Reflections on the Ja-Sakai Conference 2013 from Josh Baron

Prior to the conference I spent time with faculty from Kyoto University who are working to launch a new graduate program, called Shishu-Kan, which is focused on developing global leaders.  As part of this program they are implementing electronic portfolios and are working with Dr. Janice Smith and Three Canoes LLC to adopt the electronic portfolio system that HEC Montreal has been developing (which has conceptual similarities with Sakai OSP).  As part of my time with the Shishu-Kan faculty I had the opportunity to share the Marist College journey with ePortfolios and show some examples of the Sakai OSP work that has been implemented at Marist.  I left very impressed with the Shishu-Kan’s faculty and their dedication to transforming the student learning and assessment process with eportfolios.  I’m confident they will be a model for others in Japan interested in adopting such innovations.

Of course, the highlight of the trip was the Ja Sakai conference itself which is now in its 6th year which is great testimony to both the leadership of the Ja Sakai organization as well as the expanding Sakai implementations taking place throughout Japan.   Although there were many great presentations, I was particularly excited to see Shoji Kaijita, of Kyoto University (and recently elected to the Apereo Foundation Board of Directors) demonstrate Sakai 2.9 (localized in Japanese of course) and how it would be integrated with HEC Montreal’s eportfolio system and possibly Sakai OAE.  I was also very impressed with the innovative work being done at Hosei University that was presented by Yuji Tokiwa (Chair of Ja Sakai Community) which included a system that allows them to digitize information students are recording on paper and automatically import this information into Sakai. Also, starting this year the Apereo Foundation has begun to support the funding of simultaneous translation between Japanese and English during the conference. This simultaneous translation for presentations by Japanese Sakai institutions was quite helpful for me to transparently understand their presentations and have discussions among participants, as well as Japanese participants could do so for mine and the keynote presentation by Mr. Paul Treuer (Director, Supportive Services Program, University of Minnesota Duluth) entitled “Literacy Skills for ePortfolio Success”.

I left Japan with a renewed appreciation for the significant impact that Sakai is having around the world and for the innovative implementations of Sakai in Japan.  I want to especially thank Shoji Kaijita and Yuji Tokiwa for the leadership they have provided to the Ja Sakai community as well as the tremendous effort that they dedicated to the conference.  I want to also thank all of the other presenters and attendees, as well as sponsors which included Kyoto University, Kanematsu Electronics Ltd., Nippon Steel Sumitomo Metals Solutions, and Fuji Xerox.  On a personal note, I want to thank everyone for being such wonderful hosts during my visit!

Josh Baron
Pro-Tem Chair, Apereo Foundation Board of Directors
March 2013