Unizin (unizin.org), a developer of technology solutions, improves teaching and learning outcomes in the evolving world of digital education. Founded in 2014 as a non-profit academic consortium, Unizin now serves over 20 higher education institutions in the U.S. with over 900,000 students.

Challenge: Support new learning experiences and create dynamic course content

Unizin was established with the mission of improving higher education teaching and learning environments by utilizing digital technologies to their fullest potential. “Major generational and technological changes are disrupting how students learn and instructors teach,” says Etienne Pelaprat, Director of Product Management at Unizin.

“Our member universities understand today’s students have a more diverse array of learning needs than in years past. They are looking to Unizin to help them utilize new technologies to provide more engaging and effective student learning experiences.”

Unizin wanted to provide its member institutions with a platform to design and deliver innovative course content, in collaboration with coworkers, teams and other member institutions, to optimize student outcomes.

Solution: Develop new content management applications for next-generation teaching and learning using the Nuxeo Platform

Unizin selected Nuxeo as its content management application platform of choice to make this new digital learning vision a reality. “We were drawn to the Nuxeo Platform as an open, scalable, and flexible environment to provide member universities with a complete content ecosystem,” says Steve Huwig, Director of Engineering for Unizin.

Rich content model.
“We were particularly impressed with Nuxeo’s schema-flexible content model, which allows us to add and modify metadata as needed, and apply it to any document type,” Huwig says. “Nuxeo lets us design metadata that closely model specific university domains (engineering, agriculture, medicine), making it much easier to create and reuse document types.”

Open, extensible API.
“Unizin is committed to utilizing interoperable and standards-based technology to ensure our solutions benefit all member institutions,” says Huwig. “Nuxeo strongly supports this objective with its extensible REST API, which includes a large network of extension points for custom-built services, plug-ins and data processing routines as needed in the future.”

“The Nuxeo REST API ensures our content environment can adapt to fulfill future needs, while also eliminating communication and technological barriers between faculty, departments and member institutions.”

Workflow design and automation.
Member universities in the Unizin consortium actively invest in new media developers, course developers and instructional designers. “More people are involved in the creation of a course and its content than ever before,” says Pelaprat, “which means our content ecosystem must support highly complex workflows to support key content creation processes.”

Unizin used Nuxeo’s built-in workflow engine to create standard workflows facilitating collaborative content design, content routing, internal review and approvals, and publishing finalized content into the Nuxeo repository for future access and reuse. These workflows can be further customized by individual member universities.

Results: A highly flexible and adaptable platform powering innovation and collaboration in course content design

Unizin recently announced Content Studio, a suite of three Nuxeo-powered applications:

  • LaunchPad - serving as the core content repository for each member institution, enabling the creation and publication of collections of learning objects to their campus' content community
  • Discover - providing advanced search capabilities to discover, download and adapt content that has been published or integrated into their content community
  • Libraries - expediting the reuse of existing content by enabling users to organize content materials into personal and course libraries, as well as facilitating cross-departmental collaboration for course development

New types of course content are being developed beyond the traditional teaching paradigm of lectures and textbooks, including:

  • Interactive video
  • Virtual reality microscopes
  • Specialized photo and video libraries with annotations
  • Course templates created by instructional designers

These and any other content types can be reused and “remixed” (i.e., creating a new content type derived from an existing one). Additionally, multiple content types can be combined to create a new ‘compound learning object.’

“Nuxeo has enabled Unizin to provide our member universities with a flexible and adaptable content ecosystem at scale. Authors can easily publish and share any type of content; workflows between faculty and designers, and developers are fully supported. Collaboration across departments and member institutions is maximized,” says Pelaprat.

“We are excited for our member institutions to put Content Studio to work, providing students with new digital learning experiences, and helping facilitate a consortium-wide culture of innovation for new teaching and learning strategies that optimize student outcomes.”

No time to read it all?

  • Unizin Content Studio, powered by Nuxeo, providing advanced ECM/DAM for innovation and collaboration in course content design
  • Several hundred end-users expected near term (instructional designers, faculty, researchers, librarians) spanning 20 major U.S. universities
  • Fully cloud-based, AWS infrastructure
  • PostgreSQL 9.5 repository database
  • Enterprise search provided by ElasticSearch, built into the Nuxeo Platform

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