9 responses

  1. Bruce
    September 23, 2012

    The unLMS vs. next-gen LMS is an interesting way to characterize the vision tension, and is probably right. But I, as someone that really needs both (I deal with everything from large enrollment introductory classes to small, ad hoc, cohorts of grad students, and existing LMS options, including CLE, do not serve my needs well at all), wonder if the lack of clarity I see in the OAE vision is precisely here. I think the project would be much better served by focusing on how people (not just students, but instructors, researchers, etc.) learn. There must be huge reservoirs of advanced research knowledge on just this question at major Sakai institutions; why not exploit that to start by serving a small number of real user stories, and then build from there?

  2. Clay Fenlason
    September 24, 2012

    I’ve had a trajectory not unlike yours in the Sakai community, Michael, and it leaves me with similar reflections.

    If I were to add my attempt to capture the moral of the OAE story, add it to all the others being written, I think it would focus on the thing that has always been distinct about Sakai: the collaboration of institutions. OAE experiments have not been limited to concept and code, but also to how institutions commit (or don’t) to work together, and how that work gets carried out.

    Most of the commentary in recent weeks has focused on product vision, software development process, management, etc. A lot of that critique may be right, but it would still feel off the mark to me, a treatment of symptoms. At the very least, they often fail to take into account how our community activity is premised on the coordination of institutions, not individuals.

    I think the whole model of community source deserves a new round of scrutiny. Perhaps especially timely that Apereo is on the horizon, but also because there are a number of difficult Sakai (and Kuali) experiences under our collective belts. What is community source good for: when has it worked, and when has it fallen down?

    I’m no longer satisfied with the answers enshrined in the original vision of community source for higher ed. I suspect I’ll end up at a more instrumental approach – that under certain circumstances, community source *can* be effective at achieving *some* goals – than a commitment to a principle.

  3. Charles Severance
    September 25, 2012

    Michael – well put. And I think Clay’s analysis touches at exactly the heart of the matter. Open Source seems to be a “model” it has principles and as long as projects generally follow the principles it seems replicable in many situations.

    When we started we felt that “Community Source” was a similarly replicable model if we could figure out whats its “core principles” were.

    The primary difference was that in Open Source the players are humans and software and in Community Source the players are humans, software and organizations. When organizations become involved it is quite a bit more complex.

    I agree with Clay’s final reflection.

  4. Lou Rinaldi
    October 4, 2012

    “…it is important for credible, not-for-profit open source alternatives to exist in the educational software market as a counter-balance to commercial forces.”

    But at whose expense?

    Idealogical alignment does not translate to practical value, least of all when the user experience is deficient. There are other more viable means of putting pricing pressure on the for-profit LMS players, such as Internet2’s Net+ portfolio of service offerings. Net+ acts as a broker for better pricing and a facilitator of a higher ed consortium, and does so without the user base carrying the proverbial cross of open source. I’m not suggesting that commercial LMS products have inherently superior UX, only that it should not be the burden of students and faculty to drive market forces.

  5. Michael Feldstein
    October 4, 2012

    First off, when one dominant market player is buying up or suing all the viable alternatives, then contract brokering has limited value. Beyond that, price control is not the *only* virtue. As I also mentioned, Sakai has brought new ideas into the market that are influencing other alternatives and potentially driving innovation. If I recall correctly, Internet2 does significant open source software development too.

  6. Lou Rinaldi
    October 4, 2012

    Is there still a truly dominant player across the entire market, which has shifted, fragmented, evolved and grown significantly since many institutions first adopted Sakai? I don’t argue the point you make, only that the noble goal may have already been accomplished.

  7. Brian Whitmer (@whitmer)
    October 11, 2012

    I’ll +1 Michael’s comments (sorry for the late reply, I think after investing in reading this whole article I couldn’t not comment :-) ) on agile development on a shoestring budget. The beta release of Canvas was built off $250k of funding over a year with a 3-man team (granted, founders are a lot cheaper than fully-compensated developers, but even double that seems pretty small). What we built had scalability in mind from the get-go and was a compelling first iteration. I don’t believe scalability has to be sacrificed, at least not entirely.

    Having only observed OAE from the periphery, I can say that I’ve always had a hard time understanding what it was trying to accomplish. With the recent changes in OAE participation, I’d love to see a “vision” mockup or video that made the endgame for OAE a bit more clear, because I *think* I’m still excited about where OAE is headed.

    It definitely makes it easier in some ways to have a “benevolent dictator” model as opposed to community source, but I would hate to see that be the only option. I can tell you that we are trying to learn from community source just like community source I’m sure can learn from the commercial open source model.

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