2 thoughts on “TLTR Subcommittee on Learning Management Systems (LMS)”

  1. This committee was charged with investigating alternative learning management systems (LMS). Rob Weitz and Kelly Shea both piloted Sakai, an open source LMS. Their reports will be posted as blog entries to this post.

  2. Report on Pilot Study of Sakai
    Rob Weitz, Stillman School of Business

    I piloted Sakai in an elective, quantitatively-oriented, MBA-level course in the Spring 2011 semester. My observations are provided below.

    Sakai passes my basic test for LMS usability: I can get started with little-to-no training.

    Clearly for the basics (sharing documents), no big difference between Sakai and Bb. I do find the terminology (module/section) in Sakai not so straightforward.

    In Sakai, students can’t right-click on a link and download a posted document. They must click on it and, depending on the document, proceed in different ways from there. So, for example, if it’s a pdf, the document automatically opens (and the student can save it if s/he wants to at that point); if it’s an Excel spreadsheet, clicking on it gives the student the option of saving it or opening it. Better IMHO if the student could right-click and download directly.

    The help functionality in Sakai is very good. Historically BB’s lack of decent help has been a big complaint of mine, though BB seems to have recently improved in this area.

    There are useful tutorials on Sakai on the Web. (Of course there are variations in the implementations, but these still seem to be pretty helpful.)

    The user interface for the various components of Sakai is not as uniform as Bbs. While not a deal-killer, this is annoying generally, and may be a bit of hindrance for new users.

    I don’t believe Sakai allows user to reorder items in a folder the way Bb does.

    The Wiki in Sakai appears to be not quite WYSIWYG, while Bb’s is. I did not test the online quizzing or discussion board functionality of Sakai. These are critical functionalities for many faculty, particularly those teaching online.

    Overall, for the functionalities I did use, my sense is that Sakai is a competent alternative for Bb. If significant real cost savings would be achieved by switching to Sakai, this would be a reasonable option to explore.

    Rob

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