Student Digital Ecosystem

UW-Madison is building a next-generation student digital ecosystem to better support faculty, staff and students. The ecosystem will connect university-wide systems including student information, learning management and curriculum management systems, as well as digital assessment tools. The connection of systems will allow for interoperability and flexibility, improve information accessibility and consistency, and empower faculty, staff and students with new tools and capabilities to achieve success. As shown in the figure below, there are three primary areas of the digital ecosystem currently under revision:

Teaching and Learning Tools

Based on positive results from pilot studies and campus feedback, UW-Madison decided to transition to the Canvas learning management system (LMS) and to discontinue support for D2L and Moodle. The transition has been a campus-wide effort and has involved the engagement of major stakeholders, advisory and governance groups, faculty, instructional staff, learning technologists and other campus professionals.

Additional teaching and learning tools will be identified and prioritized, and eventually added to the student digital ecosystem (e.g., learning analytics, math-specific, and content authoring tools).

Assessment Tools

UW-Madison is implementing a suite of digital learning assessment tools for course and program assessment. Based on positive feedback from a pilot study and following an extensive RFP, UW-Madison has entered into a multi-year partnership with AEFIS LLC to provide a campus-wide digital course evaluation survey tool. During the pilot, sixty departments participated, using the tool in over 1,300 courses. Starting this fall, UW-Madison will begin transitioning to digital course evaluation surveys, with the goal of transitioning all academic departments and programs by the end of 2018. Subsequent phases of this effort will employ additional features of the AEFIS software to capture and process both indirect and direct measures of student learning. This tool, and potentially others, will integrate and align with other academic, curriculum and learning management systems.

Curriculum Management Tools

The Madison Academic Repository for Curriculum (MARC) is the foundational engine that will provide a single repository for curricular information and will eventually expand to streamlining course scheduling. Dashboards are being developed to enhance information accessibility and consistency for a variety of users. Faculty, curricular representatives and governance bodies will be able to update, track and approve functions related to courses and programs. An advisor gateway will provide a single, reliable source of academic information when advising students (advisors currently need to consider as many as a dozen separate sources of information), while a student dashboard will provide course search, enrollment and degree progress information.


The innovative aspect of this overall initiative is not the fact that these tools are being used, in and of themselves, within separate spheres, but rather that there will be integration and interoperability within and among the spheres. These tools and systems, and their integration, will replace paper and out-of-date, homegrown digital applications with anticipated savings in staff-time, and also user-time when retrieving information and tracking progress.