In the age of global networking, data is becoming a competitive factor. This applies in particular to the education sector: empirical surveys, study data, experimental results, protocols, tables, documents, figures and much more: universities continuously produce enormous data treasures that can only be used entirely if these data are meaningfully linked with each other and made usable for research and education through intelligent analytical procedures.
Of course, the cloud plays a central role here. While private users can rely on solutions such as Dropbox, there are significantly higher requirements in the academic context both in terms of the amount of data (e.g. raw data from experimental measurements) and in terms of data security, as many informations are also interesting for potential attackers.
It is therefore worthwhile for schools and universities to develop their own solutions and infrastructures. After all, students in their private lives already use various cloud technologies as a matter of fact. If educational institutions fail to provide user-friendly solutions that can compete with an iCloud or a Dropbox, there is a risk of developing”shadow ITs”, i.e. different systems being used in parallel that are not compatible with each other. It is not uncommon for a student to have to create a Dropbox, a Google, a OneDrive and numerous other accounts during his studies because a lecturer prefers a different system in a course than his colleague next door. Such data silos inhibit collaboration and therefore reduce efficiency.
ownCloud enables educational institutions of any size to build infrastructures that allow students and faculty to securely manage their files, anywhere, anytime, from any device.
Cloud-based, standardized solutions with a high degree of user-friendliness have the potential in the university context to change the use of data sustainably and increase productivity. This awareness has also reached universities and more and more federal states are investing in nationwide solutions to make research and education available to cross-organizational platforms:
Sciebo – The Campus Cloud
Sciebo”, a cloud project for all students and employees at universities in North Rhine-Westphalia, was launched at the University of Münster in 2015. The service, that is based on ownCloud, enables automatic synchronization of data with different end devices (“Sync”) and collaborative work on documents (“Share”). Sciebo is jointly operated by 28 universities and research institutions in North Rhine-Westphalia and is funded by the federal state. The data is stored and processed exclusively at three locations in NRW (Münster, Bonn, Duisburg-Essen). This ensures conformity with the German Federal Data Protection Law and, of course, GDPR. The “Campus Cloud” has been a success since its launch: Sciebo cracked the barrier of 100,000 users last year, and now more than one in three students in NRW is registered with the open source project. This growth was made possible by a future-orientated technical setup, the right improvements at the right time – and the close cooperation between Sciebo and ownCloud, from which both sides benefit in the long term.
More information: https://owncloud.com/de/success-stories/sciebo/
Academic Cloud Lower Saxony
At the beginning of July 2018, the enterprise file sharing software manufacturer ownCloud and the Lower Saxony Working Group for Information Technology (LANIT) announced the official launch of their joint collaboration platform “Academic Cloud”. The service offers all students, teachers, and employees of Lower Saxony’s universities the opportunity to store data of up to 50 GB in their private cloud free of charge and to share it with other users or process it jointly. The service is designed for a total of around 210,000 users. The project is supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture, while the Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung in Göttingen (GWDG) is responsible for the technical implementation.
ownCloud in schools
In contrast to universities, there are no nationwide cloud solutions for secure data exchange in the area of school education. However, many schools are now taking the initiative and operating their private cloud infrastructures in order to enable their pupils and teachers to collaborate on a more digital basis.
A positive example of this is the community school in Neubulach/Baden-Württemberg, which was honored last year as one of 24 institutions in the federal state with the title “Digital School”,among other things for setting up its own cloud. Teachers work together in a network via the platform and exchange their teaching materials.
Another major step is the European “Up to University” (Up2U) project: the three-year European project aims to build a bridge between secondary schools (grammar schools) and universities. This is to be achieved through better integration of formal and informal learning scenarios by adapting both technology and methodology of schools and universities. An integral part of Up2U is a federated (i.e. connected from many decentralized servers) file exchange platform, which is also based on ownCloud.
Further information on ownCloud for schools and the Up2U project funded by the European Commission can be found at the Didacta education fair in Cologne from 19 to 23 February 2019, hall 6.1 booth A021.