ESUP-Portail is a French Consortium of education and research institutions to promote and develop open-source solutions for higher education in the field of portal of digital services for students and staff and contribute to the evolution of digital plans andservices for training and academic life.
Its main goals are to:
- Facilitate learning and campus life for students...but also the daily work of the staff
- Pool service development between universities to share costs
- Share technological developments and new services amongst the members
- Plan and design future advances of digital workspaces
The solutions it supports are selected in the field of open-source that allows a continuous evolution of services and tools.
The Consortium as we know it today was created in 2008 but its foundations have been laid since 2002, when institutions in France were encouraged by the Ministry of Higher Education to start working on developing and deploying –what we call in France– ENTs (ENT stands for “Environnement Numérique de Travail”, which literally means “Digital Work Environment”).
Initially, ESUP-Portail was founded by five French institutions: Université de Valenciennes et du Hainaut Cambrésis, Université de Nancy 1, Université de Nancy 2, Université de Rennes 1 and Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse.
But the number of members has impressively increased since then: more than 70 institutions of higher education are now actively involved in the community.
It is also noteworthy that right from the beginning, the Consortium has always kept a close working relationship with the French Ministry of Higher Education, which is an extremely valuable help to actually implement the ESUP's global strategy.
Governance and Organization
ESUP-Portail is a national non-profit organization in France. Alain Mayeur, IT Director at the University of Valenciennes, is the president of Esup-portail community and is also member of Apereo board. Both the strategic board and the technical coordination team hold several gatherings throughout the year in order to identify the current and upcoming challenges and define the best way to face and solve them. To implement these strategic decisions, ESUP-Portail is organized in working groups: each one of them is assigned to a specific thematic workshop.
The biggest part of the Consortium's success (and pride) lies in its community-based approach. All collaborators are welcomed and incited to ask out for help, render aid to their peers, give feedbacks, submit their ideas of evolutions or new services, share their developed products, etc. Because of the willingness and expertise of its members, ESUP-Portail also encourages them to give back and contribute to the communities, like Apereo, whose solutions are the basis of its own work.
Examples of recent projects and activities
- ESUP-v4: the purpose of this project is to release a French packaging of uPortal4 in order to provide a solution that includes French-specific needs and requests (internationalization, UI customizations, etc).
- New services and portlets: members of the ESUP community are strongly encouraged to share their work with their peers... Therefore, several products (ESUP-Twitter, ESUP-filemanager, ESUP-lecture, ESUP-Covoiturage, ESUP-portlet-bigbluebutton, etc.) have been developed and made available by ESUP members.
- Activities regarding mobility: In addition of developing mobile-friendly services to integrate into portals, the ESUP-Mobile working group is also looking into the uMobile solution.
- Sakai OAE: the interest in this product has been growing within the community since it has been presented during an ESUP-Day Conference back in June 2012. A screencast has also been produced to explain the functionalities of the OAE platform and introduce the OAE solution to the community.
- Nuxeo Platform: ECM is an important tool in French institutions. Therefore, ESUP members and the Nuxeo team have done (and are still doing) a considerable work to evolve this platform to meet the community needs.
Collaboration with Apereo
For the last few years, the collaboration between Jasig and ESUP-Portail has been growing because of the Consortium's work based on what-used-to-be Jasig solutions like CAS, uPortal and uMobile. For more than a year now, a few ESUP-Portail collaborators have also had the privilege of joining the uMobile Working-Group to mainly discuss about both strategic and technological matters. Even though it is more recent, the collaboration with Sakai –mainly regarding internationalization in OAE– has also been quite successful.
All of this ended up with –in October 2012– a memorandum between the three parties which now makes this collaboration more "official."