Expanding LX Design Capacity at DEI

Noni Korf, Director, Learning Innovation & Design

James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education & Innovation

Student typing on laptop with learning analytics icons

What happens when pedagogy, learning analytics, and emerging technologies are mixed in a slow brew with design-thinking principles? At the Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI), we believe this powerful combination allows us to focus relentlessly on delighting learners, empowering faculty innovators, and translating research into practice.

It’s now summer in Ann Arbor which means the temperature is rising, our sleeves are rolled up, and ideas are percolating at DEI. Over a few short years we’ve been fortunate to partner with nearly 150 faculty who have designed exceptionally thoughtful learning experiences for millions of global learners. This includes over 80 MOOCs and dozens more innovative projects designed to unlock lifelong learning opportunities and enable personalization at scale. As faculty innovators join us in the lab during the summer months, we often ask them about their experience creating MOOCs.

The most common response goes something like this: “It was hard <pause>, really hard <pause>, much harder than I expected. And I want to do it again. I’ll never teach my students on campus the same way.”

What’s this all about? Why do we want to repeat something so difficult? Don’t we have enough to do already? We think part of the answer is in the design. In creating extraordinary learning experiences faculty innovators are first thinking big about student motivation and experience curation before next layering in constraints. Together we are building choice for diverse learners and looking deeply at the data exhaust to make sure what we ultimately refine is inclusive, equitable, and accessible.

As our innovations at DEI grow in number and complexity, we have recognized the need for expanded capacity and expertise in learning experience and design. LX Design is a rapidly evolving field and a fruitful mash-up of instructional design, user experience design, and educational theory. EdSurge recently published a thoughtful piece explaining how LX Design thinking pushes us to embrace not only instructional design frameworks but also graphic design, multimedia production, research-based standards and social media. At DEI, we add dashes of gameful learning and learning analytics to our zesty brew of academic innovation.

Needless to say, the evolution of design in academic innovation is far from over. This is why we’re excited to announce two new roles to help shape our Learning Innovation & Design team at DEI. The talented individuals who join us will help define the emerging field of LX Design at Michigan and beyond.  Each of these roles will work closely with faculty,  project managers, researchers, software developers, and media specialists to design extraordinary course experiences and expand DEI’s ability to achieve our vision of reimagining public residential education at a 21st century research university.

The first role is a Learning Experience Designer, a job title we chose in order to accentuate our commitment to learner-centric design. We expect this creative contributor to come equipped with knowledge of instructional design, iterative user experience design, and education theory, and a passion for changing lives and educational practices by leveraging the technologies now available to us.

The second role is also new as we shape learner experiences through web application development. The new Learning Experience Application Developer will expand our capacity to creatively develop tools and experiences in order to enhance our courses and innovate across digital platforms. This role will work collaboratively within our Digital Innovation Greenhouse to delight U-M students and global learners.

If you’re ready to imagine and apply learner-centric design-thinking solutions, and explore creative relationships amongst pedagogy, learning analytics, and emerging technologies, please consider joining our team! View the open roles on our Learning Innovation & Design team at the University of Michigan Jobs site:

Students Share 7 Tips to Optimize the Internship and Fellow Experience

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

Internship and Fellowship opportunities serve as important catalysts for students to implement their learning into real-world experience. They provide a stepping stone into the workforce, preparing students for professions and enabling them to practice, strengthen and hone their skills while exploring new experiences to complement and enhance their course work.

At DEI, we offer internship and Fellowship opportunities throughout the year, including the Student Fellows Program through the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG). This program facilitates partnerships between students and faculty by having U-M students work directly on educational software innovations that are housed within DIG, collaborating with DEI staff as well as faculty partners to assist in growing these initiatives to maturity.

DIG Student Fellows Dana Demsky, a Graphic Design Fellow,  and Jessamine Bartley-Matthews, a User Experience Design Fellow, shared their best tips for a successful internship or fellowship experience. Additionally, they described the impact the DIG Student Fellows Program had on their educational journey.  

Dana Demsky presents in front of TV screen

1. On preparing for the Fellowship experience

Dana: Congratulations! You got the fellowship! Before starting, make sure you prepare yourself professionally. This is a great opportunity to learn and grow professionally so you want to ensure you are taking it seriously.

Jessamine: If you’re anything like me, the moment you heard you’d gotten the Fellowship at DIG was an incredible mix of excitement and anxiety. It was so thrilling to have the chance to join such an amazing team. Own your new-ness and take stock of your talents, and then figure out what you’d like to improve. Having goals in mind will help you learn, learn, learn.

