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Academic life consists of two parts: teaching and research. Technologists in both of these worlds are struggling to bring into being a new ecosystem. The driving forces behind the desire for these two ecosystems are different, the way the ecosystems are thought about is different and the people doing the thinking are different. We can see this, for example, in the recent parallel consultations run by JISC in the UK on learning and research systems. But why, we might ask, is academia trying to create two distinct ecosystems? That isn't what we see Apple or Google or Facebook trying to do.

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After a period of hibernation, Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project is happy to announce a new minor release: OAE 12.5.0.

This release comprises some new features, usability improvements and bug fixes.

Our next step will be to improve documentation and to make the project more approachable to newcomers, but the team is also continuing to modernise the code base, so fear not; the next major release is on the horizon!

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Marist College’s week-long Diwali celebration concluded on November 13th with a wonderful closing reception attended by over 200 members of the Marist College community, along with their family and friends. Participants filled the room for a night of singing, dancing, Indian cuisine and a fashion show modeling traditional Indian apparel from various regions of the country.

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Since the Open Academic Environment's main cloud deployment, *Unity, rolled out to 20,000 universities and research institutions last month, one of the most common questions has been how so many people are able to use their campus credentials to sign in. I’m going to explain, but be warned: after that I’m going to say why I think this is the wrong question. The right question, I think, is, "Why did no one do this before?"

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This week, Marist College is celebrating the annual Festival of Lights, Diwali, a sacred holiday to the Indian culture. Throughout the week, the Marist campus we will be having an Indian cultural exhibit, artifacts display, photographs, jewelry, and clothing. In addition, students will be demonstrating cultural art forms like Rangoli and mehendi (henna hand painting) along with bindi and tilak application. The week will be culminated with a closing celebration that will include a fashion show featuring models in Indian apparel, as well as Indian cuisine, music, and dancing.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project is proud to announce a milestone release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Kingfisher or OAE 12.

OAE Kingfisher is one of the most significant releases of the Open Academic Environment software and includes many new features geared towards making OAE a truly global system that is capable of connecting the whole of academia. Next to these features, OAE Kingfisher also includes significant improvements to the search experience, the ability to delete and archive users and many usability improvements and bug fixes.

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Cloud or above-campus services can provide many benefits for higher education, including management simplicity and cost effectiveness. Such services can also create challenges; from reducing the ability to integrate or innovate, through to legal, ethical and data privacy concerns that cross national boundaries. Apereo exists to help higher education and other institutions meet those challenges. Above all, we believe that cloud based offerings should enable choice, openness, and institutional control, rather than setting up yet another remote, rent-extracting gatekeeper. That's why the Apereo Open Academic Environment is available by a variety of routes to suit the needs of your institution.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely pleased to announce the eleventh major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Jack Snipe or OAE 11.

OAE Jack Snipe brings a wide range of new features and capabilities, including group profile pages, the ability to delete and archive groups, an editor role for collaborative documents and increased configuration support for landing pages and the footer. Next to that, OAE Jack Snipe also includes an extraordinary number of usability gains, accessibility improvements and bug fixes.

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Are you reading this post with your eyes? To most of you, that probably sounds like a really strange question. For over six million people in the United States alone, however, the answer is not "Yes." That's how many adults have a visual disability, and for them the web is a completely different world than it is for those of us with full sight. That world is no less important, though, and in the OAE Project we want to make the Open Academic Environment a welcome environment for everyone, including those with visual and other disabilities.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is excited to announce the tenth major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Ibis or OAE 10.

OAE Ibis brings the ability for institutions to completely customise the content and look of their tenant landing page. OAE Ibis also implements a detailed user tracking framework and brings the long-awaited full-text indexing and searching feature. Next to that, OAE Ibis also ships a range of other search improvements and a large number of accessibility improvements.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely proud to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Heron or OAE 9.

OAE Heron is a landmark release that introduces the long awaited folders functionality, allowing for sets of content items to be collected, organised, shared and curated. OAE Heron also provides full support for Shibboleth access management federations and brings improvements to activities, (email) notifications and the REST API documentation. Next to that, OAE Heron also ships with a wide range of overall usability improvements.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is excited to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Griffin or OAE 8.

OAE Griffin brings a complete overhaul of the collaborative document experience, metadata widgets, full interactive REST API documentation and improved Office document previews. Next to that, OAE Griffin also introduces a wide range of incremental usability improvements, technical advances and bug fixes.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely proud to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Falcon, or OAE 7.

OAE Falcon comes with a complete overhaul of the OAE email notification experience, as well as a more complete set of utilities for user and system management.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is extremely proud to announce the next major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Emperor Penguin or OAE 6.

OAE Emperor Penguin brings a fully responsive UI, ensuring that OAE works seamlessly on mobile and tablet devices. OAE Emperor Penguin also adds a range of usability improvements and a full Brazilian Portuguese translation.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the fifth major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Desert Sparrow or OAE 5.

