation is very slow to make its way into the mainstream. There are exceptions to this, of course (I think of the integration of Elgg and LAMS with Moodle or the large-scale podcasting initiatives at places like Stanford and Penn State, for example), but generally speaking, the wall between these two worlds is way too high. In my mind, the LMOS has always been an attempt to lower that wall.

So along comes one of the largest companies in the world, and it wants to pour resources into the very same vision that my colleagues and I arrived at for SUNY when we were thinking about the needs of our teachers and students. And it makes a commitment to use an Open Source platform and work with open standards. And it gets an endorsement from the CEO of the IMS for walking the walk on standards. And it wants to hire this loudmouth blogger with a history of bashing another large company (and an Oracle business partner) to help guide the vision for improving the teaching and learning experience.

How could I resist?

I didn’t take this job to work at a big software company or to make more money. I left the corporate consulting world to work at SUNY two years ago (at a very significant pay cut) because I wanted to make a difference. That hasn’t changed. I believe that I can make a difference working at Oracle on the AEI project. And I believe the people who hired me, the people with whom I had very long conversations during the interview process, also want to make a difference. And I believe that those people are the drivers of the AEI project and will be supported in their efforts. Above all, I believe that we have a rare opportunity to have a potential impact at a critical inflection point in the future of learning environments.

I can’t wait to get started.

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About Michael Feldstein

Michael Feldstein is co-Publisher of e-Literate, co-Producer of e-Literate TV, and Partner in MindWires Consulting. For more information, see his profile page.
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5 Responses to A New Job, Part II

  1. Barry Dahl says:

    Hello Michael,
    I admire the fact that you have seen an opportunity and made a big decision to pursue it. I’m hoping that you can help out us poor souls in higher ed from your new perch in corporate America. Heaven knows we need it. Your description is intriguing and I wish you the best of luck in the new endeavor. I’ll still be reading. Barry Dahl

  2. Thank you, Barry. I don’t view myself as going to a new “perch”; I’ll still be down in the trenches (though admittedly now in some nicer, more comfortable trenches). The fight continues.

    Speaking of which, I really enjoy your blog.

  3. Mara Hancock says:

    Hi Michael – Congratulations! As a member of the AEI advisory group, I can honestly say that I look forward to working with you! This was a smart move by Oracle. I thought Cary was a smart cookie — this proved it! Will you be staying back East or moving to CA?

  4. Anymouse C says:

    Oracle Academic Enterprise Initiative An Oracle White Paper August 2006?

    “Sakai for Oracle”?
    “The Oracle Learning Mgt. Player”?
    Sakai as middleware with Oracle on the backend and the client side?

    Isn’t this kind of jumping out of the wok and into the flame?

  5. Mara, thanks for the kind words. I also think Cary is a smart cookie…*despite* the fact that he has hired me. I will be staying on the East Coast, though I expect I’ll be visiting your neck of the woods from time to time.

    Anymouse, I don’t know anything about the learning management player yet (though I strongly suspect it’s not much more than a SCORM content player), but in any case, the AEI plan isn’t really to use Sakai as middleware smothered between Oracle products, as you have characterized it. There will be very little Oracle-specific code in “Oracle for Sakai.” In fact, the main plans Oracle-specific code that I’m aware of are Peoplesoft connectors that will supplement vanilla IMS Enterprise to close whatever integration gaps in the way of out-of-the-box integration that can’t be done via the standard. Beyond that, Oracle will be working to make sure that its other products (e.g., the collaborative suite, including their popular calendar) can play nicely with Sakai. This is about supporting Oracle customers who want to use Sakai, not about assimilating the Sakai project.

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