How Universities Use Atlassian Confluence

Confluence is becoming widely used by universities and academic research groups for many reasons:

  • It is attractive to educational providers because of its affordable Academic and Classroom Licenses
  • The add-on Atlassian Marketplace has hundreds of plug-ins that are useful for organisational, research and teaching applications.
  • It is very easy to use compared to many academic or enterprise collaboration tools.

Universities such as Stanford, Cambridge, and MIT have integrated JIRA and Confluence solutions for project management and customer service functionality, in addition to document collaboration in research and student groups.

Stanford University's Confluence service

Stanford University’s Confluence service

Improved communication and information distribution

Confluence allows for varying levels of privacy, making it ideal for sharing information between internal faculty working groups or research groups, within subjects or between student groups, across faculties and research groups, and offering accessible information on the web.

As Confluence can provide information and updates, targeted to specific groups of users, it avoids the information overload present in many educational organisations.

Customizing what apps, news and links appear in the Dashboard means each user has exactly the tools and information they need to work or study each day.

Examples

At Purdue University, students studying Educational Technology and Computing were taught and evaluated exclusively within Confluence.

Purdue also uses Confluence to support all research groups, faculties, staff and students, allowing them to collaborate with each other and with external groups.

Berkeley Labs at the University of California allows all its students and staff to create spaces on their Confluence instance, and encourages sharing content with collaborators outside the university.

Berkeley Lab at the University of California uses Confluence

Berkeley Lab at the University of California uses Confluence extensively.

An easy collaboration tool

There are many ways how Confluence helps university students and staff collaborate.

  • The editing interface is very easy to use, encouraging people normally resistant to digital solutions.
  • Confluence makes collaborative research and development between participants spread over the world painless.
  • Supervisors and student groups can clearly follow and comment on daily progress by including document drafts, experiment results, compiling bibliographies and reading lists.
  • The built in revision history shows who made changes, what was changed and when.

Confluence also works well as an archive of published papers, completed projects, patent and grant applications.

Examples

The Australian Research Council Network for Early European Research at the University of Western Australia uses Confluence to support collaboration within and across its research clusters:

  • to write papers, proposals, applications, and documents.
  • to track postgraduate research projects, publications and outreach activities.
  • to jointly develop bibliographies, reading and resource lists.

Cornell University uses both Jira and Confluence, plus a number of add-ons, to manage and document projects and research across the entire university. Research groups, students, faculties and subjects all have their own Confluence spaces, many of which are open to the public to view.

Cornell University Space Directory in Confluence

Cornell University’s extensive list of Site Spaces in their Confluence instance.

An electronic lab notebook

An electronic lab notebook is an important step away from the limiting physical notebooks which made research notoriously slow and hard to reproduce, especially when members were in different locations.

A number of electronic lab notebook solutions have appeared in the last several years, but few are easy to use or feature-rich.

In Confluence, students and researchers can store and comment on all types of media files, documents, tables, graphs and drawings, with everything updated in real-time.

Fast-paced collaboration allows for research to progress quickly and to be reproduced and verified easily, an important step for patent applications or research paper writing.

Add-ons available from the Atlassian Marketplace rival the flexibility of a paper notebook. 

  • Collaborate on documents without leaving Confluence with our draw.io.
  • Write and edit equations with LaTeX Math.
  • View 3D molecular structures with Molecules.

Examples

The Lehigh University chemistry research group led by Dmitri Vezenovuses Confluence to track experiments, lab notes, research projects, inventory, equipment, code, manuscripts, published papers, patents and more.

Aalto University in Finland is using Confluence with a number of add-ons to support students and research staff across all faculties.  Other universities in Finland who use HAKA authentication are able to view many of the ‘semi-public’ space, not openly available to the public.

Aalto University Confluence Dashboard

Aalto University Confluence Dashboard

Confluence as a Learning Management System

With the add-on Gilly and Edubrite, training sessions, self-paced courses, tests and exams can be used to educate and evaluate students in university classes.

It works with multiple media types and provides an easy to use training dashboard, accessible from the Confluence dashboard.

Gilly a Confluence LMS Add-on

Gilly a Confluence LMS Add-on

The University of Southern California chose Confluence to introduce collaborative learning activities after a successful experiment with the following positive outcomes:

  • Student journaling encouraged better understanding of concepts.
  • A collaborative knowledge base fostered student participation.
  • Portfolios developed over time in Confluence have helped graduates secure jobs.
  • Public exposure of the University’s research projects have led to increased funding grants and awards.

Would you like Confluence for your class or research group?

//SEIBERT/MEDIA can support your application, answer your questions, give you a demonstration and speed up your license application process. Feel free to contact us with no obligation!

Further reading

Classroom Licenses: Atlassian products for free at your university
SWIFT: The easiest and fastest way to try Confluence, JIRA or Stash
Atlassian license types – Commercial, Academic, Community

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  • Manish

    Good Article. Thanks Kymberly for sharing a full use case.