What is the Academic Innovation Fund?

Established in 2014, the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) gives the University of Michigan community access to financial and in-kind support from the Center for Academic Innovation (CAI). The Center stewards the AIF with the goal of facilitating the creation, growth, and research of engaged and inclusive educational experiences.

Purpose

The AIF helps our partners build new technology, develop engaging and interdisciplinary content, design more flexible and personalized learning experiences informed by data, and host events and communities that bring thought leaders together. We develop projects that

    • extend academic excellence, 
    • expand the University of Michigan’s public purpose, and 
    • foster equity and inclusivity in higher education.

Rolling Proposals

Proposals to the Academic Innovation Fund are accepted on a rolling basis. The proposal process begins with a consultation about the problem you are trying to solve, after which projects that are aligned with the goals and mission of the CAI are invited to submit a formal proposal. The criteria by which proposals are evaluated include: 

    • contribution to the culture of innovation in learning on campus
    • type and scale of problem being addressed 
    • degree of innovation proposed
    • alignment with campus priorities and initiatives
    • support for equity and inclusivity in higher education

Current Priorities

  • Diversifying the disciplinary mix of offerings in our online learning experiences
  • Integrating online content and innovative technologies into the residential learning experience.
  • Experimenting with translating high-touch teaching practices, like apprenticeships and learning communities, into online learning experiences
  • Exploring new models for alumni learning
  • Creating new learning experiences and educational models that support learners’ skill acquisition, accounting for the shifts in the nature of work
  • Increasing access to and affordability of higher education
  • Creating conversations and opportunities for learning and knowledge exchange between U-M scholars and community experts
  • Exploring opportunities for students to become creators of learning experiences

Get Started

To begin the proposal process for the rolling AIF, please use the “Setup a Consultation” form below to tell us a little bit about the problem you are trying to solve. Within a week of receiving your request, a CAI staff member will reach out to schedule a consultation. If you are interested in applying to one of the open calls for proposals, please follow the procedures outlined below.

Open Call for Proposals

Overview

Join the Center for Academic Innovation as we work to remove barriers of access to exceptional U-M learning experiences and to consider new approaches to engaging with learners at different stages of life and career. We invite academic units to submit proposals to partner with us to develop a fully online or hybrid degree program that is part of degree program portfolio. Strong proposals will identify opportunities where the degree program can be combined with open content to create a variety of pathways for learners to engage as part of the Michigan community. We encourage academic units to embrace strategic rebundling of content and the creation of program portfolios that leverage our strengths in graduate education so we can explore new opportunities and new modes of learning and engagement. Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 3, 2021; academic units will have additional opportunities to propose a program in the spring-summer term.

Details

As the University of Michigan broadens our efforts to develop and deliver online and hybrid degrees, there exists a unique opportunity to shape the future of higher education by leading online education into new pathways that meet the needs of a diverse population of lifelong learners. We invite academic units to work with the Center for Academic Innovation as we work to remove barriers of access to exceptional U-M learning experiences and to consider new approaches to engaging with learners at different stages of life and career.

We encourage academic units to explore opportunities to strategically rebundle content to create online program portfolios. The portfolio approach combines degree programs with open learning experiences—such as massive open online courses, a MicroMasters program, or a MasterTrack certificate—to create a variety of pathways for learners to engage as part of the Michigan community. Online program portfolios leverage our institutional and academic unit strengths to explore new opportunities and new modes of interdisciplinary learning and engagement, providing innovative learning experiences of various durations, commitment level, and depth of study. This approach is key to our institutional mission of making high quality learning experiences that promote multidisciplinary problem solving and diversity, equity and inclusion while being affordable, accessible at scale, and available for global and lifelong learners.

Criteria

Academic units should take the following criteria into consideration. These criteria will be used to evaluate and prioritize the use of seed funding for new and exemplary online and hybrid programs.

