U-M launches first three XSeries programs on edX platform


The University of Michigan is launching three new certificate programs on the online edX platform that are designed to help global lifelong learners keep pace with their careers and prepare for the rigor of academic programs at the university.

The three series, which are 15 courses in total, are the User Experience Research XSeries, the User Experience Design XSeries, and the Corporate Financial Analysis XSeries.

The launch of these XSeries Programs marks the next phase of U-M’s edX partnership, which began in October 2015. In March, U-M announced its first four massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the edX platform. The audience for U-M’s programs already exceeds 4 million.

Human-computer interaction is a rapidly growing field that addresses human needs with technology. Learners in the UX Research X-Series will learn skills to conduct research to understand these needs, and those in the UX Design XSeries will understand principles of design in order to create prototypes that delight users.

The corporate finance XSeries focuses on quantitative and analytical aspects of finance. Learners will understand the building blocks of finance, human behavior and how to make sound financial decisions and structure sustainable deals.

 “Leaders at many of our schools like the U-M School of Information and the Ross School of Business have seen the potential in pursuing mission-aligned innovations and are proactively identifying new opportunities to transform higher education,” said Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Leaders say each MichiganX XSeries Program, developed within the Office of Digital Education & Innovation, will engage learners in flexible, outcome-based sequences that equip them with tools to harness data and conduct sophisticated analyses.

 “This marks another important step in Michigan’s long history of innovation and experimentation in the academic space,” said James Hilton, dean of libraries and vice provost for digital education and innovation. “These sequences will allow us to deepen our engagements with lifelong and global learners while also helping us improve and differentiate our residential programs.”

The XSeries was created by edX to allow learners to “develop a deep understanding of exciting and in-demand fields.”

 “We are honored to deliver University of Michigan’s high-quality education to our seven million global learners,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor. “These XSeries Programs meet the growing demand for education in the fields of UX and finance, and provide learners with meaningful and actionable knowledge to enrich their lives and accelerate their careers.”

The series also will move DEI toward its goal to transform 200 courses by the end of its bicentennial year in 2017, including the launch of nearly 100 MOOCs by December 2016. U-M faculty will explore new opportunities for digital and academic innovation this week in Ann Arbor at the U-M edX Workshop.

“As many of the constraints imposed by time and space erode, we are building bridges to share the vast resources of U-M with learners around the world while simultaneously leveraging our global reach to enrich the learning experiences of our students in Ann Arbor,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for digital education and innovation. “We see elegance in the design of these offerings as we strike a balance between openness, innovation, and inclusivity.”

 Mark Newman, associate professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science, developed the User Experience Design XSeries and User Experience Research XSeries. The courses equip learners with the skillset, knowledge base and tools to leverage creativity to research and understand user needs, in order to design products that users love.

“UMSI is harnessing the transformational potential of digital and blended learning to equip global learners to understand and solve complex issues that lie at the intersection of people, information and technology,” said Thomas Finholt, professor of information and dean, School of Information.

Gautam Kaul, the Fred M. Taylor Professor of Business Administration and professor of finance; Amiyatosh Purnanandam, professor of finance; and Qin Lei, lecturer II, developed the Corporate Finance Analysis XSeries to provide an essential toolkit on project evaluation, risk assessment, financial markets and corporate financial policy.

“This X-Series builds upon what I’ve learned from the past several years of MOOC experimentation with global learners,” Kaul said. “Through these courses, I look forward to helping learners use finance and analytical thinking to enhance decision making in our increasingly complex world, and providing a natural bridge for learners interested in pursuing higher education at our great university.”


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