U-M Reaches Its 5 Millionth Lifelong Learner

Eric Joyce, Marketing Specialist

We are pleased to announce the University of Michigan has now reached more than five million lifelong learners around the world!

This is an exciting new milestone as Academic Innovation continues its mission to shape the future of learning by enabling personalized, engaged and lifelong learning while continuing to redefine public residential education at a 21st century research university. As a pioneer in digital learning and learning analytics, Michigan began reaching lifelong learners through massive open online courses (MOOCs) in 2012 as a founding partner with Coursera. We since continued to provide personalized pathways to lifelong learning when forming a strategic partnership with edX in late 2015.

MOOCs provide high quality learning experiences for U-M students in Ann Arbor as well as lifelong learners worldwide. These digital courses incorporate world-class educational content to enable engaged learning and trigger challenging discussions for the U-M community and beyond. We are focused on how U-M can use digital learning tools to remove barriers to, and challenge assumptions about, teaching and learning through these courses in partnership with faculty innovators from the Michigan’s 19 colleges and schools. This has resulted in the development of 92 courses delivered through our partners now reaching more than five million lifelong learners from across the globe.

We invite you help us reach six million learners by exploring our course offerings through the University of Michigan page on Coursera and at MichiganX delivered through edX.


Office of Academic Innovation Increases Experimentation and Leads Presidential Initiative


The Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI) announced that it has changed its name to the Office of Academic Innovation. This change reflects the evolution of the office’s mission and activities and its role in redefining the public research university and its role in preparing U-M for its next stage of leadership in higher education.

“The Office of Academic Innovation is charged with creating a culture of innovation in learning,” said Martha Pollack, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “As we head into our Bicentennial year, we celebrate our long-standing commitment to innovation in teaching and learning and are eager to continue catalyzing experiments that are shaping the great public research university.”

From its inception, the group has seeded experiments at the intersections of digital technology and residential education, personalization and learning analytics, and traditional and lifelong learning.  The Office now aims to further position U-M as a national leader in academic innovation and is planning for an eventful 2016-17 academic year. The group will steward a new Presidential initiative, expand the Academic Innovation Labs, and renew the Academic Innovation Fund.

Academic Innovation Initiative: A New Collective Focus for the University of Michigan

President Mark Schlissel and Provost Martha Pollack announced this week that they will launch an Academic Innovation Initiative to consider how U-M will lead the way for higher education through the information age and further strengthen our impact on society. In a letter to all U-M faculty, the President and Provost charged the Office of Academic Innovation and the faculty members of the Academic Innovation Initiative Steering Committee to lead this campuswide discussion and to “examine how teaching can be enhanced by ubiquitous access to digital content, by unprecedented opportunities for connection, and by an explosion of data about learners, educators, and their interactions.”

This highly engaging and collaborative community discussion connects U-M’s commitments to academic excellence, inclusion and innovation in order to continue Michigan’s leadership role in defining how the world learns from and with a great public research university.  “The potential here is enormous,” said President Schlissel in an address delivered at new faculty orientation, “as innovations developed right here at Michigan are creating new frontiers in personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning.”

Members of the U-M community are invited to attend a kickoff event of the Academic Innovation Initiative 2-5pm Thursday, Sept. 29 at the U-M Alumni Center. At the event, President Schlissel, Provost Pollack, and Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Dean of Libraries James Hilton will formally launch the new initiative and invite the community to participate in the next stage in the evolution of U-M’s leadership in higher education. The event will also feature a panel presentation from faculty innovators at U-M followed by a reception.

The new initiative will expand upon the work underway at the Office of Academic Innovation and engage the community in fostering broad and enduring participation at U-M; exploring innovation in the residential experience; and,creating catalysts for academic innovation.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation in Learning

The Office of Academic Innovation operates three Academic Innovation Labs at the intersection of curricular innovation, technology, and learning analytics and is expanding its partnerships with faculty innovators and academic units.  18 of U-M’s 19 colleges and schools and nearly 150 faculty innovators have launched projects in partnership with Academic Innovation over the last 2-3 years. These experiments have opened up new frontiers for teaching and learning in the information age.

“We’ve developed strong partnerships with faculty from nearly all of our colleges and schools, said James Hilton, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Dean of Libraries, “these scholarly and practical experiments have unlocked new opportunities for campus and global learners and accelerated our own pace of discovery in redesigning the public research university for the 21st century.”

Faculty and academic units partnering with the Office of Academic Innovation work closely with experts in these three Academic Innovation Labs – the Digital Education & Innovation Lab (DEIL), the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG), and the Gameful Learning Lab (GLL) – to design experiments to transform higher education for the U-M community and learners around the world.

“We think it is critical for a great public research university like U-M to lead the way in designing future models of higher education,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation. “Our legacy is one that combines a powerful engine for innovation with a fundamental commitment to public leadership. We are both committed to the discovery of what’s next and steadfast about sharing what we learn.”

Following another successful year of seeding faculty-led experiments around curricular innovation, technology, and learning analytics, the Office of Academic Innovation has announced that it will renew the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF).  The group invites faculty innovators and academic units to submit partnership proposals to design prototypes, projects, and programs that aim to shape the future of learning and extend U-M’s leadership role in shaping the future of higher education.

To register for the Academic Innovation Initiative kickoff event on September 29, please visit: 


To learn more about the Academic Innovation Fund, please visit: http://ai.umich.edu/faculty/academic-innovation-fund/

To view previously funded initiatives, please visit: http://ai.umich.edu/portfolio/


Making STEM More Accessible: Academic Innovators Series with Colleen van Lent

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

Academic Innovator Colleen van Lent has partnered with Academic Innovation in order to inspire college students to pursue STEM as a career while also making technology more accessible for everyone to integrate into everyday life.

