Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Sakai 3 is coming...social media and embedded tools

As we become accustomed to the new ways of social media, software must evolve that captures its vibrancy. Students, staff and clients expect this of software providers and the organisations that operate it. Sakai e-research and e-learning software is presently in version 2. Next year comes Sakai 3 (see http://sakaiproject.org/) which heralds a new way of thinking in the way we attach ourselves as individuals to secure online environments. Firstly, existing tool boxes (Moodle, Sakai 2) compartmentalize the tools. Social media, such as Facebook, have shown the value of embedding tools into styled web pages; although applications are limited and information security is weak.

Sakai 3 already manages site security very well (as did its predecessor, version 2) and implementing new social media ways of working is going to be a big hit. It will change the way we manage online relationships with our colleagues, students and clients for sure.

In Sakai 2, each tool sits separately with the worksite you use. So, as a user you may want to encourage your research or teaching group to vote on an important matter of the day either by sending an Announcement or engaging communication via Forums. To complete the vote, however, the user must navigate away from the communication point (e.g. forum) to select the vote tool and then make the vote. Sakai 3 overcomes this limitation and allows users to embed different tools into, say forums, much like a photo in the text document. No technical skill will be needed (e.g. html) but will be drag and drop in operation. What this means is that less clicks are required to navigate around the site simplifying the user engagement process. This new way of working also opens the door to better knowledge management practice. When a vote is cast in Sakai 3, the result would also appear in the forum itself, meaning that knowledge on complete array of activites will be available in one place and be searchable.

Over the coming months the Lancaster Center for e-Science will be installing Sakai 3 as a demonstrator for all existing and new Sakai users to take a look at. In the mean time, if you are interested in learning more about Sakai 3 go to Go to http://sakaiproject.org/future-directions.

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