Western Australia-based Curtin University of Technology will soon begin its roll-out of Microsoft’s Live@edu hosted email platform, taking over 192,252 students and alumni across 11 global campuses into the cloud for a future collaborative learning environment.
The University’s decision to deploy Live@edu, taking its staff off Microsoft’s Exchange and students off a Sun Microsystems platform, came after a 12 month trial period and series of tests between the incumbent and Google’s hosted platform offering.
Live@edu is more in tune with the university’s current architecture, unified communications strategy and future plans, as the suite of virtual tools and their integration capabilities have the potential to offer students a collaborative learning platform, explained Curtin University CIO, Peter Nikoletatos.
“We thought that the Live@edu solution gave us better grasp and integration points with [the current] environment, but also with our SharePoint repositories,” he said.
The university is looking to integrate telephony and Web 2.0 technologies, such as social networking tools, based around its future student offering, iPortfolio, as part of its unified communications strategy.
The iPortfolio is Curtin’s approach to delivering an environment in which students can capture their education and work experiences in both written and video format, creating an online, collaborative space where they can showcase their skills to potential employers.
“We plan to use a lot of the tools out of the Live@edu suite, which will fit nicely into how we store some of that data and how we transport it – all the way out to the industry and potential employers. iPortfolio is entirely a one-stop-shop for students to capture, produce, store and showcase their work,” Nikoletatos said.
The Live@edu suite of online applications includes Microsoft Outlook Live, Microsoft Office Live Workspace and SkyDrive storage, which provides students with a 10GB mailbox capacity.
In addition to a hosted email account, the students will also have access to Windows Live Messenger and file sharing, Windows Live Spaces for personal web publishing, blogging and photo sharing and FolderShare and a private peer-to-peer network.
A recent survey of Curtin’s student body revealed the need for a private peer-to-peer network and increased storage capacity, finding students were creating their own external email accounts to deal with the lack of storage on offer from the university.
Nikoletatos says the extra storage and peer-to-peer network is the best part about the Live@edu roll-out, as he thinks the experience will help Curtin University keep students as lifelong alumni members.
“What we’re seeing here is next generation learning space where students are using every part of the real estate across campus to collaborate and work on projects.”