2. On what to expect on the first day (and for the semester)

Dana: What to expect for the first day? Expect nothing, but of yourself. Expect to be on time. Expect to give it your all. And, most importantly, expect to have a positive attitude that shows you are ready to start a great Fellowship experience.

Jessamine: Recently, a friend of mine said that she always strives to live a life full of ambition without expectation. I think it’s the perfect approach for design, because you never know what kind of interesting curve balls and challenges might come your way. There are some days where you’ll work through an interaction and realize you’ve nailed it on the first try; other days, you’ll sketch ten different approaches on the whiteboard only to realize that none of them make any sense. Don’t expect anything. Just prepare yourself to share ideas, ask questions and learn something new every day from the moment you walk in the door. There’s a lot to learn, and a lot of work to be done!

3. On what to expect from the Fellowship experience

Dana: The most valuable thing you can expect to gain from the Fellowship is a new way to look at problems and a new way to collaborate to solve those problems. It is a mind-opening experience that you can’t get from sitting in a lecture hall or discussion section.

Jessamine:  Expect to be challenged, to make new friends and to learn more about design (and about yourself) than you really thought possible. I was shaky in sharing my design ideas when I first began my Fellowship, but the past year really helped me find my voice as a designer. Expect great things.

Jessamine Bartley-Matthews pointing to TV screen during presentation

4. On working in a collaborative culture

Dana: Collaboration is the most important part of the Fellowship experience with DEI and DIG. Working with the full time staff and other high-achieving Student Fellows isn’t only inspiring, it’s also fun; it’s what makes you look forward to coming into work everyday.

Jessamine: There’s something really nice about working at DIG, and the collaborative workspace is a huge part of that. For me, one of the best parts of the experience is being able to look up from my sketchbook and find myself surrounded by my insanely talented peers, all of whom are willing to drop everything and help you work through problems at a moment’s notice. When you get stuck because you’ve been looking at something for too long, having someone take a look with fresh eyes can help you uncover things you hadn’t thought of previously. These collaborations and conversations are the types of impromptu things that lead to really great design.

5. On suggestions for maximizing the Fellowship experience

Dana: This Fellowship isn’t just a resume booster- it’s a life experience that is only valuable if you go in with an open-mind. I found at times that I gained more skills from the Fellowship than I did in my classes. The people working at DEI and DIG want to see you succeed- ask lots of questions while these amazing people surround you!

Jessamine: Ask questions! Even if you think they’re dumb. Even if you think everyone else in the room already knows the answer. Even if it makes you feel silly and insignificant. You might be the only one with your particular question, and often those simple questions can reveal big issues with a design. So, ask!

6. On the role of mentorship on professional work

Dana: When I started, I was paired up with the DIG User Experience designer, Mike Wojan, and he became my mentor at DIG, specifically, and in my professional life, in general. We started by setting up a list of desired goals for my Fellowship and he made sure that I got a chance to check all of these goals and skills off my list. Keeping these goals in mind was a wonderful way to make sure I was getting the full experience out of the Fellowship. Additionally, having him as a mentor proved to be a valuable resource and window into the “real” world of what it takes to excel in a professional and competitive field.

Jessamine: The mentorship has been huge for me. On ECoach, I have been fortunate to work alongside Ben Hayward (DIG Lead Developer) and Holly Derry (DIG Lead Behavioral Scientist), and what I’ve loved about our working relationship is that they challenge me to think through my design choices, poking holes until we reach something that meets students’ needs. They’ve helped me figure out how to talk about my work.The mentoring that students get at DIG is what really sets this Fellowship apart from other on-campus jobs.

7. On what to prioritize to optimize internship/Fellowship experience

Dana: Prioritize learning the hard stuff. If someone hands you a hard project request – even if you aren’t sure you can do it – take it. These are the experiences that will make you a better designer, coder, or whatever you want to be.

Jessamine: I wish I had done a better job of thoughtfully prioritizing my class and work schedules. Don’t pack all your work in the beginning of the week, because so many days will elapse between work days that it will be difficult to resume your train of thought and pick up where you left off.

Internship and fellowship programs can lead to unexpected experiences that build the path towards successful educational and career endeavors. With practical advice and key tips from Dana and Jessamine you can prepare for your own optimized experience within the internship and/or Fellowship sphere.

For more insight into DEI internships and the DIG Student Fellows Program, visit the Student Opportunities page.


To stay informed on upcoming initiatives, news and events, subscribe for DEI email updates.

