Sakai/OSP development is expensive, so it’s hard to find funding prioritized for the “soft” benefits of personal ownership and development that might not jive with the “hard” outcomes understood as necessary for accountability.

I believe these “soft” outcomes can communicate accountability just as well, and even better, but it’s a much more intensive project that needs smart, creative, dedicated people over time. The consumable accountability data needs to be assembled as a secondary product, as opposed to the primary, “automatic” data products of rigid accountability measures. (…which feel a bit like TPS reports to student, faculty, and implementors, in my experience.)

This is one area where the “lower bar” open source systems have an apparent upper hand in development. Good portions of the development happens by motivated folks who have some time to give to personalization. It’s easy enough to “get in” that essentially unfunded effort bolsters those aspects.

I believe that, in today’s higher education climate, any system that doesn’t address accountability in a systematic fashion will fall out of favor very quickly at any institution where the words “ePortfolio” and “assessment” have been uttered in the same sentence. It’s really hard to build a realistic accountability system in your spare time, out of the context of a real accountability project.

This is where Sakai/OSP is uniquely positioned. We’re admittedly a bit behind on personalization, but that is changing quickly. At the same time, we have a depth of reach into the “regular” learning system activities and assessment capacities that’s unparalleled. It’s also a primary goal for a number of us to make raw development much easier. I really believe the 2.6 release has the potential to change the game. -NB

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09 March 2008