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A Strategic Vision for SakaiNG
** DRAFT **

Editorial Note (2/19/2014):  The following are notes developed by Joshua Baron and reflect his initial and early thinking around a vision for the next generation Sakai.  The intent at this stage is to simply surface this early thinking as means to stimulate a broader dialog.  Also, many of the terms used below come from the Sakai Learning Design Lens work which were developed in 2010-11 by the Sakai Teaching and Learning Group.  We have linked key terms used here to the Learning Design Lens definitions as a reference for those not familiar with that work.



Sakai recently celebrated it's 10 year anniversary.  Over the past decade it has not only achieved tremendous success as a project and product, it has had a strategically significant impacted on the entire global Learning Management System market place.   From open standards such as LTI to just the concept of openness in education, Sakai has been a driver for a great deal of innovation and change in the industry.  At the same time, it is important to recognize that Sakai was launched before Facebook, YouTube and the iPad which have been important mile markers on the wildly steep and curvy "information superhighway" that we've been speeding down now since the beginning of the Internet that point to the constant need for technology projects to be re-inventing themselves in order to remain relevant in this super dynamic market.


The following outlines early thinking around one possible direction for Sakai to take as we continue down the road we began 10 years ago and work to remain relevant over the coming decade. Central to this vision is the concept of disaggergating or "unbundling" the Learning Management System which has been discussed by many over the past few years but which has yet to be realized in any fundamental way within the LMS industry.  As an open-source project does not need to be concerned with profit-margins and shareholder expectations, we are uniquely positioned to play a leadership role, as we have over the past decade, in realizing such a vision and the innovation that it could bring to the market. 

Again, this is early thinking from one person and meant to stimulate broad discussion and debate.  Please share your comments below or add your ideas to the page itself.

Why unbundled the LMS?

  • Provides users with the ability to "install" their own learning apps to create a personalized learning environment
  • Facilitates the ability to swap out "learning devices" as means to replace major categories of capabilities easily and efficiently
  • Increased choice and ability to customize more significantly


Core Values

  • Truly Open - We believe in truly open systems that go beyond marketing hype and provide open source code, open communities, open APIs, open standards, etc. which support tools that are both "consumers" as well as "providers"
  • Delightful User Experiences - We believe that powerful learning capabilities developed on robust code are useless unless the user experience is one that delights to the point of users wanting to use the system more and more over time
  • Cloud-Ready Scalability - We believe that the Next Gen LMS will need to highly scalable within cloud environments that can facilitate use by large number of users and sharing "above the institutional layer".

Core Learning Services

Core Learning Services that are (or will be in the future) fundamental to teaching and learning, these might include:

  • Learning and Teaching Management, which would encompass:
    • Roles and Permissions (Individuals and Groups)
    • Event Messaging/Enterprise Service Bus
    • Data Capture and Secure Sharing
  • User Autonomy and Networking, which would encompass:
    • Profiles
    • Personalization
    • Academic Networking
  • User Interface, which might include:
    • User Experience Framework – Technical and UI specifications which are “enforced” by the Core Learning Services to ensure consistent UX.
  • Openness, which would encompass:
    • Open Standards and APIs
    • Interoperability
    • Open Licensing – ability to support use of Creative Commons licenses
    • Open Educational Resources – ability to integrate with OER projects, content, etc.

Core Learning Devices

Teaching and Learning tools or groups of tools which can be connected through the Core Learning Services, these might include:

  • Content Creation and Use, which would encompass:
    • Finding Content
    • Authoring Content
    • Managing Content
    • Publishing Content
    • Administering Content
    • Reusing Content
  • Learning Activities, which would encompass:
    • Application of Learning Theory
    • Sequencing and Workflow
    • Scaffolding and Guidance
    • Reflection and Metacognition
    • Portfolio Process
    • Learning Interactives
  • Learning Interactions,which would encompass:
    • Communication
    • Collaboration
    • Community
  • Assessment and Evaluation, which would encompass:
    • Grading, Rating and Feedback
    • Tracking
    • Documenting Learning
    • Reporting

Learning App Market Place

These would be user-focused learning apps which could be "installed" by individual users as means to allow them to create highly personalized learning environments customized to meet their own unique needs.  These Apps, which could be developed without extensive technical skills, could be made available through the Apereo/Sakai web site which could help create a revenue stream for sustainability.

Learning Cloud

A set of services and infrastructure that would sit “above the institution” and facilitate sharing, collaboration and research such as:

  • Instructional Content Repository
  • Pedagogical Best Practices
  • Research Learning Record Store
  • Academic Networking


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