University of Michigan Sakai Case Study


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Case study about how University of Michigan is successfully using open source Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment

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University of Michigan Sakai Case Study

  1. 1. Sakai cLe case Study Sakai SucceSS Story The University of Michigan was one of the founding institutions of the Sakai Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) and the largest initial contributor of code. “There was nothing accidental in the creation of Sakai,” explains Dr. John King, vice provost for academic information and professor in the School of Information. “It grew out of a research project to build online infrastructure for support of globally distributed communities of scientists. We realized that the future required online support for distributed communities of learners in all aspects of the learning process -- teaching, research and administration. We needed an environment we could control, so we built it. Other institutions shared our ambition, and joined us. That was the beginning of the Sakai movement.” Today, in addition to pervasive adoption of the Sakai architecture for the university’s collaborative learning environment, the University of Michigan’s leadership and administrators are leveraging the Sakai environment to streamline the administrative needs of students, faculty and staff. tranSforming the education experience Dr. Aileen Huang-Saad won both the solutions. The idea generation process and highly collaborative for innovation to 2008 University of Michigan Outstanding continues outside the class in Sakai’s occur most effectively. Sakai was critical Professor of the Year Award and the 2008 wiki tool, where students generate class to this process. Students self-assembled, Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award concept design documents, challenge each collectively selecting and designing for her innovative teaching in her two other’s ideas, and self-organize into design the tools that best met their needs. In semester course, Biomedical Engineering teams around a particular challenge or particular, the students’ ability to design Graduate Innovative Design Team. In the concept by the end of the semester. The the wiki to meet the needs of class-based course, graduate students explore their own second semester is dedicated to prototype concept design documents was crucial to solutions to biomedical challenges, from development. In this portion of the course, their success.” concept inception to prototype design. each design team has its own collaboration Dr. Huang-Saad continues, “Sakai does not “Students spend the first semester site, enabling each team to establish the dictate one way to design or teach a class. exploring biomedical challenges. I post roles, structure and resources that best suit This flexibility in the platform, coupled research articles on specific clinical its needs.” with the best-in-class tools developed challenges prior to each class. A physician The 2007-2008 year was Dr. Huang-Saad’s by educators, enabled us to have an then lectures about the challenge, first year teaching the course and her first exceptionally collaborative and engaged answering students’ questions and experience teaching with Sakai. “This learning experience.” participating with them in brainstorming course must be adaptive, self-organizing,
  2. 2. Supporting the future directionS In 2001, a study was conducted by the university’s Horace H. Rackham School of diSSertation proceSS Scalable, reliable, interoperable Graduate Studies and the Collaboration and extensible, Sakai is designed to Technologies Lab (in the Digital Media meet the needs of institutions today Commons) to understand how to better support doctoral students in the dissertation and tomorrow. Dr. King explains, process. The resulting action was the development of Grad Tools, a web-based tool in “Our goal is nothing less than the Sakai that reduces the administrative burden doctoral students face. transformation of learning. We foresee Mr. Rex Patterson, director of information and technology services at Rackham, dramatic improvements in the quality of explains, “There is significant administrative burden during the dissertation process, learning, but we also see great gains in particularly towards the end. This is often the most taxing time for the student with the productivity and access. This is a global dissertation itself, as well. Grad Tools reduces the administrative burden, allowing the vision, but of course, we are starting student to focus more wholly on the content of the dissertation.” here at home.” Today, Grad Tools’ personalized, secure environment has over 1500 graduate student sites at the university. Each student has access to chronological, department-specific Sakai StatiSticS dissertation checklists that can be tailored to any student’s particular requirements, a centrally located repository for all dissertation-related links and resources, secure U-M faculty create more than 7,000 course sites each year. document sharing capabilities, and an online collaboration environment for the student and dissertation committee members. In addition, it provides 1GB of reliable 99%+ of Ann Arbor campus students, back-up space for the student’s dissertation and all the tools to which students have and 85%+ faculty use Sakai (CTools) for course support. become accustomed with Sakai. Ms. Donna Huprich, director of academic records and dissertations, notes, “The feedback we hear from both the departments and the students 23,200 course sites and 18,000 is that it is helpful and easy to use. Having one place to find everything is very powerful.” projects sites have been created since Fall 2005. Average peak use each week exceeds StreamLining academic adminiStration 5,600 simultaneous users. Maximum peak use in a semester One of the recent academic we are utilizing significantly less paper, we exceeds 7,500 simultaneous users. administration projects to utilize Sakai eliminated ergonomic challenges in the is the university’s annual promotion and workplace, and we reduced the amount of More than 110,000 U-M users have created CTools accounts. tenure process. The University of Michigan secure physical space required for these typically reviews between 160-200 faculty highly confidential documents.” In a typical month, more than 45,000 promotion and tenure casebooks each year, The need for a highly secure environment unique users access CTools. each more than 100 pages long. Prior to was one of the reasons Sakai was selected streamlining the process on Sakai, four hard as the platform of choice for this process. copies were required of each casebook. “Confidentiality is of the greatest concern in Over the past four years, the university the faculty promotion and tenure process,” has gradually introduced the electronic explains Ms. Kati Bauer, assistant vice process. This year, the university did away provost for academic information. “Sakai with all paper casebooks, and every school provides us with the security we require and college submitted its casebooks in in a fully online process. We can easily Sakai. Significant efficiency gains were establish unique permissions for each seen with this process change. “Both the casebook based on the reviewers assigned units and those coordinating the process to that particular review, facilitating have realized significant time savings,” committee members access to a shared, states Ms. Lesley Bull, administrative secure work space.” specialist for faculty affairs. “In addition, The most elite institutions with the most exacting standards use Sakai. So can you. Commercial affiliates like rSmart can provide the services and support you require to ensure success. Case Study sponsored by