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Project Description | Presentations at Sakai Conferences | Roadmap

Project Description

The OpenSyllabus project seeks to adapt to Sakai an easy-to-use tool to create and publish model-based syllabi  currently used at HEC Montréal with ZoneCours.
OpenSyllabus differs from the actual syllabus tool found in Sakai release 2.4 in three aspects:

  1. For the instructor : unlike syllabus which offers no guidance to the instructor, OpenSyllabus provides a template that organizes the material and resources usually found in a course outline in predefined sections (introduction, contact information, learning material, assignments, weekly themes or lectures, etc.). Instructors can upload their electronic resources (ppt, pdf, url, etc.) directly into the right syllabus section and qualify their use (reading, exercise. general resource, etc.).
  2. For the students: OpenSyllabus offers a unified interface with a standardized vocabulary for easy navigation through the syllabus for all the course material.
  3. For the administrative staff and the general public: OpenSyllabus offers a centralized location where all the university syllabi can be found (current and archived ones). OpenSyllabus seamlessly presents public or private versions of the syllabi (depending on the viewing rights) and merges information intended for all registered students of a course or for the students attending a specific section. OpenSyllabus shares the openness objectives found in the MIT OpenCourseWare project.

OSYL uses the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) to provide a fast and intuitive user interface.  The structure and the content of the syllabus are described in a structured XML file.  OSYL's GWT frontend can create, display and modify the XML file which is then stored in Sakai.  The XML file also contains the unique URLs to access all the other resources (PowerPoints, citations, forums, etc.) referred by the syllabus.  OSYL takes advantage of all the resources and features available in Sakai and keeps the information in a XML format for possible sharing or export.


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The project organization

HEC Montréal gather its resources and bring its expertise to the OpenSyllabus project.
The project management is based on Scrum methodology, an iterative method used in agile software development.

  • For technical help, please send a detailed message on the sakai-dev mailing list
  • For general information you can contact us at

Presentations at Sakai Conferences

Some presentations useful to understand the roots and origins of OpenSyllabus as well as its evolution.

  1. Los Angeles - June 2011
    1. 2011-06-14 Open Syllabus - Building a coherent learning environment in Sakai 2x
  2. Boston - July 2009
    1. Linking to libraries resources - workarounds and Z39.50 connectors in Sakai: Linking to libraries resources - workarounds and Z39.50 connectors in Sakai.pptx
    2. Building and Integrating OpenSyllabus in Sakai: PDF File (2.3 MB)
    3. Open Syllabus Overview -Panel
    4. Open Syllabus Hands On
  3. Paris - July 2008 - Three presentations were given at the 9th Sakai conference:
    1. OpenSyllabus : A Prototype Tool to Create Structured Syllabi in Sakai: PowerPoint Slides  /  Video (RealPlayer) (rtsp://   /  Multimedia Tour Demo
    2. How to Share Electronic Course Syllabi : Open Syllabus, SCORM and IMS-CP: Slides (PDF)
    3. Sakai & GWT - Toward Improved UX & Easy Web 2.0 Development all in Java: Slides (PDF)
  4. Newport Beach - December 2007: OpenSyllabus: Model-based Electronic Syllabi in Sakai PowerPoint Slides (1.9 MB)

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OpenSyllabus is now at version 9.04.  Its first Alpha release was published in september 2008. To make the current version, the Alpha has been greatly enriched and efforts have been concentrated on making it as close as possible to ZoneCours, the original concept of syllabus management presently used at HEC Montreal.

Here is an overview of different aspects we addressed to meet this goal, specially about OSYLEditor.

Additionnally, here is our global roadmap, a big-picture view of functionalities, ideas and hopes we expect to include in mid and long-term future. It is based on feedback from current OpenSyllabus developers and Sakai community members. The following items are listed in the order of our actual priorities:

  • Course Outline Sharing (CO sharable content)
    Ressources and texts could be shared among different Course Outlines. For instance, different COs can inherit basic content (resources & texts) from a Master CO. Thus, a course delivered by different teachers could share one Master CO. This allows each teacher to build a different CO from the inherited Master CO. Inherited content could not be edited but new content could be easily added.
  • Integration to Academic Information System
  • UX improvement
    • Drag & Drop Mechanism for syllabus structure tree
    • OSYL setting management tool
      It is a friendly tool dedicated to SAKAI administrators for managing OSYL configuration.
      It allows the setting of different configurations according to :
      • university or department standards
      • different course outline structures
      • specific vocabulary and terminology
  • Resources copyright Management
  • Resources tagging attributes : available at library, available at bookstore, etc
  • Course display format :
    • Course Outline Export Format (PDF, XML)
    • Global/Lengthy Course Outline View
  • Integration to other related Sakai Tools :
    Citation Tool, SCORM Player, Forum, Wiki , Exercises, Podcast, new Sakai Portal MyCamTools, etc.
  • Mathematical Equations Enabling
  • Learning Module Encapsulation and Sharing
  • User Feedback Management
  • Offline capabilities (Google Gears ?)

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