Coach John Beilein Shares Leadership Insights in New Online Course

Coach John Beilein, head coach for the Michigan Wolverines, shares his insights on leadership and building successful teams in a new massive open online course (MOOC), Leading Teams, designed for lifelong learners including University of Michigan Alumni.

This course is part of the Leading People and Teams Specialization, a series of MOOCs created by Professors Scott DeRue and Maxim Sytch of the Ross School of Business that combine the excellence of U-M academics and athletics. From his decades of leadership, Coach Beilein brings a practitioner’s point of view to the Specialization through his featured lessons, demonstrating the importance of strong leadership skills, both on and off the court.

Through his interview segments, Coach Beilein discusses his approach to building and sustaining cohesive teams and developing talent while aligning individual and team goals through strong leadership. His lessons provide an engaging and practical approach to skills that can be learned and applied to a variety of contexts.

The Leading People and Teams Specialization is comprised of four courses that culminate in a capstone project and enable learners to understand and apply principles of leadership to their daily lives. The Leading Teams course, which will feature leadership insights from Coach Beilein, is now available. To learn more about the course and/or to enroll: Leading Teams course.

For more on Coach Beilein’s lessons in Leading Teams: Ed Kengerski of Michigan Sports Television highlights the collaboration between Ross School of Business and U-M Athletics in this video.

For additional information on the Leading People and Teams Specialization, please visit the DEI website.

Leadership Insights from Coach John Beilein

The DEI Team

John Beilein at the DEI Lab“You don’t just amass talent. You have to build a team.” This is just one of the many insights shared by Coach John Beilein during his interview with Professor Scott DeRue for the Leading People & Teams Specialization.

Coach Beilein recently sat down for an interview with Professor Scott DeRue at the DEI Lab to discuss insights, challenges and highlights about leading from his experiences as a head coach for the Michigan Wolverines, as well as leading previous teams. His experience has taught him the importance of aligning individual and team goals while developing talent through strong leadership in order to build and sustain cohesive teams throughout seasons. His lessons and vignettes are primarily featured throughout the Leading Teams course, illustrating leadership theories presented by Professors DeRue and Sytch through Coach Beilein’s experiences.

We were very excited to film this interview at the DEI Lab and look forward to sharing these valuable lessons from such a renowned leader as part of a series of digital courses designed for global reach and impact. Experiments such as this one help the University of Michigan to make its resources available to the broadest possible range of learners around the world. This course and Specialization present yet another example of how innovators are going beyond traditional areas of academic excellence to make resources from the University available to global learners, thereby advancing equitable and advanced education for all as we aim to provide high quality personalization at scale.

The Leading People and Teams Specialization includes four courses and a capstone which together provide an engaging and practical approach to developing leadership skills. Each segment builds upon the previous, enabling the thousands of global learners enrolled in the course to develop a strategic approach to leadership.

The Leading People and Teams Specialization and the Leading Teams course, which includes insights from Coach Beilein, are now open. To learn more about the course and/or to enroll: Leading Teams course.

Read more on Coach Beilein’s interview and leadership insights here: Coach John Beilein Shares Leadership Insights in New Online Course

Additionally, Ed Kengerski of Michigan Sports Television highlights the collaboration between the Ross School of Business and U-M Athletics in this video.  

Check out behind-the-scenes images below from interviews with Coach Beilein and Professor Scott DeRue and follow the conversation with #RossLeader.

Update on the Academic Innovation at Michigan Innovator Series and Master Class

Rachel Niemer, Director of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Communities

Update on the Academic Innovation at Michigan (AIM) Innovator Series and Master Class

Presenters in traditional seminar series share narratives that are nearly complete and often leave out the twists and turns a project took before succeeding. The recently launched Academic Innovation at Michigan (AIM) Innovator Series is a unique opportunity for members of the university community to come together and discuss ideas that are still in the formative stages for transforming the residential learning experience at Michigan.  At each hour-long session, the presenter shares their initial idea in a 15-minute presentation and participants discuss those ideas and identify steps that could help bring the idea into practice. Professors Tim McKay (LSA) and Liz Gerber (Ford School) recently presented the first two sessions of this series.  Tim sparked an engaging conversation around what it would  take, both pedagogically and technologically, to include alumni, located around the world, as learners in a face-to-face course.  Liz led a highly interactive discussion about using simulations for teaching and her goals for Policymaker, a platform she is designing, in collaboration with DEI, for instructors to design and author their own simulations.

Next term, we have a slate of faculty innovators from a range of disciplines who look forward to getting feedback and insights from the broader community about their nascent projects and ideas.  Come join us on Friday afternoons in the Hatcher Gallery Lab (usually from 2:30-3:30pm) to bring your ideas and perspective on digital education to the discussion.  Additionally,  if you have an idea you have been mulling over and want to engage some friends to bring the idea closer to fruition, email me at if you are interested in presenting.

