Sakai is an open source platform and developers from the higher education community are key to service, manage, maintain and develop Sakai. In late 2013, Prof Crouch instructed eLSI management to move the Wits-e / Sakai developers out of the unit and into CNS for operational reasons.
The impact of this redeployment of developer support Wits-e / Sakai has been enormous. Since their redeployment, satisfactory developer maintenance and support has been degraded. The lack of immediate technical support has led to a range of problems being for academic users. At the moment there are large numbers of tickets (fault reports and requests) outstanding. The development of integrations and the timeline for addressing larger issues has taken a back-seat. Upgrades will also suffer.
The withdrawal of an in house development team is not only a technical issue. Multiple poor experiences with technology will have long term implications for institutionalizing technology enabled learning. If blended learning is to flourish then it is vital that the institutional LMS function properly. When Wits-e/Sakai is down, when numerous complaints about errors and issues on the system remain unresolved, when there aren’t the personnel available to manage and maintain a system, then resistance by lecturers to technology enabled learning will rise.
An audit report, commission by the eLSI in 2013, highlights many of these problems. CNS has not been able to respond to the issues raised. To address this matter, eLSI management proposed the appointment of an external company with expertise in the maintenance of Sakai. Quotes were requested and received. These quotes are extremely reasonable and they have the support of eLSI management. But as of today, they have yet to be “actioned” by Prof Crouch and other senior management. A key part of e-learning has gone missing. Unless this is addressed, e-learning at Wits will be badly affected.