Daily Archives: August 17, 2006

MyUCDavis introduces SmartSite

Anyone who has recently visited MyUCDavis will have gotten a whiff of SmartSite, the new online course management section of the campus Web portal.

SmartSite is powered by Sakai, an online collaboration tool whose name might be recognized from Food Network’s “Iron Chef.” The show features Chef Hiroyuki Sakai as one of the competing chefs. The online system is making a name for itself on MyUCDavis.

In 2003, Sakai was developed by the University of Michigan and Indiana University when both universities were working independently to create an open-source course management and collaboration system. Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University heard of their efforts and joined the project as well.

Currently, over 100 universities, some located in Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, and Spain, and the United States have begun utilizing the Sakai software.

According to Michael Giardina, communications analyst for the Office of the Vice Provost of Information and Educational Technology, because Sakai is open-source software – meaning it can be distributed and used by anyone – universities can collaborate to create a system that can be customized and updated to keep up with constantly evolving technology.


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Blackboard wins e-learning patent, sues competitor

A patent infringement fight is on as Blackboard won a very broad patent on e-learning technology including “core technology relating to certain systems and methods involved in offering online education, including course management systems and enterprise e-Learning systems.” The company then immediately sued competitor Desire2Learn, a learning management system developer.

In addition, another player, the Sakai Foundation has retained open source attorney Eben Moglen and his Software Freedom Law Center to fight the patent. In a press release, the foundation said:

“The recent announcement by Blackboard that it is attempting to assert patent rights over simple and longstanding online technologies as applied to the area of course management systems and e-learning technologies, and its subsequent litigation against a smaller commercial competitor constitutes a threat to the effective and open development of software for higher education and the values underlying such open activities.”


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