For the 2012-2013 academic year, faculty have the option of using a learning management system other than Blackboard for their courses. The alternative system is Sakai, an open source Collaborative Learning Environment (CLE), developed by educators from the Unviversity of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT, and Stanford. The Loyola instance of Sakai is hosted off-site (as is our Blackboard instance) by the Longsight company.
What is Sakai?
- The Sakai CLE is a an open-source system for collaboration, hence the acronym CLE (Collaborative Learning Environment). It can be used for LUC courses, research projects, student clubs, or any other group that has information they want to share with the larger LUC community.
- LUC is offering Sakai as an alternative to the Blackboard LMS (Learning Management System).
- Sakai software is part of the Sakai Project (www.sakaiproject.org), a research and development project for creating open source collaborative tools for use in learning, research, and other types of distributed group work.
- The original participants in the Sakai Project were Indiana University, University of Michigan, MIT, and Stanford in partnership with UPortal and the Open Knowledge Initiative.
- Sakai has been adopted by over 350 institutions worldwide.
- Other private, four-year and above research universities using Sakai include: Boston University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Rice University, Seton Hall University, Tufts University, University of Dayton, University of Pennsylvania, Wake Forest University, and Yale University.
How does Sakai differ from Blackboard?
- Sakai is free (no licensing fees) and open-source (the code on which the platform is built is available for anyone to view). The code is built and maintained by the Sakai community which consists of all the organizations (universities, research instituions, non-profit organizations, for-profit organizations, e.g., Sakai-as-a-Service providers, etc.) which use and support Sakai. All Sakai members have the opportunity to contribute to the Sakai code or other aspects of Sakai development, e.g., documentation, training.
- Blackboard is a proprietary application and LUC must pay a licensing fee to use the platform based on university enrollment numbers. The code on which Blackboard is based is also proprietary. It is developed and maintained by the Blackboard corporation.
- Since the primary purpose of Sakai is collaboration and information sharing within the university and among academic/resesarch institutions Sakai gives you the ability to share your entire course/project or parts of your course/project with members of the university community who are not formally enrolled in your course or project.
- Sakai provides each member of the univeristy community with a Personal Workspace in which university members can upload material for their personal use or to share with others in the university without having to be enrolled in a course or organization. Material uploaded to the Personal Workspace can be copied or moved into courses.
How is Sakai similar to Blackboard?
- Sakai functionality is comparable to Blackboard although each system has some specialized functionality the other lacks, e.g., My Workspace in Sakai, Journals in Blackboard. Common tools include: home page with modules, announcements, email, internal messaging, assignments, discussion forums, blogs, chat, tests/quizzes, surveys/evaluations, learning units/modules, and grade center/gradebook.
- The Sakai interface is not radically different from the Blackboard interface. Navigation through a course or project site is accomplished through a "tools menu" on the left hand side of the page which is similar to the "course menu" in Blackboard.