[Portfolio] Thoughts on a New Focus for the Sakai Teaching and Learning Group

Josh Baron Josh.Baron at marist.edu
Wed Aug 19 08:17:19 PDT 2009

Sakai Colleagues,

In lieu of our usual weekly "teaching and learning" conference call, I 
would like to share some thoughts the future of these calls and some new 
ideas that have surface following the 10th International Sakai Conference 
in Boston this past July.  I recognize that this e-mail is very long and 
detailed but I felt that in order to engage a larger and broad audience 
that a posting to multiple lists, rather than phone calls, was best. 

I know that this is a busy time of the year for many of us but if you can 
dedicate a few minutes to reviewing this and posting comments that would 
be great.  To assist in freeing up some of your time, I'm suggesting below 
that we not have our regular call for the next several weeks and then 
reschedule it for a new day/time.

As many of you are aware, there were several sessions at the Boston 
conference focused on the need to find new ways for our community to 
discuss, identify and document the types of instructional practices that 
Sakai needs to support now and into the near as well as distant future. 
Some of this "need" centers around finding new models for the type of 
"requirements gathering" that has been attempted in the past.  Beyond 
this, there also seems to be a strong desire to implement new processes 
that would produce "tool/technology agnostic" visions of the types of 
instructional practices (ranging from traditional to innovative) that 
future versions of Sakai should facilitate and support.

Following the conference there have been a number of discussions taking 
place in various groups and settings, including several members of the 
newly formed Product Council, as to how we might engage in this new work. 
Some of the ideas (but not all) and commentary on this can be found in 
Confluence at http://tinyurl.com/nuzsu2.  In addition, the folks within 
the Portfolio group have shared some of the "visioning" work that they 
have been engaged in for some time that many feel could represent a good 
model for the larger community (likely requiring some small modification). 
 Examples of their work can be found at http://tinyurl.com/mx5uvb.  I have 
participated in some of the weekly Portfolio/OSP calls recently and 
believe that they are interested in engaging in some broader work in this 

I, and I believe others, feel that in order to move forward with some 
practical work in this area that we need to establish a regular (I think 
weekly but that is open to debate) conference call that is dedicated to 
such an effort.  At the same time, we need to broaden the participation 
beyond the folks who have been regularly participating in the Teaching and 
Learning calls as means to increase the resources (i.e. people time) going 
into this work and to have a more diverse set of institutions represented 
(particularly more international schools).

Because of these issues, I would like to make two proposals:

(1) Re-purpose the Sakai T&L call to focus on "instructional visioning" 
activities.  This would mean shifting our calls away from the Teaching 
with Sakai Innovation Award program and other conference-related 
discussions.  I am currently talking with Michael Korcuska about how the 
Foundation could assist with the TWSIA work (with continued involved of 
folks from this group) and also believe that we could move the other 
conference-related discussions to the Conference Planning Committee calls.

(2) Reschedule the call during a time that will allow a more diverse and 
larger group to participate.  This may end up requiring some creative 
approaches in order to include various time zones. 

I would like to hear from folks "on list" as to any concerns, thoughts, 
suggestions, etc. related to these issues and proposed changes.  I would 
like to particularly encourage folks who are new to either the community 
or these calls to share their thoughts.  Having this discussion on list 
rather than on our calls will allow for greater participation (I hope).

I would also like to suggest that we temporarily postpone the regular 
Wednesday at 11:30 AM EDT "Teaching and Learning" call with the plan of 
re-starting these calls in mid- to late-September.  This will allow us to 
some time to find a new day/time as well as free of some time for all of 
us to think about and start to discuss (on list) the details of how we 
might proceed with practical work.  Unless there is objection to this, I 
will put out some e-mails over the next couple of weeks in an effort to 
find a good time(s) for out future calls.

Finally, I am going to put some time and effort into updating the Teaching 
and Learning Confluence page to clean up the older content (I won't remove 
it obviously, just re-organize it) and try and set up some pages that will 
hopefully facilitate some of our initial work in this area.

I'm looking forward to engaging more on these issues on list with 

Thanks, Josh 

Joshua Baron
Director, Academic Technology and eLearning
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, New York  12601
(845) 575-3623 (work)
Twitter: JoshBaron
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