Partnership addresses need for skilled learning experience designers


A new collaboration at the University of Michigan seeks to address a demand for people who can create learning experiences that are focused on the evolving ways people learn.

The Center for Academic Innovation and School of Education have partnered to offer graduate students a Learning Experience Design Certificate Program.

As modes for teaching and learning continue to evolve — in part due to the influence of technology — the demand for skilled learning experience designers has grown.

Combining School of Education courses on learning theory, curriculum design, multimodal literacies, evaluation and research design with authentic design opportunities at the Center for Academic Innovation, students will gain foundational knowledge and experience to design innovative and engaging educational experiences in online and on-campus contexts.

Instructors and students in the Learning Experience Design certificate course participate in a discussion.
Instructors and students in the Learning Experience Design certificate course participate in a discussion. (Photo by Samantha Sieren, Center for Academic Innovation)

“The U-M School of Education is pleased to partner with the Center for Academic Innovation to ensure that designers of innovative academic tools understand — and design for — how people learn,” said Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the School of Education and the George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor.

“In supporting learner-centered design, Michigan Education faculty members are especially pleased to bring our expertise in developing learning tools that advance diversity, inclusion, justice and equity to a broad array of teachers and learners.”

Learning experience designers draw from expertise in design, technology and theories of teaching and learning to create experiences that are engaging, innovative and transformative, with their focus squarely on learners and their educational needs and goals. This expertise allows learning experience designers to create a wide range of learning approaches that support and address the diverse educational needs of people in multiple settings, such as universities, companies and the home.

A July 2018 report by the Online Learning Consortium points to the increased demand for instructional and learning experience designers in higher education institutions as faculty translate their face-to-face classrooms for online instruction. According to the report, these designers play a pivotal role to help faculty navigate this transition.

The Gates Foundation estimates more than 13,000 instructional designers are currently working in the U.S. with nearly 89,000 open positions globally.

Graduates of this certificate will prepare for new roles within universities and chief learning offices in educational technology companies and other corporations.

The 12-credit-hour certificate can be earned by all master’s and doctoral students across U-M’s schools and colleges. 

As part of the campus-based program, students will complete a two-semester long course, which includes 180 hours of experiential learning at the Center for Academic Innovation. Students will be immersed in a lab environment that is positioned at the cutting-edge of design and applied research. During their residency, students will work collaboratively to design, analyze and implement innovative learning experiences and tools.

“Center for Academic Innovation Learning Experience Designers bring to the program a deep theoretical knowledge and a wealth of practical experience working with faculty to design world class learning experiences,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation and founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation.

“We are excited to develop the next generation of educational design professionals through this new partnership with the School of Education and its world class faculty.”

Students will work alongside design mentors, media specialists and faculty to create real-world, authentic and engaging experiences for learners around the world, culminating in the development of a portfolio with examples of each student’s contributions to learning design across a range of projects.


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