Coming up: SmartSite upgrade, then a broader look into educational technology

Two important events involving SmartSite are coming up.

  • First, SmartSite will receive its next significant version upgrade. The installation is tentatively scheduled for overnight on June 22-23.
  • Later this year, Information and Educational Technology (IET) will begin exploring, with the campus, how UC Davis might best take advantage of ongoing changes in educational technology. This engagement will include discussions, presentations and other outreach, with the goal of shaping ideas that could be implemented in two or three years.

First, the upgrade

As it has the last two summers, the SmartSite group will again install an update to the Sakai software that powers SmartSite. The installation of Sakai Version 2.8 is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. Friday, June 22, and finish by 8 a.m. Saturday, June 23.

The schedule is tentative. IET will decide on June 11 if the work will proceed, based on testing and other considerations, and post the decision at smartsite.ucdavis.edu. If necessary, the work would be rescheduled to Aug. 3-4.

The service will be unavailable during the installation, with updates about operating status posted at smartsite.ucdavis.edu and status.ucdavis.edu.

Scheduling the work for late June has several advantages. June 22-23 falls after spring quarter, after spring quarter grades are due, and before the start of summer session I.

Post-upgrade, SmartSite will look and feel much like it does now. However, Sakai version 2.8 delivers more than 170 enhancements or fixes. The list of changes includes:

  • A new editor, the CKEditor, for creating and editing text and HTML. It meets federal Section 508 accessibility standards, and perfo rms better with text and HTML than the editor it replaces.
  • Improved integration with Google Docs.
  • An upgrade of the Gradebook2 tool to version 1.8, which includes more than 50 high-priority bug fixes.

Find an FAQ, contact information, and more at the upgrade page.

Looking forward

Once the upgrade is accomplished, IET wants to initiate a larger discussion that considers changes in social and mobile media, including the ongoing evolution in the Sakai platform. The next generation of Sakai--known as version 3 or Open Academic Environment (OAE)--is now in development. The Sakai Foundation describes OAE as "permeable, social, personal [and] remixable."

"There\031's more of an invitation to share material within OAE, whereas sites in the current version of Sakai are more self-contained," said Andy Jones, academic associate director for Academic Technology Services in IET. "Site owners still control their sites in OAE, but they will find it will be easier to share content with other networks."

Adopting OAE for SmartSite is one of several scenarios that IET wants to discuss this year and in 2013. The discussion will include a wider exploration of where the campus wants to go in educational technology, understanding that there are no guarantees about how the campus budget situation might look mid-decade.

"The spread of mobile computing and social media are changing the way people communicate, learn and work," Jones said. "We want to discuss how to take advantage of these changes at UC Davis."

IET-Academic Technology Services will contact key campus groups to consult, inform, and gather ideas. Outreach details will be worked out later this year.

Meanw hile, faculty interested in educational technology might wish to drop in on a meeting of the Faculty Users of SmartSite, led by Jones, who is also a continuing lecturer in the University Writing Program. For ongoing information, consider visiting The Wheel, a blog Jones produces about educational technology and campus resources available to UC Davis faculty.

Questions about SmartSite overall may also be directed to project manager Joyce Johnstone at jmjohnstone@ucdavis.edu.