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June 23, 2004

Sakai Project releases open source collaboration and learning environment software

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Sakai Project releases its collaboration and learning environment software today, marking a six-month milestone for the consortium formed to create open source software for higher education. Sakai will also announce new commercial support and new board members at its first community conference in Denver, Colo.

The Sakai software, developed as a $6.8 million synchronized project of the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is being released to the Sakai Educational Partners for review and testing today. It will be made available to the public July 15.

About 160 education and information technologists are meeting in Denver today through Friday to plan deployment of the software, future software development, and support for faculty and students. Project Director Joseph Hardin said rapid deployment of the technology will improve teaching and learning for thousands of students.

"The Sakai Educational Partners Program (SEPP) is demonstrating a new model of collaboration in higher education," Hardin said.

SEPP is a community of colleges and universities committed to extending and deploying the Sakai software and integrating it with their own software developments. SEPP was launched in February 2004 and is funded by contributions from the partner schools and a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The 20 founding colleges and universities are:

Carnegie Mellon University
Columbia University
Cornell University
Foothill-De Anza Community College District
Harvard University
Johns Hopkins University
Northwestern University
Princeton University
Tufts University
University of California Berkeley
University of California Davis
University of California Los Angeles
University of California Merced
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Hawaii
University of Oklahoma
University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Yale University

They have been joined by 23 new partners:

Arizona State University
Boston University School of Management
Brown University
Cambridge University
Carleton College
Coastline Community College
Community College of Southern Nevada
Dartmouth College
Georgetown University
Knowledge Media Laboratory, Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching
Maricopa Community College, Mesa Campus
New York University
Northeastern University
Simon Fraser University
State University of New York Learning Environment
University of Arizona
University of Cape Town, SA
University of Delaware
University of Lleida
University of Melbourne, Australia
University of Nagoya
University of Toronto
Virginia Tech

Hardin, also a clinical assistant professor in the University of Michigan School of Information, said the enlistment of 43 partners in six months put the project ahead of its goal of 30 partners by the end of 2004. He said, "The board is very pleased that SEPP continues to grow at a steady state of 1-2 institutions per week. This demonstrates that higher education is embracing open source collaboration as an important means for creating and sustaining educational software."

Hardin also announced two new Sakai Board members. Mara Hancock, University of California, Berkeley, and Vivian Sinou, Foothill College, will join the board representing the partners. The board includes Hardin, Brad Wheeler, Indiana University, Amitava "Babi" Mitra and Jeff Merriman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lois Brooks, Stanford University, and Carl Jacobson, University of Delaware.

In addition to the collaboration and learning software from the four principal universities, related community projects will be described at the partners conference. The University of California is contributing a newly-developed on-line grade book; Foothill-DeAnza Community College District is phasing learning services provided to 49 California community colleges over to Sakai software; JA-SIG's uPortal, already installed in 168 colleges and universities, has been modified to support the new JSR168 and WSRP portlet standards; and the Open Source Portfolio Initiative project is adopting the Sakai Tool Portability Profile ensuring that its electronic portfolio will interoperate with Sakai software.

The Sakai Project is also announcing that it has established relationships with four companies as Sakai Commercial Affiliates (SCA). Embanet, the r-smart group, SunGuard SCT, and Unicon have begun working with the Sakai Project.

"Establishing Sakai Commercial Affiliate relationships makes clear the strong commercial interest in supporting open source software for higher education," said Brad Wheeler, Sakai board member in charge of commercial support relationships. "Open source software provides higher education with new choices in terms of software capabilities and options for fee-based commercial support as needed."

Carl Jacobson, principal investigator for uPortal development and Sakai board member, said: "The Affiliates provide the open source Sakai Project the stability, sustainability, and support options of commercial software offerings for those that desire them. It adds an important component to our community source model."

The Sakai Project is funded in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. See for additional information.


Contact: Joseph Hardin
Phone: (734) 763-3266