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French Organization Combines Grouper with uPortal

April, 2010

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GIP RECIA, Grouper and uPortal logos Solution Summary

GIP RECIA* used Grouper to categorize users and manage access to educational portals throughout central France. By integrating Grouper with the uPortal portal framework, local administrators can now manage information display and access through portal channels right in their own school.



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Funding Sources

  • Internet2
  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Grant No. OCI-0330626, OCI-0721896, and OCI-1032468
  • Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) (UK)
  • University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, University of Washington, University of Memphis, University of Bristol (UK)

GIP RECIA*, a public interest group specializing in information and communication technologies, was asked to design information portals for colleges and secondary schools throughout central France. uPortal, the leading open source portal framework for higher education, was selected to provide the gateway to a wide variety of important information, including class assignments, student attendance records and grades, messages from the school administration and more.

The Problem

When GIP RECIA planned information portals for several hundred French educational institutions, it was clear that the project involved managing a large number of groups. At each school, users would include students, parents, teachers, and administrators—and multiple groups would be needed for each category. Display of information and access to resources on the portal would vary based on group membership. For example, teachers might sign onto the portal and see a reminder of tomorrow’s staff meeting, while parents would sign on and be greeted by a reminder of an upcoming parents’ night.

GIP RECIA Welcome screen The Solution

GIP RECIA chose Grouper as the basis for categorizing users and managing access to the educational portals. “As part of integrating Grouper with uPortal, we were able to develop a uPortal component (a GroupStore) for accessing the groups defined in Grouper,” explained Arnaud Deman. “A group is defined once in Grouper and can then be accessed everywhere: in the portal, and in the channels. Soon the groups will also be usable to define mailing lists.”

Another crucial feature for GIP RECIA was Grouper’s distributed group management capability. GIP RECIA established the desired group structure for each school using hierarchies of groups and folders based on templates. Local administrators are able to decide who can access a given portal channel in their school. “Grouper’s ability to assign privileges for group creation and maintenance was one of the key points that led us to select it,” according to Deman.

GIP RECIA Group Members screen The Result

The schools and other stakeholders have been pleased with the rollout of the educational portals. As envisioned, some teachers have become “advanced users,” and have taken on the administrative role of provisioning access to others within their schools. Handling of dynamic groups is one of the goals for an upcoming version.

“We wanted to offer the discount travel program as a service for our students,” said Todd Mildon, registrar at the University of Washington. “But we did not want a third party accessing our directory and we did not want to generate many phone calls or visits to our office seeking student verification.”