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iversity's Goals

Opportunities of an Academic Network

Compiling and organizing information, publishing the results of recent work and projects as well as staying in touch with other members of the scientific community are central to academic work. It is not surprising that the World Wide Web was actually invented in an academic environment, since it was meant to provide scientists with new possibilities for data management and communication. Still, the new developments that come with Web 2.0 technologies have only been used very tentatively by today’s academic institutions and researchers. This is especially unfavourable because these new developments hold opportunities even for academics without prior technical knowledge: they can publish contents online, assemble and link information as well as communicate internationally.

So far, universities and research centres solely use isolated applications. But only a comprehensive platform that addresses academic institutions on a universal level can tap the full potential of Web 2.0 structures. With this global concept, users can set up extensive networks and aggregate data cooperatively. Creating a platform like this is the purpose of iversity.

New Concepts for Researchers, Originating from Academic Experience

iversity was founded by academics and is developed by an interdisciplinary team. When creating new features for the platform, it is our priority to take the needs of our clients and users into account on all levels of the development process. That means that we are in constant dialogue with our users iversity.

The expectations of users for a platform like iversity are very high, whether they come from academic institutions, scholars or students. Specific needs must be met individually, but the diversity of topics, courses and institutions also must be represented within the network.

Who should know better about desirable functions for the internet representation of their projects than the academics themselves?

According to this idea, iversity also serves as an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the internet’s new possibilities for academic use. For example, we are working towards this on one of iversity's public project sites, "Exploring the Future of Collaboration in Science and Education". Interested users from all disciplines are invited to join the discussion on http://un.iversity.org/projects/6/overview.

Research and Education Go Hand in Hand

It is our belief that Humboldt's ideal of joint research and education is still valid for academic institutions of the 21st century. New media and evolving working environments require new strategies for education and scientific work. At the same time, they help the academic world achieve new goals. When research and education share common structures, the transitions between them become easier to manage and old limits are overcome. Usually, research and education are equally important to the academic individual. There are overlaps in terms of topics, materials and working environments.

That is why it is one of iversity's essential ideas to connect research and education on one platform. Still, both sectors will have individual features and contents.

Attending University Means More Than Just Studying

Students' time at universities is defined by social interaction. In this period of their lives, students do not merely study their academic curriculum, but they develop competences and interests that go far beyond their field of study. Here, students build communities and social networks that influence their lives on many different levels.

iversity offers features that take into account two major consequences of the interlocking of academic and social life:

  • Opportunities for presenting students' projects: iversity offers various sites and e-portfolios for students to present their academic projects as well as their extracurricular activities. On iversity, students can organize and publish all relevant contents.
  • Academic admissions and retention rate: we are convinced that students who drop out of university are very rarely overstrained by the content of their studies. In fact, there are many important factors in choosing the right degree, university and city when beginning to study, and even more factors that contribute to finishing a degree successfully.
    That is why iversity has developed an assessment concept for prospective students which embraces academic considerations as well as social factors.

Communicating Information

The results of academic work define the knowledge and know-how of societies. They allow communication that transcends social and national borders.

Those who are interested in acquiring new knowledge don’t necessarily work in an academic institution but in diverse, various fields. That is why research results should be available for all members of a democratic society – through publications and through precise media coverage. The internet is an ideal medium because it enhances independent publications and a broad distribution of contents.

iversity not only provides a platform to file and publish authorized contents, but it also facilitates access. Furthermore, iversity helps to connect scientific research and the public by giving them a common forum with practical tools for interaction.

The direct dialogue between scientists, journalists and the public on the internet creates new impulses for scientific communication.

Scientific Research Needs Protected Areas

Though the results of scientific research are meant to be public and accessible, their production requires secure communication and data exchange. Scientific research often means going through numerous stages of sensitive work that isn’t ready for publication. Concepts and internal processes have to remain undisclosed. Unpublished materials and intermediate results need to be protected. As the team behind iversity knows the requests and wishes of research groups from own experience, it is important to us to respond to all of these needs on our platform.

That is why iversity has created password-protected areas for all groups: internal operations and discussions stay protected and invisible for outsiders. Still, iversity offers the possibility to publish selected contents on an individual public site that is linked to each group’s working platform. This enhances convenient ways of exchanging and publishing material while data redundancy is minimized.

Recursive Development

iversity wants to provide students and researchers with tools and features that are actually useful for them. The individual needs of the various departments and academics cannot possibly be foreseen by only a handful of specialists. But who could be a better partner in developing new concepts for the platform than its users? For this reason, we have created iversity in close dialogue with those who use it. From the beginning, it has been our goal to offer new features and opportunities for the everyday work of our users. That is why we encourage feedback at any time: there is a feedback button on the upper right of every page on iversity and you can always send an email to help@iversity.org.