Sakai Shines Spotlight on Teaching and Learning Innovation

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 27 /PRNewswire/ -- A new award to recognize educational initiatives using open-source technology is expected to lead to even further innovation to enhance the teaching and learning process.

ANN ARBOR, Mich., March 27 /PRNewswire/ — A new award to recognize educational initiatives using open-source technology is expected to lead to even further innovation to enhance the teaching and learning process.

The Sakai Project is a landmark venture to create open-source course management, collaboration, and online research support tools for the higher education community. Begun through a collaboration involving the University of Michigan, Indiana University, MIT and Stanford University, it now includes approximately 100 universities, colleges, and institutions of learning around the world.

At the heart of Sakai, whose community-source mantra is "built by educators, for educators," is a deep passion for teaching, learning and innovation. Today, this passion has a new voice with the announcement of the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA) which has been organized by the recently formed Sakai OpenEd Practices group (www.OpenEdpractices.org) and sponsored by IBM, a Sakai Commercial Affiliate.

The intent of this award is to highlight examples of innovative and transformative educational applications of Sakai. Entries will also seed a collection in the newly launched OpenEdpractices.org repository, a community of practice for teaching and learning with open/community-source tools supported in part by the rSmart Group, the Association of American Colleges and Universities and Marist College. The site's mission is to become the central resource for faculty, instructors, teachers and support staff engaged with a wide variety of open-source projects, including Sakai and OSP (Open Source Portfolio).

"Community or open-source developed learning environments are not constrained by the limits of a profit-margin," says Josh Baron, Sakai Foundation Board Member and Director of Academic Technology and eLearning at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. "Proprietary vendors often opt to deploy 'status quo' technology that sells instead of promoting truly innovative instructional technologies that can transform the learning process. The Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award and newly launched 'OpenEd Practices' repository will allow us to capture and share these educationally transformative applications of Sakai with all levels of education."

Instructors or other interested parties can visit www.OpenEdpractices.org to learn more about the award and access an online application forms and evaluation rubric. The application deadline is April 14, 2008, at midnight GMT. Winners will be awarded a trip to Paris, France, to present at the 9th Sakai Conference (sakai.educonference.com/paris) and receive their award during the opening ceremonies.

A panel of judges who are well known for their work on enhancing learning through the appropriate use of technology will evaluate the courses and participate in web conferences with the finalists to select the winner. The judges are Dr. Karen Swan, professor at the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State University, Ohio; Dr. Paul Elsner, director of the National Center for the Future of the Community College and former chancellor of the Maricopa Community College District; and Dr. Ken Bain, professor at Montclair State University, and author of "What the Best College Teachers Do."

"A tremendous amount of community effort has gone into the planning for this awards program with technology leaders from many different institutions coming together to make this all happen," says Janet de Vry, co-chair for the Award Committee and Manager, Instructional Services, IT-User Services, University of Delaware. "We are all very excited and pleased that our efforts will showcase teaching and learning. One of our goals is to increase the faculty presence within the Sakai community, and we are looking forward to the Awards Ceremony in Paris."

The effort is also an excellent example of the type of collaboration that takes place in Sakai with commercial partners such as IBM, which is sponsoring the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award. "IBM is a long-time supporter of Sakai as well as an international leader with regards to 'innovation' so sponsoring this award made a great deal of sense," notes Michael King, vice president, IBM Education Industry. "We are looking forward to this being an ongoing program that will drive the sharing of innovative 'best practices' within the Sakai community."

About Sakai

Sakai is an open source software project driven by the Sakai Foundation, a world-wide consortium of institutions, organizations and individuals dedicated to providing collaboration, research and e-portfolio tools. The Sakai Foundation is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to coordinating activities around Sakai and the Sakai community to insure Sakai's long-term viability. For more information, please visit www.sakaiproject.org.

Contact: Michael Korcuska Executive Director, Sakai Foundation mkorcuska@sakaifoundation.org mobile: +1 510-599-2586 phone: +1 510-931-6559 skype: mkorcuska

SOURCE Sakai Foundation

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