OUFM Server general release

New for 2008, the KMi Service OUFM, sees our highly successful FlashMeeting project providing a generic video meeting, recording and analysis system directly to the Open University community. OU users can now log in directly to the OUFM server with their OU secure authentication identity (SAMS) to automatically use any of its features without extra permissions or account details.

Commissioned in November 2007 and tested with a select group of Open University users, the OUFM server is now available for general release. "The system has already been piloted by Course Teams for distributed team meetings, by Associate Lecturers for group tutorial sessions, and by peer-groups of students to discuss their assignments." said KMi Communication Projects Manager Kevin Quick. "However, we are particularly keen to see what new uses this community will have for our new communications technologies."

The FlashMeeting project was initiated in 2003, and has been in daily experimental use since it was deployed in the Prolearn EU Network of Excellence in 2004. A number of other FM services are in use around the world, including a fully open version connected with the OpenLearn project. "We felt that it was time that the system was properly integrated into the work of the OU" added Dr Quick. "It has been used by thousands of research users worldwide since 2004 in many thousands of experimental events, but we have not promoted its mainstream use for our learners. So for 2008 we decided to extend the experiment to all of them too!"

On this server, non-OU users will be still be able to attend FM events as "guests", but only an OU user can book and manage events. At this time there are no restrictions on the main OU server. "We expect to regularly review usage patterns and impose management rules later on, if it becomes as popular in the Open University community as it has been elsewhere, said Dr Quick, "but we are keen for users to tell us how they want to use this technology, rather than for us to tell them how to use it".

Happy new year.

Related Links:

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The new server: oufm.open.ac.uk
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Live users of the Prolearn FM server in November 2007


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