The Center for Academic Innovation has spent years working with faculty partners to develop transformative educational technology tools for residential students and lifelong learners. Now, with a robust portfolio of 12 pieces of learning software, the center is offering adoption funds to invite a wide variety of faculty to utilize an ed tech tool from the portfolio.
The adoption and implementation awards are available through the center’s Academic Innovation Fund for the following tools: role-playing simulation software ViewPoint, gameful learning platform GradeCraft, the Problem Roulette exam prep and studying tool, and LetterSmith, a tool that provides structured guidance to improve user’s writing skills.
“We want to remove as many barriers to entry as possible for faculty who want to adopt our tools. Sometimes the biggest barriers are lack of financial support or the difficulty finding the time needed to rethink course delivery,” said Holly Derry, associate director of behavioral science at the center.
Accepted proposals are eligible for up to $5,000 to offset implementation costs and access to the center’s technical, pedagogical and behavioral science experts.
The funding could be used for hourly wages for students to assist with implementation, material costs to support pedagogical design, or other associated costs.
“We work with faculty in a variety of ways. We have gameful pedagogy experts to help people re-imagine their courses in GradeCraft. We have technical experts and content managers who’ll help clean up Problem Roulette content,” Derry said. “Our goal is to expand the reach of our tools, so we’ll do whatever we can to minimize the adoption burden on faculty.”
A big motivator in engaging more faculty and staff about tool adoption is that every new unit and use case provides the educational technology team an opportunity to see each tool with fresh eyes.
“In the first round of this grant project, we received applications from people all over the University of Michigan who are not traditional users of our portfolio,” said James Alexander, senior software ambassador at the center. “Many proposals conceive ways of using tools we have never previously considered.
“We are funding a foreign language instructor who has conceived a way to use ViewPoint that we had never considered before. I can’t wait to see what we learn once they use our simulation software in this way.”
Alexander said the adoption funding program launched in June and is finalizing its first round of awards. In addition to the foreign language program, awards will go to programs including funding for dentistry, an oceanography course, a faculty development program and more.
The deadline for the latest round of proposals is Aug. 1. Alexander said the team wanted to make the application process as straightforward as possible. It features seven questions and asks for brief details on the educational technology tool of interest, context around planned use, potential challenges, a timeline, and ideas on what costs could be offset via funding.
“The faculty we’ve been fortunate to work with so far have been amazing partners in utilizing and shaping our portfolio, and the tools are making real differences in the classroom,” Alexander said. “I look forward to engaging with even more faculty to learn how these tools can benefit both themselves as instructors and their students.”