Preserving Our Curricular and Pedagogical Assets

Dear Colleagues,

Over the past few years, as new technology has created new pedagogical opportunities, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) provosts have been engaged in sustained discussion about the importance of managing within the academy access to new learning objects, or teaching content, as well as data about student behavior and performance, rather than ceding—perhaps through inattention—control of these academic matters to commercial entities.

The CIC chief information officers and the CIC librarians have also been working on these issues. One of the constructive developments that has emerged from all these discussions is the formation of a university-owned and directed consortium, Unizin. After CIC discussion, some of the university partners connected with Internet2 were also brought into these early discussions, and they have also been helping to shape plans.

The consortium is still being shaped, however, and we believe it is important that the University of Minnesota be at the table for this process, so that our faculty, staff, and students can help direct the future of digital education, teaching technology, learning analytics, and advising. Accordingly, we have made a decision formally to join the Unizin consortium. We, along with a few other institutions to be announced by Unizin today, join the founding members—the University of Michigan, Indiana University, Colorado State University, and the University of Florida.

The landscape of digital learning is changing rapidly, and it is important that we stay not just abreast of those changes but in control of their implications. Unizin has been formed to help the academy stay in control of academic matters.

Our present commitment is to a one-year pilot option. This option will allow us full membership rights to help shape consortium plans and to determine whether we want to continue to be a part of Unizin. To help us with this determination, we are in the process of creating a task force of faculty and staff who, by virtue of their experience and expertise, will help guide our Unizin engagement this year.

More information about the prospects for this university partnership will be communicated as the plans develop, and we look forward to soliciting your views as questions arise. We are excited about this opportunity to leverage the ambitions and interests of the academy, and we will keep you posted.

Sincerely,
Karen Hanson, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
Scott Studham, Vice President & CIO
Wendy Lougee, University Librarian

email sent September 22, 2014 from Provost Karen Hanson to all faculty, academic advisors, librarians, academic technologists/instructional designers, and the administrative email list (AEL).