This week the University of Iowa joined the Unizin Consortium, a group of universities coming together to develop new capabilities in digital learning environments, particularly in the areas of analytics and content management.
Unizin enables each institution to draw on an evolving set of tools for managing course content, interaction between students and instructors, and learning analytics—the use of data to improve teaching and learning. Unizin Services are cloud-based infrastructure based on open technology standards, and instructors have full control to store or share their content.
“We are pleased to have been invited to join this consortium of peer schools,” says UI Executive Vice President and Provost P. Barry Butler. “We believe learning analytics and flexible access to course content will be increasingly important for our students and faculty in the future. We are excited to be able to explore these areas with the other members of UNIZIN.”
Current Unizin members include Committee on Institutional Cooperation schools Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as partners from across the nation: Florida, Colorado State, and Oregon State. Several other schools are exploring the possibility of joining.
As the UI considered membership, broad campus input was sought. In the fall semester, over 220 UI faculty and staff were introduced to the concept of Unizin in a series of 20 presentations and discussions. The response was positive, and through Unizin the UI will participate in a small pilot of a new learning-management system, Canvas, during the summer and fall of 2015.
“Faculty were intrigued by the potential to influence and leverage new analytics capabilities, and the potential for better content management that could facilitate activities such as course content sharing with other colleagues and institutions,” says Maggie Jesse, senior director of the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology in Information Technology Services.
Jesse, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Steve Fleagle, and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Lon Moeller led campus-wide discussions prior to the UI joining the consortium.
“In introducing the concept, we saw a lot of enthusiasm and optimism about partnering with the institutions that are already involved, and for the UI to provide input regarding future direction.”
Details of the pilot will be shared in the spring, and updates will be available at the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology Unizin Web page.