[Deploying Sakai] URGENT: I must choose between Sakai and Moodle within 24 hours

Paul Gibbs pgibbsjr at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 22 13:01:45 PST 2010

Hi Warwick,

I think I can relate when you speak about the uphill challenge in 
setting up Sakai. For me, making the transition from PHP/Apache to 
Java/Tomcat was the biggest challenge I had to overcome. Although that 
transition had little to do with Sakai itself, some of my newbie 
challenges /were /specifically related to understanding the way Sakai 
Project structures its online user community.

The first challenge I found is the use of listservs instead of forums. 
Coming from open source projects, it is odd that the community operates 
through listservs instead of through forums. However, my experience has 
been that the Sakai listservs are /far /more responsive than the average 
open source forum, and the participants' willingness to help has been 
excellent. (Thank you, folks--you've been a God-send!) There is also 
something to be said for listservs in terms of convenience--you can take 
part in the conversation without needing to open a browser. I really 
like the convenience of interacting via e-mail instead of needing to do 
all my posting via a web form. Not that it has to be /either/ listserv 
/or /forum--I suppose the Sakai Project could switch to a forum product 
which combined the features of listservs with the convenience of forums 
(e.g., you could choose choose to subscribe to a thread, or an entire 
forum, and then post or respond to your subscribed content via e-mail or 
via the web interface). Nabble.com helps with some of this, but that's a 
third-party tool and isn't the first thing you'd think of when you're 
first entering the community.

Getting comfortable with the multiple Sakai web interfaces is also 
confusing at first--sakaiproject.org, listservs, Nabble, Confluence, and 
Jira all have different interfaces, require multiple user accounts, and 
take some work to get used to. Many open source projects have a single 
website with forums, downloads, wiki, and other tools wrapped in the 
same web interface, making it less disorienting when moving between 
tools. Nevertheless, once again, there are some strengths to the way the 
Sakai Project does some things. There is something to be said for having 
all the tools located centrally in Confluence, rather than sending you 
off to everyone's private website to download source code, find 
instructions, etc.

It is also true that the documentation is hard to find, and it is 
incomplete in many places. However, there are some good documentation 
sources out there, if you Google long and hard enough. Some people have 
put a /lot/ of hard work into some of the guides, and I greatly 
appreciate them for it!

As you have already indicated, I think you'll find the Sakai community 
to be a tremendous resource full of helpful people who produce robust, 
secure, scalable products. They stand behind their code and are eager to 
help when they can.

Regarding the creation of new sites--you're right in that the admin 
interface is, once again, difficult to understand. Briefly, you'll need 
to assign permissions per Stephen's response using the Realms tool, and 
then your users will need to use "Site Setup" in their "My Workspace" to 
create new worksites.

How many concurrent users do you think you will have?

Paul Gibbs
Lansdale, Pennsylvania

On 2/22/2010 1:36 PM, Warwick Chapman wrote:
> Hi All
> This is my first post so please forgive me should I not be familiar 
> with protocol.
> Please could I ask for some assistance.  I've been tasked with 
> deploying a learning platform for the Democratic Alliance, the 
> official opposition political party in South Africa.  We want to use 
> this platform to further and more effectively train all our public 
> representatives and staff around the country.
> I have a report detailing the outcomes of a scoping working which I 
> can make available to anyone should they be interested but basically, 
> the requirements of the platform are as follows:
> 1. Online courses
> 2. Knowledgebase
> 3. Chat module for learner support
> 4. Forum
> 5. Must work on dialup-speed connections, though we expect most people 
> to have 256kbps-4096kbps connections
> 6. Simple to create and manage courses and assessment
> 7. Support multiple languages (SA has 11 official languages)
> 8. Work on mobile devices
> The more I look at Sakai, the more it appears to me that out of the 
> box it meets more of these requirements than Moodle does, and it seems 
> to me to be better built and more sensible.
> -- BUT --
> I have been in the IT industry for 15 years as a developer, project 
> manager and executive focusing on Open Source solutions and Sakai is 
> making me feel like a real dum dum.  I have 2.6.2 demo running and am 
> using Packt's "Sakai Courseware Management" as a guide.
> Something as simple as following the steps in "My First Project Site" 
> are leaving me wondering if Sakai is well documented enough for the 
> average non-University IT department user to deploy and manage.  I 
> cannot seem to find a "new" link when logged in as a non-admin user 
> and as an admin, I cannot find where to grant permission to the 
> non-admin user to create a project site.
> Also, I cannot seem to easily find details relating to what hardware 
> requirements I should expect for a low-use deployment.  Pointers?
> Warwick
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