Microsoft muscles in on Unisa students
Students at the correspondence-based University of South Africa (Unisa) will be required to sign up for a Microsoft-provided email address before they are able to receive correspondence from the university.
The required email address is part of the first phase to build the MyLife portal to foster a “sense of belonging” among students, the university says.
Phase two of the project will see the university encouraging students to use other “Microsoft live services such as social networking facilities … online file storage, and Office Live workspace”.
A Tectonic reader forwarded us a copy of the welcome email that students received explaining the new system (their emphasis):
We’d like to make it easier for you to communicate with us, so from 2009, Unisa will be offering all registered students a unique email address, free of charge, with 10 gigabytes worth of space. Here’s how it works.
When you register as a student at Unisa for 2009, we will create your myLife email account for you, which you MUST activate when you re-join myUnisa. From this point onwards, Unisa will disregard all other email addresses it has for you on record and will use only your myLife email address to communicate with you. If you decide, therefore, not to activate this email account, you will not receive emails from Unisa. If you would like to use another email account, you must redirect or forward your myLife email to your preferred email account. For more information and to find out how to activate your email account for life, visit myUnisa.
Our concerned reader says: “This is not only about an email address, once you start using the Microsoft sponsored email then you will most likely also start using the Microsoft portal or whatever equivalent of gmail/gapps they have, the next step is to only accept assignments prepared from the Microsoft Portal / Apps pages.”
Right now, in phase one, the only requirement is that students activate their MyLife email address in order to ensure that they can receive correspondence from the university.
In phase two, however, the university says that it plans “to include other Microsoft live services such as social networking facilities (similar to Facebook), online file storage, and Office Live workspace. The vision for this project is to provide a social environment for students to foster a sense of belonging that is separate from the myUnisa academic platform. This platform can be used to enhance communication with and among students, and will create many marketing opportunities for Unisa.”