“I love the idea of more people becoming involved [in technology], even if it’s tangentially through something else that they are doing at work.” – Dr. van Lent

In her Specialization, Web Design for Everybody (Basics of Web Development and Coding), Dr. van Lent instructs learners on how to write syntactically correct HTML5 and CSS3 and how to create interactive web experiences with JavaScript. This knowledge teaches a wide audience the basics of web design and development in order to add new skills to their arsenal, pivot professional careers and/or serve as a stackable skill to build upon. Regardless of the learners’ motivation, the series of MOOCs serves to provide them with an understanding of how websites work and how to create and/or improve a site so that it is more accessible to an audience with a diverse set of needs.

Through this series of MOOCs, Dr. van Lent furthers her commitment to promoting technology and STEM fields as accessible to a wide audience. Specifically, she is committed to helping others by teaching learners from all over the world, both through MOOCs and through her residential teaching.

“One of the reasons I chose teaching and why I really wanted to be at the college level was because as an undergrad I really didn’t have any female professors in computer science. I didn’t have a female professor until I was in grad school…I wanted to be out there where you see the freshman and the sophomores and then the people can see you and say “Oh hey there’s someone just like me doing something like what I want to do.” – Dr. van Lent

In doing so, Dr. van Lent serves as a role models for residential students and learners around the world to become involved in technology and STEM fields.

“I had a great professor when I first started learning computer programming: Professor Colleen van Lent. She was a great teacher, and an incredible example of a women in tech. She inspired me to keep going on this career path.” – Marisa Xheka, DIG Student Fellow
To learn more about Dr. van Lent’s work as an Academic Innovator, watch the Academic Innovators video:

MOOC Learners Impact: Academic Innovators Series with Professor Siedel

Onawa Gardiner, Marketing Specialist

Regardless of personal or professional status, being able to use negotiation can positively impact your life experience and goals. The Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills MOOC, developed by Professor George Siedel, focuses on providing learners around the world with the skills and techniques to successfully leverage the art of negotiation in order to optimize personal and business situations.

“This course on successful negotiation is really focused on the need of you and I as individuals, where we negotiate on a daily basis…it is also based on the needs of people in business who need to negotiate for more business success.”  – Professor Siedel

George Siedel

Since the launch of Successful Negotiation, Professor Siedel has had the opportunity to interact with a diverse range of learners, and to realize the impact of his MOOC on himself and students looking for ways to enrich their personal, education and business skillsets. He discussed with Academic Innovation (AI) his experience working on his MOOC that has reached over 360,000 lifelong global learners, and reflected on the impact it has had on his own teaching as well as on those who have taken his MOOC.

“One of the things I loved about that course [Successful Negotiation] was the feedback I received from learners. The thank you messages they send about how the course helped them individually… in their personal negotiations, their family negotiation or how the course helped them in terms of business.” – Professor Siedel

In addition to hearing from learners the direct impact the MOOC had on them, the amount of interaction available in an online format surprised Professor Siedel.

“There was a lot more interaction with the learners than what I anticipated. They visited my courses on campus, some of them are now considering the Michigan Ross Business School…” – Professor Siedel

From this experience, Professor Siedel has had the opportunity to observe the differences in on-campus teaching compared to instructing learners around the world via a MOOC.

“I’ve received messages from several CEOs who have told me how the course has saved them millions of dollars…I loved having that kind of direct impact with a MOOC that isn’t possible in a traditional course.” – Professor Siedel

To learn more about Professor Siedel’s work as an Academic Innovator, watch the Academic Innovators video.

U-M Reshaping Health Education With New Anatomy MOOC Series

The University of Michigan is launching a new certificate program comprised of four massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the online edX platform designed to meet the needs of undergraduates, medical students, residents, and healthcare professionals at U-M and around the world. Through the Anatomy XSeries, these global learners will be able to develop a deep understanding of human anatomy at their own pace and have the option to earn a professional certificate of achievement.

This series of courses, developed by Professors B. Kathleen Alsup, Glenn M. Fox, John Stribley and Kelli A. Sullivan, provides a systems-based approach to the major functions and relationships between every major organ system.

The Anatomy XSeries aligns closely with the Medical School’s efforts to transform the future of medical education by providing learners with opportunities for self-direction and lifelong development.The first XSeries to be offered by the U-M Medical School in partnership with the Office of Academic Innovation, these courses offer learners an original, high-quality multimedia library that includes anatomical visuals that are not readily available in many parts of the world.

“Initiatives like the Anatomy XSeries represent our institutional commitment to academic excellence, inclusion, and innovation and our focus on enabling personalization at scale,” said James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation. “Through a wide range of experiments focused on curricular innovation, medical school faculty continue to demonstrate their commitment to shaping the future of medicine and preparing learners to lead in a changing healthcare environment.”

These courses are the most recent faculty-led innovation developed in partnership between the Medical School and Academic Innovation. Innovations to date include: Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education, Service Transformed: Lessons in U.S. Veteran Centered Care, Introduction to Cataract Surgery, Understanding and Improving US Healthcare and Teaching and Assessing Clinical Skills.

“Consistent with our approach to transforming medical education – one that is systematic, measurable and shareable – we’re delighted to see our learning community responding to the flexibility and creativity that MOOCs are bringing to our education programs and to learners and educators around the world,” said Joseph Kolars, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Education ?and Global Initiatives, Josiah Macy, Jr., Professor of Health Professions Education and Professor of Internal Medicine.

Faculty interested in exploring MOOCs are encouraged to contact Academic Innovation to discuss ideas: ai.umich.edu/faculty/

To learn more about faculty-driven innovations within and in addition to those in the health sciences, please visit: ai.umich.edu/portfolio/