Project Lagro: Microsoft and LinkedIn Pilot Program Opportunity – Thursday, January 30

Following up on my presentation to the CAOs, and a note to this group back in December, we are moving forward with the potential of one or more of our universities participating in the Project Lagro “Private Preview (AKA mature beta) with Microsoft and LinkedIn.

I have arranged for them to visit on Thursday, January 30 here at the System Office.  The purpose of this meeting will be to provide an in depth overview of the application they are developing and to understand its value to our universities and to understand our responsibilities in the project if we choose to participate.

This .PDF, Private preview guide_Dec2019, provides a good overview of the program.

In addition, here is a video that that contains screen shots that illustrate the design and use of the program.

While several of our universities have already expressed significant interest in being involved in this project, I wanted to make sure all of our universities were informed of this opportunity.

Please contact me ( if you would like to attend this meeting with Microsoft and LinkedIn to discuss Project Lagro on Thursday, January 30 from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. as it is my invitation only.

Ellen Wagner, Ph.D. to Deliver 2020 DLI Symposium Keynote Address

Navigating the Learning Technologies Multi-verse

Despite their pervasiveness in higher education, learning technologies continue to be fraught with apprehension within the academy as educators are skeptical of the true impact that they bring to effective teaching and learning. Dr. Ellen Wagner’s keynote will make sense of the panoply of emerging learning technologies, strategies and desired outcomes that are shaking up the very foundations upon which so many of today’s education professionals have built their instructional practices. Ellen will discuss a strategy to help guide faculty identification of and engagement with learning technologies that considers their needs for research-based selection and pedagogical alignment, as well as faculty-specific digital learning experience. Further, Ellen will share how the rate of technological innovation leads to an ever-changing educational landscape and how innovations that center on learning will lead to transformative educational shifts.

Ellen is an award-winning learning designer and technologist. She is currently the Managing Partner of North Coast EduVisory Services, LLC and Research Scientist with the Mixed Emerging Technologies Integration Lab, Institute for Simulation and Training, and School of Modeling Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida. She serves as an Affiliate Member of the Faculty for the College of Education at George Mason University and is a member of the IEEE Industry Connections Industry Consortium on Learning Engineering Steering Committee and Learning Engineering Among the Professions Special Interest Group. Ellen serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, eLearn Magazine, and the Journal of Applied Instructional Design and serves on the Board of Directors for two private start-up companies. She received her BA in History and MS in Information Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Ph.D. in Learning Psychology from University of Colorado Boulder.

Launching a new System-wide shared service: EMSI a labor market analysis tool

A successful collaboration between Academic Affairs and IT, driven by Dr. Rollinda Thomas, CTO Eric Ellis and Faculty Fellow Dr. Ben Powell, resulted in a System-Wide agreement with EMSI.  EMSI is a labor market analysis tool used by many of our universities to forecast demand for new degree programs. The team was able to create a licensing agreement that allows all of our universities to purchase this service at $4,500 rather than the almost $15,000.  Across the ten initial instances of its use, this saves the System $100,000 annually.

Here is the specific information from Dr. Rollinda Thomas that you need to take advantage of this program:

Our team members at the UNC System Office negotiated a system-wide contract with Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) to provide access to their Analyst software. The product provides labor market data related to academic programs. This is helpful if an institution wants to determine labor market demand for their programs. The data supports evidence-based program planning and development. If institutions are proposing a new academic program to the Board of Governors, EMSI’s data provides a consistent source for evidence of societal demand. Information about Analyst is attached.

In the past, access to Analyst software for a single user at an institution would cost $15,000 per year. Given the new system-wide contract, the price would be $4,500 per user, per year for three years, if we have 10 or more total users across the system. If we have 1-9 total users across the system, the price will be $5,000 per user, per year for three years.

Please contact me if you are interested in participating in the three-year agreement. I’ve attached documents for your signature as Provost, including the system-wide agreement, an order form for access to EMSI’s Analyst software, and a Letter of Commitment (LOC) form. Please note that the Letter of Commitment can be signed by a Provost instead of an Information Technology (IT) representative. This is often the case if the site license will be used by your Academic Affairs Office instead of IT. We understand additional time may be needed for you to review the documents beyond the due date on the LOC.

