Open Apereo 2020 is fully online – With financial aid so anyone in the world can participate

The challenges facing Higher Education have never been greater. As institutions pivot to online delivery and adapt to face those challenges, cost control and adaptability are key factors. That’s where open source software can help. Open source adoption means an investment in retaining capacity in your institution.
Open Apereo 2020 Online (June 15th-19th)  is the premier event for learning about open source software in the service of education. The Apereo Foundation is home to a range of software created by education to be tailored to the needs of education, including:

  • Next generation environments to support collaboration and learning
  • Portfolio solutions
  • A flexible platform for video capture, management and distribution
  • Calendaring, scheduling and timetable management
  • Learning content creation, storage and retrieval – for interactive and accessible content
  • Portal and notifications ecosystem
  • Single sign-on
  • Learning analytics based retention solutions
We’ve cut the cost of attending Open Apereo 2020 Online! Thanks to our generous sponsors at Entornos de Formación Global , Learning Experiences and Longsight we have cut registration fees for Open Apereo 2020 to range from $19 to $79. Financial assistance is available for those who need it on a “first come” basis. See for more details.
Open Apereo 2020 Online is a flexible, modular event that takes place from 15th to 19th June. Modules include

  • An overview of sixteen open source software solutions in the Apereo software family. Get a high-level view of functionality and real-world use!
  • Community presentations exploring the use of open source software in Higher Education around the world. Have a problem to solve? Need a way of controlling costs and extending online services? This is for you!
  • Designing for Resilience Workshop, an open-source focused edition of Michael Feldstein’s Resilience Network  conversations that are happening at virtual gatherings across the educational tech field.  Michael will be in conversation with Aria Chernik from the Open Source Pedagogy Research + Innovation network (OSPRI), a Red Hat supported initiative housed at Duke University, about how institutions can process the lessons learned from the pivot to emergency remote instruction this spring. Participants will join a rapid-iteration networking round of discussions, then generate a final set of lessons learned/best practices for the Resilience Network resource collection.
  • Hax-Camp Workshop, providing a space for collaboration, discussion, and sharing of best practices for those exploring web components. Web components are a W3C standard way of allowing developers to create and attach their own, custom HTML element definitions. Their ability to stack like reusable lego pieces, is the realization of the promise of a modular, reusable, and sustainable web. Working across libraries, they “hack” traditional ways of doing silo’ed front-end application development. And thus, we will all be HAX’ing how we used to work, building new reusable pieces that work across our applications!
  • AnnotatED Workshop: Social Annotation in Teaching and Learning with Hypothesis. Workshop attendees will join facilitators from educational institutions who are already using Hypothesis to support student engagement by transforming the fundamental scholarly practice of reading from an invisible, solitary act into a social activity located directly on texts
Open Apereo 2020 Online is arranged so that key sessions take place in the US Eastern timezone mornings – thus allowing easier access for those in Europe and Africa.
Alan Regan, Chair Open Apereo 2020 Planning Committee
Martin Ramsay, Vice-Chair Open Apereo 2020 Planning Committee
Jenn Cummings, Concentra Conference Planning
Ian Dolphin, Apereo Foundation Executive Director

Sakai 20 Released!

This is a note from Wilma Hodges – the Sakai PMC member and Community Coordinator announcing Sakai 20 general availability.

Dear Community,

Congratulations to our amazing worldwide community!

I’m pleased to announce that Sakai 20.0 is now available!

A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to everyone involved with developing, testing, and documenting the latest release. Even during a pandemic, our world-wide community has kept the momentum going and produced another Sakai release packed with exciting new features and enhancements. That is a tremendous accomplishment during these unprecedented times!

Our community wiki has both functional [1] and technical [2] release notes.

Download instructions are also available of course [3] .