OAE Desert Sparrow is a mostly technical release, upgrading OAE from CQL2 to CQL3. Next to that, OAE Desert Sparrow also adds full-text search of content comments and discussion posts.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the fourth major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Cardinal or OAE 4. In fact, the team has been so busy that 9 different releases have already taken place under the Cardinal umbrella, which means that the latest version is 4.3.0.

OAE Cardinal's main new feature is push notifications, providing real-time UI updates for activity relevant to the user or activity happening in the context the user is currently looking at. Next to that, OAE Cardinal also adds OAuth support for the REST APIs, activity feed and caching improvements, new UI translations and much more.

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The following Press Release has just been made available by the Apereo Foundation and Marist College. It provides an interesting and exciting use case for usage of Apereo OAE and we'll definitely continue to report updates on how this is playing out.


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Last week, the Apereo OAE project had the opportunity to do 2 project update presentations during the 17th ESUP days and Apereo Europe event, which was organized on the campus of the Paris Descartes University in Paris, France. This project update includes an overview of recent features and releases, a demo of the latest release, an overview of some of the upcoming features, as well as an update on the network of tenants that is starting to arise. A video of the presentation and the slides can be found below.

A big thanks goes to Alain Mayeur and his team for organizing this wonderful event.

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We're pleased to announce that a complete Hindi translation is now available for OAE. This translation is already part of the current OAE release. The Crowdin translation page for this can be found here. Below, you can find some screenshots of the application showing in Hindi.

A big thanks goes to Udaya Ghattamaneni from Marist College for providing and maintaining this translation!

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The following exciting press release has just been made available by Research Research and the Apereo Foundation:


Jan. 28, 2014 - LONDON, U.K. -- Research Professional, one of the world's leading information services for reseachers, has joined the Apereo Open Academic Environment, one of the academic world's most innovative open source software projects.

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It's worth checking out the blog post about the new Apereo OAE and MediaCore integration that was just published. The integration brings great video support to OAE:

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the third major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Blue Jay or OAE 3.0.

OAE Blue Jay introduces a new and improved Document Previewer that allows rich documents such as PDFs, Microsoft Word and Excel files to be displayed and embedded directly within OAE without requiring a download. OAE Blue Jay also supports migrating all existing documents to this enhanced version.

In addition to this, OAE Blue Jay also brings a wide range of usability improvements based on usability testing.

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We're pleased to announce that a complete Chinese (Simplified) translation is now available for OAE. This translation was included in the Alpine Swift release, and has been updated since to include all of the new features that will be part of the next release. The Crowdin translation page for this can be found here. Below, you can find some screenshots of the application showing in Chinese.

A big thanks goes to Harry Wang for providing and maintaining this translation!

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is excited to announce the second major release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Alpine Swift or OAE 2.0.

Apereo OAE Alpine Swift brings a wide range of user-facing improvements such as:

  • Following
  • Video support
  • Terms and Conditions
  • A number of usability refinements
  • Internationalization and Accessibility improvements

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The Apereo OAE project has chosen Crowdin as its official translation platform. An OAE Crowdin translation project has been created, allowing for OAE to be translated through the Crowdin web UI,  without needing to set up a local development environment. Some screenshots of the OAE translation project in action can be found below.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the second minor release of the OAE Phoenix release; OAE Phoenix 1.2. 

OAE Phoenix 1.2 upgrades the Hilary back-end to Node.js 0.10 and brings some user-facing improvements like Administration UI improvements, CAS authentication mappings and a number of bug fixes. In the background, ongoing work on performance testing, automated UI testing and automated cluster deployment has been going on, which is now nearing completion.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) is a multi-tenant platform, which means that a single physical installation can host multiple universities and organizations at the same time. This has a wide range of adavantages, including ease of deployment, cost sharing, the potential for inter-institutional collaboration, any many more.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased to announce the first minor release of the OAE Phoenix release; OAE Phoenix 1.1.

OAE Phoenix 1.1 brings a number of new features, like LDAP authentication and new UI translations, a number of end-user improvements and improvements to OAE's ease of deployment and development. However, OAE Phoenix 1.1 is mostly a technical release, with lots of work going on in the background around performance testing and automated UI testing.

The first OAE production environment has also been set up and launched, and currently supports 3 institutions on a single instance. All tenants have been skinned, and most of the configuration has taken place, with 2 tenants using Shibboleth authentication and 1 tenant using CAS authentication:

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) is a multi-tenant platform, which means that a single physical installation can host multiple universities and universities at the same time. This has a wide range of adavantages, including ease of deployment, cost sharing, the potential for inter-institutional collaboration, any many more.

In the screencast below, we're showing how easy it is to spin up a new tenant on the fly and configure and skin it. Within a matter of minutes, a tenant can be ready for people to use.

 

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We're pleased to announce that an Italian translation is now available for OAE. This will become part of the next minor OAE Phoenix release. Below, you can find some screenshots of the application showing in Italian.
 
