Four major university systems will share online courses, analytics and learning-management software through a cloud-based digital education platform called Unizin, portions of which launched in July.
Developed by Indiana University, Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan, Unizin will house everything from homework videos to flipped classroom content to distance learning courses—plus all the data that’s generated.
“At present universities are on a lot of different systems and taking lots of different approaches, and everything is being done campus by campus,” says Brad Wheeler, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at Indiana University. “Unizin is about shaping the ecosystem for digital learning—from residential education all the way through to some use of MOOCs.”
The Canvas learning management system piece of Unizin launched this summer, and course sharing will be developed over the next year. Professors and other faculty members who create courses or other learning materials in Unizin retain all rights to the content and can share it with anyone they want.
“We’re trying to encourage faculty to go in the direction of open educational resources and to share liberally,” says Pat Burns, vice president for information technology at Colorado State. “We see learning objectives in courses that are much more fully developed, expensive and time-consuming to produce and keep up to date. If we share among different schools, everyone benefits.”
Unizin members will be able to keep student information private while also sharing data that could be used for major collaborative research projects on learning, Wheeler says.
The developers are in talks to expand the service to other institutions, Wheeler says.
“Relative to the whole cost of us building out analytics capabilities separately, one campus at a time, or building content capabilities only on an island by ourselves, we think this is cost effective over time for how digital learning is evolving.”