We hope this will provide a much-needed service and considerable cost savings to our institutions.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at (910) 303-2763 or e-mail

Have a wonderful day!


Rollinda Thomas, ph.d.
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs
Division of Academic Affairs
910 Raleigh Road | Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Now this is how companies should try to get us to use their products

Interesting way the Wall Street Journal is trying to get their paid and proprietary content into our classrooms.  It is an inspiredway to get faculty and students to become subscribers.  In the past, they would simply offer limited-time free subscriptions or subscriptions at a reduced education rate. In this scenario, they are providing faculty with tools and advice to leverage WSJ Content.  They have a seminar series for faculty, critical thinking resources and how to guides. While primarily seen as a tool for business schools, they appear to be going broader with a seminar on “How Non-Business Majors can use the Journal.”

This is precisely how for-profit organizations need to engage with higher education….understand our needs, understand how their products authenticallyfit into our work flows and provide resources to make integration as easy as possible (and of course at an education rate).  Note: I have no relationship, or ownership, in the WSJ or related companies.

As part of the work of Faculty Fellow Ben Powell (working on licensing and shared services), we will be exploring this opportunity.


Arizona State University Global Freshman Academy: A dud or a step toward continued success?

A colleague sent me this IHE article about Arizona State University shutting down its Global Freshman Academy. He suggested here was another example of an educational innovation that turned out to be a dud.  But was it?

Whether it is really a dud depends on what you are looking for them to accomplish.

I would agree that as a way to pull in a segment of the population that traditionally would not have gone to college, yes, it was a dud.  I think that at the core it was a problem of misalignment. They wanted to be an open access institution for the Global Freshman Academy (GFA) but a selective institution when these students wanted to transfer to ASU.  That failed.

But several things did not fail.

They developed twenty general college courses that were initially for GFA but were migrated to their traditional college campus.  The allure of the GFA brought many funders – Starbucks, McGraw Hill, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to name a few.  By in large, these funders paid for the (very expensive) costs of the courses used in the GFA. Many of these courses pushed the envelope in regards to quality online education. So, while as the article states, only a few of them are still being used in the GFA, they are being used on the traditional ASU campus (saving millions of development costs to ASU).

They recently launched ASU local where they are creating placed-based online education. They have opened campuses in downtown LA and Washington, D.C.  They are leveraging the GFA courses.

Like most successful innovators, they are willing to go out on a limb and try many risky initiatives.  Most fail but if one or two hit… This gives them significate earned media in the press resulting in such things as being called the most innovative university by U.S. News and World Report. It also brings in additional funding as well as students for their traditional campus.

So yes, for its stated purpose it was a dud.  However, with ASU President Michael Crow you always have to look at second and third-tier effects.  On that standard, he has created twenty courses (with other peoples’ money), significant buzz in the academic press and learned some things that can be used to be even more successful in the future.

If only we failed as well as ASU?

Amazon Web Services Continues Cloud Curriculum Expansion

In my May 2018 presentation to the BOG I spoke about the growing influence, partnership and strategic threat of companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Over the past six months, there has been a significant uptick in these scenarios.

Here is the latest:

“AWS sees them as “a flywheel for the changing face of education,” the company’s director of worldwide education programs, Ken Eisner, told Education Dive in July. At that time, the company announced it was partnering with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Marine Corps to embed its cloud platform in military data intelligence training. The courses will also count toward an associate degree at the two-year institution.”

“That news followed shortly after AWS and NOVA announced a partnership with George Mason University in Virginia that allows students to transfer into a four-year cloud computing degree after completing a specialization. AWS has partnered or plans to partner with public colleges in Florida, Louisiana, New York and Ohio on cloud curriculum.”

“It’s not the only tech company teaming up with colleges. Google and Facebook are also working with higher ed to offer certificates and other training programs that teach people how to use their software.”

Are any of the Universities in the UNC System partnering with any of these organizations?