Last month the Sakai Implementation Team selected a group of 50 faculty who will pilot academic courses this spring semester using Niihka, Miami's new collaboration and learning environment (CLE). Built in the Sakai CLE platform, Niihka was chosen this past summer to replace Blackboard on all Miami campuses.
The 50 courses that were chosen to pilot Niihka represent a cross-section of all disciplines, majors, and campuses, and will involve nearly 2,300 students. The core team hopes to get feedback on the new system, and the documentation and training that will support it.
Over 100 instructors volunteered for the pilot, so it was not an easy task for the committee to select the 50. The project team sought to identify courses that represented a cross section of several key factors including a variety of campuses and divisions. The committee also selected courses that varied in the features being used and included a mix of traditional, online and hybrid courses.
A kick-off meeting for the pilot faculty members was held Nov. 3, and it gave the faculty a chance to meet each other and ask questions of the Sakai implementation team before they began creating their courses in the new environment.
The first round of training for the pilot faculty was the week of Nov. 15. Since the initial meetings, faculty have been actively engaged, sharing emails and blogging about their progress and how they are using the new CLE to rethink their courses. While the pilot has not been without bumps, most faculty are finding Niihka a very manageable system, according to Cathy McVey, senior director of strategic communication and planning for IT services.
Training courses and migration assistance for all Miami faculty will be available in the spring. For more information about the transition from Blackboard to Niihka, including a video introduction to Sakai, please visit the Sakai Implementation Project website at www.muohio.edu/sip.