Monday, September 17, 2007

How “open-source” is Sakai? at bavatuesdays

How “open-source” is Sakai? at bavatuesdays

This post just re-awakens my criticisms of Sakai. It was bad when I first started using it, it's bad now. There are many more bells & whistles now, but they aren't much more than squeaks and moans.

Here is a copy of my reply to that post


Indiana University moved to Sakai about 4 years ago as its university-wide CMS. Having heard great things about it, I was eager to give it a try. Prior to that we were using an in-house CMS that left a lot to be desired.

After a brief test period, I pushed very hard not to retire that clunky in-house solution. Sakai was slow, confusing, and was a step down from other popular open-source elements out there. Not to mention, it had (has) one of the worst discussion forums I have ever used. Since then, the build at Indiana has added a lot of new, exciting features. Unfortunately, nearly all are sub-par.

Being open-source, we imagined that it would be easy to do a little of our own development, but this is where university bureaucracies make open-source nearly meaningless. At that time, the process ran through a chain of requests, committees, and finally a masked developer somewhere in Michigan who might, if it fit in with the grand vision, look into finding an existing module or developing a new one to fit our needs.

I've gone back to Sakai each year for the last 3 to test it out as an instructor. Each time I turn right back around and use Moodle on my own server. I might be one of the few who don't want to use their own. Though it's easy to use and provides a lot of freedom, it's just another thing I've got to manage. I just want to simplify my life.

I still hope that one day they'll get it right. I'm hoping that one day, they'll offer workshops on how to teach better instead of how to configure your class workspace.


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