Showcase Brings People Together to Celebrate Accomplishments of Student Fellows

Marissa Reid (at podium), congratulates the Student Fellows in attendance at the sixth annual Center for Academic Innovation Student Showcase.

Students outline their accomplishments in extended reality, design management, partnership development and more at sixth annual Student Showcase 

Sean Corp, Content Strategist 

There could be no more fitting event to get dozens of members of the Center for Academic Innovation together in person for the first time in more than two years than the 2022 Student Showcase. 

The annual event, in its sixth year, was held in person at the Michigan Union after hosting the last two virtually over Zoom. The Student Showcase is an opportunity for the center’s Student Fellows, who work in a variety of capacities including software development, design management, copyright, extended reality production and public engagement, to share what they’ve learned and their successes as a fellow during their time at the center. 

This year also provided an opportunity for connection, reflection and socializing that was much appreciated by everyone in attendance. And, of course, the accomplishments of the fellows shared during the showcase did not disappoint. 

Pridarshini Gouthi
Pridarshini Gouthi

“As we emerge out of the pandemic which has undeniably changed the way we live, the way we interact and the way we work, we realized there have been needs that have become more prominent in terms of learning gaps and skills learners are looking for,” said Pridarshini Gouthi, a partnership development student fellow. 

Gouthi, a senior pursuing dual degrees in business and psychology at the University of Michigan, detailed her work in understanding the kinds of content learners were seeking out, and ways to attract new partners to work with the center on course content. 

She worked with the partnership team on the importance of diversification – including more diverse audiences taking courses, content within courses and collaborators contributing to courses. 

Our Student Fellow do amazing work to drive innovation at the university, and they help enrich the experience of learners around the world. They are truly an inspiration.

James Devaney, founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation

Gouthi also conducted a competitive analysis of how other industries and institutions approach online learning and came away enthused about the future of online learning and CAI’s role within the space.

“The sky is the limit, online learning doesn’t have to be just MOOCs or traditional courses. It can also take so many different forms, and that is kind of amazing,” Gouthi said. 

Gouthi was one of a dozen presentations put on by the center’s Student Fellows, and the breadth of the work and insight from the students make it one of James DeVaney’s favorite days on the calendar every year. 

“Our Student Fellows do amazing work to drive innovation at the university, and they help enrich the experience of learners around the world,” said DeVaney, the founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation. “They are truly an inspiration.” 

Melissa McCurry
Jessica Browning

Highlights from the day include Melissa McCurry and Jessica Browning who detailed their experiences working on behalf of Teach-Outs at the center.

Teach-Outs are interactive online learning events on topics important to society, and it is currently celebrating its five year anniversary. That anniversary provided both McCurry and Browning a chance to conduct research into the teaching model and help contribute plans to its future success. 

McCurry, outlined research she conducted speaking to Teach-Out learners on how to advance the model including incorporating more international perspectives and local community voices and first-hand accounts of communities covered in Teach-Outs. 

Browning, who recently left a career in stage management to shift into a career in educational technology worked closely on the operations side of Teach-Outs including monitoring discussion forums and increasing engagement among learners.

Browning also got to interview learners from all over the world to collect feedback on their experience, and it left her more confident than ever in her choice to switch careers. 

The importance of thinking about your audience, thinking about the diversity of learners all over the world with a variety of backgrounds, and working with CAI has given me a lot of confidence in my career change,” Browning said. 

Evan Chavez

Evan Chavez is another student fellow who went back to school to change careers. After teaching third grade at a school in the Navajo nation of New Mexico, the same school he was taught at growing up, Chavez wanted to focus on educational design. 

“I was fixated on the word design. How does design get translated in education?,” Chavez said. “A common misconception of design is that it is simply a process to make things pretty. Rather, it is a comprehensive way to guide, organize and work our ideas into a concrete solution.” 

He was able to work on creating the Future of Teaching Collection on Michigan Online. Collections are short-form learning opportunities on a variety of topics, and Chavez was responsible for building the Decolonization in Education playlist, which focused on learning material that challenged the outdated notions of teaching. 

Evan Chavez presentation at the Center for Academic Innovation Student Showcase.

A vital and often overlooked aspect of creating online learning opportunities at the Center for Academic Innovation is the role of copyright review, and two copyright student fellows, Corinne Fombelle and Taylor Faires, shed light on some common misconceptions about copyright.

Taylor Faires
Corinne Fombelle

“Copyright law is often mentioned, but rarely understood,” Fombelle said.

They detailed what falls under copyright and into fair use and that it’s always a little more complicated than it may seem. 

If your cat somehow uses you phone to take a selfie, Fombelle outlined, neither your cat nor yourself actually owns the copyright on the photo. And if you create something, even if it’s awful, it can be copyrighted. 
It can be bad art and it will still be protected,” she said.

Members of the Extended Reality (XR) Initiative also detailed their work from both an audio and visual perspective. 

Jackson Roth

Jackson Roth, an XR Audio Fellow, detailed his work in immersive audio and how important it was in people being able to adapt to and enjoy a virtual reality experience. Roth showed how he created audio sources within the virtual Ford Nuclear Reactor, a digital teaching space for students, and how the sound traveled through the environments. 

“You only hear these if you’re standing next to them, but they all build up to crate an immersive soundscape,” Roth said. 

Just as important was creating an environment that felt real, lived in, and in the words of Raymond Majewski, a 3D artist on the extended reality team, how grimey something felt. 

Having recently made such a big career change, working as a fellow at CAI has allowed me to explore different career options within the world of educational technology and see the impact that different technologies have on learners,” Browning said. “I’m now more excited than ever to be on this new career path.

Jessica Browning

He outlined how he used archival images, and official floor plans to build out the reactor and fill it with authentic objects including specific manuals on tables, specific models of desks from the 1970s, floor plans taped to the walls and chalk smeared on chalkboards. 

“Immersion is about understanding these objects and building up a story so that when you step inside you feel a part of a scene.”

As the talks concluded, the student fellows in attendance were applauded for their efforts and the graduating seniors given gift bags to thank them for their work at the center and congratulate them as they take the next step in their career. 

The personal relationships between student fellows and their supervisors, and the focus on preparing fellows for post-graduation life was a topic of conversation in the presentations and afterwards. 

“Having recently made such a big career change, working as a fellow at CAI has allowed me to explore different career options within the world of educational technology and see the impact that different technologies have on learners,” Browning said. “I’m now more excited than ever to be on this new career path.” 

Student Showcase 2022

Watch all the presentations from the Center for Academic Innovation Student Showcase. Learn about media design, software development, XR audio and video, Teach-Outs, copyright rules, and more!

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