Welcome to ETH World

Explore Sakai - the Collaboration and Learning Environment for Higher Education

ETH World 2000-2005

The ETH World program came to an end in 2005. This website is no longer updated and contains archival information about the activities.

A webcast of the following presentations is available:

9:15–10:15 Sakai Concept Community (including Welcome and Introduction)
10:45-12:15 The Sakai User Experience
13:45–15:00 Architecture and Development

Thursday, 26 May 2005, 9:00-17:00 ETH Zurich, Main Building (Rämistrasse 101), Room HG D 16.2

Marc Brierley, Stanford University, USA
Mark Norton, Sakai Educational Partnership Program, USA
Jim Farmer, Sakai Educational Partnership Program, USA


The hype in the field of Learning Management Systems (LMS) is high. Many universities have in recent years deployed LMS based on in-house developments, on open software environments or on commercial products. It is unclear at this time what to expect from the future: Will there be new standards for LMS? Will some products excel in the market or will we be confronted with many competing platforms?

One thing we have learned in the last years is that the introduction of an LMS is a time consuming activity involving many persons and processes inside a university.

One interesting innovation in the field of LMS is provided by the Sakai project. This project is a joint effort of a number of leading US universities, including Stanford and MIT, with the goal of creating a common platform. The platform is licensed as open source (against a minimal fee) to other universities.

In this workshop you will learn about the architectural and organizational aspects of Sakai. In addition you will have the possibility to use the application with different roles: As professor, as student or as application manager.

The goal is to get a better understanding of Sakai and of its possible use in your organization.

About Sakai

The Sakai Project is a "community source" software development effort to design, build and deploy a new Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE) for higher education. The project began in January 2004. Its primary goal is to deliver the Sakai application framework and associated course management tools that are designed to work together. Also, as an augmentation of the original course management system model, the tools also support research collaboration. The software is being designed to be competitive with the best CMSs available. More information is available at

Goals of the Workshop

In the course of the workshop you will:


8:30 – 9:00 Registration (HG D 16.2)
9:00 – 9:15 Welcome and Introduction, Prof. Bernhard Plattner, Marc Brierley, Michele De Lorenzi (HG D 16.2)
9:15 – 10:15 Sakai Concept and Community, Jim Farmer (HG D 16.2)

(WebCast including Welcome and Introduction, Handouts)

10:15 – 10:45 Break (CLA D-Floor)
10:45 – 12:15 The Sakai User Experience, Marc Brierley (HG D 16.2)

(WebCast, Handouts)

12:15 – 13:45 Lunch (Polyterrasse Mensa MM, Poly-Snack HG F, Clausiusbar CLA D)
13:45 – 15:00 Architecture and Development, Mark Norton (HG D 16.2)

(WebCast, Handouts)

15:00 – 15:30 Break (CLA D-Floor)

(parallel tracks)

15:30 – 16:30 Hands-on I: Developer Experience, Mark Norton (Computer Lab HG D 18.1)


15:30 – 16:30 Hands-on II: User Experience, Marc Brierley and Jim Farmer (Computer Lab HG E 19)
16:30 – 17:00 Apéro (CLA D-Floor)
18:00 – 19:00 Video conference: "E-Learning Trends", Elliot Masie (HG D 22)
(Optional add-on)

About the Speakeres

Marc Brierley

Marc Brierley is an Interaction Designer at Stanford University and member of the Sakai Tools Team. Marc has been in charge of design for the Sakai Assessment Manager. In his last experience before joining the Sakai effort, he worked as a user interface designer and developer on Stanford's CourseWork project. His primary areas of expertise are in interaction design, usability testing, HTML/CSS development and project management.

Jim Farmer, SEPP Community Liaison

For the past two years Jim Farmer has been the project administrator for the JA-SIG uPortal Project. Jim has held CIO positions at the California State Universities and Los Rios Community College Districts. He has served as technical advisor to the U.S. Department of Education on modernizing the delivery of financial aid. He developed a proprietary U.S. financial aid system that led to Sigma Systems Inc. and remains it chairman. For eight years Jim taught information systems and strategic planning at Harvard University's Graduate School of Economics. He began his career as a U.S. Army electronics engineer in Berlin.

Mark Norton, Senior Developer

Mark Norton is a Senior Technical Consultant who serves as the liaison between the Sakai Project and the Sakai Educational Partnership Program (SEPP). He is a member of the Sakai Architecture Team and guides Sakai on the development of Open Service Interface Definitions (OSIDs). Prior to joining Sakai, Mark was the Director of Specification Development at the IMS Global Learning Consortium and coordinated the development of several key industry standards including Simple Sequencing, Learning Design, and Digital Repositories. As chairman of the IMS Accessibility Group, he led the development of several specifications on support for accessibility in educational technology. He was a founding architect at TechOnLine (custom internet architectures), and Avid Technology (digital video editing systems).

Organizational Aspects

Practical Information for the Workshop Participants

For any other question you can e-mail

Arrival in Zurich
The workshop will take place in room HG D 16.2 (blue color on the map) of the Main Building of ETH Zurich (red building "HG" on the map). There will be signs showing the way the room from the Main Entrance at Rämistrasse 101.
The workshop is free of charge. Refreshement during the breaks in the morning and in the afternoon as the Apéro are offered by ETH Zurich. Lunch is at your own expense.
Computers for Hands-on Workshops
The Hands-on Workshop will be held in computer rooms, so no special infrastructure is required from the participants.
If you like, you can use your own Laptop. We will provide a guest password to access the ETH Wireless LAN.
Handouts of the presentations will be distributed at the beginning of the workshop.
Parallel Sessions
The two sessions from 15:30 to 16:30 will run in parallel: Developer Experience and User Experience II. Please inform us in advance with an e-mail to which of the sessions you wish to attend.

Organization Team


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© 2012 ETH Zurich | Imprint | Disclaimer | 1 July 2005