I’m so thrilled to have been selected as one of six 2009 Sakai Fellows! It’s always nice to get some peer recognition of your hard work (although I could not have done it without the support of the extended LMS support team at UD–Janet, Karen, Nancy, John, Becky, Sandy, Debra, Ann, and many more staff in IT–, without whom I could have never devoted a part of my time to the community). But at the same time, everything I did for the Sakai community, I did for me! Let me explain…
As the LMS Project Leader at the University of Delaware, it is my job to make sure users are happy with our learning management system and that we stay on track with our migration from WebCT 4.1. The more I stay connected and help the Sakai community achieve its goals, the more I get back and make my job easier, as I am exposed to kick-a** practices deployed in peer institutions, and community-contributed patches that fix our local bugs (I send those the John Hall, and he does his magic). The technology must become so easy and obvious that it becomes transparent, just like that Referee that no one talks about, simply because he has done his job well. My overall goal is to get all the technical glitches out of the way to focus on what really turns me on: helping students get a better learning experience through the use of technology.
Beyond being incredibly selfish, I’m also pretty lazy. To stay organized and retrieve all the knowledge I have been exposed to, I leave traces everywhere on the web. It’s so much easier to leave everything available that that’s where I keep most of my stuff: in public bookmarks, videos, slides, pictures, tweets, etc. I don’t even bother trying to hide them in closed systems or copyrighting them. That would involve tracking who has breached the garden walls, and who has used my work for their own profit without attributing it back, and I have better things to do with my time, like sleeping and watching hockey on TV. If you find ANYTHING I have left hanging on the web that has any value to you, help yourself!
This ties in nicely with a philosophy of the web I would like faculty members to embrace: Don’t hide all of your content in your LMS. It goes against all business sense to share everything you do, to expose your value to the world, but that’s what makes the Sakai community and open source projects so valuable. Like with most social media platforms out there, you get what you give. The education community in general has a lot to offer, and the Sakai community is a prime context to connect with smart fellow educators from all over the world. As brilliantly exposed by Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody, crowds are always smarter that any one individual.
For the next year, I’ll pay even more attention at reflecting on my experiences with the Sakai community. I’ll try to blog more often to share nuggets of knowledge I find important and that will hopefully be useful to others too. An LMS is the most widely used technology on campus that can support teaching and learning innovation, and I’ll continue to try to find ways to spread best practices and preach for openness.
A Praise for Fellow Fellows
Jan Smith has done so much to make electronic portfolios usable by getting involved in the OSP community, consulting and training people from all over the world. And then here comes the Coding Masters from across the pond, names you see all over the place on Confluence and Jira. Ian, Nico, and all the CARET folks have done so much for this Sakai 3 initiative, making it almost a reality and making it so much easier to sell the idea. Steve’s relentless efforts in answering questions on the mailing list make you wonder how he gets anything done during his day job. The same can be said of Jean-François, rien n’échappe à son oeil de lynx 😉 Chapeau, cousin!
I am very honored to be in such a good company. I guess I got lucky, and not a lot of people got nominated or something 🙂
To make things a little more interesting, I challenge my fellow Fellows to blog at least once a month on a Sakai-related topic, starting in June 2009. Let’s spread the news that there is an alternative to “Dark Angel” out there, and that it’s called Sakai! In addition, it will make your end of term report easier to write.