One of the best aspects of the annual Sakai conference is the Teaching With Sakai Innovation Awards (TWSIA). Every year, several teachers in the Sakai community are honored for their work and give presentations on what they’re doing in the classroom. This year, the TWSIA presentations were the keynote on the second day of the conference. The point of these awards isn’t to sing the praises of the Sakai software. Rather, it’s to (a) celebrate the work of some outstanding teachers, (b) remind all the people who contribute to the development and support of Sakai of why their work matters, and (c) give Sakai developers more direct exposure to how teachers are working online and what kinds of capabilities they need and and actually use.
This year, the first place winner was Dr. Scott Bowman, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas State University. Here’s an interview of him talking about his juvenile justice course:
What’s striking to me is how well his course lines up with Dan Pink’s three elements of motivation, which I wrote about in my last post:
In terms of the technology, it wasn’t anything special. Dr. Bowman was using the relatively basic wiki tool in Sakai. And that’s a fairly important point. These students needed neither fancy LMS doodads nor radically different PLEs nor the burning down of the university as an institution. This worked on good old-fashioned student-centered teaching, with the help of a pretty basic social web tool, but used in a way that subverts the expectations of the typical classroom kabuki. (Hello, Secret Revolution.)
With all the talk about the technology, it’s easy to forget, especially when observing from the outside, that Sakai is first and foremost a community of people who are passionate about improving education. That’s one reason why I’ve been so delighted to see the TWSIA take increasing prominence at the conferences over the last few years.
Here’s the conference keynote presentations of the first- and second-place winners. It starts with awards for Sakai Fellows—people who are recognized for their great work in supporting the community in various ways. The keynote introduction begins at around 12:00.