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titleWebinar Summary

This page provides a recording of Josh Baron's Sakai webinar that stemmed from his comments on the Educause CIO list. It also provides answers to many questions that were asked during the session. You may also find the New to Sakai FAQ useful.

General Questions

Q: Is a recording of the meeting available?
A: The recording for this meeting can be accessed at

Q: How many people attended the meeting?
A: 81.

Q: What about the 10th Sakai Conference in Boston:
A: The conference website has more information on the 10th Sakai Conference.


Q: What CMS did Marist move from?
A: Marist was using "Educator" from Ucompass.

Q: What was your adoption rate of your previous CMS?
A: Josh mentions in the webinar that in the At Marist, the first wave of migration to Sakai they hoped for 15% of faculty. They ended up with 65%.
From University of Delaware: We got similar results at UD in the Fall 2008: Target 20%, reality: 50%


Q: How did the migration process work?
A: Josh wasn't able to provide an quick/brief answer to this question.
The Sakai conference is a great place to hear migration stories. The Sakai wiki also contains information on migration from other LMS systems. This information is not complete and the Sakai email lists are a good place to ask more detailed questions.


Q: Any benefits of Sakai vs. Moodle?
Q: Did you look at other open source alternatives or just Sakai when you did your research?
Q: At some point I hope you will contrast Sakai with Moodle and other open source learning management systems.
A: Josh respects conveyed his respect for Moodle, but felt Sakai was a better fit for Marist according to the criteria they developed.   The enterprise-nature of Sakai was also attractive as was the integrated e-portfolio functionality.
There will be a "Blackboard, Moodle and Sakai" panel at Educause 2009 in Denver.


Q: Is there integration functionality with SunGard Banner? If so, then what?
Q: Do you know what the timeframe is for the banner integration with Sakai?
Q: Is there real-time (incoming) SIS integration with Datatel Colleague?
A: Marist plans to integrate Sakai with Banner in 2010. Other universities have integrated Sakai with Banner as well. These include UC Davis, UC Merced, Yale, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, University of Hawaii and Rice.
Several Sakai institutions have also integrated Sakai with Datatel.   These include Mount Holyoke, Saginaw Valley State and Albany Medical College.


Q: Can you speak a little more to the SIS integration process?
Q: Was your previous CMS integrated with your SIS? Did you create course sites for every course or only on request? Has that changed with Sakai?
Q: What built-in modules are in Sakai to import SIS data from SIS systems? Are there built-in modules (e.g. LDAP) that can authenticate logins from an SIS source in real time? Discover enrollments in the SIS source system?
A: Sakai is typically integrated with the campus SIS. The Sakai wiki contains information about integrating other systems with Sakai.

Q: Does Sakai integrate with other 3rd party products such as Wimba, eInstruction, Respondus?
A: Yes, Sakai integrates with a variety of products.   Wimba, Respondus, Elluminate, TurnItIn, SoftChalk, Zimbra and DSpace all have integrations work with Sakai. Stanford is working on an integration with Sharestream.


Q: What has your start up costs been and do you have a projected cost of ownership over then next 3-10 years?
Q: How much are you spending on support with the commerical providers?   Is this significantly less than your license costs with the CMS vendor that you left?
A: We This wasn't answered in the webinar and won't be publishing financial information. We suggest you contact individual institutions to see if they can help provide the data you're looking for. The Sakai Foundation can help find a university similar to yours that is using Sakai.


Q: I'm not sure if you plan to cover the specific program offerings, but what is the level of security of quizzes/tests? 
A: Tests and quizzes in Sakai offers the typical abilities for locking down assessments to individual machines, classrooms of machines, time-limits, etc.

Q: Is there a grade book option?
A: Yes, Sakai has a fully featured grade book and significant enhancements are planned for Sakai 2.7.

Q: What about a math equation editor? Does one exist?
A: Sakai does not contain a math equation editor out-of-the-box, however, some people have been custom-integrating solutions, such as a WebEQ plugin with Sakai's default rich-text editor or LaTeX support.

Q: Can you do attendance within Sakai?
A: Yes, there are ways of doing this with Sakai. At Marist we generally use the assignments tool to track attendance.
Hosei University in Japan has developed a tool to automatically track attendance using a card reader and student ID cards. This is not part of the default Sakai functionality, but may be something that can be added to your Sakai installation.

Q: What is the difference between Discussion Forums and Forums?
A: Previously Sakai offered two distinct "forum" tools, one called Discussion and one called Forums. The former tool has been deprecated, and removed from current releases, in favour of a single-solution, Forums. Discussion is still available as add-on contrib tool, along with other implementations of "forum" capabilities, such as Yaft.

Q: Can "My Workspace" be public?
A: Yes, you can share some or all of it with the public, depending on how permissions and configuration options are set. This is true for all sites in Sakai.

Community & Code

Q: If your institution uses Sakai, does it have to pay the $10,000 to join the foundation?
A: No, membership is optional, but encouraged to help maintain a vibrant, active open-source community. The activities of the Sakai Foundation are sustained primarily by membership dues.


Q: According to the licensing arrangements, are changes introduced to Sakai by a commercial firm REQUIRED to be released back to the Sakai community, as is the case with the GPL?
A: No. First a word clarification on the GPL. It requires changes that are externally distributed to also be released under GPL. You can make modifications of GPL code for internal use only without releasing those back to the community. As soon as you distribute it, though, you must apply the GPL license to your changes/additions.
Sakai's Apache-style license does not have this requirement. This allows Sakai Commercial Affiliates to provide value-added options for their customized distributions of Sakai; and, though they are not required, experience has shown they do typically contribute back useful modifications and bug-fixes to the community in a timely fashion.


Q: I really like Sakai but think it might be hard to train users not to use the ""back"" button, which leads to unpredictable behavior due to the number of iFrames in Sakai. How do you handle that?
A: This was a signifigant significant problem in early versions of Sakai but has improved over the years. It is not a big issue at Marist. University of Delaware and Stanford University confirm that it is not a significant issue for them. It is unlikely to be a problem in Sakai 3, which is being designed with back-button support in mind.