I believe it is time for the Sakai community to embark on a proper planning and management process for the Sakai CLE, to take us well into the future. Not one that is based on existing Jira’s that are left hanging, not one that is based on just fixing a bunch of bugs and calling that a release, but one that completely realigns the focus of the CLE and brings the product back into the spotlight within the LMS market.
The Sakai Technical Coordination Committee (TCC) was formed in 2010 because there was no suitable technical or functional leadership for Sakai. We took control of the technical aspects, and have so far done an excellent job in getting bugs fixed, features implemented and releases cut.
However, I believe that at this point in time, what the CLE needs is to regroup and refocus on what it is what we want to achieve. Focus groups, steering committees, surveys, evangelists and visionaries, connecting with the people that have the skills, that make the decisions and that have the funding. In my personal opinion, we lack direction, the product is becoming stale and we are at risk of institutions and organisations leaving the community altogether.
As Michael Feldstein writes, the Sakai project is at a critical inflection point. We need to seize the opportunity to re-evaluate the LMS/CLE market and see what it is that teachers and students want from an environment, and how we can deliver that.
None of this will be easy. We don’t have dedicated funding to hire developers, nor the group of people as I described above, to discuss where the product needs to go. The community source model works, previous years of the Sakai project has proven that, but it falls down when the product gets stale and momentum is lost. It cannot always be left to volunteers to pick up the pieces.
What we do have though, is a solid product that is in use by millions of people every day and a thriving community of implementing institutions and commercial partners, all of who want the best for their students and clients. This is the perfect time to reflect on our product and start re-imagining what needs to be done.