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

Josh Baron Josh.Baron at marist.edu
Wed Aug 19 14:48:36 PDT 2009


Yes, I agree completely with your comments on the TWISA.  The work that 
has been accomplished through this program has been very significant and 
you, Sue and everyone else who has been involved should feel tremendously 

I too have challenges at times thinking about Sakai-based instructional 
practices in ways that are tool agnostic.  This said, when I force myself 
to do so I find it rather liberating in a way as it allows me to move 
beyond the "day-to-day" user issues that we all are aware of and really 
think creatively about what the technology might become in the future. 

As we look out on the horizon, I think it will be increasingly important 
and valuable for those with teaching and learning interests in the 
community to be creating these types of "instructional visions" at which 
future development efforts can be aimed.  I believe that such an approach 
has the potential for facilitating significant innovation.

It is probably important to emphasize here that I believe we will need a 
process to address those "day-to-day" user issues (something like a 
improved requirements gathering process) I just  see that as a separate 
need at this point.

I'm looking forward to engaging on this with you and others over the next 
few weeks and months.


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

Janet de Vry <janet at UDel.Edu>
Josh Baron <Josh.Baron at marist.edu>
pedagogy at collab.sakaiproject.org, sakai-ux at collab.sakaiproject.org
08/19/2009 05:03 PM
Re: [DG: Teaching & Learning] Thoughts on a New Focus for the Sakai 
Teaching and Learning Group

Hello Josh and T & L group,

First, congratulations, Josh, on being named Sakai Board Chair.
Second, I wholeheartedly agree that we should focus on teaching and 
learning strategies rather than on the TWSIA. This does not diminish the 
importance of the award. As Josh, notes, it may become institutionalized 
within the Sakai foundation. We should all congratulate ourselves on a 
job well done and especially Sue Roig for her job this year coordinating 

I like the preliminary plans and I especially like the work done by 
David Goodrum. The challenge for me if we remove the tool from the 
discussion is that sometimes it is the very presence of the tool and 
using it in one way that causes faculty to imagine new uses. I am 
finding that most faculty I deal with are still primarily interested in 
transmitting information. However, there is growing interest in group 

That said, we need to move in this direction. One reason we focused on 
TWSIA award is that it was concrete with concrete deliverables and 
deadlines. I think we have some good preliminary thinking to get us 
going to make this a more concrete exercise.

Janet de Vry
janet at udel.edu
IT-Client Support & Services
021 Smith Hall
(302) 831-6714

Josh Baron wrote:
> 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 area.
> 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 
> (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 
> 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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