U-M Teach-Out Throughout February will Focus on Self-Driving Cars

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—The race is on to get self-driving cars on the road, with Waymo, BMW and Volkswagen recently announcing plans to further invest and experiment with autonomous vehicle technology.

Along with these headlines, however, are many unresolved considerations surrounding the technological, legal, societal and equitable implications of this potentially revolutionary advancement in mobility and transportation.

“We need to make progress on all of these fronts in order for the technology to change society, just as the internet and smartphones have totally changed our society,” said Huei Peng, director of Mcity at the University of Michigan.

With its unique Mcity research center and proving ground for testing connected and automated vehicles, U-M will offer an online teach-out Feb. 4-28 for those interested in learning more about these cars of the near future.

“The question about connected and driverless vehicles is always why and why now?” said Peng, the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

He said the ‘why’ is easy: driverless cars are safer than those driven by humans. Statistics from the Association for Safe International Road Travel show about 37,000 people in the United States are killed annually in motor vehicle crashes, with 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year.
Why now? The technology to support different levels of automated technology is better and getting more affordable, Peng said.

In this teach-out, participants will hear leading experts in technology, law, accessibility and equity, and societal change address:

  • What is a self-driving car? What is an automated or driverless vehicle?
  • What are the major legal questions?
  • What can we do to prepare?
  • How do we build trust in this new technology?
  • How are we testing this technology and when can we expect to see it on the roads?
  • How is this going to change our modern society?
  • How are people thinking about accessibility and equity?

Developed by the U-M Office of Academic Innovation, this online learning event is free to the public and delivered on Coursera, an online learning platform. Faculty involved are from engineering, public policy, law, political science, sociology and information. Expert contributors include members of the leadership team at Mcity, including Peng, and others from the U-M Office of Technology Transfer and industry.

Teach-outs are short, self-paced online learning events that allow people across the world to engage with experts on various topics of national and international interest. They are modeled after the teach-ins of the 1960s, started at U-M, which physically brought people to campus for an intensive educational experience.

More information:

Self-Driving Cars Teach-Out

Unique Online Course Aims to Prepare Students, Others for Work with Communities

Written by Nitya Gupta, Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—More than 5,000 University of Michigan students engage in community-based projects each year according to reporting alone, and most likely that number is higher when other informal, undocumented experiences are factored in.

Yet, those who help organize some of U-M’s engagement experiences have long been concerned that some students stepping into local and global communities have little to no training on how to work in such settings.

“Over the last decade, U-M has seen significant growth in the number of students engaged in community-based learning,” said Amy Conger, U-M associate vice provost and director of global engagement. “The interest was growing so quickly we were struggling to keep up with the need to help students thoughtfully prepare for community engagement.”

To help remedy this, experts from eight units across the university and a group of 15 students teamed up to create the Community Engagement: Collaborating for Change massive open online course (MOOC).

The team incorporated input from community stakeholders, students, staff and faculty across campus. Although other MOOCs on various aspects of community engagement exist, it is the first comprehensive course to have been developed by such an interdisciplinary team to prepare online learners for a broad range of engagement experiences.

“Our interdisciplinary team of staff and faculty brought together unique perspectives on community engagement from social work, information, engineering, international studies, student affairs, education and the humanities,” said Kelly Kowatch, director of engaged learning programs and adjunct lecturer at the U-M School of Information. “We also intentionally sought out significant input from student users and community members who are experts on these topics.”

Hosted on Michigan Online, developed in partnership with Academic Innovation, and funded by a Education Abroad Resource Grant from the Office of the Provost, the MOOC is targeted at early career students before they enter a community—either within the U.S. or abroad. Recent data shows 96 percent of U-M students have an engaged learning experience, many of which are in local or global settings that will take the students into places where they will work with community partners.

“We know that properly preparing the thousands of students who have community engagement experiences each year maximizes learning outcomes and community benefit,” said team member Danyelle Reynolds, assistant director for student learning and leadership at the Edward Ginsberg Center.

Unique online course aims to prepare students others for work with communities.

The aim of the MOOC is to teach the following key concepts and strategies:

  • Valuing community context and expertise
  • Understanding how social identities, power, and privilege impact your interactions
  • Approaches to collaborative leadership, such as listening effectively, resolving conflicts, and building mutually-beneficial partnerships
  • Reflecting on your work, and transitioning in and out of communities
  • Effectively managing community-engaged projects

“This MOOC is a way to address the scale of interest, and we hope to help students to approach future community based work with open-mindedness, humility and a willingness to learn,” Conger said.

