UC Davis Prepares for New Course Management Tools

In an unprecedented move, UC Davis joined forces last summer with several other institutions around the country to create open-source course management tools and related software for the higher education community. This landmark venture, called the Sakai Project, began in January 2004 and now counts 65 institutions worldwide--UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Merced, and UC Santa Barbara among them. A year after joining the consortium, UC Davis is poised to launch several Sakai course management pilot projects starting Fall quarter.

Sakai: A Collegial, Collaborative Approach The Sakai Project is a $6.8 million community source software development project founded by the University of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT, Stanford, and the uPortal Consortium, with the support of the Mellon and Hewlett Foundations. The project seeks to develop an integrated collection of open-source Collaborative Learning Environment software for higher education, including course management and assessment tools and a research collaboration system.

Each partnering institution may use any of the tools developed through the consortium, integrating and customizing them to accommodate the needs of their faculty and students. In turn, each can contribute work done on its internally-developed course management systems to create a new set of products. By synchronizing efforts, universities can implement a wider range of modules and features, developed more efficiently and with greater cost-effectiveness than any single university would by working alone.

Tools: Some Familiar, Some New The first versions of the software were released in October 2004 and March 2005. The next version (2.0), scheduled for late June, will include a number of improvements and additional tools. Using a Web browser and a broad array of features, faculty and students will be able to create their own worksites for courses, projects, or research collaboration.

the Campus Council for Information Technology (CCFIT) is preparing recommendations to guide the selection of tools and features for the next campus course management system. The subcommittee--composed of students, faculty, and staff--has consulted with several campus faculty members, with units preparing to launch pilots, and with other universities involved in the Sakai Project. The subcommittee's recommendation should be ready by mid-June. To view the recommendation, visit the CCFIT Web site and click on "Course Management" under the "Working Groups" heading.