Last April, a small group of top educators met in Chicago to discuss Unizin’s Teaching and Learning plan. The group was chartered with providing recommendations to the Unizin board for strategic priorities around teaching and learning. At the first meeting the group organized into subcommittees around faculty engagement, solutions architecture and communications.

Now, nearly a year later the tasks and goals of these groups are more concrete and the collaboration between the schools is evident. It is clear today that this group is working together to make big things happen. We asked Jeremy Van Hof, Coordinator of Academic Technologies for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Liv Gjestvang, Associate Vice President of Learning Technology for The Ohio State University and Matthew Gunkel, Manager of eLearning Design and Services at Indiana University what they thought of the growth nearly a year later.

Unizin: So what’s the biggest change you’ve seen between when we had our first meeting and today?

Jeremy: The group is beneficial in a number of ways, and I think the collegiality is clearly growing. Our ability to rely on other member institutions and other specific individuals within those institutions is really growing. That’s a very empowering thing because now I have this very valuable resource to which I can turn and others can turn to us for our expertise.

Unizin: All of our meetings are really valuable, but this one felt especially effective. Can you describe the difference from when we started nearly a year ago and today?

Liv: I think this group has really come together as a community. I felt like today there was a lot of energy. And what I noticed that felt different from where we were when we started a year ago is that we had identified not just where we’d like to be but some very specific strategies to get us there. I think that we’re starting to leverage the strengths across institutions around affordability, open content, open standards, and around the development of tools and analytics. And we’re leveraging those strengths as they exist on all different campuses and thinking about how we can share those strengths across the entire consortium and all benefit from what we’re doing on each campus.

Unizin: You’ve been here since the very beginning. What have you seen change in the group from that first meeting in April to this meeting?

Matthew: So I think the biggest change that I’ve seen in the group is our understanding of how to work together. It’s taken us awhile as really a disparate set of institutions, while a lot of us are a part of the Big Ten, you know we really don’t come together and have to operate in a shared manner, and a shared vision, on a lot of our services. We’ve reached the point where we’re starting to become a cohesive group and really understand the nuanced differences between the different universities and the needs that they present but also the plusses that they bring by being part of this group.

This group will continue to help us define our problem spaces and work with us to advise product direction. We can also expect to see some amazing things come from collaboration between our member institutions. Hear more about the Teaching and Learning Advisory group from these members and Unizin’s CEO, Amin Qazi, by watching the video below.

Read about what the teaching and learning group is doing by visiting the community forum.

Photo: Unizin’s Teaching and Learning Faculty Engagement subcommittee prepares to meet.