Strong proposals will: 

  • Further establish U-Ms position as a leading institution shaping the future of learning and the future of higher education;
  • Show clear alignment with institutional priorities around multidisciplinary problem solving; global and lifelong learning; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and access and affordability;
  • Embrace strategic rebundling and the creation of program portfolios that leverage our strengths in graduate education so we can explore new opportunities and new modes of learning and engagement;
  • Demonstrate pathways to financial sustainability and innovative business models relative to a rapidly changing market landscape;
  • Consider opportunities to leverage optimal centralization/decentralization of capacity in order to ensure excellence and sustainability at the program, portfolio, and institutional level 
  • Increase our ability to make high quality learning experiences accessible at scale and available for global and lifelong learners; 
  • Address unmet learner/market needs through innovative pedagogy and novel curricular design and student experiences;
  • Demonstrate clear alignment with academic-unit level strategy and reflect areas of existing or emerging strength;
  • Demonstrate clear commitment and readiness of academic unit leadership, faculty, and other key contributors.

Timeline

  • Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis until May 3, 2021; academic units will have additional opportunities to propose a program in the spring-summer term.

Proposal Requirements

  • Eligibility: All academic units are eligible to submit a proposal.
  • Special Considerations for OHP Proposals:
    • Online and Hybrid Program proposals must be accompanied by a letter of support by the proposing School/College’s dean. 
    • It is strongly recommended that academic units consult with staff in the Center for Academic Innovation prior to submitting a proposal. 

Preparing your Proposal

Step 1: Request a consultation with Academic Innovation team members by completing the request form at the bottom of the page here.

Step 2: Complete as much of the OHP proposal form as you can.

Step 3: Meet with Academic Innovation team members to discuss your program/portfolio concept and the draft of your proposal. 

Step 4: Submit your final proposal via email to aif-proposals@umich.edu with the subject line “Online and Hybrid Programs Call”

Proposal Form: Online and Hybrid Program Proposal Form

Overview

Join the Center for Academic Innovation as we work to create, preserve, and open access to the University of Michigan’s diverse wealth of knowledge and expertise.  Through our faculty partnerships and the development of open online content, we help millions learn new skills and competencies, highlight and amplify emerging research and ideas, and develop new pedagogies and practices at-scale.  We invite faculty to submit proposals to partner with us and develop Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on a wide range of topics and interest areas, as well as MOOC specializations that provide more intensive, real-world professional skill-building. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis.

Details

The Center for Academic Innovation is charged with creating a culture of innovation in teaching and learning in support of the University’s mission to serve the people of Michigan and the world.  By creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge, art, and purpose-driven academic values, we hope to develop leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and create a better future by partnering with incredible faculty and experts across the University. 

Our faculty partnerships provide opportunities for experimentation at scales unachievable by traditional means, creating space for faculty to develop new pedagogies, conduct research, reach audiences, and develop tested strategies and resources that further enrich their residential courses.  They are able to engage in the generative, challenging, supported construction of world-class online learning experiences in close collaboration with the Center for Academic Innovation’s learning and technology experts.

Over the last 6 years, the Center for Academic Innovation and our faculty partners have developed a broad portfolio of over 200 learning experiences across the 19 schools and colleges.  These MOOCs, series, and other initiatives highlight some of the incredible expertise here at the University, provide Michigan students with supplemental and exploratory learning opportunities, further position faculty and schools as leaders in their fields, re-engage alumni as lifelong learners, and help a global community of over 6.2 million learners on-ramp into disciplinary programs, level-up existing skills, and dive deeper into key areas of interest.

However, there is still more to teach, more to learn, and more of the breadth and depth of the University community’s expertise to showcase and connect.  Learners everywhere are looking to develop new skills, master new competencies, and better understand the world around them. To that end, we would like to invite faculty to submit proposals aimed at highlighting complex and growing areas of academic excellence at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.  Come help us celebrate, support, and make accessible the diversity of scholarship, knowledge, and experience of our institution.

Proposals should fit one of two tracks:

  1. MOOCs (single courses) that provide professional or personal development in key skill areas that appeal to a broad global audience.  Some example topics include, but are not limited to: communication, storytelling, foundational academic courses, personal health, design, research, consulting, people management, creativity, persuasion, collaboration, time management, adaptability,world-building, family care, civic engagement, etc.
  2. MOOC Specializations: A series of 3-6 MOOCs intentionally designed together to build professional skills for real-world applications, focusing current high-demand areas that include but are not limited to mobility, poverty solutions, health professions, urban development, policy, analytics, data visualization, product management, artificial intelligence, etc.  