New in Sakai 20

  • In Assignments: New Sakai Grader UI with document preview in the browser for student file submissions, as well as a progress bar for student submissions

  • OneDrive and Google Drive integration in the Sakai file picker

  • In Site Info: the Date Manager allows instructors to update all due dates in a single page, and Auto-Groups enhancements simplify the process of creating groups in a site

  • Several Gradebook enhancements, including: equally weighted items within a weighted category, full screen mode, resizable columns, a new Section column, and the ability to Message Students directly from the Gradebook

  • User Activity tab in Statistics provides detailed user data for instructors, and students also get a view of their own activity

  • In Tests & Quizzes: ability to restore deleted assessments, flag individual questions as extra credit, and schedule assessment feedback display start/end dates

  • New CK Editor templates available throughout Sakai in the rich text editor

  • Student name pronunciation feature in Profile

  • “To the top” button to jump back up to the top of the page

  • Updated UI in Podcast tool

  • And more! [4]

[1] Functional release notes –

[2] Technical Release notes –

[3] Download instructions –

[4] Complete Feature Summary –

Wilma Hodges, Ed.D.

Sakai PMC – Community Coordinator

Building a Home Academic Studio

Now that we all will be teaching and meeting from home for a while, I figure I should share my approach for building a home studio.  I have pictures of my studio at the end.

This list is kind of in priority order – the biggest wins are near the top and the more difficult and less necessary items are further down.

10-Inch Pro Studio VILTROX 2000LM Bi-Color LED Lights ($129)  – It is important to set up the lights asymmetrically and adjust the light level to model your face so it looks 3-dimensional – look at this – if you only have two lights – just do key and fill. Have your fill light less bright than your key light to the point that you can see a very soft shadow of your nose.

If you have a window, it is probably best in front of you or to one side – I would make my key light the same side as your window if it is to one side. Put the shades / blinds down – eliminate as much of the window light as you can – you want your night recordings to look like your during the day recordings and you don’t want your recordings to look weird as clouds cover and uncover the sun.

If you want to scribble on your screen recordings Wacom Cintiq: ($694.93) i – I have used a lot of scribbling software – sadly the best software (OmniDazzle) is no longer available so I just PowerPoint’s pen and don’t change colors. It is easy to code the Wacom’s buttons to turn the pen on and off, clear the screen and page up / down.

Also replace all the lights in the room you will be originating from with daylight balanced LED bulbs available from Lowes/Home Depot, etc.  – Often the room lights will be behind you and give you back light.  If you can put a dimmer on your lights that is nice.  If you have three adjustable LED lights at night you can turn your room lights and end up with a really sharp look and let the darker background be a little darker.

The Mac built camera is a lot happier with daylight balanced lighting and a nice key/fill setup. If you use a built in camera, either put your laptop up so the camera is close to the level of your face or if you have a desk that goes up and down – adjust the desk or in a pinch and for a short period of time – move your chair down. I use my adjustable desk more to get my camera at the right level than I use it to stand up :)

The Logitech 920 is a little better than the built-in Mac camera and you can put it on a tripod to be at eye level.  I would avoid using the LogiTech microphone. It is too far from your mouth and since it points at the wall behind you so you will get echos.

Microphone – Audio-Technica ATR-3350IS Lavalier – A clip on mic is important to reduce echo in a non-soundproofed room and limit background noise – in a non-sound proof room, how close the mic it to our mouth is more important than a fancy microphone – I buy two because there are so cheap. Also the built-in mac mic is surprisingly good and interestingly it points upwards which is an advantage when it comes to hearing sounds bouncing off walls. The built-in mac mic will generally be better than the Logitech mic.

Sabrent USB External Stereo Sound Adapter – I can never get audio-in work on any of my computers so I use USB – this unit is rock solid.

These are more for the advanced setups:

If you are doing audio only and you want sound like butta, my favorite setup is a Shure PG58 microphone, adjustable microphone stand, and XLR-to-USB adapter.  Like Butta.

You can splurge and get your own Teleprompter ($700) – I like the UltraLight 12 iPad Pro Teleprompter with the HDMI reversing monitor from Prompter People.

If you have an HD Camcorder that has an HDMI out you can use it instead of the Logitech and digitize the video with this USB 3.0 HD Video Capture Dongle Model make sure your camera can turn off its data overlay to its HDMI out. I use a Sony CX560 – which is only available used but I like it and know how it works.

Here are some pictures of my setup.



Chrome 80’s change to cookie policy will break lots of LTI tools – but not Tsugi tools

This is the latest news from IMS about the changes to Chrome that will likely cause a lot of LTI providers to break.

