The service that is *Unity is provided through a piece of software called the Open Academic Environment sitting on servers in the cloud. In turn, the Open Academic Environment software has been created over the past five years by a consortium that involves almost 80 of the world’s leading universities and which has grown recently to also involve over 200 schools.
Millions of dollars and many person-years of work have gone into making the OAE a truly next generation service that has the capacity to transform the way academia works.
It’s partly the engineering. Previous attempts to link universities together have come to nothing thanks to the technical difficulty of connecting users on servers scattered around the globe. The OAE was built from scratch to serve universities from the cloud. Deep in its guts, the software has been designed from Day 1 to handle all the millions in academia.
It’s partly the user experience. The OAE has been developed through rounds and rounds of user-led design workshops where the users are researchers, teachers and students just like you. That’s what makes it easy to use and uniquely suited to academic life.
It’s partly the control. The OAE allows each university to completely control its own part of the service, owning the data in it and both shaping the experience for its users and governing their behaviour, just as it does on campus.
It’s partly the ecosystem. The OAE allows content to be easily re-mixed and re-used by other users and applications. It integrates with both institutional strategies for single sign on and federated identity services via national access management federations. The *Unity platform makes it easy for educational software developers to reach users at around 20,000 higher education and research institutions around the world with minimal effort.
Today, the *Unity service is brought to you by a four-way partnership:
The real world of academia is an intensely collaborative blur of classes, networks, meetings and conferences that criss-cross the globe. Now, at last, it has the online service to match.