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Sakai - An Open Source Software

by Robert Baird


With the coming of computers and the internet reaching to almost every nook and corner, communicating to any part of the world, across geographical boundaries, beyond continents is no more a difficult proposition. This is how the internet has facilitated the growth and development of online education which involves various online courses designed by various institutes and on the completion of each course, online degrees are awarded to the successful candidates. It is necessary to point out that online education depends primarily upon the close interaction between the tutors and th students online and for this purpose there are various significant software tools which have been devised to aid in effective course management online. These applications can be referred to as Learning Management Systems, Virtual Learning Environments and Course Management Systems. Sakai refers to a conglomeration of educational institutions, individuals and commercial organizations which work for the development of a Collaboration and Learning Environment to CLE. The Sakai CLE is a free and open source software based on Java and is circulated under the authority of the Educational Community License, aiding considerably in the imparting of knowledge through online education. This educational learning software platform is used commonly used by the various educational institutions offering online educational courses. Prior to the coming into being of the Sakai CLE, the Sakai Project was initiated by the Mellon Foundation. The various educational institutions which played a dominant role in the inception of the Sakai Project and which have thereby developed extensive course management systems include Stanford University , Indiana University, University of Michigan , Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Recently, University of Virginia has also decided to introduce Sakai .

The Sakai software system possesses the various common features that are present in the course management systems. These include chats, wiki, online assessments and gradebooks, RSS reader and uploading facilities of assignments. The Sakai Foundation is a non-profit organization which boats of a huge and growing membership of educational institutions which come together in order to facilitate the spread of education and research online and it is possible for the various members to benefit from the software applications of Sakai . However, it is necessary to point out in this case that it is not necessary for one to be a user of the Sakai software applications in order to be a member of the Sakai foundation. The main purpose of the foundation is to ensure the spread of knowledge through the use of better software applications which will aid the interaction between the tutors and students considerably.

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