“Increasingly, digital ecosystems are infrastructure—more like common gauge rails than differentiating features of a university.”

– Prof. James Hilton, Vice Provost of Digital Educational Initiatives & Dean of Libraries, University of Michigan

Unizin has been created to help member universities and subscribers customize and unify a wide range of tools for online learning and digital course management. It will support services for educational content, software platforms, and analytics.

Questions for You

  • What is your initial reaction to the Unizin effort?
  • Do you have additional key questions we should try to answer?
  • Do you think it is worth undertaking a pilot project?

Please email feedback, comments, and questions to unizin-info@uiowa.edu.


Frequently Asked Questions 

While the core toolset includes an LMS, Unizin is focusing more on digital content development and data analytics to improve teaching and learning. These are essential and strategic capabilities that enable universities’ core mission of education.

While much attention over the last two years has been given to the tools and providers that support MOOCs, Unizin will focus broadly across all of the technologies that are used to create and deliver digital content, services, and data for residential and online educational environments. Unizin seeks to give institutions control over the digital education ecosystem, which will include strategically contracting with leading vendors and supporting open standards.

Because of the focus on open standards and interoperability, Unizin is designed to complement and extend the tools and platforms that deliver MOOCs. For example, it is in everyone’s interest to enable faculty who teach MOOCs and teach residential courses to share data, content, and tools across both environments. Unizin is about making the various tools work well together in a loosely coupled environment.

There is another sense in which Unizin is different from MOOC efforts. Unizin is about providing common infrastructure to support the missions of its university members.  It is not a public-facing brand. It will not offer content, courses, or degrees in its own name. Unizin’s membership model is built on the premise that universities need to strengthen their influence in the use of data and content for the long run. They will accomplish this goal by working together and taking greater control over content, while also opening content up for selective sharing.

Not at all. These other efforts have helped to transform higher education and teaching and learning in general. For its part, Unizin seeks to drive the development of content and data standards for analytical purposes, working as part of a free market of ideas and approaches.

No – those endeavors focus on building software as a community, for use by individual institutions. Unizin strives to foster a community more concerned with creating and sharing content and improving outcomes.

No. University members can use Unizin as a campus, online, or multi-institutional platform for education delivery.

Unizin’s founders selected Canvas for its learning management system with significant availability for open-source enhancements – which translate into opportunities for Unizin’s future evolution.

We will enter into a limited pilot using Canvas with up to 2500 students beginning summer 2015. We will extend that pilot as needed in order to gain a good understanding of the Canvas system, working with different faculty and students each semester. After completing the pilots and gathering additional feedback from both faculty and students, a decision will be made regarding the appropriate solution going forward.

ICON (Iowa Courses Online) is the local “brand” that Iowa has chosen for the tool set of all campus online instructional technology applications. Unizin is the Consortium that may include several instructional technology tools, both new and ones we already use.

No. Members of Unizin will be able to obtain the Canvas LMS product for campus use via their membership. If members already have Canvas, they can maintain that existing relationship (either via a direct contract with Instructure or via Internet2 Net+ services) or take advantage of the Unizin agreement.