The open source software product UCS@School is widely applied in the response to the need of German schools to cope with the COVID-19 crisis by providing educational institutions with a large array of services and applications, as well as a centralised and standardised user management and identification system.
Launched by Univention GmbH in 2014 in Bremen, the identity and authorisation management system UCS@School has now been rolled out in three other German federal states, namely Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Brandenburg. It is an open source software (OSS) product, which specifically targets schools and school bodies.
UCS@School is meant to “provide schools with easy-to-manage IT infrastructure, services, and digital data which teachers and students can access at any time, from anywhere, and that meet data protection requirements”. It allows educational institutions to centralise and standardise all the necessary functions and information, ranging from user management to provision of services, digital media and applications.
Amongst the main features configured, the App Center offers more than 80 services designed for the educational environment. It includes apps such as software distribution, groupware and instant messaging, as well as e-learning platforms, e-mail, class test mode and computer room modules. Overall, the software is meant to adapt to school basic requirements like WLAN provision, file storage and printing, as well as communication needs.
Considering the need for schools to cope with the demands of remote teaching and other consequences relating to the COVID-19 crisis, several federal states in Germany have built up directory services with UCS@School to manage all their users centrally and offer them webservices via an online portal, all open source based. Teachers and students can access the applications, resources and e-learning material provided regardless of the access point (that is, whether they are at school or at home). The open source products of UCS@School are built to lower administrative and maintenance costs while ensuring the effective delivery of educational services at scale.
Finally, since the school system is able to fully control the user management and identification, as well as using their own education clouds, the EU and German data protection standards are fully met.