Proposal Requirements

  • Eligibility: Faculty Status Policy
  • Policy: CAI Open Learning Experience Revenue Share Policy
  • Special Considerations for MOOC Proposals:
    • Proposals for the creation of new Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) must be submitted by a faculty member.
    • MOOC proposals must be submitted to the appropriate administrator in the lead faculty member’s School/College prior to submitting to Academic Innovation. 

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis.

Overview

The Center for Academic Innovation invites University of Michigan (U-M) faculty and students to apply for a “Quick Win” research grant to support small-scale projects on special topics in the areas of higher education and academic innovation. Proposals should consider how the focus of the work aligns with Academic Innovation (AI) initiatives and key priorities, and discuss how outcomes will complement ongoing work at AI.

Details

Excellent proposals will: describe how the proposed research project fits the call topic, include clear research questions, outline the data sources and methodologies to be used, and highlight how this work can impact teaching and learning. With the goal of growing the academic innovation community, applications from those who have not yet collaborated with AI will be prioritized for support.

Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Typically funding is capped at $5000. Requests for larger amounts of support should consider applying to our Academic Innovation Fund.

Topics:

We have organized the call into four tracks, and we encourage you to consider which one might be best suited to the idea or topic you want to pursue through the grant:

    • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in learning environments
    • Supporting communities in informal and/or formal learning environments
    • Hybrid learning
    • XR

The call is organized by theme to support resource sharing among grantees and to allow for thematic presentations of research outcomes. These are the four current tracks, but we look forward to considering new tracks in the future and welcome suggestions.

Application Process

Please review the application form and submit it by one of the three deadlines. Notices regarding status will be sent out no more than four weeks after the proposal deadline.

For more information please contact Caitlin Holman (cholma@umich.edu)

FAQ:

What are examples of types of projects that would be well-suited for a “Quick Win” grant?

    • Pilot studies of implementing new technology or pedagogy in the classroom
    • Experiments or approaches you’ve tried out in your classroom, but have not yet had a chance to study
    • Secondary analysis of an educational dataset

What can this funding be used for?

    • Paying hourly wages for students/contractors
    • Transcription services
    • Software fees
    • Open access fees
    • Stock photography

Conference attendance/travel is not supported at this time. Please ask if you have questions regarding what this money can be used for.

Can this funding be tied to other grants?

Yes! In that instance, please make sure to highlight what about this funding request makes it fit as a Quick Win grant. For instance, is it new work that is coming out of previously-funded work? Is this grant intended to kick off work and then lead to additional funding? We’d love to support that kind of work.

What do I need to produce as a report on this work?

We would like to receive a final version of any publications or presentations you produce via this funding. We also understand that while many of the things explored with this funding may not be quite ready for publication, we would very much like to learn from the work you have done. With that goal in mind, we ask that all projects share a 3-4 page summary of work, describing what work was done, what was discovered, what you see as next steps for this work, and any challenges faced to enable us to support others better in doing this work. Ideally this document would be shared with AI within 2 months following the conclusion of the work, but no later than one year after the grant award.

In addition, we invite you to contribute to knowledge sharing and institutional learning in one or more of the following ways:

    • Give an Academic Innovation at Michigan Research presentation (public talk to the U-M community)
    • Promote the work with a blog post on the AI blog describing the work done and initial findings
    • Come discuss your work with AI staff over a Research Brown Bag meeting (casual lunch talk)
    • Join the staff of AI for an “Innovation Hour” (internal to AI talk, potential to be more casual or more formal)

We’d love to brainstorm other ways for you to share your work back with us – and are happy to customize as appropriate for the work. 

Setup a Consultation

To begin the proposal process for the general Academic Innovation Fund, please use the form below to tell us a little bit about the problem you are trying to solve. Within a week of receiving your request, a CAI staff member will reach out to schedule a consultation. If you are interested in applying to one of the themed calls for proposals, please follow the procedures outlined on the page for that call.

    Academic Innovation Fund

    Designing the future of learning with the University of Michigan Community

    2014

    Established in 2014, the AIF enables the Center for Academic Innovation to provide financial and in-kind support for the purpose of growing a culture of innovation on campus

    175

    Initiatives across all 19 Schools & Colleges have been developed leveraging the AIF. Collectively, these have reached 90% of current U-M undergraduates, and nearly 4 million global learners.