Whats going on in Nakamura/Sakai 3

23 04 2010

There are lots of things happening in Nakamura, the back end for the Sakai 3, and many of them are of little interested to anyone thinking of how Sakai 3 might impact their lives in teaching, learning and collaboration in higher ed. However, standing back for a moment, 2 features are going to make a massive impact, perhaps not initially, but certainly longer term. Full Business Rules Engine and Activity based Workflow Engine. I dont expect these words would excite many readers and I would not expect the features to be instantly visible to the teacher, student or researcher. However, with these capabilities in place it becomes possible for new features and functionality to be implemented with less effort and programming. We already have a highly flexible component architecture, in OSGi, allowing deployers to add functionality without modifying the core code base. We also have a extremely flexible unstructured storage model courtesy of Apache Sling and Apache Jackrabbit, which mean, unlike many comparative products there is no schema rebuild required to add functionality, but we moved to that structure 18 months ago and thats not what excites me. We already have a flexible widget based UI model that allows institutions to own, develop and deploy “Apps” for Sakai. We have OpenSocial integration allowing Students, Teachers and Researchers to build academic networks. Thats all in addition to all the features you rightly demand from Moodle 2, Blackboard 9 and others. But thats not what excites me.

What excites me is being able to give Business Analysts and Educational Designers at institutions visual tools that will enable them to directly develop, simulate and deploy workflows and rules that will give their institutions competitive advantage, without having to resort back to programmers. And its the simulare based on feedback and evidence that are most compelling, having the tools to run what if evidence based senario modelling on the introduction of new ways of operating, before deploying to production is core to so many highly effective organizations, so why not higher ed ?