Lessons from “Successful Negotiation” in Developing “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions” MOOC

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

Professor Siedel’s “Successful Negotiation” has reached over 450,000 global lifelong learners. In addition to being translated into Portuguese and Spanish,  the course ranked second in the 10 Hottest Online Classes for Professionals in 2015 by Inc. Magazine and was included in the 10 Most Popular Free Online Courses for Professionals by Business Insider. Additionally, Modern Family actress, Sofia Vergara, recommended “Successful Negotiation as an option for self-improvement through sharpening negotiation skills.

Professor Siedel discussed with DEI how he applied insights from his experience developing and teaching this popular MOOC as he created his new course, “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions.”

Having reached over 450,000 lifelong global learners with the “Successful Negotiation” MOOC, what have been some of your most memorable teaching experiences?

Learners have sent me many stories about the immediate impact the course had on their careers and personal lives. The stories range from CEOs saving millions of dollars to individuals achieving success in their personal negotiations. Examples include a CEO from Singapore who saved over $4 million in a negotiation with a key supplier and negotiations for job promotions, the sale of a business, apartment rentals, hotel room rates, a smartphone upgrade and so on.

While I am pleased with the popularity of the course (ranked as one of the most popular business MOOCs of all time), I am especially grateful for the high course ratings that learners give the course:  4.7 out of 5.

How have MOOC learner experiences and feedback from “Successful Negotiation” affected your teaching style in residential courses in addition to the development process for “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions”?

In “Successful Negotiation” I learned two lessons that were useful in developing “The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions” MOOC. First, learners appreciate immediate feedback about their learning. So at the end of each module I have included a practice quiz called “Show What You Know.”  Second, learners enjoy courses that are interactive. In response, I have included many “Hit Pause and Reflect” questions in the videos to give learners a classroom-like experience.

I also developed a free negotiation planning app for the “Successful Negotiation” course, available at negotiationplanner.com. Students in my residential courses at the University of Michigan receive benefits from the app, such as free access to planning tools and an assessment of their negotiation style.

What are some techniques you employ to ensure your MOOC is relevant and accessible to a global audience of learners?

My two MOOCs provide a global perspective on negotiation and on the three pillars of decision making: strategy, law and ethics. This global perspective is the result of my teaching seminars in a wide variety of countries and cultures around the world. During these seminars, I have received feedback from participants about the value of the concepts and skills covered in the two MOOCs. I bring this feedback into my MOOC by including many examples from countries outside the US. These examples, combined with US examples, give learners an introduction to both US and global business culture.

How does the Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions help learners be competitive in a global economy?

Given the complexity of modern business, it is easy to overlook the three essentials that govern every decision: strategy, law and ethics. In short, to achieve business success, leaders must manage risk (the Law Pillar) and create value (the Strategy Pillar) in a responsible manner (the Ethics Pillar). Leaders who ignore any one of the three pillars face business and personal failure. Within the past few months, VW and BP alone have faced liabilities exceeding $100 billion as a result of ignoring the Three Pillars model.

While the three pillars standing alone are important when making business decisions, they become especially powerful when they operate in sync with each other. This creates a “zone of competitive advantage” that is often sustainable because it is difficult for other companies to replicate. For example, companies that are able to move beyond a defensive reaction to product liability (which represents the Law Pillar) and use product design processes to identify customer needs will be able to achieve competitive advantage in their new product development (the Strategy Pillar).

How does an understanding of law, strategy and ethics impact and improve the processes of making business decisions and decision-making in general for learners?

When learners achieve a basic understanding of the law, they are enabled to manage business risk. But the challenge they face is that managing risk often conflicts with creating value, which is the goal of strategy. This MOOC shows learners how to increase the opportunity for business success by aligning risk management with value creation. This alignment, in turn, creates guiding principles for making ethical decisions.


To learn more and/or to enroll:

The Three Pillar Model for Business Decisions: Strategy, Law & Ethics

Successful Negotiation: Essential Skills and Strategies






George Siedel

Williamson Family Professor of Business Administration and Thurnau Professor of Business Law

Ross School of Business

University of Michigan

To stay informed on upcoming initiatives, news and events, subscribe for DEI email updates.



New Team Members Added to Scale Up DEI Innovations

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

The DEI team is excited to announce that we have added three full-time team members to our growing organization. Stephanie Haley, Bryon Maxey and James Park have joined DEI as Project Coordinators within the Digital Education and Innovation Lab (DEIL). As Project Coordinators, they work closely with world-class faculty, instructional designers, technologists and media specialists at U-M to manage ongoing digital course operations and initiatives at DEIL. These three team members bring a diverse set of experiences, interests and knowledge to DEI as we continue to redefine public residential education at a 21st century research university through the creative use of technology and targeted experimentation with digital programs in order to enable engaged, personalized and lifelong learning for the entire Michigan community and learners around the world.


