Eric Joyce, Marketing Specialist
How can technology better connect University of Michigan alumni with residential students and learners around the world?
Members of the “Fostering Broad and Enduring Participation” faculty design group and representatives from the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan explored this question and more earlier this fall. The collaborative brainstorm was held during “Innovation Hour,” an event hosted by the Office of Academic Innovation two times per month featuring a different theme each session. This discussion surrounded the theme of “Lifelong Learning” and focused on ways digital platforms could streamline processes to better reach and engage with U-M alumni as well as how Michigan can continue to support the educational needs of alumni as lifelong learners.
“We have alumni who are willing to engage, the challenge is capturing that information and using it in an effective way,” said Dr. Shelly Connor, Executive Director for Alumni Education and Enrichment for the Alumni Association.
This session and the faculty design groups are components of the Academic Innovation Initiative, a charge by President Schlissel and Provost Pollock for the Office of Academic Innovation to engage in a University-wide conversation to “consider how U-M will lead the way for higher education through the information age and further strengthen our impact on society.”
Dr. Joanna Millunchick, Arthur F Thurnau Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering, discussed the shifting dimensions of alumni and residential student interaction. She asked how online tools could facilitate reciprocal learning between U-M alumni and students in Ann Arbor into integrative learning communities. The group explored how these communities could transform the alumni mentorship role to enable two-way learning, drawing from diverse learner backgrounds to enrich the learning experience.
“It’s not so much a traditional classroom, but a learning community where alums can participate in these communities,” Millunchick said.
The blurring lines between students and alumni illustrated by reciprocal learning communities signal the evolving definition of a University of Michigan student. The group discussed how expanding access to online learning fueled by the growing prevalence of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has obscured the distinction between traditional and nontraditional students. Rachel Niemer, Director of the Gameful Learning Lab, noted how the increasing breadth of U-M’s online courses could mobilize the alumni community in a celebration of learning.
“What if there was one month a year where the entire U-M alumni base committed to learning something new?” Niemer said.
A key point of discussion focused on the opportunity for online courses to facilitate personalized learning. Several in attendance explored how online alumni networks could help guide lifelong learning in various career and life stages such as shortly after graduation, during periods of career transition and in mid-career stages.
“There are different personas we’re reaching…and they have different goals,” said James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for the Office of Academic Innovation. “How do we think about different, right-size bundles of content?”
DeVaney noted educational opportunities should continually evolve in response to the educational demands and interests of learners. For example, supporting learners with new skills for professional development earlier in their career then shifting to an exploration of personal enrichment later in life.
Steve Grafton, President and CEO of the Alumni Association, asked how technology can help sustain alumni interest in lifelong education at U-M, prompting alumni think of Michigan as their educational provider throughout their career and life.
“We [can] create a sense where, ‘I go back to Michigan for whatever I need and Michigan is going to have it,’” Grafton said.
The group also speculated about the future of continuous education in the next 30 to 50 years. Some noted how stackable credentialing continues to pave new roads for learners allowing them to complete individual courses, or a series of courses, to earn a university-endorsed certificate. Not only has online education increased access to education for individuals, it has the potential to shape corporate education according to DeVaney. He said MOOCs are removing barriers that previously restricted career-enhancing professional development to select individuals, and the democratization of education now provides new learning opportunities for entire teams at all positional stages within an organization.
Eric Joyce, Marketing Specialist
In one year, the University of Michigan has developed more than 30 courses, two XSeries certificates and three MicroMasters as a Charter Member of edX, an online learning platform and MOOC provider. Michigan continued its leadership in shaping the future of teaching and learning as representatives from the Office of Academic Innovation joined an international community last month at the 2016 edX Global Forum to envision the educational landscape of the next 15 years and beyond.
Academic Innovation team members traveled to Sorbonne University in Paris, France last month for the multi-day, invitation-only event extended to edX partner organizations to share knowledge, learn from each other and discuss the future of education. Topics discussed in a series of keynote plenaries and breakout sessions included pathways to credit and credentialing for learners worldwide, increased interest in career-oriented outcomes, the social impact of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), corporate and university collaborations and edX’s new MicroMasters programs.
In a plenary envisioning the educational landscape in the year 2030, James Hilton, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Dean of Libraries, discussed the imperative to imagine the shifting role of universities and corporations in a data-driven world.
“We’re using MOOCs to push broader, more diverse reach, and to personalize education,” he said.
Hilton also explored the evolution of student transcripts and the growing pace of institutional innovation.
“It’s about unbundling, rebundling, and discovery in education,” he said.
U-M formed its partnership with edX in fall 2015, continuing Academic Innovation’s mission to shape the future of learning and redefine public residential education at a 21st century research university by unlocking new opportunities and enabling personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning for the U-M community and learners around the world. Earlier this fall, U-M joined 13 other universities announcing the development of new MicroMasters, a series of graduate-level open online courses designed to lead to an advanced degree at a residential institution. This announcement signaled the addition of 20 courses to U-M’s portfolio of MOOCs and Michigan was the only institution to announce three new MicroMasters: Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement, Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research and User Experience (UX) Research and Design. U-M has also launched two XSeries certificate programs on edX including Corporate Financial Analysis and Anatomy (starting January 2017).
