Three new abstracts for talks

This is a couple of abstracts that I wrote up and added to my page on speaking engagements

Sakai: Free as in Freedom

This presentation describes the experiences of building the open-source Sakai teaching and learning environment and community from the inside. Sakai was founded by the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Sakai project was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and over 100 Sakai partner schools and companies for over five million dollars over a two year period.

The project was very ambitious with an almost impossible schedule for delivery. Almost nothing in the project went according to the plans and yet today, the Sakai software is in enterprise production use at nearly 300 schools world wide with three million daily users and a ten percent market share of top-100 universities worldwide.

This is the story of the successes and failures and challenges and recoveries along the way as well as the laughter, joy and sadness as the project went forward from the perspective of the chief architect and later executive director. The book “Sakai: Free as in Freedom (Alpha)” describes this period of the Sakai effort.

Experiences Teaching a First Programming/Technology Course at the Graduate Level

The University of Michigan School of Information master’s program has a programming requirement ( for all students regardless of whether their major is Human Computer Interaction, Social Computing, or Library and Information Science. With a typical enrollment of 70% women and almost no prior programming technical experience for the typical student, this class provides unique challenges in the design and teaching of the course. The course features a textbook specially designed for the course (Python for Informatics: Exploring Information). The course is much broader than most first computing courses and includes topics like database modeling, SQL, HMTL, CSS, XML parsing, security, web scraping, internet architecture, and others in addition to the programming component of the course. The course moves back and forth between programming and conceptual topics throughout the semester. One of the goals of the course is to empower and encourage students to take additional technology courses such as web site design and development. The presentation will describe the course and describe the results of the course to date.

Workshop: Building Learning Tools using IMS Learning Tools Interoperability

The IMS Learning Tools Interoperability standard ( greatly reduces the effort required to integrate an externally hosted learning tool into nearly all of the mainstream learning management systems (Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Canvas, Sakai, OLAT, and others). IMS Learning Tools Interoperability uses the OAuth protocol to send identity, course, user, and role data to the external tools. External tools can do roster transparent provisioning and single sign on using LTI as well as return grades to the calling learning management system. LTI allows those who would build innovative tools for teaching and learning an unprecedented simplicity in plugging their tool into any number of different learning management systems. This workshop will introduce the standard as well as demonstrate freely available sample code to simplify the building LTI compliant tools in PHP. Participants will develop and integrate a simple tool into Canvas, Sakai, Blackboard, or Moodle as part of the workshop.