The Move to Sakai
This announcement was sent on November 12, 2012
Dear Loyola Community,
We are writing to inform you of two important technology changes that will impact our University community, the timing of these changes and transition plans, and the decision-making processes involved in both.
Microsoft Exchange E-Mail
A decision for Loyola to move from the current GroupWise e-mail system to Microsoft Exchange follows a recommendation made this past summer by an advisory committee comprised of Loyola students, faculty, and staff. This advisory committee prioritized Loyola’s core needs, engaged the leading e-mail providers in detailed discussions, and assessed how these providers met our needs. The University-wide move to Microsoft Exchange, coming in May 2013, will bring many new features and enhancements, improving the way Loyola faculty, staff, and students communicate with each other and the outside world. We believe that this change in platforms will position Loyola to take advantage of anytime, anywhere communication and provide for more collaborative interaction between our community members.
The migration means significant enhancements for both desktop users and those on mobile devices and tablets, including:
- Streamlined access from any device: Access your Loyola e-mail and calendar anytime, anywhere, on any device
- Expanded calendar features: Share calendars with colleagues outside Loyola, and make use of more sophisticated editing and scheduling features
- Integrated instant messaging, voice mail, and conferencing capabilities: Listen to voicemail messages through your e-mail inbox; access e-mail and calendar options with voice commands on your phone; and host audio, video, and web conferences with anyone, inside or outside Loyola
- Increased storage capacity: Expanded storage capacity for files and attachments
- More seamless integration within the Microsoft Office suite and within the cloud: Consistent formatting features mean e-mail messages will look the way you want them to
Faculty and staff will move to Microsoft Exchange housed at Loyola while students will move to Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 offering; everyone will have integrated access to these advanced e-mail, calendar, messaging, and conferencing features.
More detailed information about the move, including a preview of features, the upgrade schedule, and links to documentation and training resources, will be posted online in the next few weeks. In the meantime, questions or comments can be directed to email@example.com.
Sakai Learning Management System
Over the past decade, a learning management system (LMS), presently Blackboard, has become a critical component in the fulfillment of Loyola’s academic mission. Two years ago Loyola began a process of systematically testing other learning management systems to determine whether they could better serve the evolving needs of our faculty and students. A team comprised of Loyola faculty and students, and staff from Academic Technology Services and the Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy collaborated on a demonstration project to evaluate the viability of open-source systems. Following an 18-month pilot and careful study, this project team determined that the hosted solution of Sakai could best meet the teaching and learning goals at Loyola.
A growing number of Loyola faculty members who have switched to Sakai have commented on its ease of use and enhancements to the current LMS environment. Students have provided similar feedback. Nevertheless, some Loyola students are currently using two different learning management systems. In order to reduce this burden on students and faculty both, and to improve the tools available for teaching and learning, Loyola will be changing its learning management and community systems from Blackboard to Sakai, beginning with Summer Sessions 2013. Loyola’s Council of Deans has reviewed the work of the project team, endorsed the team’s findings, and supports the current recommendation to move to Sakai, which will also realize significant cost savings to the University.
As an open-source system, Sakai provides a collaborative learning environment where development and use of the system is enhanced by the educational community of users, allowing for a more timely incorporation of contemporary tools. In an academic world where technologies change to address new learning, universities need to position themselves to be able to adapt; open-source alternatives provide this flexibility.
You will be hearing more details about the project schedule, along with a comprehensive training and support plan for faculty. For more information, visit LUC.edu/sakai.
We want to thank the many students, faculty, and staff with whom we have consulted as part of this change process and who have contributed their time to surveys, focus groups, pilot projects, advisory committees, and planning teams. Your feedback and suggestions have contributed in a significant way to the future of communication, collaboration, and teaching and learning at Loyola.
John P. Pelissero, PhD Susan M. Malisch
Provost Vice President and CIO