Kudos to Renato Strazzulla and Toni Devís López from On-Lingua.com for providing this translation!
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We're pleased to announce that a full Polish translation is now available for OAE. This translation will also be included in the next OAE release. Below, you can find some screenshots of the application showing in Polish.
 
A big thanks to Katarzyna Napiórkowska for providing this translation!
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Apereo OAE Phoenix is now available!

The Apereo Open Academic Environment (OAE) project team is pleased and excited to announce the first release of the Apereo Open Academic Environment; OAE Phoenix. This release consists of the first production ready release of Apereo OAE and focusses on providing support for various forms of academic collaboration.

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The Apereo Open Academic Environment is a platform that focusses on group collaboration between researchers, students and lecturers, and strongly embraces openness, creation, re-use, re-mixing and discovery of content, people and groups. This session provides a summary of the revised goals and their motivation, as well as a full demo of the new implemented functionalities.

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How does Apereo OAE work? OAE targets a large scale and a multi-tenant cloud-compatible deployment model, where a single installation can host multiple institutions at the same time. 

This presentation provides an overview of the different components and technologies that are being used, as well as details around deploying and configuring OAE and its associated running costs. 

A summary of the approach used for continuous nightly performance testing and how we are validating the desired (horizontal) scalability is provided. Details around back-end and UI unit testing, code coverage and security testing will be shared and contribution models for service development and UI development is discussed as well.

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How does Apereo OAE work? OAE targets a large scale and a multi-tenant cloud-compatible deployment model, where a single installation can host multiple institutions at the same time. 

This presentation provides a very detailed overview of the overall architecture and the different components and technologies. We will take a closer look into all of the following components and how they are being used:

  • Node.js
  • OAE Widgets
  • Apache Cassandra
  • ElasticSearch
  • Redis
  • Nginx
  • RabbitMQ

We also talk about the approach used for continuous nightly performance testing and how we are validating the desired (horizontal) scalability. Details around back-end and UI unit testing, code coverage and security testing are shared as well.

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The fourth OAE progress update report is now available, summarising the progress that has been made since the middle of January. It describes the architectural, feature, testing and production-related work that has been done on the way towards an initial OAE release, which is due in July 2013. Piloting will take place at Cambridge University, Georgia Tech and Marist College, and this report describes the scope and focus of this release and pilot.

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The third Apereo OAE progress update report is now available, summarising the progress that has been made against the end-of-year milestone that was set back in September. It also provides an overview of the progress that has been made since the last progress report, mostly in the areas of search, activities, preview processing and the User Interface.

The team is planning to organise a community Webinar later this month, where the implemented functionality will be demoed. An announcement will be made once a date has been chosen.

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I'd mentioned earlier that there seemed to be something promising in a platform which took content as its atomic structure, rather than courses. That point could use more unpacking.

'Unbundling' is a concept near and dear to the conventional analysis of how the open web disrupts traditional industries. It's the flip side of the rise of the power of the consumer: software is unbundled from support, songs are unbundled from albums, reporting is unbundled from newspapers, and now courses are being unbundled from universities. Along the way the consumer gains new choices, new customized options outside the control of providers. Business models that assume the former bundles start to quake. Analogies made between the unbundling of different industries are often overdone, but it still has explanatory power.

There is a sense in which this is what the OAE is doing to the course itself. It does not assume that learning activities happen in the context of a course, and in so doing it opens up possibilities for making other connections, or finding new points of entry.

To be sure, there are problems with the unbundling of course bits. There was a time when the 'learning object' seemed like the promise of the future. But as has been pointed out elsewhere, the great unbundling of education has run up against the fact that the key role of educators is to provide context: unbundling strips off that context, and that may often not be helpful.

But one way in which it can be helpful is by presenting opportunities for connecting other people and content without needing to be mediated by your teacher or the structure of a course. Most universities have in fact a variety of learning support services: tutoring, a writing center, and the library, among others. A recent trend that's been valuable to all involved is the 'embedded librarian' who becomes a kind of co-teacher for a course. Their pedagogical contribution is to help the students become better researchers, a skill now more important than ever as we're often overwhelmed by a sea of dubious information.

But the embedded librarian obviously doesn't scale. Since doing education by hiring more people doesn't seem to be in the cards, we need to look for an alternative.

And so to our library project, which might be explained as an attempt to scale the embedded librarian.

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A productive hiatus

When the core OAE team undertook a major rewrite of the back end a couple months ago, I was on board with the plan, but couldn't help but feel disappointed: I knew I was going to miss the activity on the design side. The deep conversations about how to raise the level of learning online were a core part of what made the project feel valuable, and it was hard to set them aside, for however brief a time.

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Note: The progress update can be downloaded here as well.

1. Architecture update and technology choices

The technology stack as outlined in our previous progress report remains largely unchanged. However, two modifications are worth noting:

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