A New Pathway for Academic Innovation and Pre-College Learners

Monica Miklosovic, Iteration Manager

Megan Taylor, Research Associate

Steve Welsh, Learning Experience Designer

The Office of Academic Innovation aims to broaden access to higher education by building new models for pre-college learning that are open, both in terms of easily accessible content for college preparation, and make pathways to higher education transparent to all populations. We value opportunities that challenge us to explore how we can continue to broaden the use of our digital tools and engagement in pursuit of this aim. This winter an opportunity arose for our office to partner with the Wolverine Pathways program to provide scholars in the program with a unique opportunity to engagement with the University of Michigan Teach-Out Series. This partnership with Wolverine Pathways was a great way for us to collaborate with curriculum designers in Michigan public schools to custom-tailor our Teach-Out curricula for younger learners.

Teach-Out Series

University of Michigan Teach-Out Series

Following the model of the Teach-In, which originated at the University of Michigan, Teach-Outs are brief but highly participatory online learning experiences designed to bring the public together to learn about, and discuss, current issues in society, such as health care, the opioid crisis, media literacy, and understanding extreme weather. As the Teach-Out Series approaches the culmination of its first year, Academic Innovation has launched our 10th Teach-Out with many more currently in design and production. Along the way, several groups, including public libraries and senior centers, have contacted our office seeking to adapt the Teach-Outs for face-to-face learning opportunities. We are continually striving to discover new ways to engage learners and open our courses and learning opportunities

Wolverine PathwaysWolverine Pathways

The University of Michigan’s Wolverine Pathways program is a free, year-round youth outreach program that partners with families and Michigan schools in Detroit, Southfield and Ypsilanti. Wolverine Pathways provides diverse learning experiences and leadership opportunities that support admitted students’ success in high school and prepare them for college and their future careers. Wolverine Pathway scholars who successfully complete the program, apply, and are admitted of the University of Michigan will receive a full, four-year tuition scholarship to the university.

In November 2017, Megan Taylor, a Research Associate in the Office of Academic Innovation, met with Dana Davidson, the Project Coordinator of Wolverine Pathways, to discuss and explore opportunities for the Office of Academic Innovation to partner with, and support, the Wolverine Pathways Program. In a series of exploratory meetings, Dana expressed she was looking for a unique and engaging curriculum for eighth and ninth grade students in their upcoming winter session. After initial discussions, we soon arrived at the idea of incorporating material from the Teach-Out Series, and adapting the curricula specifically for the needs and interests of the eighth and ninth grade Wolverine Pathway Scholars.

A Partnership for Pre-College Learners

In reviewing the series of Teach-Outs, both teams identified digital literacy as an important component of academic and social preparation among teens. American teens face daily choices about how they approach and engage with information, as well as their activity on social media. With this in mind, we identified the Fake News, Facts, and Alternative Facts and Privacy, Reputation, and Identity in a Digital Age Teach-Outs as ideal fits for the Wolverine Pathways students. Working with curriculum designers from Michigan public schools, we designed a plan to integrate the Teach-Outs into a curriculum that would fit the Wolverine Pathways environment and structure.

While Teach-Out content was originally designed for an online, global audience, the Wolverine Pathways team plan to use this content in a face-to-face classroom with an age-specific cohort. Rather than viewing videos on personal devices, the class might watch together on one screen. Instead of discussion taking place on a web forum, the conversation may be prompted and moderated in-person by a teacher. After consulting with the Wolverine Pathways curriculum designers, the Academic Innovation team created a repository of videos and new documentation for all text-based content so Teach-Out resources could be used in a flexible way by teachers interacting with students face-to-face.

The initial introduction of Teach-Out content to Wolverine Pathways teachers was well received, and both teams are excited to see how it will impact the students’ ability to gain digital literacy. Following the 2018 pilot, we hope to continue partnering with Wolverine Pathways to adopt future Teach-Outs for their students. By observing and evaluating the pilot curriculum, and building on our partnership with the Wolverine Pathways team, we hope to develop more learning opportunities to support Michigan public school programs and pre-college learners.

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