UM Center for Academic Innovation Logo

Tailoring Online Learning Experiences to Meet the Needs of Organizational Partners 

Sean Corp, Content Strategist 

More than 100 University of Michigan alumni from around the world joined to discuss creating cultures of meaning and purpose in the workplace in an exclusive online course and workshop. The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan partnered with the Center for Academic Innovation to offer a special session of Michigan Online’s Purpose at Work: A Course for Employees and Leaders online course to U-M alums and their friends this Fall, including an exclusive online workshop session with course instructor Vic Strecher, professor of health behavior and health education at the School of Public Health.

The partnership is the latest example of the center’s focus on working with organizations to offer unique learning experiences that enhance and deepen understanding and skill development for an organization’s members. Enhancements build on open online courses with elements such as private live online workshops, as experienced in the Purpose at Work opportunity with Professor Strecher. It could also include unique interfaces and assessments that guide learners through a sequence of courses geared at improving specific job skills, enhanced learner analytics for organizations, or customized learning content uniquely tailored for a group learning experience.

“Delivering powerful University of Michigan learning experiences developed by the center and expert faculty members like Professor Strecher is rewarding in itself,” said Sarah Dysart, senior director of online learning at CAI. “Knowing that we were serving Michigan alumni and friends makes this especially fulfilling.”

Bringing The Best of U-M to Michigan and Beyond

The center’s portfolio of learning experiences is available globally with 250 courses and more than 18 million enrollments on partner platforms like Coursera and edX. Organizational partners are often excited about the opportunity to engage with these courses, but they also often have specific goals and needs unique to their members, said Dysart. Those needs are often best served through enhancements that create a more tailored learning opportunity. 

That is why the center is ramping up efforts to build enhanced learning options. When combined with traditional asynchronous online courses, these additional learning options help deliver what partners are looking for and help the center in its mission to offer relevant, impactful learning opportunities that help people advance in their careers and continue learning throughout their lives, Dysart said.

Organizational Learning Partners

The center has worked to further hone and develop its enhanced content approach thanks to previous partners, ranging from private industry groups, youth sports organizations, and a library association. 

“U-M is home to such a wide range of expertise and insight on any number of topics, and when we talk to organizations they are eager to tap into the instructors, researchers, and practitioners that have built our courses. They also know exactly the skills they are looking to add, and want to create a communal experience even when the courses are virtual, on-demand opportunities,” said Nola Czarnik, director of content and platform strategy at the center. 

Courses offered on Michigan Online are available free to U-M alums, and the Alumni Association is regularly connecting alums to new courses and live online events through the Alumni Education Gateway. In creating this custom learning opportunity, they were hoping to engage alumni in new ways while also offering them a unique, enriching learning experience.

Photo courtesy of the School of Public Health.

A Valuable Connection for Alumni

“Professor Strecher’s course is one that resonates with so many of our alumni, and we were thrilled to provide the alumni community with an opportunity to learn and engage together on creating a purposeful culture at work,” said Haley Briggs, associate director of alumni education at the Alumni Association.  

The Alumni Association recognizes how important lifelong learning is for U-M alumni, Briggs said. 

“With over 1,000 articles, courses, events, and more, the Alumni Education Gateway is a passport for alumni to access curated educational resources from across the university,” she said.

The opportunity was also meaningful for Strecher. 

“It’s so gratifying being able to stay in touch with these amazing U-M alums,” Strecher said. “So many really do turn into the ‘Leaders and Best,’ and it’s fun to connect with them on the subject of purpose.”

As with other open online courses at U-M, enrollment is free for students, faculty, staff, and alumni. To learn more about his course and to enroll, visit the Purpose at Work: A Course for Employees and Leaders page

Recent Posts

Pete Bodary Named Faculty Innovator in Residence at CAI, Researching Assessments in Era of GenAI

Pete Bodary Named Faculty Innovator in Residence at CAI, Researching Assessments in Era of GenAI

Read More
Celebrating the Research that Powers Innovation

Celebrating the Research that Powers Innovation

Read More
New Study Shows Custom Email Nudges Boost STEM Assignment Grades

New Study Shows Custom Email Nudges Boost STEM Assignment Grades

Read More