Shelley Rodrigo over at MCC wrote a grant to do a pilot study of Sakai, an open source course management system, for this spring. She got awarded and sent out a plea for some victims to volunteer to switch over from either Blackboard or WebCT. I thought anything that can get me away from Blackboard can't be all that bad. So here I am.
I just started playing in Sakai this week (Monday). My first impressions are that it is slick, full featured, yet minimalistic. There's not a lot there to make this thing look fancy, but it is adequate for conducting an online class in. I think it's more similar to WebCT than it is to Blackboard, so Bb users may feel like they're playing with a whole new toy. At least I do.
Playing in Sakai is teaching me a whole new perspective about learning and using technology. I now understand that fear that some faculty have. I fear that I will create something and then decide it doesn't work. Then I will not be able to change or remove the offensive object or tool. I'd be stuck with it. So I've been hesitant to jump right in. Sound familiar? Well, it's not realistic to think that I can create a complete online class in a week using a new tool. Remove the stress and Sakai is a user friendly tool. The Site Editor, similar to Bb's Control Panel, only has 9 options. I kept looking for more stuff. Where is everything? It's all built into the individual tool section.
As an instructor I automatically see editing features when I log in and go to a certain section. I don't have to go into the control panel. I like that. So I have to make some decision about Sakai and get that course built. I only have six days left.