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Sakai Overview by Michael Korcuska

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What’s happening at Unisa in the online environment?

Unisa’s web presence can roughly be divided into tree areas:  The Corporate Portal, Student Academic Portal and the Student Social Portal (experimental).

  1. The Corporate or Enterprise Portal consists of an outwards facing Internet section  (http://www.unisa.ac.za), where you can find general information about Unisa, how and what to study at Unisa, news, contact information, etc. and an inward facing Intranet section.  The latter is available to staff only, and provide access to information, a communication infrastructure and work related applications.
  2. The second, and in my mind, the most important area, is the Academic Portal for Students, called myUnisa (https://my.unisa.ac.za/portal).  The reason why we developed this portal was to try and provide Unisa students with a single place where all their needs can be addressed.  This is obviously an extremely daunting task. myUnisa is therefore a very dynamic environment and is continuously expanded, enhanced and adapted to meet new demands from staff and students.  Although the primary role of myUnisa is to provide students with a secure, personalized academic workplace, a wide range of auxiliary services are also offered.  These include among others; access to personalized administrative information, general learner support, student related information and links to library systems.  myUnisa is based on the Community (Open) Source Software framework called Sakai (http://www.sakaiproject.org/portal) and currently serve about 200 000 Unisa students.
  3. The final component of Unisa’s online environment is a Social Portal for Students called myLife.  This portal is currently experimental and is hosted by Microsoft.  The "Windows Live" technology is used.  The primary function of this portal is to provide Unisa students with a place where they can socially interact, share ideas and resources, create interest groups, and just generally hang out.  Due to the nature of distance learning, students are spread out all over the world and usually have to study in isolation.  We are therefore attempting to create something like a virtual "campus life" for students where they can interact and hopefully get a sense of belonging.  The myLife environment consists of the Social networking area where you are currently reading this Blog entry, a 10Gb private e-mail box for each student (where they will also receive all their official e-mail communication from Unisa), 25Gb online storage space where they can store any electronic resources and an online productivity toolset similar to MS Office. Here they can create, edit, store, share, and collaborate on various document types.

The above only provide a brief summary of what Unisa is offering online.  Please feel free to visit the various areas and find out more for yourself.

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