Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award Winners Announced at 9th Annual International Sakai Conference

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Winners for the first annual Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award were announced this morning during an award ceremony at the 9th International Sakai Conference taking place in Paris, France.

ANN ARBOR, Mich., July 2 /PRNewswire/ — Winners for the first annual Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award were announced this morning during an award ceremony at the 9th International Sakai Conference taking place in Paris, France.

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 winners of the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA), sponsored by IBM, a Sakai Commercial Affiliate, and the Sakai Foundation.

"I could not be more pleased with the outcome of this award program," said Josh Baron, Director of Academic Technology and eLearning at Marist College and recently elected member of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors. "The winners of this award have demonstrated how Sakai can truly transform the teaching and learning process and innovate the educational experience."

The judges for the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award reached a unanimous decision on the award recipients. The first place award winner is Dr. Aileen Y Huang-Saad from the University of Michigan for her course "Biomedical Engineering Graduate Innovative Design." Second place went to Mr. Salim Nakhjavani from University of Cape Town, South Africa, for his course "International Law" and its related "Inkundla yeHlabathi/World Forum Simulation." Honorable mentions were given to Dr. Fred Hofstetter, University of Delaware, and Mr. Michael Burns from Minisink Valley Central School District in New York.

"IBM has always had a deep commitment for innovation, along with supporting teaching and learning. We were very pleased with the strong level of interest for the first year this international award was offered," said Michael King, vice president, IBM Education Industry.

"The award recipients represent institutions from different geographies and cultures, from South Africa to the United States. This shows the importance of collaboration and open environments for education. The winners showcase Sakai and its strength — the ability to share tools and openly collaborate to improve educational outcomes. IBM looks forward to our continued involvement to foster Sakai and other open communities for future benefit."

The panel of judges consisted of Dr. Paul Elsner, Dr. Karen Swan, and Dr. Ken Bain, all internationally known educators. They reviewed the finalists' applications and participated in a course demonstration and interview via live web conferences with each finalist. The judges were very enthusiastic about the winning course. Dr. Swan noted that Dr. Huang-Saad's course on biomedical engineering was an "innovative course that fosters collaboration and uses real world problems" while Dr. Elsner stated that the course "was very adaptive and self-organizing." The judges also had considerable praise for Dr. Nakhjavani's course in international law. Dr. Elsner was impressed with the obvious "impact on the larger African community." Dr. Bain noted that it provided a "robust learning environment by engaging students in the process of international law."

First place winner Dr. Huang-Saad said, "The Sakai platform was critical to the success of my class, and I am grateful to have had such a diverse platform readily available. In particular, the wiki tool [used for collaborative writing] was crucial for developing class-based concept design documents, challenging students to evolve their ideas in and outside of class."

Mr. Nakhjavani noted that he was "humbled to have received this award for what was truly a collaborative effort among academic lawyers, educational technology specialists and students at the University of Cape Town" and said that he hoped "that this recognition of African innovation on the international stage would encourage others to use Sakai in ways that bridge rather than deepen the digital divide."

To view the winning applications and applications from all participants who indicated that they were willing to share their work, go to the award website at http://openedpractices.org/twsia.

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 nonprofit 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 Innovation Award

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