[Portfolio] Sakai Open Academic Environment (OAE) > Thoughts on the Vision and Future

Josh Baron Josh.Baron at marist.edu
Thu Dec 6 13:36:52 PST 2012

Apologies for the cross posting to multiple lists, just trying to cast a 
broad net...


It has been some time since I’ve posted to these lists so I hope this 
message finds people well as we head towards the New Year.

With the goal of stimulating a broad community dialog around OAE, I 
thought I’d share some new thoughts in hopes others would take a few 
minutes to reflect on them and share your ideas and opinions.  Before 
doing so, I should note that these are my own personal thoughts which I 
share “wearing my Marist hat” and do not reflect any official views from 
the Sakai OAE project or Foundation.

I began my OAE journey about 9 months ago when Marist began to prepare for 
several small scale OAE pilots.  At the start of this journey I felt 
confident that the vision of OAE evolving into a full LMS with all the 
related LMS capabilities was right and that ultimately the pilots we were 
starting would lead (possibly 5+ years in the future) to replacing the 
CLE.  Over the course of the past semester though my confidence in this 
vision slowly eroded and I was ultimately left with a much different 
perspective on what OAE represents…

One of my first realizations came after speaking with some of our faculty 
involved in our pilots and being surprised to hear that they were excited 
about the capabilities of OAE but rather than wanting LMS tools integrated 
into to OAE, they seemed to prefer keeping them separated.  In working to 
understand this more I began to realize that there was a strong analogy 
between the CLE and our structured classroom environments on our physical 
campus while OAE was more analogous to our “academic commons” or the more 
unstructured and open collaboration spaces.  I’ve developed a brief 
document for use here at Marist that discusses this in more detail and the 
conclusion I reach that deploying both the CLE and OAE, with some level of 
“co-habitation” between the two systems, is likely the strategic direction 
for our institution.  The document is available to review and comment on 

Marist has been an early adopter of distance education and has continued 
to grow our online programs over the years.  Although our courses and 
programs have received a range of recognition, we’ve struggled to bring 
the feeling of community that so many cite as being the “secret sauce” in 
our face-to-face programs to our online students.  Part of the challenge 
in doing this has been creating online the types of open spaces that allow 
students to organize around their own interests and network with each 
other (and those outside the institution) which seems to be central to 
community forming on our campuses.  As we continued to run our pilots and 
discuss the core capabilities of OAE, we started to realize that it might 
be the solution to the “secret sauce” enigma as it would provide us with 
the tools needed to form a rich student-centric online community.  We are 
now starting to experiment with this idea through new pilots but are 
excited about the potential it holds to greatly enhance our online 

OK, I’ve likely already lost 75% of those who started to read this and 
thought it was too long so I’ll wrap it up here for now…

I would love to hear from others in the community with reflections, 
different opinions, or other visions related to OAE with the hope that we 
might collectively work towards a common vision.  Where this goes and what 
value it might bring is a bit of an unknown but I think it will help Sakai 
move forward strategically in important ways.

Thanks for listening,


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