The good news is that Tsugi tools do not use cookies *at all* to maintain their session.  This design choice makes it more difficult to develop Tsugi apps but has several advantages:
  • Tsugi apps can function within multiple iframes simultaneously on the same page
  • Tsugi apps can be logged on different accounts across multiple tabs
  • Tsugi apps should be unaffected as Chrome and the rest of the browser market tightens down the use of cookies
This works for both PHP and Python / Python Tsugi tools.
It was not easy – I when PHP 7.0 came out – they broke the feature so I filed and got fixed some arcane PHP bugs. In the Django world there was a cookiless session module that was 1.x only so I helped get that upgraded and am contributing improvements to the product so that the cookieless code in Django is actually superior to the PHP code for cookiless sessions.
The mistake that 99% of the LTI developers make is that they assume LTI a Single-Sign-On – which is absolutely not true – leading to some really poorly designed cookie-based LTI integrations  that Chrome is about to punish.
This is why using a framework for LTI applications is so important.

Abstract: Tsugi Update: Progress towards the NGDLE (Abstract)

This session will review the progress to date in the Tsugi and Koseu projects as well as lay out plans going forward. Tsugi was the first scalable production tool to be certified as LTI Advantage. Tsugi was used as a LTI Advantage test harness by all of the major LMS vendors. With LTI Advantage support complete, the Tsugi PHP code base has become quite stable. Significant effort has been put into structuring Tsugi to run at scale in a multi-tenant environment. Tsugi also has made significant advances in improving how student data is handled over time and serves in many ways as a best practice the other LTI tools should emulate. The ability to write Tsugi tools in Python and Django has advanced to the point where production tools in Django have been deployed and run in production. There will be much to talk about for the roadmap for Tsugi and Koseu for the next few years.

Abstract – Submitted to Open Apereo 2020

New Approaches to Protecting the Privacy of Student Learning Data in the Cloud (Abstract)

Moving core IT Services to the cloud has been a trend for the past decade. Moving a Learning Management Systems from self-hosting to the cloud has many benefits. Hardware acquisition and replacement lifecycle is simpler. Local technical staff can be replaced by vended solutions, moving responsibility for software reliability and upgrades away from campus IT, greatly reducing the burden on the CIO and IT organization. Most schools see this move as a pure positive, but we do need to look closely at the long term privacy, curation, ownership, and retention of student data. Universities are around for hundreds of years, in the educational technology field, many vendors come and go in less than a decade. Sometimes a vendor that originally was retained to provide a service announces that their business will begin to mine student data for their benefit. Regulations like FERPA and GDPR provide a legal framework to govern how data must not be released to third parties but does not cover what those vendors do with the data within their organizations. This presentation will explore a few current issues and concerns about a “pure outsource” approach to hosting and software that holds student data and propose an alternative approach where cloud compute resources are uses, and vended software solutions are possible but the University retains all present and future ownership of the data. In this new model we can separate the source of the software support and upgrades from the ownership of the data and keep all short-term and long-term data decisions under control of the University and not the vendor.

How will the presentation engender interactivity: The presentation will be done in as few slides as possible. We will present the issues, encourage discussion about the issues and then present possible solutions for discussion. By keeping the slide ware to the absolute minimum, discussion will be maximized.

Why should an attendee come to the the session:  I would say that protecting student privacy is a benefit to all students, but in particular, universities should be particularly interested in protecting the student data of at-risk populations such as refugees or other populations that governments might want to track. As an example, it feels quite wrong that a Syrian refugee going to school in Europe is forced to hand all of their private learning data (not just PII) to a US-owned corporation as a condition of attending school.

Any further comments to reviewers: I am guessing that very few in higher education have really thought through the consequences 10 or 20 years from now of letting vendors retain all of our student’s learning data. I think it is a conversation that should start to happen.

Abstract – Submitted to Educause ELI 2020


LTI 2.0 Removed from Sakai-20 master and nightly

LTI 2.0 has been removed from Sakai in anticipation of Sakai-20 (

It is up in master on github and the Sakai-20 nightly server.

It took most of one day (Last Thursday at LAMP Camp) and the rest was testing and making sure.

I removed over 20% of the LTI code in Sakai (>7000 lines removed).

I updated all the QA test plans and wrote some test plans, and wrote some “how to documentation”.

