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.

In teaching, the talk is of replacing the ubiquitous Learning Management System with an ecosystem. Prompted by the Gates Foundation, discussion of a Next Generation Digital Learning Environment has been going on for some years now, but progress is slow.

In research, two things are happening at once. There are a maelstrom of interconnected moves aimed at creating open access to scholarly publications. At the same time, research in most countries is becoming increasingly managed. This leads to enterprise systems that want to interact with the outside world. The open access movement is highly visible, but no one has a map that gets us to the final destination. The enterprise agenda succeeds according to its institutional limits, but shows little sign of spawning the kind of connections between institutions that reflect the global character of research.

You can find out more about OAE, its take on academic life and how you can participate by reading its new vision statement for 2017, Building the next generation ecosystem. Its all about what we call the New Academic Environment.