No Longer Working For Longsight (Belated Post)

This is a bit of a belated post but I figured that I needed to complete the story.

If you recall, I worked as a consultant for Longsight starting March 2014. My employment at Longsight ended July 31, 2016 (last year).

Leaving Longsight was a mutual agreement. I was on the Longsight payroll so that Scott and Sam could support my involvement and travel related to IMS and Sakai. By mid-2016 my MOOC revenue was growing and I had received generous funding from the University of Michigan School of Information (my day job since 2007) that I could use to support my IMS, Sakai, Tsugi, and Apereo travel and involvement. You will notice that I am using this money to travel like crazy, meet my MOOC students, and even giving conference talks about my research on Tsugi and Open Source.

In 2016, Scott, Sam, and I agreed that the money that they were spending on me would best benefit the community if they invested it in expanding their involvement in Sakai – which has worked well in my opinion.

It has been an interesting ride in terms of finding a way to fund my Sakai / IMS related travel over the years. Here is a summary of how it worked:

  • 2002-2006 Chief Architect of the Sakai Project – My travel was funded by the University of Michigan as part of their contribution to the Sakai Project.
  • 2006-2007 Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation – I was a University of Michigan employee seconded to the Foundation and UM continued to fund my travel.
  • 2007-2011 I resigned as Sakai ED and became a faculty member at the UM School of Information. My IMS travel was funded by IMS as a consultant and my Sakai travel (and summer salary) was funded by some of the remaining funds from the Duderstadt Center at UM. By 2011, UM was internally reorganizing and my internal source of funds was going away so my Sakai travel was at risk.
  • 2012-2014 While I continued as a faculty member at UMSI, I was hired as a consultant by Blackboard in 2014 with an agreement that they would support my summer salary, my Sakai involvement and give me a budget to invest in Sakai. I spent about $300K of Blackboard’s money to help finish Sakai 2.9. Late 2013, after a few reorganizations at Blackboard my new supervisor wondered out loud if my talents might be better used to advance internal Blackboard agendae. That was my cue to exit stage left so I had a conversation with Sam on the way back to the airport after the first Apereo Camp in January 2014.
  • 2014-2016 While I continued as a faculty member at UMSI, Sam and Scott at Longsight covered my summer salary and travel to support Sakai and be involved in IMS. During this period IMS paid for a few of my very specific IMS trips. My arrangement at Longsight ended as my MOOC revenue started to grow and the UM School of Information provided me support for my research work that allowed me to participate in IMS and Sakai.
  • 2016-2019 My funding from UM School of Information runs through 2019 – so I will have to figure something else out by then. A portion of the revenue from my MOOCs goes into a research fund that I control – so that might be enough to sustain my involvement post 2019. I am working on five new MOOCs – if those are successful and generate revenue, that might be enough.

I am particularly thankful for the support from Sam and Scott at Longsight. I definitely needed to leave Blackboard in 2014 but really had no options to cover my travel to Sakai. Without their support, I would have found myself able to only do one trip per year and have to pay for it myself. The Sakai community was in an important transition during that period and without Longsight support I would have had to fade into a limited background role.

Over the years, I have found some creative ways to fund my involvement in Sakai and IMS. I completely believe in what we are doing and the powerful contribution that open source makes to evolving educational technology – so it is all worth it.