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Contrib: OpenSyllabus


The OpenSyllabus project seeks to adapt to Sakai an easy to use tool to create and publish model-based syllabi that is currently used at HEC Montreal.
OpenSyllabus is a valuable proposition for the instructors, the students and the community (more details).


New Sakai GWT Working Group created by Thomas Amsler
Sakai Solo and OpenSyllabus
SAKAI community warmly welcomes GWT in Paris...

Alpha Version

The OpenSyllabus source-code (alpha version) with documentation will be available from the Sakai Repository in September.
This version has been presented in July 2008 at the 9th SAKAI Conference in Paris, France.

Interactive demo

Project organization:

HEC Montréal, Université de Montréal and Sakai Québec joined their efforts and brought their expertise to the project.

The project management method is SCRUM, the agile method for management of software development projects. The team is composed of 9 developers.

HEC Montréal contact : for global information, you can contact Emmanuel Vigne ( ) Project Director or Pascale Blanc ( ) Project Manager. For technical project information, you can contact Rémi Saias, ( ScrumMaster


Jacques Raynauld
Sacha Lepretre
Claude Coulombe


The OpenSyllabus project seeks to adapt to Sakai an easy to use tool to create and publish model-based syllabi that is currently used at HEC Montreal ( OpenSyllabus differs from the actual syllabus tool found in Sakai release 2.4 in three dimensions.

1. For the instructor : contrary to Syllabus which offers no guidance to the instructor, OpenSyllabus is 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 thus deposit their electronic resources (ppt, pdf, url, etc.) directly to 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 were all the university syllabi can be found (current and archived ones). OpenSyllabus seamlessly present public or private versions of the syllabi (depending on the viewing rights) and merge 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.

OpenSyllabus value proposition for
the instructor : guidance, simplicity and interface quickness
the students : easy navigation and clarity
the community (alumni) : unique location for university syllabi
the school : better knowledge management and integration with administrative workflow
the IT department : a new Sakai tool less demanding on servers

Paris Sakai Conference - July 2008 :

Video (RealPlayer) - OpenSyllabus presentation at Sakai Paris Conference : A Prototype Tool to Create Structured Syllabi in Sakai

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Interactive demo

Newport Sakai Conference - December 2007 :

[OpenSyllabus presentation at Sakai Newport Conference|^OpenSyllabusDec2007.ppt] 

Update on the prototype :

  • The prototype exploits Google Web Toolkit library (GWT to provide a quick and friendly user interface.  The structure and the content of the syllabus are described in a structured XML file.  OpenSyllabus/GWT shell 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 (Power Point, citation, forum, etc.) contained in the syllabus.  The prototype can thus exploit all the resources and features available in Sakai yet can keep the information in a XML format for possible sharing or export.
  • Three presentations are scheduled at the 9th Sakai conference in Paris:

Screenshot :

The OpenSyllabus prototype...

RoadMap :

OpenSyllabus Roadmap is a big-picture view of functionality, ideas and hopes we expect OpenSyllabus to include in mid-term and long-term future. This roadmap 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. 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 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
    • the 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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