Summit to celebrate year of Academic Innovation successes


Academic innovation at the University of Michigan is growing rapidly, and faculty who have yet to get involved have an opportunity this fall to hear about new developments and take the plunge, leaders of the campus initiative say.

A summit to celebrate one year since President Mark Schlissel announced the Academic Innovation Initiative will be from 9 a.m-5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Michigan League.

It will provide opportunities for faculty, students, staff and alumni to explore the future of education on campus and beyond, and highlight academic innovation activities that have taken place this past year and opportunities for the future.

The event will examine how teaching and learning can be enhanced by access to digital content, unprecedented opportunities for connection, and by an explosion of data about learners, educators and their interactions.

Over the last year, new and expanded projects and programs have put more digital tools and data into the hands of people in and outside of the university, and exposed more online learners to full courses and to information on timely topics.

“Our community has answered the call and embraced a new model for design and academic R&D in order to answer some of the most important problems in higher education,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation. “The progress is inspiring and the magnitude of new opportunities uncovered is breathtaking. There is much more to come as we seek to realize our potential as an engine for innovation.”

Among the new projects has been the successful Teach-Out Series, launched in March. Teach-outs, much like the teach-ins developed at U-M in the 1960s, are education programs that tackle topics of current interest and importance.

Developed within the Digital Education and Innovation Lab within the Office of Academic Innovation, the first four sessions brought learners from across the world to discuss authoritarian rule, fake news, the affordable care act, and communicating the importance of science.

With a second set of teach-outs expected to be offered in October and November, leaders are now calling for a third round of proposals, with a deadline of Sept. 27.

Each faculty team can request up to $5,000 to cover expenses of the project. Teach-outs typically involve a weeklong community learning event providing two to four hours of content, interaction with a diverse global community and faculty experts, and opportunities to put new knowledge into action.

Teach-outs add to a robust online learning portfolio that has surpassed 6 million engagements with U-M content. Since 2012, learners from across the world have taken part in more than 100 massive open online courses and three micromasters programs in education, social work and information.

In addition, a number of tools that began with a faculty idea also are in various stages of development in the Digital Innovation Greenhouse in the Office of Academic Innovation. Some are now being utilized outside of U-M, and others are just getting under way.

learn about

• An Intend to Attend initiative funded by an MCubed grant plans to use digital tools to create college preparation programming for high school students, beginning as early as their first year and designed for use throughout high school no matter what entry point.

The preliminary design of the project is exploring how to offer high school students a wide array of college-going learning opportunities, a richly tailored electronic coaching system, and a four-year gameful college preparation environment. Intend to Attend is led by professors Mika Lavaque-Manty, Tim McKay, and Joanna Millunchick.

• The gameful instruction tool known as GradeCraft became available earlier this year to K-12 schools and universities. This learning strategy encourages students to take risks as they make choices about how to progress through a course, choosing assignments they find challenging. The software not only guides them through those choices but also helps them understand how to build to the grade that they want. It has been used by more than 10,000 students from more than 30 institutions.

• The personalized education tool known as eCoach is in its second year helping all incoming students at the university transition to college, has expanded to nine course coaches in large classes like Physics 140 and Biology 171 and is being piloted outside of U-M for the first time. This robust tool offers personalized feedback, encouragement and advice as students make their way through courses and the university, and has been used to support nearly 18,000 students at U-M.

• ART 2.0 was used for a second year to help students with the registration process by providing reliable data on more than 11,000 courses. The database and visualization tool gives students information about enrollment in classes before, during and after the course and, in many instances, student evaluation of teaching data.


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