Upgrading an existing Sakai installation

The next few posts will chronicle the process of creating a fresh install of the Sakai portal/course management system and then importing content from an existing installation.

The organization that I went through this process for had a Sakai instance that had been installed by a vendor/consultant as a binary distribution. We relied on the vendor for troubleshooting, upgrades and tool/portlet installations. We decided a few months back to develop the expertise “in-house” to install, configure and upgrade Sakai so that we would no longer be reliant on a vendor.

We wanted to go through the entire process of installing Sakai from source in order to learn how to do it, and to allow us to add tools using source code later on.

Sakai is not that difficult to install on its own, but there are a number of issues that arose during the process that I felt it was important to document.

Stay tuned!

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Back online!

Just finished getting the site back online after my hosting provider
suffered a service outage and catastrophic data loss. While the
experience was nerve-wracking and a pain in the behind, it is probably
the kickstart that I needed to tend to this little garden again.

Spring is in the air, so some photo walks are on the horizon, as well
as bike excursions.

Watch this space for some resources related to geocaching in the
coming week… This as part of my prep for a workshop I am doing in

Twitter Away Your Life With Social Networking

From Wired:

“The internet is to human interaction as Pringles are to potatoes. Companionship and closeness are processed into an unrecognizable slurry, then reconstituted as an unnatural recreation of their original incarnation.”

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Videomaru: A great Flash video tool

A student of mine recommended a great Flash video tool called video.Maru. It’s a component which allows a developer to create customized video players without any knowledge of ActionScript.
All you have to do is create MovieClips on the stage with the correct names. I am experimenting with it now and will post some more impressions here as I go along.

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I use versiontracker.com to keep track of new updates for the software
that I use. Some software programs seem to be updated on an almost
daily basis. I can help but wonder if this is a case of
“versionjacking”; issuing incremental updates so as to always be in
the list of updated software.

NECC – June 25, 2007 – Why I want a GPS Unit!

Wow! Every once in a while you attend a workshop that really makes a difference – or at least rises above the usual standard of conference workshops. Dr. Alice Christie is this year’s bomb. This was by far the most effective, impressive education workshop that I have attended in a long time.The workshop focused on GPS technology and the practice of geocaching. Geocaching is a kind of treasure/scavenger hunt that uses the GPS as the primary tool for finding the hidden treasure or “cache”.Dr. Christie put the participants of her workshop in teams of 4-5 people and gave us all the task of finding several destinations, or “waypoints” in Atlanta’s Centennial Park using a GPS accompanied by a clue. The key to completing the activity was to function as a team, share responsibilities and collaborate to solve all of the clues.After completing the exercise, we reflected on the activity and performed another activity that situated the GPS “game” in contructivist learning principles.If you are interested in GPS or geocaching (or educational technology in general), visit Dr. Christie’s excellent website at http://www.alicechristie.org/.More links tomorrow! Report from NECC – June 25, 2007

NECC – June 25, 2007 – Report from “Collaborative Tools for Global Distributed Learning”

Presenter: Dr. Yvonne Marie Andrés

Dr. Andrés is the founder of the Global Schoolnet, a home to many learning resources on the web.Dr. Andrés began by touring her site, the Global Schoolnet, showcasing a Project Registry for PBL.

She worked her way through a “speed-dating” version of several online collaborative tools.

  • Dropshots.com allows teachers/students to upload videos to a public space using a drag and drop interface.
  • YackPack.com is an online audio collaborative space (still in Beta) that uses a neat visual Flash interface.
  • Google for Educators – An educationally-oriented version of Google’s Docs & Spreadsheets applications.
  • PhotoShow.com is a way for teachers/students to create animated musical slideshows through e-mail, the web or from other media.
  • Simplestar.com – adds functionality and special effects to Photoshow (above)

In general this was a very useful workshop. If there was a downside, it was that it wasn’t quite as engaging as it could’ve been. The Internet connection was spotty throughout the workshop, and so it was difficult for us to experience some of the sites that Dr. Andrés was showing us. Three hours is also a VERY long time to spend at a computer in one shot. Nonetheless, the tools that were demonstrated were interesting, and I look forward to investigating them further.

UPDATE! Additional resources from the workshop

  • Backflip.com is a social bookmarking site, somewhat similar to del.icio.us.
  • Bravenet.com is a hosting service for web sites as well as a variety of online tools such as maps, polls, calendars, etc.
  • Digitaldivide.net – an online community with collaborative tools with a goal to bridging the digital divide.
  • Elluminate – One of the main synchronous platforms.
  • MyWay – Free e-mail with no add, similar in look and feel to MyYahoo!
  • Skype – The ubiquitous VOIP tool.
  • Think.com – Collaboration tools for students and schools developed and sponsored by Oracle.
  • Twitter – This is an online brainstorming, information sharing site. Entries can be posted on the web or through text messaging. Dr. Andrés has written an article about Twitter at http://www.districtadministration.com/pulse/

NECC – June 24, 2007 – The First Day

Today was our first day at the NECC site. We registered and toured the Georgia World Congress Center to get our bearings and decide where the best places to hang out were.The scale of NECC is massive, yet it operates like a well-oiled machine. Shuttle buses ferry the thousands of attendees from their hotels to the conference site. The sheer number of people is a site to see.After getting a feel for the place, the LEARN “delegation” (consisting of myself and Director of Operations, Patrick Bérubé) attended a special reception for international attendees entitled, “Putting the ‘I’ in ISTE”. We hooked up with a couple of other colleagues from Canada and met some other people from as far afield as Australia and Singapore.Tonight, NECC delegates got a special treat: A private tour of the brand new Georgia Aquarium, billed as the largest aquarium in the United States (if not the the world). The skills of the organizers was apparent as they managed to get what appeard to be a couple of thousand conference participants into the aquarium and fed without incident or complaint. The aquarium is beautiful and highlighted by two very large tanks containing a “pod” of beluga whales and tropical fish (including several species of shark and stingray) respectively.Back at the hotel, it’s time to wind down and to start thinking about tomorrow’s activities. The day starts early with an orientation, followed by a few hours exploring the massive Exhibition Hall and then two consecutive hands-on workshops in the afternoon. More updates tomorrow!


Save Our Internet Radio – The View from Paradise

Don’t let the RIAA silence your favorite Internet radio station!

When I read about the onerous fee increases that will be levied against Internet radio stations, I was sorely disappointed. From the little that I have read on the subject, these fees seem not only outrageously high, but punitive.

I sincerely believe that Internet radio with its ability to specialize and cater to specific audiences, is the future. Personally, I haven’t listened to commercial radio regularly in years. The only time that I do is when I’m in the car, my iPod isn’t handy and there’s nothing on the CBC.

A particular favorite of mine is Radio Paradise. They play an eclectic assortment of music that seems almost perfectly tailored to what I enjoy. Under the new fee structure, the royalties that they will have to pay about 10x more than they do today, effectively putting them out of business.

As a Canadian, there’s not much I can do except support the stations that I like and to urge others support them. If you are in the U.S., please write your Congress person and let them know that Internet radio is worth saving.
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