Apparently our Information Technology Services here at UNC has started a Sakai Action Group, to investigate the use of Sakai as an enterprise-wide course management system. One presumes the unspoken here is: instead of Blackboard. Pam Sessoms in Davis turned me on to this, as apparently she’s in charge of the library’s efforts to pilot Sakai. So I met with Kim Eke from ITS yesterday, and I’ve officially volunteered to teach using Sakai next semester. My students know that I use Blackboard extensively, so I believe that I can really put Sakai through its paces. I’m teaching 2 courses in the Spring, and I figure I’ll use Sakai for both — it’ll be easier for me to have only one platform to deal with, plus it will be more of a stress test for Sakai.
Anyway, no one really likes Blackboard, but my standard line to my students is, it’s what you’re paying for via your student fees, and it’s what we have. The fact that it’s not a better application than it is, is not a good reason to not use it. That said, I would love it if UNC decided to throw Blackboard overboard in favor of an open source application (excuse me, community source). I don’t know if that’s in the cards, or even if ITS is considering that as an option. But a man can dream.
Anyway, ITS should have my Sakai course sites set up soon, so stay tuned. Not like I have the time for this before the end of the semester, but I’m sure I won’t be able to resist the call of the Shiny New Toy, and I’ll end up futzing around with Sakai before I really need to start course prep for the Spring.