TCC08: Transitioning from WebCT to Sakai

The full title of the presentation I’m liveblogging is “Help! I Need Somebody: Faculty Perspectives on Transitioning from WebCT to a Sakai-based Learning Management System,” by Ariana Eichelberger, Educational Technology, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

(Missed the beginning of the presentation due to my computer’s inability to start Elluminate in under 9 minutes)

Open-ended interview questions for faculty

  • Hopes and expectations for LMS
  • Will you use new features in Sakai?
  • (2 more questions that I missed)

Faculty responses

  • Approaches to Change
    • All felt some resistance to tech
    • Comfortable with WebCT and hesitant to switch
    • Changes felt imposed on them and not in control of it themselves
    • Technology changes especially disruptive
  • Importance of Support
    • Institutional support, especially one-on-one mentoring
    • Mentoring will reduce anxiety (I like this idea–wonder if we could do something like this)
  • Expectations
    • Could see benefits even if hesitant
    • Saw benefits of new features–collaboration, easier to learn, sharing resources between courses
    • Resistance didn’t prevent them from feeling optimistic

She had expected that because these people had been through a lot of technology change in the past that they would be more tolerant of it, but there was still a lot of hesitation. The positive attitudes were directly related to their feelings of support available.

Attitude matters. Participants who were successful saw benefits early and were optimistic.

Title of “Help! I need somebody” due to the recurring theme in the responses about the mentoring. She didn’t ask about that, but the responses repeatedly mentioned it.

Pressure on faculty to be self-sufficient, but successful participants relied on assistance from others.

They are currently in transition, but WebCT will be going away soon

Questions:

She mentioned how Sakai can be changed when the universities want it to happen rather than when WebCT decides it will happen. Changes will happen at the system level there (although theoretically you could have different versions of Sakai running from different servers).

Q: What do you wish had been done differently?
A: Many faculty felt that they hadn’t really been involved in the process. If she had been able to influence it more, she would have tried to make more people in the system feel “heard” in the process. People accept the change more easily if they have participated.

Q: Are the students ready for the change?
A: This is probably harder for the faculty than the students. Faculty have more growing pains.

Q: Is the mentoring face-to-face or online?
A: In the past has been mostly face-to-face, but are doing some mentoring through Elluminate too. The mentoring programs have become so popular that they have to assign priorities to the mentoring.

Q: What training was available for faculty during the transition?
A: Workshops at basic to advanced levels for faculty, continue to offer training throughout the transition. College of Education did better internal training than other departments.

Q: How would you do one-on-one mentoring at the community college level where you don’t have grad students to use?
A: They did a pilot for that previously with a grant to help instructors integrate technology. Once the grant finished, they did look for ways to continue the mentoring

Q: Who made the decision to move to Sakai?
A: Leadership, with input from the university community. Collected information from variety of users. Specifically looked for a system that allowed better collaboration between faculty. Sakai has a proven track record with a large number of people.

Q: Who will do the fixes? At the community college resources may not be available to do the fixes for open source.
A: It will be at the system level through IT when enough people ask for changes

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Update: I’m collecting all of my posts from TCC08 on a single page, so check there for more from the conference.

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2 thoughts on “TCC08: Transitioning from WebCT to Sakai

  1. Pingback: Carnet de liens sur le e-Learning » Blog Archive » Transitioning from WebCT to Sakai

  2. Pingback: My History of Live Blogged Notes | Experiencing E-Learning

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