In addition to the launch of the Innovator Series, we are excited to host our first AIM Master Class.  Ben Nelson, CEO of the Minerva Project, will be coming to campus on January 14-15.  On Thursday evening, the Master Class participants will hear opening remarks from Ben, during which he will pose a thought experiment for teams of students, faculty, and staff to think through.  Participants will then have time to dine and work with their teammates to develop a response to the thought experiment.  Ben will spend some time with each team providing feedback and additional questions for them over the course of the evening.  On Friday, from 12-2pm, Ben will deliver a public keynote address and representatives from the Master Class teams will report out on their discussions and ideas for new directions for digital education at Michigan. If you are interested in participating in the Master Class or attending the keynote address, please RSVP here.

Journal of Learning Analytics: Commentary

Coach Beilein Teams with Ross Business School

GradeCraft + DIG

Barry Fishman, Professor, Learning Technologies, School of Information & School of Education – @BarryFishman
Cait Holman, PhD Candidate, School of Information – @chcholman
Rachel Niemer, Director of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Communities @rkniemer


We are thrilled that GradeCraft, our game-inspired learning management system designed and developed here at U-M, has officially become the fourth project to be housed within the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG). What does this mean for GradeCraft, and for DIG? When GradeCraft received a Third Century Grant, we knew we would need to grow our team in order to reach our goal of creating more motivating courses for 20,000 students over the next three years. In response, we have hired a new project coordinator, and increased the size of our development team. We also wanted to do more to integrate with the incredible community at the University of Michigan working to reimagine what teaching and learning supported by technology might look like. The opportunity to join DIG as a partner application felt like the perfect next step to accomplish that.

Joining DIG enables us to share our experiences regarding what has (and perhaps more importantly, hasn’t!) worked in building our platform, growing our community of practice, sharing our pedagogical philosophy, and integrating with the organizational and technological landscape at Michigan. It also means that we can learn from our fellow DIG team members’ experiences as they pursue a similar journey with Student Explorer, the Academic Reporting Toolkit 2.0, and ECoach. GradeCraft is a slightly different take on what it means to be a DIG application because we continue to be primarily developed by a team led by Barry Fishman and Caitlin Holman in the School of Information, and supported by external software developers. It’s exciting to start imagining how this community will work to change what it means to design and develop learning technologies and bring them to scale–particularly those that push the boundaries of understanding how learning analytics data can be employed to design transformational educational experiences.

Faculty discussing gameful pedagogy.We have big plans for the next year. We’re reaching out to instructors all over campus who have expressed interest in gameful learning and are working with them to consider how to redesign their course experiences to support more student autonomy. We are building a new website dedicated to answering instructors’ questions about gameful pedagogy and sharing good practices for implementation we’ve observed over the last four years. We are reaching out to students to form a team of GAME ambassadors who can help their peers navigate choices within their coursework. If you are interested in using GradeCraft in your classroom, joining the ambassador program, or nominating someone to be an ambassador, please get in touch! We also invite you join us at our open office hours Friday mornings at the DEI’s weekly Digital Donuts event – every Friday morning, 9AM-12PM at 500 E. Washington Street!

Digital Innovation Greenhouse Welcomes GradeCraft

Gradecraft, a learning management system dedicated to supporting the gameful classroom, has officially become the fourth project within the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) portfolio. This incorporation is another step towards continuous innovative growth to shape the future of higher education within the Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI).

GradeCraft will be able to harness existing DIG resources around software development, infrastructure expertise, and user experience design to scale up technology through the Greenhouse’s extended resources in order to increase the application’s reach to over 20,000 students at U-M over the next three years. Alternately, GradeCraft will add another layer of expertise to DIG with the introduction of new programming languages and project management expertise, including coordination with external software development resources. These additional capabilities will further support the core functions of the DIG Gradecraft project team as they focus on software development, user experience design and user community mobilization as pathways towards furthering future digital collaborations at U-M.

GradeCraft joins ECoach, Student Explorer and Academic Reporting Toolkit 2.0 (ART 2.0) as the fourth portfolio project within DIG. ART 2.0 focuses on fostering increased student engagement through the dissemination of personalized information to better inform student decision making. Student Explorer leverages course performance data to provide students and advisors with real time updates on course progress, while ECoach provides personalized feedback and advice to students in large, introductory courses.These projects highlight just a few of the many ways DEI is partnering with faculty innovators to investigate, design and use learning technologies to to develop tools to facilitate personalization at scale at the University.

GradeCraft was designed by Professor Barry Fishman and doctoral student Caitlin Holman as a web application to support learning environments to better support students’ intrinsic motivation. Developed in partnership with DEI and the Learning Analytics Task Force,  GradeCraft has been used by over 2,000 students across 40 courses to date, and was awarded a $1.88 million grant from the Transforming Learning for a Third Century (TLTC) program through the Third Century Initiative.

The Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) is comprised of a team of software developers, user experience designers, behavioral scientists and multi-disciplinary student fellows that work with user communities in order to provide resources for homegrown educational software innovations on campus and scale up these digital enterprises to maturity through collaboration across U-M’s digital ecosystem.

Using Technology to Teach Current, Future, and Past Students, All At Once!

