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Sakai formally announces partnership programme

The standards based, open source Managed Learning Environment (MLE) development project has started its Sakai Educational Partners Programme (SEPP). The programme is run by Jim Farmer of Ja-SIG fame.

The SEPP is a basically a support community for institutions that are looking to adopt Sakai- a heavyweight MLE system that includes such things as course management, assessment tools and portal functionality. The system is to built partially out of existing tools from the founding members of Sakai: MIT, Indiana and Michigan Universities, Stanford, the OKI project and the uPortal consortium. It is centred around the OKI and JSR 168 interoperability standards.

The initial roll call of the SEPP looks quite impressive, with pretty much the entire ivy league (Princeton, Harvard, Yale) signed up. Just the one community college system (alliance of FE colleges), and no non-US partners, though.

The one community college system is perhaps not surprising in these early days: a lot of colleges may well be waiting to see whether Sakai will meet their needs before comiting to the $10.000 membership fee. Also, joining makes most sense if there is personnel to commit time to implementing the system; when Sakai reaches maturity, you can just download the bits you need and see whether membership is desirable.

As to the international angle: negotiations are continuing with a few UK universities, but there is no decision yet. Sakai internationalisation is a bit of a chicken and egg issue: non-US institutions may well be wondering whether the system will meet their needs, but if none join that could very well be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jim Farmer has been appointed the SEPP Community Development Manager, responsible for working with partners. That's good news as Farmer has extensive experience with building diverse, open source communities through his work on uPortal with JA-SIG.

More information can be found on the freshly minted Sakai Web site.

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