The online-education boom has made technology vendors powerful. So powerful, in fact, that some university officials say it’s getting harder and harder to update their technology without placing themselves under the sway of outside companies.
Now four major research universities are trying to promote strength in numbers. They are creating a consortium, called Unizin, that they hope will help member institutions innovate on their own terms.
“Unizin is a strategic move by universities to assert greater control and influence over the digital-learning landscape than would otherwise be possible by any single institution,” the founders write in a news release. The four institutions are Colorado State University, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of Michigan.
Unizin will negotiate contracts with technology vendors for products and services that many universities already buy individually. But instead of implementing the technologies locally, member institutions will get a set of “sewn-together services” from Unizin in exchange for dues, says Bradley C. Wheeler, vice president for information technology at Indiana.