Stephanie HaleyStephanie Haley’s background includes a B.A. in Film and Video studies from U-M, and a M.A. from USC as well as an MSI from U-M. She has extensive experience working in a variety of technology, design and research-based roles, including recent work as a Research Assistant in the Learning Education and Design Lab (LED). Additionally, Stephanie has promoted women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics), designed and managed a website focused on giving women a voice in the online technology community, and also led the “Inspire Her” initiative through the Ann Arbor start-up, GameStart.


Bryon Maxey

Bryon Maxey is also a Wolverine, having received his B.A. in History, Afroamerican & African Studies with a minor in Ethnography from U-M. Prior to DEI, Bryon played an integral role in launching the Digital Islamic Studies Curriculum at U-M, where he first worked on leading and collaborating with institutions through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) in order to build and share courses focused on Islamic Studies across geographic boundaries. Currently, Bryon is working towards an M.A. in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and North African Studies at U-M. Additionally, Bryon has spent time working as a teacher with middle-school aged children in Chicago and Detroit, which stemmed from his passion to engage in community development.


James ParkJames Park hails from the Northeast, where he earned his A.B. from Princeton in Music with Certificates in Finance and Violin Performance. He also holds an M.A. and MPhil and is currently completing a Ph.D in Music History from Yale. While at Yale, James worked on several initiatives focused on digital education and collaborated with Professor Craig Wright on the “Introduction to Classical Music” MOOC offered through Coursera. In addition to his scholarly endeavors, James has played the violin with the Adrian, Jackson and Livonia symphonies.


We are delighted to welcome these three new additions to our team and look forward to exploring new opportunities for academic innovation and redefining excellence in higher education together.


To stay informed on upcoming initiatives, news and events, subscribe for DEI email updates.

It’s a Good Time to Go Gameful

Rachel Niemer, DEI Director of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Communities

This week, Campus Technology announced the winners of this year’s Innovator Award, and the GradeCraft team is honored to be recognized in the Teaching & Learning category. The award is a wonderful recognition of the hard work we have put into growing the community of gameful learning instructors and building a tool that can support instructors’ creative implementations of gameful pedagogy.

Receiving the award has given our team an opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished this year and think about where we are headed as we continue growing gameful pedagogy at U-M with an assessment system design that supports student engagement. A year ago, we had just received funding from the Third Century Initiative and wrapped up our first term piloting GradeCraft more broadly across campus. Additionally, we joined the Digital Innovation Greenhouse in order to continue scale up our team to create more motivating courses for 20,000 students in the next three years.  Since then, we’ve doubled the number of courses that use GradeCraft and developed a Community of Practice (CoP) that meets monthly. As we continue growing gameful pedagogy at U-M with an assessment system design that supports student engagement, we look forward to collaborating with new partners and encourage anyone interested in learning more about GradeCraft to check out several ways to get involved:

Community of Practice

CoP participants range from those who have yet to go “gameful” and those who have integrated gameful principles into their teaching while managing courses with Canvas to established GradeCraft users.  This group is open to everyone at U-M who is interested in thinking about the interplay of gameful design principles and learning, and we’d love to see the community grow larger. To learn more about how Gameful Learning CoP is integrating gameful principles into teaching and to keep abreast of Gameful Learning CoP events, join the MCommunity Group.

Gameful Pedagogy Website

To help instructors understand the fundamentals of gameful learning and decide whether gameful learning is right for them, we recently launched a gameful pegagogy website. Through this portal, instructors interested in pursuing a gameful teaching pedagogy can find resources on getting started (re)designing a course using gameful principles, an extensive FAQs, and a repository of syllabi from other gameful courses. Check out the site and let us know what other resources would be helpful, and if it’s a good time for you to go gameful, let us know!

Gradecraft dashboard


In addition to expanding the reach of the Gameful Learning CoP and impact of gameful pedagogy,  we also aim to continue to increase the number of GradeCraft users on campus. We invite anyone who is interested in using GradeCraft and is an instructor-of-record at U-M to reach out to us. We’ll work with you to set up a GradeCraft site and consult with you on any course re(design) questions you may have.  


To stay informed on upcoming initiatives, news and events, subscribe for DEI email updates.