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Last modified: Tuesday, August 14, 2012

IU launches pilot to explore next-generation learning technologies

Aug. 14, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University has signed agreements with technology providers CourseNetworking LLC and Instructure Inc. as part of a trial assessment of new technologies to support learning. The university will carry out the pilot trials during a two-year evaluation period to assess the technologies that can best support the changing needs of students and faculty.

"IU is in a good position to offer trials of new technologies while we continue to support our heavily used Oncourse system. Assessment of these technologies and others will enable our students and faculty to evaluate what combinations of institutional, cloud, open source and commercial tools can best serve IU's future," said Brad Wheeler, vice president of IT and CIO at Indiana University.

CourseNetworking beta, or the CN, is an academic social networking site that connects teachers and students from IU with others around the world based on shared interests and class subjects. The CN complements learning management systems such as Oncourse by providing new learning outcomes outside the classroom. CourseNetworking was created by Ali Jafari, IUPUI professor of computer and information technology at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology.

Canvas by Instructure is a rapidly growing, cloud-based service that helps improve student and faculty collaboration by integrating Web services such as Google Docs, Google Calendar, SMS, social media and RSS. The media-rich platform also features grading rubrics and an interface that allows teachers to quickly score, provide feedback and engage in dialogue with students.

IU is launching these and other pilots to strengthen its understanding of currently available tools and systems that support teaching and learning. Software options for the opt-in trials will evolve each semester based on in-depth feedback and insights by faculty and students on all IU campuses.

"Now, more than ever before, the ability to engage students in their learning is critical to their success. Evolving learning technologies afford new opportunities for deeper student engagement," said Stacy Morrone, associate vice president for learning technologies. "The pilot program allows us to put our finger on the pulse of what's next in learning technologies and assess the range of new tools, systems and approaches that could benefit students for years to come."

The pilots will start with a small number of trials in the fall semester before expanding in spring 2013. Trial participation is optional for faculty. Those who are comfortable with their current methods will continue to enjoy reliable support and access to existing learning management systems and tools. University Information Technology Services is working closely with campus centers for teaching and learning to provide participants with support, options and guidance.

For more information, including pilot registration, frequently asked questions and updates, visit