2017 Bright Idea
University of North Carolina
January 1, 2017
North Carolina

Technology is democratizing education, and innovations in learning technology, including adaptive learning, blended classrooms, and improved collaboration and communication tools are improving outcomes and closing achievement gaps. Learning technologies have improved the accessibility of education by lowering the financial barriers, fostering global knowledge sharing, and enabling data-driven classroom decisions. Technology is crucial to achieving the mission of nearly every educational institution. To address these challenges, the University of North Carolina (UNC) designed the UNC Learning Technology Commons, in partnership with faculty, university purchasing and IT staff, and education tech providers. Providers agree to a standard set of terms and conditions, comply with relevant law and regulations, and spell out how much their products cost at different volumes. Free and open source programs are also welcome. No money changes hands immediately with vendors selected to participate. Instead, faculty and staff from the 17 UNC constituent institutions access the Commons to identify tools appropriate for their needs and expedite purchasing for their classroom or department. This shortens the cycles of discovery and purchasing for new learning technologies and speeds their diffusion. In the Commons, instructors can ask questions of one another, share the tools they use and their experiences with them, and learn from the insights of colleagues.