UT System partners with tech industry leader to develop next-generation learning platform

AUSTIN—The University of Texas System is developing a revolutionary technology learning platform — which includes an online marketplace of courses and credentials, real-time feedback and personalized support services  — bringing the benefits of a UT education to potential students across Texas and around the world.

UT System’s Institute for Transformational Learning will work with Salesforce, the world’s No. 1 customer relationship management company and the customer success platform, and Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce, to help establish the 2.0 version of TEx (Total Educational Experience). The Institute for Transformational Learning was established by the UT System Board of Regents to invest in and develop future models of education, leveraging new technologies and innovative programs to exponentially increase UT student success, access and affordability. The Institute has dubbed its portfolio of initiatives UTx.

Through the collaboration with Salesforce and Salesforce.org, UTx’s team, which includes instructional designers and technology experts, will develop software and digital tools that support students on their academic and professional journeys and increase student success, one of UT System’s nine Quantum Leaps.

“We are at the forefront of developing the next-generation model of higher education,” said Marni Baker Stein, Ph.D., chief innovation officer for UTx. “This new partnership will greatly enhance our efforts to deliver alternative and accelerated pathways to high quality education.”

TEx was initially introduced through a prototype program at UT Rio Grande Valley in August 2015. Highly personalized, TEx allows students to work at their own pace and offers meaningful feedback to them in real time. Faculty can monitor progress and are alerted when students are at risk of failure. Beyond fully online courses, TEx supports a wide range of innovative teaching methods in classrooms, laboratories and in the field that ultimately will provide richer and more accessible content for students while preserving the quality of a UT degree.

Besides creating an online marketplace for students, TEx 2.0 also will allow a student’s academic record to transfer from a traditional transcript into a validated, permanent ChainScript™ that can be kept by the individual learner. A ChainScript™ is built on block chain technology and contains a record of the learner’s academic and professional accomplishments across multiple institutions and experiences, building a portfolio that includes credits, competencies, micro-certificates, degrees and other records of achievement. 

“I truly believe UTx houses the most disruptive executive thought leaders in higher education,” said Vala Afshar, chief digital evangelist for Salesforce. “We are thrilled to partner with this innovative team to build a personalized learning platform.”

The development of TEx 2.0 begins immediately and will support programming initiatives as early as Fall 2017 at multiple UT institutions.

Stein and UTx’s Chief Digital Officer Phil Komarny will be interviewed by Salesforce Vice President for Strategic Research Peter Coffee at the upcoming Dreamforce conference Oct. 4-7.

“UTx is advancing innovative and sustainable models of education,” said UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven. “Our goal is to smooth the road for thousands of students to high-quality learning and a rewarding career.”

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 221,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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