We are pleased to announce our keynote speakers. Don’t miss out on live presentations from these engaging thought leaders!

Opening Session - Panel Discussion

"SakaiNG - How to Reach the Next Generation of Learners


Cheryl Brown, University of Cape Town
Dr Cheryl Brown is a Senior Lecturer and member of the Learning Technologies Team at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching  at the University of Cape Town. She co-convenes the Masters and Postgraduate Diploma in Educational Technology  and convenes courses in research and evaluation of emerging technology and emerging technologies and educational practices. Cheryl is involved in a number of projects in the Carnegie funded "Developing Educational Technology Professionals in Africa" project. She supervises MEd and PhD students from across Africa. She is co-chair of the Apereo Teaching and Learning Innovation Awards (ATLAS) which recognise innovation in learning and teaching in the Apereo community. Cheryl is an NRF rated researcher and her interests center around access to ICTs and how they facilitate or inhibit students’ participation in learning. In the past few years she has looked more closely at the role technological devices (for example cellphones and laptops) play in students learning in a developing context and the development of students' digital literacy practices.

Dr. Charles R. Severance, University of Michigan

Charles is a Clinical Associate Professor
and teaches in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He is the Chair of the Sakai Project Magament Committee (PMC). and works for Longsight, Inc. as Sakai Chief Strategist. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Sakai Foundation and the Chief Architect of the Sakai Project and worked with the IMS Global Learning Consortium promoting and developing standards for teaching and learning technology.

Charles teaches two popular MOOCs to students worldwide on the Coursera platform: Internet History, Technology, and Security and Programming for Everybody and is a long-time advocate of open educational resources to empower teachers.

Chuck's hobbies include off-road motorcycle riding, karaoke and playing hockey.

Charles has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Michigan State University.

José Mariano Luján, University of Murcia

José Mariano Luján
Mariano has been involved in the Sakai community since 2010 when he attended his first Euro Sakai conference in Spain. He works with Sakai at the ICT Area from the University of Murcia. He is also responsible for the technical coordination for a fully online master program which was awarded with a TWSIA Honorable Mention in 2012. He enjoys being involved with the community, always looking for ways to improve it, and trying hard to contribute back most of the work done by the University of Murcia’s team. He has participated in many conferences and he has been leading the S2U Team (Spanish Sakai Users) for over 3 years now. S2U is currently one of the most active Sakai teams worldwide. He has played an important role in developing community leadership in Spain and internationally. Over the past few years, he has increased his focus on the release of Sakai 11 becoming more active in many groups like the Core Team, QA, Morpheus, Conference planning, FARM and more. As a result of that work, he was awarded with a '2016 Apereo Fellow Award'.

Laura Gekeler, University of Notre Dame

Laura has been at the University of Notre Dame since 1998. In 2004 she became Notre Dame’s

Laura Gakeler
first LMS Administrator at a time when the service was supported by a single person. She led the original team which implemented Blackboard Vista (WebCT) and integrated it to Banner’s Luminis portal. Later she provided leadership to the design of the evaluation process used to select Sakai. Her knowledge of learning management software extends through its entire lifecyle , especially as related to the changing needs of those who use it. Her responsibilities have included providing leadership to a Blackboard user group, leading faculty workshops, building sustainable documentation and support practices, and marketing and branding the Notre Dame learning management system.  She has been a syndicated blogger on LMS administration, governance, support and staffing topics. Laura holds an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. She is a concurrent instructor for the Mendoza College of Business. In her spare time, she’s a Startup Weekend organizer passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship in education technology. She’s a firm believer in scholarly research informing teaching which informs innovation. In addition to her staff position at Notre Dame, she served on the Board of her sons’ K-8 school (2009-2011) where education initiatives such as Indiana Choice, Common Core assessment and preparation mingled with curricular concerns for the next generation’s preparation for 21st century employment.

Martin Ramsay, Managing Director of the LAMP Consortium

Martin Ramsay founded the LAMP Consortium over ten years ago to address the needs of smaller colleges and universities that needed access to high quality software, technology and support without the high cost of commercial offerings. The LAMP Consortium has evolved into a community of 25 institutions that shares a single, common instance of Sakai as well as many related services. Through LAMP, member institutions have access to professional hosting from Longsight, support services, monthly web conference, a widely heralded summer conference, the LAMP Pedagogy and Technology Conference (often referred to as “LAMP Camp” by alumni), and more.

In 2008, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded LAMP the prestigious Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration. In presenting the award to LAMP, the award committee noted, "LAMP has shown the higher education community that it is possible for institutions having limited resources to install, operate, and sustain even the most sophisticated software, provided that they work together to meet their common challenges.” That spirit of collaboration has infused LAMP and everything else Martin has done in his career.

Martin also manages CEATH Company, a consulting firm with clients in 13 countries. CEATH Company focuses on the intersection between technology and organizational needs. Using a community of consultants from a variety of disciplines, CEATH Company’s clients have been as diverse as Johns Hopkins University, General Motors, and the U. S. Army CPOC. CEATH Company also manages the learning technology for Leaders Ought To Know.

Martin is widely published both in academic and popular journals and is the author of “Lightly Salted Stories,” a book of perplexing parables for the postmodern world. He lives in Kentucky with his wife of 41 years surrounded by four sons, three daughters-in-law and eleven grandchildren.

Closing Session 

"NYU and Sakai"

In late 2011, the NYU Provost made the decision to move the University of nearly 60,000 students to Sakai. With the emergence of new teaching and learning products in the marketplace and ever-changing faculty and student needs, we discuss the reasons NYU has stayed on Sakai as its enterprise learning management system. These include an increasing faculty satisfaction rate, consistent performance, and the flexibility to shape the user experience, through both local customizations and contributions to the Sakai community.


David Ackerman, Chief Digital Officer & Associate Vice President, New York University

David Ackerman
Dr. David Ackerman currently serves New York University in a dual appointment as Chief Digital Officer and Associate Vice President. As Chief Digital Officer in NYU Libraries and IT, David is responsible for the overall global NYU digital strategy. This includes leading all NYU campuses and sites in safe, secure & accessible University global cloud services; next generation portal development; deployment of expanded research infrastructure & high performance computing; mobile web apps strategy & development; and overall IT web, content, & cloud services architecture planning, design & integration. As Associate Vice President, he continues his responsibility for .edu Services, overseeing academic and shared computing services in IT and the Digital Library Technology Services in NYU Libraries. David has been at NYU for more than 24 years and, during that time, he has also served as technology consultant to the Soros Foundations, Expert on Mission to the United Nations, and the Founding Chairman of the Board of the New York chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-NY). He was the dissolving Chairman of the Board of the Sakai Foundation and currently serves on the Board of the Apereo Foundation.

Jeff Pasch, LMS Product Director, New York University

Jeff Pasch is the LMS Product Director at New York University. He works closely with designers, instructional technologists, developers, QA and UX teams, and the NYU Community in improving and maintaining NYU’s instance of Sakai.

Since 2010, Jeff has been involved with the Sakai community. He has managed projects to deliver a new Gradebook and PA System tool in Sakai 11. He has over 15 of years of experience in implementing and supporting enterprise systems. Jeff lives in Brooklyn but is a Midwesterner at heart.