Apereo OAE (Open Academic Environment) is an online collaborative tool for universities. It sprang from development of the virtual learning environment Sakai, which is the solution underlying Oxford’s VLE instance WebLearn. OAE is a more free-form, peer-to-peer online environment that Sakai, by necessity. It encourages informal collaboration and brainstorming. Documents can be shared and collaboratively edited within the system, and teams of users built dynamically to share resources. It’s the kind of place that you might throw up a partially completed project bid and invite a group to comment and collaborate.
OAE is an interesting tool in that it is useful within a single institution, but its usefulness is multiplied as more and more institutions take it up. It is a piece of free/open source software, so anyone can run their own instance of it locally, but it is also provided as a hosted service, in which institutions can co-exist with their peers, and collaborations between academics at differing institutions can be constructed.
Our team is investigating the possibilities of this tool by making it available to Oxford staff and academics, and seeing what happens. We would be very interested to hear of use cases that this solution might support, and also those it might not. Have a go, and let us know!