Published September 27, 2014

University Consortium Partners with Blackboard and Instructure to Pilot Course Content Services

EMERYVILLE, Calif. – Unizin, a university-owned and directed consortium that provides standards-based Digital Education infrastructure for its members, announced that it is working with Blackboard and Instructure to connect their content platforms with the Unizin Content Relay. “These connections to the Unizin Content Relay are the first realization of Unizin’s strategy of leveraging loosely coupled systems”, said Unizin’s CEO Amin Qazi. “Institutions and their faculty will be empowered to work with content from multiple platforms, and this moves us significantly closer to that vision.” Both products provide standards-based content storing, sharing, and discovery services that will connect with the Unizin Content Relay including forthcoming connections for Open Educational Resources.

Blackboard Inc.’s xpLor enables the collaborative development and sharing of course materials within and across institutions and all standards-compliant LMSs. “Students and faculty need access to open tools that allow them to work collaboratively, across institutions, to create the best learning programs,” said Mark Strassman, senior vice president of product management for Blackboard. “Openness and interoperability is a critical part of our business model and we are excited to work with Unizin on their efforts. With the ability to work across platforms, xpLor is a proven tool that has made it easy for thousands of educators to manage and share rich content regardless of what system they are using for their institutional affiliation.” Already being used by nearly 500 institutions all over the world and offered for free to all Internet2 members, xpLor allows faculty to create or import any type of content, which can be tagged, rated, and aligned to competencies and standards for easy searching and organizing.

“Teachers and designers often create custom learning resources — or simply accept materials handed down to them — because it’s hard to find and incorporate vetted, relevant, open content, activities and assessments,” said Jared Stein, vice president of research and education at Instructure. “Canvas Commons makes it so much easier to not only find and reuse the world’s best and brightest teaching ideas, but also to revise, remix, and, of course, redistribute those activities back into the community.” With Canvas Commons, Instructure aims to enable a “For the people, by the people” content ecosystem,” said Stein. For many educators, sourcing quality content is a necessity. From K-12 administrators and teachers who need lesson plans that align with Common Core, to tenured professors who want to build courses that can be used by adjunct faculty and lecturers, Canvas users will finally have a creative, collaborative space that meets their needs.

“Unizin is committed to providing its members with leading tools, based on open standards, and with the usability and depth required to host a sustainable ecosystem,” said James Hilton, Founding Co-Chair of Unizin. “We are excited to expand the possibilities of that ecosystem with these pilots.”

“These are key components in a next-generation digital learning ecosystem, and are foundational to our impetus to share advanced learning content as widely as possible, under the control of the faculty who generate and own the content,” said Patrick J. Burns of Colorado State University.

Unizin is continuing to explore cloud-scale integration of many leading solutions to extend the full capabilities of its the digital learning ecosystem.

For more information, including Unizin membership, frequently asked questions and updates, visit