Published June 11, 2014

By Stephanie Wang

Indiana University and three other universities announced today the creation of a digital education consortium called Unizin to share teaching tools, big data analytics and online course material.

Here’s why the higher education sphere is buzzing about Unizin: With each of the founding universities investing $1 million into the project, it’s a step toward maximizing digital learning and moving with the fast, technology-driven changes in education.

It could also challenge other well-known online education providers, such as MIT and Harvard’s massive open online course site, edX.

As other universities join the consortium, Unizin will allow professors to share and store their course content, and students will have access to materials from lots of different types of learning formats: MOOCs, online lectures, traditional in-person lectures, and discussion or group work. Unizin will use the cloud-based learning management system Canvas.

The institutions would be able to collect and analyze student performance data, according to an IU press release, which would help educators understand how students learn and what teaching methods might be most effective.

Unizin provides “a cost-efficient path for the best tools to serve students,” said Brad Wheeler, IU vice president for information technology and chief information officer, in a press release. He is a founding co-chair of Unizin.

The other universities in Unizin’s launch are Colorado State University, the University of Florida and the University of Michigan.