Sakai Project releases open source collaboration and learning environment software

June 23, 2004

ANN ARBOR—The Sakai Project releases its collaboration and learning environment software today, marking a six-month milestone for the consortium formed to create open source software for higher education. Sakai will also announce new commercial support and new board members at its first community conference in Denver, Colo. The Sakai software, developed as a $6.8 million synchronized project of the Universityof Michigan, Indiana University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Instituteof Technology, is being released to the Sakai Educational Partners for reviewand testing today. It will be made available to the public July 15. About 160 education and information technologists are meeting in Denver todaythrough Friday to plan deployment of the software, future software development,and support for faculty and students. Project Director Joseph Hardin said rapiddeployment of the technology will improve teaching and learning for thousandsof students. of collaboration in higher education,” Hardin said.SEPP is a community of colleges and universities committed to extending and deployingthe Sakai software and integrating it with their own software developments. SEPPwas launched in February 2004 and is funded by contributions from the partnerschools and a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The 20 foundingcolleges and universities are: They have been joined by 23 new partners:Hardin, also a clinical assistant professor in the University of Michigan Schoolof Information, said the enlistment of 43 partners in six months put the projectahead of its goal of 30 partners by the end of 2004. He said, “The boardis very pleased that SEPP continues to grow at a steady state of 1-2 institutionsper week. This demonstrates that higher education is embracing open source collaborationas an important means for creating and sustaining educational software.”Hardin also announced two new Sakai Board members. Mara Hancock, University ofCalifornia, Berkeley, and Vivian Sinou, Foothill College, will join the boardrepresenting the partners. The board includes Hardin, Brad Wheeler, Indiana University,Amitava “Babi” Mitra and Jeff Merriman, Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology, Lois Brooks, Stanford University, and Carl Jacobson, University ofDelaware.In addition to the collaboration and learning software from the four principaluniversities, related community projects will be described at the partners conference.The University of California is contributing a newly-developed on-line gradebook; Foothill-DeAnza Community College District is phasing learning servicesprovided to 49 California community colleges over to Sakai software; JA-SIG’suPortal, already installed in 168 colleges and universities, has been modifiedto support the new JSR168 and WSRP portlet standards; and the Open Source PortfolioInitiative project is adopting the Sakai Tool Portability Profile ensuring thatits electronic portfolio will interoperate with Sakai software. The Sakai Project is also announcing that it has established relationships withfour companies as Sakai Commercial Affiliates (SCA). Embanet, the r-smart group,SunGuard SCT, and Unicon have begun working with the Sakai Project. commercial interest in supporting open source software for higher education,” saidBrad Wheeler, Sakai board member in charge of commercial support relationships. “Opensource software provides higher education with new choices in terms of softwarecapabilities and options for fee-based commercial support as needed.”Carl Jacobson, principal investigator for uPortal development and Sakai boardmember, said: “The Affiliates provide the open source Sakai Project thestability, sustainability, and support options of commercial software offeringsfor those that desire them. It adds an important component to our community sourcemodel.”The Sakai Project is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. See foradditional information.