This week I was in San Diego attending the Open Apereo 2013 Conference in San Diego. Apereo is the new name for the open source community that combines the Sakai and Jasig communities. Jasig is a community that develops open source academic software such as uPortal, CAS (Central Authentication Service) and Bedework (an enterprise calendar system). Last year both organizations voted to combine into a single open source organization called Apereo. The name is a combination of community suggestions, and represents the fusion of two Latin words, “aperto”, which means “open” and “mereo”, meaning merit.
This year’s conference showed a renewed enthusiasm in development on the original Sakai CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment) system. Sakai 2.9 was released to the community recently and has been getting great reviews. With a new, more modern user interface and several new core tools, Sakai 2.9 has been a shot in the arm to the community.
Many of the sessions I attended focused on how institutions have integrated Sakai with other 3rd party tools they are using. The University of Michigan gave a particularly impressive presentation on their Sakai integration of Google Apps for Education. The University of South Alabama gave an overview of the different methods they’ve used to integrate a wide variety of tools including BigBlueButton, Foliotek, ePortfolio, iClicker, Media Gallery, MyMathLabs, ProctorU, Scantron Class Climate, Smarthinking, Turnitin, and iRubric. I also attended several presentations on interesting usage scenarios that other institutions have designed within their instance of Sakai. The University of Virginia uses Sakai’s site template feature in very creative ways for example. When we upgrade Sakai this summer we will have access to two big new tools—Gradebook2 and Lessons—and I attended several sessions devoted to those tools. You can read more about our Sakai upgrade in another news post.
Development on Sakai OAE, now known as Apereo OAE, progresses with support from Marist College, the University of Cambridge, and Georgia Tech. OAE has had a rocky history. Originally envisioned as Sakai 3, a replacement to the original CLE system, the developers quickly realized that rewriting all of the code behind the CLE tools was logistically impossible. They then thought the two systems could run in tandem, in so-called hybrid mode. Last year we saw a real upheaval in the development process with complaints of severe performance problems and the withdrawal of two of the major contributors, the University of Michigan and Indiana University. (Both are still continuing with their development support for Sakai CLE.)
Development of OAE continues, but with a scaled-back focus. The developers pretty much started from scratch in order to fix the performance problems and have decided to abandon the hybrid mode idea. OAE is now designed to run completely separately from Sakai CLE. Sakai CLE will continue to provide the course management tools while OAE will focus on providing an open, permeable collaborative environment, similar to what we already have access to with Google Apps for Education.
Many of the conference sessions were recorded using Google+ Hangouts and published to a YouTube channel. You can find them at http://www.youtube.com/apereo if you are interested in learning more about the topics I’ve mentioned. The conference also used a conference schedule system called Lanyrd, which I really liked. So you can find the full conference schedule with links to presentation materials at http://lanyrd.com/2013/apereo.