With help from Andrea I went through all the QA tests to make sure they were up-to-date and to my surprise everything worked in my testing. I did find and fix two small bugs that had crept into the remaining LTI 1.x code – so that was nice. These fixes are already in master this morning as well.

While it has worked great in my testing, I want everyone to be vigilant and test LTI in Sakai as much as you can. We will definitely do a solid QA of LTI as part of Sakai-20 but if something feels weird let me know.

For the Tsugi folks using Java tsugi-util library from the Tsugi distribution, I will wait a few weeks and then port these changes to tsugi-util master:

It is mostly deletions. The only real change is that the ContentItem class in tsugi-util went from the org.sakaiproject.lti2 package to the org.sakaiproject.basicltii package. It never belonged in the lti2 package – but I built it while I was building lti2 so I put it there.


It is kind of bittersweet in that it took me three years of almost 100% of my Sakai effort to develop the LTI 2.0 spec and build the Sakai implementation and less than six hours to remove it. But it is always good to remove complex and unused code from production software.

One of these mornings with a good cup of coffee and a little time, I will write a blog post about the lessons we can learn from the failure of the LTI 2.0 spec – but for now we are moving on to focus on LTI Advantage – as it should be.

Sakai 19.2 Released

(This message came from Wilma Hodges – the Sakai Community Coordinator)

I’m pleased to announce that Sakai 19.2 is released and available for downloading [1]!

Sakai 19.2 has 125 improvements [2] including

  • 23 fixes in Tests & Quizzes (Samigo)

  • 22 fixes in Gradebook

  • 17 fixes in Assignments

  • 16 fixes in Lessons

  • 12 fixes in Forums

  • 5 fixes in Rubrics

Other areas improved include:

  • A11y

  • Basic LTI

  • Calendar

  • Chat Room

  • Content Review

  • Dropbox

  • I18n

  • Messages

  • Preferences

  • Quartz Scheduler

  • Resources

  • Roster

  • Section Info

  • Sign Up

  • Site Info

  • Syllabus

  • Wiki

  • Worksite Setup

There were 3 security issues fixed in 19.2 (details will be sent to the Sakai Security Announcements list).

Please also note the upgrade information page [3] for important notes related to performing the upgrade. 2 Quartz jobs need to be run to complete the conversion steps for Sakai 12, including a new one for the Job Scheduler in 12.1.

[1] Download information-

[2] 19.2 Fixes by Tool –

[3] Upgrade information – 

Building Tsugi Learning Tools – The Experience

The Tsugi project ( is providing a software environment to enable a wide range of educational technology use cases. Tsugi was developed to simplify the development of educational tools and to allow those tools to be deployed in an “App Store” pattern using standards like IMS Learning Tools Interoperability, Common Cartridge, Deep Linking (Content Item), and LTI Advantage. This will be two presentations in one. One thread of the presentation will cover how Tsugi uses the latest standards to implement a LMS agnostic Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (or is that Experience). All the while during the presentation, those in the audience who want to experience building a tool, will put up a server, and create a simple Python-based learning tool and integrate it into the Sakai nightly server. The attendees can be as active as they like.

Abstract for the 2019 LAMP camp

What is all the Fuss About Python?

The Python programming language has been around for over 20 years but these days it feels like it is an overnight sensation.   Python has moved from being a fringe language for beginners, biologists, and natural language analysis to being the go-to language in nearly every domain of computing.  Whlie there is a lot of inertia in the choice of a programming language for a project, the adoption pattern of Python is quite different than “that cool new language that came out a few years ago”.  While most new programming languages are exciting for early adopters, by the time they are a few years old, many early adopters have moved on to the next big thing and the languages never find their way into the mainstream.  Python seems different – Python seems to have a solid and continuously growing market share – and in particular Python seems to invade and take over application areas previously dominated by well-established technologies.  We will look at some of the inherent aspects of Python that make it “sticky” – once you go Python you rarely go back or go anywhere else.  This presentation will also look at the world’s largest programming course (in Python) and how the course fits into the Python movement and how the course benefits from Apereo Open Source Software, Open Educational Resources, and the Open Course Enrollment (a.k.a the MOOC movement).

Abstract for Apereo 2019