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How ASU is improving learner experiences with the Unizin Data Platform

May 23, 2022
Steven Butschi

Head of Education, Google Cloud

Jesus Trujillo Gomez

Strategic Business Executive, Google Cloud

Many first-generation and non-traditional learners who enroll at Arizona State University (ASU) benefit from a personalized learning approach. To support a diverse range of learners, the EdPlus team at ASU needed a way to deliver more individualized learning experiences to support student success at scale. The EdPlus team sought technology that was easy to deploy, flexible in creating new applications as needed, and harnessed their data to make real-time decisions to improve customized learning experiences. 

After trying other “ready-made” solutions and attempting to build individual tools as needed, ASU discovered the Unizin Data Platform (UDP), powered by Google Cloud. The UDP is designed for institutions to aggregate data across multiple sources and help them gain actionable insights. Those insights mean more value from existing data sets and existing systems.

For ASU, the UDP meant gaining insights from learner interactions through their Learning Management System (LMS), Student Information System (SIS), and web applications, which enabled the institution to assist learners  in a more personalized manner and better support their faculty. Jonathan Carroll, Director Learner Insights and Opportunity at ASU EdPlus explained, “Unizin is providing us with a near turn-key solution to standardize our multi-learning management system (LMS) environment within our own Google Cloud organization, enabling us to focus our efforts on further data enrichment and activation.” 

Unizin is providing us with a near turn-key solution to standardize our multi-learning management system (LMS) environment within our own Google Cloud organization, enabling us to focus our efforts on further data enrichment and activation.

Jonathan Carroll, Director, Learner Insights and Opportunity at ASU EdPlus

Looking back, Matt Rhoton, CTO at ASU EdPlus, and Jonathan Carroll, Director of Learner Insights and Opportunity at ASU EdPlus, had some lessons to share:

Keep the learners and the impact at the center of your work: Solutions of this nature can have a meaningful impact on academic performance and retention. Part of this initiative includes measuring ourselves by how inclusive we are when presenting flexible educational opportunities for our students. For first-generation and non-traditional learners, simple planning and scheduling challenges can have massive consequences. Our faculty are closely involved in building our learner solution strategies and these solutions help our teams embrace cross-functional collaboration by removing data silos. We highlight the tremendous student support resources ASU deploys and two other areas of measurement that are important to us: learner success and assuming fundamental responsibility for the communities we serve.

Choose a strategic partner: By partnering with Google Cloud, we were able to break down many barriers to transformation because of the increased scalability and serverless infrastructure provided. Specifically with Unizin, we were able to bring in standardized data from our LMS and pair it with our student information system. There is no shortage of data projects that require  rigorous engineering, so we were looking for a partner who could help automate manual workflows so our team could focus on larger, more impactful projects.  

Build solutions at scale: In everything we take on, we have the intention to build at scale. ASU has some really innovative products in development to help scale digital learning. We use behavioral data based on the standard UDP data sets and those provided by f the Google Marketing Platform, both of which can be scaled. I envision the student support and intervention capabilities being tools other institutions can easily integrate when leveraging similar technologies.

Flexibility for customization is important: Our team has been focused more on understanding and improving the learner experience for both pre- and post-enrollment Our efforts have organically grown as we continue to gain new insights about how to best meet the needs of our learners. To provide the best personalized learning experience, in real time, it is critical for ASU to create customizable applications for specific purposes. As our work continues to evolve,  UDP enables our team to create applications on top of existing solutions.

Looking ahead, the impact of using solutions like the Unizin Data Platform can empower institutions to bring out the best in learners – from pre-enrollment through post-graduation. To learn more about UDP, connect with our team.

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