Unizin Consortium Aims to Provide Common Online Tools Platform

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has joined Unizin, a grouping of universities who would all like to incorporate the same set of digital tools for teaching and learning.

Unizin is a grouping of collaborators that share common ideals and standards concerning digital teaching.  The consortium offers a digital set of tools that educators can use to design effective learning experiences and improve course content.

“Our decision to join Unizin at this time opens the opportunity for our faculty, staff and students to help shape the next generation digital teaching and learning environment for Wisconsin and the nation,” says Steve Cramer, UW-Madison vice provost for teaching and learning.

The consortium, founded this year, places focus on course management, data management and learning analytics.  The universities who participate share their expertise in these areas, with UWM offering their expertise in the area of learning analytics.  Once fully developed, Unizin hopes to offer tools to help update MOOCs, content sourcing and data sharing.

“Our new reality is that we must pool our talents, public and private, to create scalable opportunities to move our primary teaching, learning and research missions forward,” says Bruce Maas, UW-Madison CIO and vice provost of information technology. “We have made remarkable progress in collaborative work and investments to support research among our peer institutions. Unizin holds promise to do the same for teaching and learning.”

Unizin will offer educators access to a set of digital tools that will grow over time while still remaining in accordance to standards to allow for future compatibility as new tools are introduced.  Teaching content will be able to be shared so that educators at all college campuses can share their digital content.  Assessment of student learning will become clearer through the use of analytics, and faculty members will be able to shape the type and usability of the tools.

Students will also benefit from Unizin by having access to a consistent platform of learning tools that will be able to be accessed across a variety of devices, allowing individual needs and lifestyles to be taken into account in the learning process.

Support staff will also have access to a set of digital tools, allowing them to help faculty transform their teaching process.  This will allow greater flexibility and accessibility that will in turn offer faculty greater support.

Open standards and interoperability will be the focus of the consortium, allowing the university control over all aspects of online learning systems, such as content sourcing strategies, copyright management and access to data among collaborating universities.  This ideal was accomplished through a partnership with Blackboard.

“Our campus Educational Innovation initiative can now grow in new dimensions that otherwise would not have been possible. We are also piloting Unizin tools with our UW System institutions and programs, and interacting with the UW System Learn@UW Executive Committee, which endorsed UW-Madison’s plan to join Unizin,” Cramer says.

Unizin was founded in July 2014.  Its charter members were Indiana University, Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Florida.  New members include UW-Madison, Oregon State and Minnesota.

10 15, 2014
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