University of Wisconsin–Madison

September 19, 2014 Minutes

Information Technology Committee Minutes
Friday, September 19, 2014
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Union South

  1. Call to order (Ellen Zweibel-Chair)
  2. Welcome and Introductions (All)
  3. Introduction to Unizin and status of campus and system decision making (Bruce Maas)
    1. Unizin is a consortium of higher education institutions that have joined together to create a standards-based ecosystem in support of teaching and learning. It has been in the planning stages for the last 1 ½ years, in response to needs identified by the Provosts of the institutions belonging to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) . It puts higher education in control of its own future with regard to infrastructure in support of our teaching and learning mission. Four universities (Indiana University, Colorado State University, University of Florida, and University of Michigan) have already signed their agreement for Unizin and are the original founding members. Decision of UW commitment is coming in the next 1-2 weeks.
    2. What lead us up to Unizin –
      1. Internet 2 was created 18 years ago. It results in higher education being in control of their internet services used in research (rather than relying exclusively on private companies). It has been massively successful and cost effective.
      2. By contrast, higher education chose to let the private sector take care of “scholarly publishing” and the result is a very high cost service that higher education does not control.
    3. Components of Unizin:
      1. Digital Course Content RELAY; designed to have the ability to discover content and connect to a wide range of data repositories through open standards. It will use open standards and give faculty full rights to control when or if their content is shared with others.
      2. LMS system at its center; Canvas by Instructure is the initial learning management system chosen for incorporation into the Unizin infrastructure. Canvas has agreed to continuing building out their system with open standards.
      3. Learning analytics; UW has been invited to join Unizin, in part based on our expertise in learning analytics. Our expertise in this area combined with the expertise from other institutions and the Unizin organization itself, will help with the acceleration of our efforts.
  4. Unizin as it relates to teaching and learning at UW Madison (Steve Cramer)
    1. Unizin is a teaching and learning eco-system (not just a learning management system).
    2. Currently, UW Madison has 2 LMS systems: D2L and Moodle. Data is difficult to extract from the D2L system. D2L algorithms for learning analytics are proprietary and not shared with the UW campus. Many instructors prefer Moodle, which allows us to do things that D2L won’t do.
    3. Canvas and why it is so important – We need to keep up with technology. D2L is a legacy design going back about 15 years, and Canvas is a more contemporary design model. The Unizin infrastructure will allow us to plug and play with different tools. We can have different tools and these tools can transfer data. We can add additional tools later in time. Currently, D2L has updates for us, however we don’t know what those updates are and are locked into them. Currently we have multiple systems that don’t talk to each other. With Unizin, it is one suite of tools that can be plugged into and talk with each other.
  5. Questions and discussion –
    1. Question regarding open source and open standards.
    2. What is the role of faculty in developing the system?
      1. We intend on having faculty engagement with Unizin both through the UW-Madison Learn@UW team and the Office of the Vice-Provost for Teaching and Learning. Currently with D2L, we have no say of what updates are made to the system.
      2. UW Madison has an expertise in learning analytics with faculty and staff. As a result, we would envision our learning analytics team to draw in faculty expertise and then communicate back to Unizin.
    3. Can we bring items from D2L to Canvas?
      1. We would be going through a pilot with a select group of faculty to develop transition strategies and methods. As a result, we can think through how we can prepare for the transition. Ohio State does use D2L and our groups have already been talking together.
    4. Question regarding learning analytics and how it will affect the students.
      1. This is a developing area; for example we can use the analytics for students to view their progress in a course and/or to explore with faculty the types of data and interventions that can lead to more effective learning.
    5. What is the fee structure to become a Unizin member? And what does D2L cost?
      1. Unizin has been set up to require an institution to put a 1 million and 50,000 commitment to be initial investor and charter member. We would also pay a per student fee after we exit the pilot phase.
      2. It’s hard to deconstruct D2L; it was a million and a half for license for all UW system. 2 million for servers and services to run it. We believe that it will cost less with Unizin. If we join and stabilize….outflow would be probably less than what we pay as a system over five years.
    6. How will Unizin benefit the 40,000 students on campus?
      1. School of Business did a pilot of Canvas. Students and faculty – liked it. Our goal is to ultimately not have more than one system (like we currently do).
      2. Canvas is designed for its mobility and the software system with the students and faculty in mind.
      3. Currently, students are able to re-engage for a non-credit course or a MOOC….each a different system different data. We want to give you the best experience – 1 system.
    7. Will instructors be required to use Canvas?
      1. Traditional approach has been not to require it, but to intervene within the faculty.

There was discussion regarding whether the ITC is in support of Unizin.

A motion was made for the ITC to move forward with Unizin using the statement below.

The ITC endorses moving forward with Unizin as a framework for digital infrastructure in education, with active UW educator involvement, in developing tools for learning outcomes and analytics.

Motion was seconded. All in favor: 11 people raised their hand; Opposed? No one. Abstain from voting? None.


MEMBERS in Attendance:


Meghan Mitchell, Art; Arts and Humanities

Mathew Jones, Neuroscience; Biological Sciences

Ellen Zweibel (Chair), Astronomy; Physical Sciences

Constance Steinkuehler, Curriculum & Instruction; Social Sciences

Christina Kendziorski Newton, SMPH/Biostatistics & Medical Info, Bio S

Greg Moses, Engineering Physics, Engineering

Rafael Lazimy, Operations & Information Mngmt., Business

Lindsey Steege, Nursing, Social Sciences

Academic Staff

Mike Pitterle, Pharmacy

Jennifer Bonifas, SMPH

Michael Pflieger, L&S

Classified Staff

Michaela Aust, University Admin.

Thomas O’Brien, State Lab of Hygiene

Janel Oster, Facilities Planning & Mngt.


Eric Schroeckenthaler

Jason Postweiler

Benjamin Emmel


Non-Voting Members

Ex Officio

Bruce Maas, CIO and Vice Provost for Information Technology


Provost Appointments

Nicholas Tincher, Graduate School

Clare Huhn, Representative of the Provost

Ed Van Gemert, General Library System

Mark Sweet, Rep VC for Administration

Steve Hahn, Rep for Provost

Campus Liaison, Group

Rick Konopacki (School of Medicine and Public Health), CTIG

Lee Konrad, (Libraries), MTAG

Mike Pitterle (School of Pharmacy), Moodle Council

Alan Silver, (Chemistry), Network Advisory Group


Members Absent:

John Krogman, Deputy CIO and Chief Operating Officer of DoIT

Joe Salmons, L&S

Gurindar Sohi, Computer Sciences

Bobby Burrow, General Services, Rep VC for Administration

Diana Wheeler (School of Ed), ComETS

Rosemary Bodolay (School of Ed), ComETS



Steve Cramer, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (speaker)

Joanne Jones, DOIT, Financial Services

Jignesh Patel, Computer Sciences (attended for Gurindar Sohi, Computer Sciences)

Jessie Koch, CIO Office (minutes)

Monica Macaulay, Colleges of Letters & Science (for Joe Salmons, L&S)