Sakai Foundation Board of Directors Conference Call
May 11, 2006
This document contains minutes from the conference call of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors held on May 11, 2006. Corrections, suggestions should be sent to Joseph Hardin and Mary Miles.
These minute capture both the discussion and formal resolutions of the board. Simply because something was discussed does not mean that it is the agreed-upon position of the board. When the board makes a formal resolution to approve an item, it will be noted as such in the minutes. If there is no such notation, readers should assume that the minutes are simply the notes of the board discussions.
Board members present: Brad Wheeler, Ian Dolphin, Lois Brooks, Jutta Treviranus, Chris Coppola, Joseph Hardin, John Norman, Chuck Severance, Vivie Sinou, Mary Miles (staff)
Lois reported that Lance Speelmon, Lydia Li and Chuck Severance and planning to discuss the technical issues regarding Samigo. Based on that planned meeting, the Samigo discussion was deferred. The board noted the need to determine what needs to be done technically and then make a decision on whether it's a go/no go. A fair amount of objectivity from that group is needed.
Joseph agreed with Lois that all that can be accomplished at this call is contingency planning. Lydia, Chuck and Lance will provide a technical report on Samigo, but there is a high probability that people have simply lost confidence in the product. This view is so widely held that an alternative approach is needed immediately. Realizing that this is a crisis situation and needing a solution by the weekend, Vivie is evaluating commercial alternatives. Joseph felt that the best solution would be to find a way to integrate a commercial offering as deeply into the core as possible, as quickly as possible. For the long term, the board needs to determine if Samigo is something the board or the community continues to invest time or resources in. At this point in time, a commercial offering is probably the best option, but that would provide a relatively simple addition to Sakai. Brad stated that if there is something available that works effectively, a proven testing engine, then the board should consider that. Joseph replied that both Foothill and Indiana need something that works for the fall. Vivie is going to select one of the proven alternatives. A question for the board is whether we can leverage any commercial product to get past this. Vivie noted that she has no choice but to go forward with a commercial product. The only reason her outcomes have not been shared is because she is still waiting for information back from the vendors. She expected to make a decision within a week.
Chris noted that it would be unfortunate if this consumed us at the conference and the conversations there. Somehow, there needs to be a strong message of a path forward that this is not the only path forward. Vivie replied that she needs to have finished the technical review by then and make some decisions about whether work will continue with Samigo. Or, if that is not realistic, we need to tell the community what we are working on as a solution. Joseph responded that this breaks out into the short term question, in terms of weeks, and then the longer term question about how we get something back into the bundle that will work for everyone. Vivie agreed that we want institutions to know there is a solution; we don't want others to pay the same price. The gentle message of the move of Samigo to provisional status says a lot.
Chris added that if the commercial application is a solution, it may be an opportunity to bring a new commercial affiliate to Sakai. Would the board be willing to waive a commercial affiliate's fee in exchange for a very defined and concerted effort to integrate and make it a part of fall production? Joseph replied that he would not take that consideration off the table.
John commented that Cambridge is in a very different position as nobody has seen it yet. He was in favor of determining whether there is a path forward. His main comment would be that he would like to understand how hard it would be to disaggregate from the delivery engine. John suggested getting teams working on the individual tracts. Chuck commented that a complex code review will take time, but questioned whether that was the right thing to do. He suggested that since Foothill and Indiana have lost confidence and are moving toward a different solution that would allow time to continue to fix Samigo and not try to rush to some carefully crafted roadmap that will work in six months. One path would be to put teams of people on separate components of Samigo. Samigo's feature set is one of the strongest in the industry so separating out authoring from test taking is the way to go.
Vivie commented that going a different route, is not a short term solution for Foothill. Brad agreed, stating that whatever we do, it has a path dependency that once you start flipping faculty content, it's going to be very difficult to go back. Chuck asked whether there was an option to put more resources into it. Brad replied that it's a local decision, but we can't turn off other products until we have this as a part of a course management system. Chuck noted that for the institutions that decide to stick with Samigo, there's nothing wrong with more than one solution. That will slow us down, but is not necessarily fatal. Mara added that if we choose a commercial vendor, you may be making a decision that does not only give another option, but still leaves Sakai as an enterprise with a critical piece missing.
Ian commented on the preliminary view of how to present at the conference. He felt that a clear message needed to be presented at the conference. Joseph stated that there are 20 or 30 schools that are going into early production or serious pilot this fall. He has asked Anthony to find out what tools they are turning on and to talk with them individually about the strengths and weaknesses of each.
The following were determined to be the steps forward: Chuck will give an analysis after his discussion with Lydia and Lance; Vivie will provide an assessment of her findings in the next 3-4 days. The question is how to publicize this path. Joseph will send an announcement to the mailing list that has been discussion this, but he wants to talk more to Lois before it goes out.
Topic: Executive Director Interview Schedule
It is possible to do all of the interviews on Thursday, June 1. Mary will set up a schedule and sent around to everyone.
Topic: Other Discussion
The Vancouver conference schedule is going up today. Projections are probably around 550 now, not 650. Joseph asked the board to come up with agenda items for the Vancouver Board meeting. These should be sent to Mary, sent to the board, and added to the wiki.
With no further business before the board, the call ended at 2:24 p.m.