Unizin, Blackboard Partner to Enable Inclusive Higher Education

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Blackboard Inc., a EdTech software and solutions company, and Unizin, a consortium of higher education institutions, are partnering to create a more inclusive and data-informed learning environment for Unizin member institutions.

Under the partnership, Unizin will offer Blackboard’s accessibility solution, Blackboard Ally (Ally), to its 14 member institutions.

Blackboard will also implement learning data interoperability standards in Ally to integrate learning data to the Unizin Data Platform (UDP), enabling institutions to build effective data-driven practices at scale.

“We are proud to partner with Unizin to make Ally available to its member institutions, and work together to support equity and access for all students,” said Jim Chalex, Senior Vice President of Teaching and Learning at Blackboard. “Through data informed insights into accessibility barriers, we are excited to help Unizin members make a scalable impact on inclusive education.”

Ally provides institutions with the data and tools to improve equity and access for all learners. Integrating Ally’s insights into accessibility barriers in digital course content and usage data of Ally’s inclusive learning tools in the UDP serves to advance Unizin’s mission to create a data-rich picture of the teaching and learning experience. Accessibility data paired with other forms of learning data aggregated by the UDP also offers a unique opportunity to better understand the broad impact of inclusive design on student success across the institution.

“The Blackboard Ally team’s commitment to providing Ally-based learning data through data interoperability standards is another example of their strong commitment to serving higher education,” said Cathy O’Bryan, Chief Executive Officer of Unizin. “Now more than ever with digital learning tools usage at an all-time high, it is critical that all students have equitable access to course resources.”

Ally is an award-winning and revolutionary solution that integrates seamlessly into all leading learning management systems (LMS) and focuses on making digital course content more inclusive for all learners. It automatically checks digital course content for accessibility issues and generates alternative formats of instructor content using advanced Machine Learning algorithms. Alternative file formats are engineered to work better with assistive technologies, mobile devices, and study tools, and include format such as HTML, ePUB, audio MP3, electronic braille, and Language Translation. Ally also provides feedback to guide instructors on how to improve the accessibility of their course content and institution-wide reporting on course content accessibility to drive further improvements at the institution.

Unizin accelerates universities’ abilities to improve education through scalable solutions in the areas of data, analytics, digital content, and community-initiated innovations. The Unizin Data Platform is a flagship technology solution developed by Unizin to enable higher ed institutions to integrate, aggregate, and normalize teaching & learning data. Using the UDP and its data services, institutions use learning data for learning analytics, business intelligence, and research.

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