February 27, 2015
"I will not try to teach anything that can't be Googled."
"I look forward to seeing where it's going to go."
These were among the comments from eight faculty members and graduate students who were asked to summarize in eight minutes each of the projects and courses they have created in digital spaces.
Faculty from five schools and colleges shared their insights during one of three back-to-back sessions featuring updates on initiatives enabled by the Office of Digital Education and Innovation.
The sessions were part of the Teaching and Technology Collaborative (Teach Tech) e-Merge mini-conference. Teach Tech hosts the annual Enriching Scholarship series each May. The other two sessions Thursday were on the Digital Innovation Greenhouse and ePortfolios and digital badges.
The faculty offered participants some of what they have learned and what they still hope to figure out, as they continue to develop and refine courses and program strategies using learning analytics, personalization, gameful learning, digital badges and online learning.
In a talk about the massive open online course she has offered to help medical professionals learn how to teach, Dr. Caren Stalburg, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, offered some advice to those attending the Faculty Lightening Talks session: "Play in fun spaces and break things, because it's cool."
Stalburg's course is popular across the world with health professionals whose training doesn't usually incorporate much on how to teach the medical students that rely on them for important training.
As she has tracked her course over the five times it has been offered and received feedback about it, one thing Stalburg learned is that the elements have been used beyond her MOOC, and she's happy about that as an advocate of open educational resources.
"Because mine is online, people are taking my videos and mashing them up for their own use," she said.
Having the tools and techniques derived from these innovative approaches used by a larger audience is the point, faculty members say.
While MOOCs have served a global audience from the start and are now finding their way back to the residential campus, many of the other projects started as a way to reach U-M students in individual courses.
Some, like Tim McKay's E2Coach, began as a physics effort, then expanded to other STEM courses, and now will be scaled for use across the university and perhaps beyond.
E2Coach and two other projects, Student Explorer and ART 2.0, will become the first to be developed in the DEI Digital Innovation Greenhouse. DIG, supported by a Third Century Initiative grant and funding from LSA and the Learning Analytics Task Force, will take educational software that shows promise for greater use and grow it for widespread adoption.
"Our goal will be to hand off to U-M IT tools that can be supported at scale," McKay said during the session called Digital Innovation Greenhouse: Growing Digital Innovations around Personalized Education. "We would love to see some of the tools turn into things that go out into the world."
E2Coach provides tailored, personalized feedback to students on how they are doing in courses and what they can do to improve. Student Explorer is a system designed to support academic advisors' interventions for students at risk of academic jeopardy. ART 2.0, which stands for Academic Report Tool, is the second iteration of a program that uses data to establish patterns and trends in enrollment, grade history, student advising and other measures.
The three programs are the first to be developed at DIG but are not expected to be the last, McKay said, noting the university's track record of innovation.
Another project featured in the session that has grown over the three years of development is GradeCraft. School of Information doctoral candidate Caitlin Holman said the program was built on the observation that students were not always engaged in learning, yet they could spend hours navigating complex video games.
Led by Barry Fishman, professor of information and education, the team identified 36 components that could explain what made a game good. She explained two of them to the session participants: multiple routes and safe failure.
"We give them the opportunity to try something and be really bad at it." Holman said. "We want students to be able to experiment and try things."
The three-year project began with 12 courses and now is incorporated into 14, with 1,400 students.
George Siedel, Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration, just finished his MOOC on successful negotiation, with enrollment of 59,000 from 198 countries.
He said teaching online was a "big challenge," but "incredibly gratifying."
Siedel was struck by the immediate feedback he received, telling the group about three notes from participants telling him his advice in the course had saved them $4 million and $1 million, and resulted in a deal closed for $2.5 million.
Guantam Kaul, Fred M. Taylor Professor of Business at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, said teaching his finance MOOC has "shaken me up." He is the presenter who said he does not want to teach anything that won't show up on a Google search.
"I have set a high bar for myself," Kaul said.
The third session addressed ePortfolios and digital badges, two separate programs that have much commonality, which has resulted in a unique collaboration. ePortfolios allow students to highlight their education and experiences digitally.
Digital badges are being used increasingly to showcase skill building, a way to move away from GPA as the major measure of student success, said session co-leader Carrie Luke, instructional learning specialist at the U-M Library.