How Video Content Improves Learner Experiences

Close-up photograph of student viewing Canvas LMS interface on laptop

Written by Unizin’s Fall 2017 video production intern Sarah Nouri.

The creation and distribution of video content plays a key role in expanding and improving the way learners can access information. As a senior in college, I have witnessed a shift in the way the overall learning ecosystem operates, mainly with a growing reliance upon diverse types of video content to serve digital learners. Read More

Solving the Learning Data Puzzle: The Unizin Common Data Model

Lecture hall full of students on their laptops

If you’re thinking about how to improve student success – and who isn’t in higher ed? – then data and analytics about teaching and learning are probably on your mind. It can be a daunting subject.

There is so much data all around us – about students and courses; the planning, design, and delivery of instruction; and learning behaviors and results – that it may feel overwhelming. How can all of this data be brought together and made useful for faculty, instructional designers, researchers, other staff, and even students?

The Unizin Common Data Model (UCDM) is the Unizin Consortium’s approach to solving the teaching and learning data proliferation puzzle. We will explore why this puzzle is so hard to solve, why the UCDM is a sound consortium solution, and how the UCDM will work. Read More

Two Unizin Members Complete Migration to Canvas

two female students studying together with laptop and books in a library

Unizin recognizes Instructure’s Canvas as the top learning management system on the current market because of its incomparable interoperability, innovative content and analytics capabilities, and open standards. Currently, all of Unizin’s Founding Members have Canvas either fully implemented on their campus or are piloting the LMS. This summer, the University of Iowa and The Ohio State University, two Unizin Founding Members, completed their migrations from the D2L learning management system and are in full production with Canvas.

“We were looking to expand our learning ecosystem,” says Annette Beck, Director of Enterprise Instructional Technology at the University of Iowa, as she reflects on the university’s journey to Canvas. “Most LMS systems have very similar core capabilities, but we wanted to go beyond the basics to provide something more for our instructors, our students, and our institution. Doing that without Unizin seemed daunting, and even unattainable, at times.” Read More

Data Management: The Fundamentals

close up photograph of a laptop


Data is becoming the most valuable digital asset, and getting data management right is as critical an issue for universities as other businesses. For Unizin, this is non-negotiable: Data belongs to the universities and needs to be accessible and standardized to enable institutions to use that information as they see fit. A common data model and architecture can accelerate management of this data for all of higher education, while allowing universities to focus on innovating above the data architecture.
Read More

6 Steps for Creating a Collaborative Culture

University of Iowa Tech Forum

Keynote address by Unizin CEO Amin Qazi at the University of Iowa Tech Forum 2017.

New forms of collaboration are in increasing demand for successful paths forward. Internal constraints, both within an organization and within an individual, occur when new collaboration is in conflict with existing regulations, processes, and habits, leading to missed opportunities for innovation.
Read More

Reflections upon Graduation: The University as a Home

college graduates hugging at commencement ceremony

Having just graduated last month, it feels strange now to consider The University of Texas at Austin my alma mater. It has felt like my home for so long, much longer than the four years I spent on campus as a student. It has felt like my home partly because it is rooted in the central hub of my beautiful hometown of Austin. It has felt like my home since 2001, when my dad began working in administration at the UT Tower (or the Main Building). It was my home when my mom attended UT in the early 2000s, and my dad and I would drive to campus in the evenings to pick her up from the library. It was my home when I was offered admission to the university in February of 2013, just short of a decade after my mom graduated in the class of 2003. Read More

Connect in the Community

people in office working together

Unizin’s new Community Site will help Members connect, collaborate, and share knowledge.

One of the benefits of membership in the Unizin Consortium is access to a network of colleagues who face similar challenges on a variety of fronts. In order to increase collaboration and communication at every level, we have just launched a new and improved Community Site that combines the best elements of a listserv and a community portal. Users can now easily pose questions, discuss solutions, and simultaneously create a library of knowledge that is sharable and available to all Members. Read More

Flipping a Large Enrollment Classroom with Canvas

student studying lecture at home

When it was first announced that the University of Iowa was planning to pilot Canvas as part of Unizin, Jon Garfinkel, finance professor at the Tippie College of Business, realized this could be just the opportunity he needed to try flipping his new undergrad course. He had started flipping his MBA courses a while ago when he observed the rise of free and low-cost college-level learning opportunities, like edX and Coursera. He knew doing nothing wasn’t an option, that something needed to change. Read More

Rethinking the Possible: Large Enrollment Classes

Attendees at #UIS17 in Denver

At the 2017 Unizin Innovation Summit, I attended several marvelous breakout sessions. One of my favorites was “Early Lessons from High-Enrollment Course Transformations,” presented by Maggie Jesse, Senior IT Director at the University of Iowa, and Sarah Miller, Leader of Faculty Development in Academic Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Read More

Building the Learning Experience of Tomorrow

Colorado State University
Presented by Rick Miranda, Colorado State University

The Unizin Innovation Summit is an opportunity to reflect on where we are in the Unizin Consortium and our goals for the future. One of the benefits of operating inside the Consortium is the ease of communication and cooperation that it affords. We can come together to share our expertise with each other, discuss our progress, and ensure we are meeting both our strategic goals and fulfilling our mission of improving teaching and learning. As universities, we’re moving away from competing with one another, as we have in the past, and toward a collaborative model in which we work together, with partners like Unizin, to improve education.

Our goals for Unizin are starting to be realized in the form of several advancements: the common usage of the Canvas platform as a foundational LMS for us; the development of Engage and its wide adoption as a state-of-the-art eReader with capacity for exciting functionality; the beginnings of our ability to share content modules across the Consortium (either generated by Members or by vendors); the incorporation of innovative all-student-access mechanisms for content dissemination; and several others, including (importantly) a focus on effective and useful learning analytics.
Read More