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Personalized Learning. Lifelong Victors.

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education & Innovation

The world is buzzing about the block M as we head into fall. Yes, Coach Harbaugh released his depth chart to the media on Monday and a well-documented bus is making its way to Utah. But it is another vehicle that has delivered knowledge to the world and it’s not painted khaki. A few things happened at DEI while the summer months rolled through. As many of our student-athletes take the field, we are poised for a new year committed to personalized learning and the creation of lifelong Victors.


Unlocking lifelong and engaged learning opportunities

We’ve now reached more than 3.25M lifelong learners through U-M MOOCs since first experimenting in 2012. 3.25M in 3 years. Between 1845 and 2014 Michigan conferred just north of 790K degrees. Apples, meet oranges. But still, it’s a really big number. How should we think about it? Well, if I were one of the many students currently arriving in Ann Arbor, I might be interested to know:

  • 15 of U-M’s 19 colleges and schools are engaged in MOOCs or digital learning initiatives that stem from MOOCs;
  • By the end of 2015, we will double our portfolio of MOOCs, offering more than 50 digital courses to global learners;
  • U-M MOOCs have reached learners in over 160 countries;
  • Courseware developed for MOOCs have been adapted to enhance residential learning opportunities available to all U-M students

These digital courses provide high quality learning experiences for global learners. Here in Ann Arbor, they are providing numerous benefits for U-M students. Extending from MOOCs, DEI is focusing on experiments that remove barriers to accessing the academic breadth and test and challenge assumptions about teaching and learning. High quality content is created and adapted for residential use. We are focused on how Michigan can use digital learning tools to best deliver education on campus and beyond. We’re amassing great content, enabling engaged learning, triggering challenging discussions about learning, and learning about students to anticipate the needs of U-M students and alumni while shaping the future of learning


Accelerating innovative teaching and learning and finding pathways to scale

Through our commitment to enable faculty led innovation, we are continuing to expand the size of the experimental sandbox. We are accelerating our digital course development on the Coursera platform and will launch 4 specializations in September in partnership faculty innovators from Michigan Ross and the School of Information (finance, leadership, programming, web design). Additionally, we are launching several other new MOOCs including Practical Learning Analytics (LSA), Finite Element Method for Problems in Physics (College of Engineering), Classical Music (Music, Theatre, and Dance), and Introduction to Natural Language Processing (School of Information), among many others.

We created a new partnership with NovoEd and are poised to launch our first digital course leveraging their social learning platform. In response to interest from DIAG (our U-M faculty advisory group), we invited Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, to deliver a public talk on campus in late September. We continue to test, explore and innovate by leveraging  the best of the higher education landscape as we shape the future of learning and redefine public residential education at a 21st century research university. Here are some ways we are unlocking new opportunities and enabling personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning for the U-M community and learners around the world:


Commitment to personalization at scale

As we extend U-M’s reach to all corners of the globe, we remain focused on residential learning. In just 18 months DEI has launched more than 50 initiatives. Many initiatives launched over the summer will test new approaches to enabling personalized and engaged learning on campus, including initiatives at LSA, the School of Kinesiology, the Law School, Michigan Ross, and several multi-school collaborations. These initiatives supported by the DEI Academic Innovation Fund are both scholarly and practical. View our new portfolio page to learn more about these initiatives.

We’ve also done some gardening. As one of three labs housed in DEI, the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) harvests educational software innovations from the University’s research community, works with their user communities to grow them to maturity, and establishes a pathway to scale through collaboration across U-M’s digital ecosystem. Great progress was made over the summer on DIG initiatives (ECoach, Student Explorer, ART 2.0, and GradeCraft) resulting in expanded user communities and new opportunities to design personalization at scale.  


U-M Students shape the future of learning

Along with faculty innovators, U-M students are a major catalyst for innovation in teaching and learning. Students engage with DEI as members of the Student Advisory Board; as User Experience, Software Development and Innovation Advocacy Fellows; on research projects with the LED Lab; as interns focused on digital media and production; through hackathon styled Design Jams; and in many other capacities. There are many ways for students to get involved with DEI.

Each fall in Ann Arbor offers a unique opportunity for renewal. We are thrilled to welcome faculty, students, and campus collaborators back to campus and look forward to more opportunities to delight learners across campus and around the world. Stay tuned in the weeks to come as DEI has several September announcements aimed to enhance residential learning at the intersection of digital learning and learning analytics.  


Check out this new promo video for the Leading People and Teams:


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