Over two years ago, Brad Wheeler, Indiana University Professor and Chief Information Officer, wrote to his colleagues about the future of digital learning in higher education and how universities can pave a path toward scaling learning and teaching beyond a single institution. In his closing remarks, he posited a potential path forward where universities can ”sew together a set of content, distribution and analytics capabilities via strong contracts with a range of potential players.” 2015
Fast forward fifteen months, when I received an email asking if I would meet with James Hilton, Dean of Libraries and Vice Provost for Digital Educational Initiatives at University of Michigan, and Brad about “a new venture”. Immediately, I knew that this venture was going to be something very profound and I was not disappointed.
Today, the vision and mission of Unizin are very much in-line with what was proposed in 2012. It has been been my honor as the founding CEO to help shape the consortium in its six months. During that time, I have met many amazing people, from faculty to students to administrators, had many invigorating conversations, including a discussion in a national park (thanks, Lou! ), and built strong relationships with leaders in the areas of content, analytics and learning management solutions. Through these relationships, and the Unizin Members, we have laid the foundation for a teaching and digital learning ecosystem that will improve learning outcomes.
Unizin has made fast progress on our membership. With the recent announcement of our new Founding Members, University of Iowa, The Ohio State University and The Pennsylvania State University, we now have ten investing members, all world-renowned universities. Unizin’s emphasis on “open” and “loosely-coupled” has clearly been heard, and now with a solid foundation, the industry is trending toward us.
We also have a lot of hard work ahead of us. We have to continue to build our platform and services effectively and efficiently. In the first half of 2015 we will:
- Open our office in Austin, TX
- Expand our team of five to more than twelve
- Extend the platform beyond the LMS
- Launch the Unizin Content Relay
- Pilot the Unizin Analytics Relay
- Expand our strategic commercial partnerships
- Engage in conversations with faculty, students, and administrators, particularly through social media
- Launch a community forum for our Members
We look forward to continuing to collaborate with you. We need to hear from our Members what works and what doesn’t work; what is new and exciting that Unizin should not fall behind on; and anything else that is on your minds. Together, we are shaping the future of digital teaching and learning.