Press Release from OLi & Sakai Headquarters

CHARLOTTE, NC September 9, 2006 -Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), the largest two-year college in North Carolina, has recently begun a pilot of the open source distance learning platform, Sakai. The school has partnered with Optimized Learning, Inc. (OLi), Unicon, and Houghton Mifflin to provide select students with access to an online English 112 course. OLi is hosting the pilot for CPCC. The school, in coordination with CPCC’s Futures Institute, has been exploring alternatives to the commercial online platform they are currently using. CPCC built a team of faculty and administration to explore open source options for the school’s online learning initiative. The team included Dr. Rod Townley, Dean IT/Engineering, and the Futures Institute, Melissa Vrana, Director of eLearning Development and Delivery, Instructional Developer, Catalina Ramirez, and Rebecca Fagan, English Distance Learning Instructor. After evaluating many options, the team settled on piloting Sakai 2.2, an open source online learning program that allows tremendous flexibility for the academic setting. The team was also enthusiastic about Sakai’s price tag: the software is free. Once CPCC settled on Sakai, the school sought out the open source expertise and hosting capabilities of Optimized Learning (OLi) and Unicon. OLi hosts the pilot version, and Unicon is providing training for faculty and IT staff on how to use Sakai. Once the decision was made to pilot Sakai for fall classes, OLi and Unicon had the course up and running within 6 weeks. Speaking to the potential hesitancy faculty may have regarding switching from a known platform to Sakai, Rebecca Fagan noted enthusiastically, “Sakai is extremely easy to use. The transition from the commercial platform we’ve been using to Sakai’s interface involves less than a two-hour learning curve.”