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Conversion

From Information about Isaak, Brock University's Sakai-Based LMS

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In fall 2008 and winter 2009 the CTLET worked with a small one-time team of students to perform the fairly straight-forward (in most cases) conversion of courses from WebCT CE 6 to Sakai 2.5. This LMS migration process began with a review of the Blackboard products and the open source alternatives in 2007 and a one year Pilot of Sakai 2.4. As of the fall of 2009 Isaak, Brock University's Sakai-Based Learning Management System, is Brock's sole LMS.

What follows is an outline of the process and some reflections:

Contents

[edit] Converting Courses

  • All courses at Brock University are “requested” by the instructor, these records were used to populate a web-based database.
  • Example of the web site that was created to seek feedback from instructors about the conversion of their course
    Example of the web site that was created to seek feedback from instructors about the conversion of their course
    596 instructors were E-Mailed letting them know about Sakai, the conversion, and asking them to either follow a unique URL included and indicate what they wanted converted or reply to the E-Mail
  • All 2007 course sites were assumed to need converting, unless otherwise indicated

[edit] Communications

  • An example of the E-mails that were sent to instructors
    An example of the E-mails that were sent to instructors
    E-mails were sent to instructors confirming their request either after they entered their selection on the web or when a member of the CTLET input their request
  • An other E-Mail was sent to non-responding instructor three months later.
  • A “last chance” or final update E-Mail was sent towards the end of the process.
  • Once the VPA had decided to transition Brock University to a Sakai-Based LMS was made 720 hours of “Experience Plus” hours were allocated to convert all pre-Fall/Winter 2008 archived courses to Sakai.
  • The average course conversion was anticipated to take around an hour (potential of ~22,360 hours).
  • The conversion was to start in September 2008 and needed to be completed before Brock’s Blackboard licence expired July 31st 2009.

[edit] Conversion Matrix

WebCT to Sakai conversion matrix
WebCT to Sakai conversion matrix

[edit] WebCT Components and where they should end up

  • Announcements - Term-based*
  • Assessments -> Tests and Quizzes
  • Assignments -> Assignments
  • Calendar - Term-based*
  • Chat - Term-based*
  • Course Content -> Resources
  • Discussions - Only structure*
  • File Manager - Hidden files that are indirectly referred to by content presented to students in the course content area will be added to the HTML_FILE_STRUCTURE folder in Resources. Files that are not accessible at all by students will be added to a hidden folder named From File Manager.
  • Goals - Term-based*
  • Grade Book - Columns will be converted, formulas will be adapted.
  • Syllabus - Term-based* Files will be moved to From File Manager folder.
  • Learning Modules -> Resources
  • Local Content - Content not stored on WebCT and as such is not available for conversion
  • Mail - Term-based*
  • Media Library - Glossary content will go to the Glossary tool, images etc to the Resources tool in the Presentation tool format.
  • Notes - Term-based*
  • Roster - Term-based*
  • Who's Online - Term-based*
  • Web Links - Will be added as web links in Resources tool

* Term-based/delivery based content that cannot be directly converted because it relies on delivery dates, student content, etc.

[edit] Students

Qualified students were welcome to apply: http://www.brocku.ca/expplus/jobs/view.phtml?id=19434 - the work is now completed.

[edit] Reflections

[edit] About Brock University's Migration

Tool usage, as reported by student preforming conversion from WebCT to Sakai
Tool usage, as reported by student preforming conversion from WebCT to Sakai
  • 2236 “Archived” courses in Blackboard CE 6 plus some archived from WebCT CE 4
  • There is no automatic/programatic method to convert content from Blackboard/WebCT CE 6 to the Sakai CLE 
(or any of the legacy Java-based WebCT platforms, but CE4 is an option)
  • Course Templates: Instructors at Brock University are accustomed to having on-demand access to the non-student-based content of their last 4 years of course offerings (and longer if they contact the CTLET/ITS)
  • Instructors own their content at Brock University
  • All courses at Brock University are “requested” by the instructor, these records were used to populate a web-based database.
  • 596 instructors were E-Mailed letting them know about Sakai, the conversion, and asking them to either follow a custom URL included and indicate what they wanted converted or reply to the E-Mail
  • All 2007 were assumed to need converting, unless otherwise indicated
  • Once the VPA had decided to transition Brock University to a Sakai-Based LMS was made 720 hours of “Experience Plus” hours were allocated to convert all pre-Fall/Winter 2008 archived courses to Sakai.
  • The average course conversion was anticipated to take around an hour (potential of ~22,360 hours).
  • The conversion was to start in September 2008 and needed to be completed before Brock’s Blackboard licence expired July 31st 2009.
  • Many instructors have appreciated their involvement in the transition and the ability to tailor their level of involvement
  • Many instructors appreciated entering Sakai/Isaak for the first time and finding the contents of their previous courses
  • Many instructors did express a desire to have their Fall/Winter 2008/2009 course converted, which was not an option.

[edit] Student Workflow

Chart of the 760 hours worked by students preforming the actual migration.  Additional work was done my members of the CTLET
Chart of the 760 hours worked by students preforming the actual migration. Additional work was done my members of the CTLET
  • Students took a course from a cue
  • Students accounts were then given the ability to add themselves to any course in our two WebCT/Blackboard systems
  • Students then created a course in Sakai named WebCT_ORIGNALCOURSENAME
  • Transferred the content
  • Removed themselves and added instructors
  • Mark the course a completed

[edit] Answers to common questions about how Sakai came to Brock University

  1. What led Brock to select Sakai?
    • This is best answered by the information generated from the ad-hoc, multi-disciplinary, committee created to review LMSs, including the survey results and the summary presented to senate.
    • Additional context about LMSs and Brock University in 2006 are that the university's contract with WebCT Inc. (then Blackboard Inc.) was expiring soon and we had correctly predicted that Blackboard would force an interface change with the next version of their product and that they would acquire other commercial products (Angel). Faced with an inevitable transition to a new platform we began the evaluation in order to make the decision for ourselves as to what we wanted to transition to (a new version of the proprietary system "we knew" or one of the two open options).
  2. Did you look at other proprietary and/or open source LMS?
    • No we did not. Staying with WebCT or Blackboard 9 (which we at the time just called "the combination of WebCT and Blackboard") was the only proprietary option we considered. The proprietary LMS that we were using, WebCT, was being consumed by the largest commercial LMS on the market. The conclusion was that if we were to invest in any sort of migration then it would have to be to an open format that would not "lock in" our content in the future.
  3. Did Sakai have functionality that others did not have?
    • This previously mentioned summary that was presented to senate really does present the comparison the best.
    • In 2007, One might highlight that Sakai's on-line assignment submission options are really well thought out. Or simply that Sakai has a wiki and blogging tool, where Blackboard does not. An issue with Moodle was that you cannot have an item in the Gradebook that wasn't tied to something else that was administered by Moodle (no "lab results" or "final paper" gradebook item). This is critical for our mostly blended courses.
    • As one scans the survey results the main theme is the simplicity of Sakai. As I've presented one Isaak/Sakai over the while my mantra has became "the lack of complex features is a feature".

[edit] Resources

Example of a course from the winter term of 2009/2010
Example of a course from the winter term of 2009/2010
Example of a course from the spring term of 2009
Example of a course from the spring term of 2009

[edit] Comments

Quote from Matt Clare: "As far as the conversion - I imagine the outcome will be something like having the moving company arrange your house and do your interior design - or having someone else pack your suitcase for you. It should be a convenient service, but not the final step. Those who have all their files et-cetera available to them off-line might be best suited to build their course from scratch."

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