In Michigan’s one-year partnership with edX, the University has developed more than 30 courses in a variety of subject areas including data science, gameful learning and learning analytics. Several new courses are currently in development which will add to U-M’s library of educational offerings for lifelong learners around the globe. Here are a few new and returning courses starting soon on edX:
Courses beginning January 2017
Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems
Learn about the integumentary system (skin, hair, nails, and glands), and how the bones, joints, and muscles of the musculoskeletal system function.
Data Science Ethics
Learn how to think through the ethics surrounding privacy, data sharing, and algorithmic decision-making.
Financial Markets and Institutions
Learn about the structure and design of global financial markets and institutions such as banks and credit rating agencies.
Leading Ambitious Teaching and Learning
Learn why ambitious teaching and learning may be the key to global educational improvement and how to put it into practice.
Principles of Designing for Humans
Learn about human behavior and capabilities and how they impact user experience design.
Courses beginning February 2017
Anatomy: Cardiovascular, Urinary, and Respiratory
Learn the multifaceted structures and functions of the cardiovascular, urinary, and respiratory systems.
Anatomy: Human Neuroanatomy
Learn about the different parts of the central nervous system and how they work together with the entire body.
Corporate Financial Policy
Learn how firms raise funds to finance their business.
Evaluating Designs with Users
Learn how to design, run, and analyze usability tests to help improve user experience.
Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups
Learn how to assess and design appropriate intervention strategies for individuals, families, and small groups.
This article was originally posted on 12/8/2016 on the edX Blog
Donald Peurach, Associate Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership, and Innovation in the School of Education
James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
The moment is ripe for renewal and reinvention in public education, in the United States and around the world.
Social, economic, and political dynamics are creating needs and opportunities to pursue new aims for student learning, new approaches to classroom instruction, and new strategies for school and system organization.
Addressing these needs and seizing these opportunities will require transformative innovation that disrupts and re-constructs fundamental understandings, norms, practices, and organizational forms that structure public education.
It will also require continuous improvement, as educational professionals learn to collaborate in new ways within this new normal to realize ambitions for excellence in the educational opportunities and outcomes of all students.
The moment calls for a new generation of educational leaders who can understand, design, and employ evidence-based methods of educational innovation and improvement.
The University of Michigan’s (U-M) Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program heeds that call, by catalyzing a diverse community of impassioned educators, reformers, researchers, and policy makers committed to collaborating to renew and reinvent public education.
We aim to create a new kind of learning community that allows learners to collaborate with other global experts and peers, obtain new knowledge and capabilities, and apply methods of educational innovation and improvement to their work.
We aim to do all of this while also making the program both flexible and affordable in order to meet the needs of our diverse learners.
Indeed, some members of this community are aspiring and early career leaders working within emerging roles as teacher-leaders, instructional and data coaches, evaluators, designers, and implementation specialists. Other members are senior leaders working within established roles as principals, superintendents, political appointees, and elected officials.
Some members of this community work within the formal educational governance structure in schools, local districts, and state agencies and ministries. Others work beyond the formal educational governance structures in non-profit organizations, universities, think tanks, and consulting firms.
What unites members of this diverse community is a commitment to discovering and leveraging innovative solutions for global educational improvement. Working within a community of experts and peers, learners who complete the program will be poised to achieve a depth and scale of innovation and improvement that none could achieve independently.
The Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program was developed by U-M’s School of Education, in collaboration with U-M’s Ross School of Business and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
It is designed as a gathering place for this leadership community: a context in which its diverse members can develop collective identity, common cause, professional relationships, and deep friendships.
It is designed to provide members of this leadership community with a robust professional knowledge base: leading theory, research, and cases to frame, inform, and guide their collaborative efforts to transform classrooms, schools, and systems.
It is also designed to develop capabilities among members to work together in new ways and to greater effect: by mobilizing practices and principals of Positive Organizational Scholarship and Improvement Science to incubate promising approaches, solve persistent problems, and manage for effectiveness and efficiency.
This mix of culture, knowledge, and capabilities will be the glue that binds members of this community together, as they proceed through the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program, move forward in their leadership roles, and possibly even join us on campus to complete a full Master of Arts degree in U-M’s School of Education.
U-M continues to play a leadership role by working globally to reshape higher education in an information age. This new MicroMasters program represents a clear opportunity to broaden access to leaders in education and ultimately to raise average levels of student performance and reduce achievement gaps between students, in the US and around the world.
We continue to be excited about the potential of the MicroMasters as a portable, modular, and scalable model designed to meet the changing needs of learners around the world. With this new program, we see an opportunity to broaden participation, accelerate learning, and enhance a growing community’s ability to drive positive change.
The first course in the Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement MicroMasters program starts January 24, 2017 and is currently open for enrollment.