Whichever path is chosen for the LMS, it has the potential to affect the options UMN will be able to offer to students and faculty as their demands and expectations change in the coming years. As applications outside the LMS also continue to advance, UMN needs to consider an LMS that is capable of integrating easily in a growing digital ecosystem.
Creating a next generation digital ecosystem is a growing interest at the University
The next generation digital learning environment, or NGDLE, is a key influencer when considering potential paths towards the future of higher education. The NGDLE is a framework outlined in a research report by EDUCAUSE that describes how the future will focus on creating an environment or ecosystem of interconnected learning tools built on open-standards.
Adhering to a set of standards allows users and colleges to choose applications that work best for their needs; rather than relying on an LMS as the singular piece of technology for teaching functions. The components in this ecosystem also can interact with each other making the data gathered and exchanged between them more powerful and offer better learning analytics.
The usefulness of the NGDLE framework when evaluating an LMS is that it accounts for more than just a 1-for-1 feature comparison, and instead, addresses how each LMS can improve higher-order teaching, learning, and administrative needs.
Unizin's role in the LMS evaluation
When the University joined the consortium in 2014, it was driven by the opportunity to create and influence solutions that focused on improving the future of higher education. Unizin has created the opportunity to collaborate with other like-minded institutions working towards the same goals.
In addition to the collaborative benefits, Unizin provides access to new digital learning technologies and services (highlighted in orange on the graphic to the right) which are already being piloted at UMN. As part of the LMS evaluation, Unizin is also being evaluated by its potential (with the use of Canvas) to move the University closer to where the future of digital education is going and create a next generation digital learning environment.
Based on trends in higher education technology and work done at UMN peer institutions, the tools and services the Unizin consortium is developing will be needed, and expected, by UMN faculty and staff within the next 1-5 years. These tools, when implemented through Unizin, also provide substantial cost savings over acquiring them through an assortment of third-party vendors.