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  • Clay Fenlason 2007 Thoughts
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Like the other BOD thought pieces, this was originally written in March/April of 2007

Snapshots of an imagined future (and things which are still somewhat out of reach)

  • The community recognizes that it takes effort to receive as well as give, and that this is time well spent. Community contributors of all stripes orient more of their time toward cultivating new contributors: mentoring more recent arrivals, delegating authority where appropriate, writing documentation, and reviewing and commenting on the contributions of others.
  • Sakai becomes "contributor-friendly" as well as "CIO-friendly."
  • The community embraces organizational structures which both allow more distributed development and provide greater coherence, improved reporting and transparency.
  • The product achieves a sufficient level of functionality in LMS staple features that the community finds the freedom not to be driven by short-term thinking about feature gaps.
  • The product achieves a sufficient level of excellence in collaboration tools that collab.sakaiproject.org becomes a real support of community activity.
  • Quality permeates the product, and the community is proud of it.
  • Community source reveals its advantages by overcoming the traditional weaknesses of mere open source (e.g. documentation and a delightful user experience).
  • The framework APIs all undergo as thorough and carefully collaborative a redesign process as the CM API.
  • Foundation-coordinated efforts make efficient use of distributed local interests before appealing for special volunteers to step out of those contexts and into a Foundation-centric mode.
  • The community finds breadth and redundancy in its membership, and breaks free of the bottlenecks that come from individuals not scaling or narrow peer review.
  • New members of the community do not feel at a loss as to how to get started and involved, or where to get information.
  • The community receives clear and frequent communication from its leadership. The ED and at least a few Board members have blogs that the community finds worth reading.
  • Sakai becomes as good at execution as it is at big ideas.

Sakai's Strengths (which ought to be deepened and built upon)

Sakai has three key market differentiators:

  1. the institutional community backing it - their caliber, resources and shared needs.
  2. the framework, its service architecture and APIs. This is what separates us from more polished LMS/VLE products, and it is a strength we should retain as a priority and deepen even as we work toward the enhancement of particular tools.
  3. an express emphasis on collaboration in a variety of academic forms, and not just the classroom, though Sakai has yet to live up to this promise.

A successful business plan will turn upon these distinctions rather than an LMS feature footrace with Moodle, Blackboard, etc. Excellence in the LMS arena is necessary, but we should be framing the conversation in different terms. We can best succeed in the LMS arena by co-opting the strengths of others that are ahead of us (e.g. interoperability with Bodington, LAMS) through a deepening of our shared services, adherence to useful (i.e. not all) standards, and a refinement of our integration points.