Timothy McKay,  Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics, Director of the LSA Honors Program & DIG Principle Investigator



Here’s my question for today:

How do I open a formal, on-campus class to serious participation by off-campus informal students both younger and older than those who are in residence?

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about residential education: about what makes the years students spend living in our campus community so important, and how we might make them better.  Perhaps we could extend the residential experience, so that some part of learning in Ann Arbor is made available before students arrive, and long after they depart. Might we find a way to engage today’s students in residence with those of the future, and the past, in a multigenerational intellectual exploration?

I’ve done a lot of formal teaching. For the last three years I have been leading an intellectual history course called Deep Time: the Science of Origins. We begin in the 17th century, when science had little to say about the origin of anything, and end in the moment, with discoveries made while the course is taking place. Working together, we explore what science has learned about origins, how these things were discovered, who contributed, and why progress was made where and when it was. In short, we explore the origins of origin science. The course is part of the Core Curriculum of the Honors Program in our College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, grounded in the grand tradition of the liberal arts, and a blast to teach. I learn something new every day.

I’ve also worked on informal learning. Saturday Morning Physics is an Ann Arbor icon – public science lectures delivered live to large audiences and taped for online distribution.  I’ve given many of these lectures, on topics as various as The Arrow of Time in Physics, How We Know the Big Bang Really Happened, and What We’re Learning from Learning Analytics. Through this work, I’m reminded that interest in scientific discovery knows no age or experience boundaries. People who are not students – from ten year olds to retirees – are as fascinated by the frontiers of knowledge as any college student.

How cool would it be to create an environment in which traditional residential students exploring origin science in a formal way could be joined by Michigan grads participating informally? If we’re going to do this right, the details matter. So let’s start with some more information about how this course works.

Deep Time serves a wide array of first and second year college students, with interests and goals spread across the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. Because of this, I have made the student experience as flexible as possible. When we meet, we explore together some central themes, generating a shared understanding. For their own work, students are not merely offered options; they are forced by design to develop their own strategy for exploring the material. This agency fosters enthusiasm, allowing them to pursue the topics they’re most excited by, to develop skills they feel they need, and to do all this in ways which they find most engaging.

Some students choose to explore how sociotechnical systems enable discovery – Darwin’s crucial voyage on the Beagle was made to chart the coast of South America for the Royal Navy. Others pursue the epistemology of historical science – how can you know what happened in the past? Some learn to calculate the critical density of the universe, while others try their hand at the dialog as a genre for argument. All this flexibility is supported by Gradecraft, a gameful learning management system developed by my colleagues here at Michigan. Combining diverse students with the freedom to explore makes the course expand organically – every term the circle of what we explore grows larger, the network of intellectual connections more deeply entangled.

  1. This flexible environment presents both opportunities and challenges for the idea of a genuinely joint on and off-campus course. Here’s what I think we need to do to make this happen: Use technology to make the core content of the class accessible to everyone in the world at the same time and pace that our residential students receive it. This might be done by staging this course on the EdX platform as recorded video segments, shared documents, and forums. This is the key – everyone has to have access to a significant shared understanding of the material.
  2. Define and provide guidance about three equally valid levels of engagement:Formally enrolled participants – those taking the course for college credit; prepared to meet all the expectations of the course, contribute extensively to the course community, and receive a traditional grade for it. They would mostly be on-campus students, but perhaps some might be remote. Their commitment is strengthened, as in most classes, by the payment of tuition and prospect of a permanently recorded grade.Purely interested participants – those partaking of course materials because of interest, making no commitment to persist or contribute to the course community. These participants might be anywhere, on-campus or off, and are welcome to partake of course materials and study opportunities as they choose. They can contribute, but undertake no obligation to do so.Committed informal participants – these participants are something new; a group of mostly off-campus, but perhaps some on-campus people who make a serious commitment to a modest, but serious, level of contribution to the course community. There are no levers of tuition payment or recorded grades to police the commitment of these participants. We have to believe that they’ll come through. Completion of these commitments might be recognized in some less formal way – perhaps with a badging system.
  3. Open some activities to all participants. For example, we might provide ways for all students to interact asynchronously with the texts we explore, through annotations of the texts themselves and commentary on flexible interaction forums. In these cases, we expect participation from formal students and invite it from informal.

  4. Create a small set of substantial research and writing assignments open to both on-campus students and committed informal participants. Participating in these would constitute the core commitment for the CIP track. We want off-campus participants to write to the same prompts as on-campus participants, exchange their work across these lines through a peer review system, and contribute questions to discussions on-campus, online, or both together.

  5. Provide an end-of-term opportunity for committed informal participants to meet in person with on-campus students. At this meeting presentations would be given by selected representatives from both groups, followed by panel discussions, again with mixed participation.

What do you think? If you’ve got other ideas for how to take advantage of technology to create a workable course which brings together formal on-campus students with informal off-campus participants drop me a line. I’d love to hear what you’re thinking.


Hear Tim McKay talk about transitioning a traditional residential course into a multigenerational course this Friday.