For Monica Kim, one student who piloted the course over the summer, community engagement is in her background. She is a Ginsberg MacDonald Community Fellow, a three-year fellowship for community engagement granted through the U-M center that works in communities to advance social change. Although she’s already been exposed to some of the ideas in the course, Kim found herself learning new concepts and strategies.

“I think the most important thing I learned from the MOOC is to foster an understanding between community and whoever’s coming into the community to help it,” Kim said. “We need to make sure this relationship is ethical. ‘Ethical’ isn’t a word I used to think about in relation to community engagement, but it’s important because we often talk about privilege, power, balance and making sure we’re not exploiting people or exercising the savior complex.”

The course is designed to benefit anyone, regardless of prior experience in community engagement work, including U-M faculty and staff and volunteers outside the university who want to work more effectively with community organizations, including community-academic partnerships, social change projects, community service and learning, education and work abroad, traditional and community-based participatory research, nonprofit internships, public scholarship and civic performance.

Learners can also mix and match modules and activities within the course to personalize their learning experience. In full, the course takes approximately six weeks to complete, if spending about two to four hours a week on the material. It launches Sept. 21.

 

More information:

Rivalry Aside: U-M, Notre Dame Come Together to Tell Stories of Puerto Rico, Encourage Action

Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—After a four-year hiatus from play, fans can expect fierce competition when the University of Michigan and Notre Dame football teams hit the gridiron Sept. 1. But off the field the universities will put the rivalry aside in a collaboration to remind the world of those who battle daily to overcome the devastation wrought one year ago by a deadly hurricane.

Faculty and staff from U-M and Notre Dame have come together to present “Listening to Puerto Rico,” a free online global learning teach-out offered jointly by the two institutions.

“The University of Michigan’s public mission calls for us to advance human understanding and contribute to a better society,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel. “We are proud to partner with Notre Dame to examine a complex national tragedy, learn from the people of Puerto Rico, and discover new ways for our community to help with the ongoing recovery.”

The online learning opportunity features the voices of residents as well as a number of historians, educators, and civic and business leaders, who will focus on life on the island almost a year after Hurricane Maria made landfall Sept. 20, 2017.

The teach-out series is modeled after the first teach-in that began at U-M in the 1960s. Faculty that wanted to protest the Vietnam War decided an effective way to do so was through an intellectual pursuit, so they organized a marathon session featuring several speakers. The idea caught on and was replicated across the country at 35 other institutions.

The U-M Office of Academic Innovation created the teach-out series in 2017 as a way to engage a global audience in contemporary topics online. The series has featured a range of events that are free, short-form, self-paced learning opportunities on topics such as fake news, sleep deprivation, the opioid crisis, crisis at the border and extreme weather.

The current teach-out—the first to involve two universities—is focused on Puerto Rico’s resilience in the wake of Maria and the concern among residents that the U.S. territory, still in recovery, remains vulnerable as the current hurricane season is underway.

Along with this online event, each university is planning campus activities, including teach-ins, to encourage students, faculty and staff to engage in conversation around the social, political, economic, environmental and humanitarian issues represented by the crisis in Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Maria caused more than 1,400 deaths, an estimated $90 billion in damage and left many of the island’s 3.3 million inhabitants without electricity, drinkable water and shelter for months after the storm.

Hurricane Maria’s devastation still evident one year later. Images courtesy U-M Office of Academic Innovation

Hurricane Maria’s devastation still evident one year later. Images courtesy U-M Office of Academic Innovation

In June, faculty, staff and students from U-M and Notre Dame traveled to the island to gather individual stories and learn how communities have banded together in response to environmental, economic and public health challenges.

U-M’s Will Potter talks with Puerto Rico resident Héctor Rodríguez.

U-M’s Will Potter talks with Puerto Rico resident Héctor Rodríguez.

More than 30 interviews with Puerto Rican community members throughout the island were conducted by Will Potter, U-M senior academic innovation fellow and a member of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts faculty; Marisel Moreno, associate professor of U.S. Latino/a Literature in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Notre Dame; and Thomas F. Anderson, the Dr. William M. Scholl Professor of Latin American Literature and chair of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Notre Dame.

These stories will be combined with expert videos from faculty who are involved in research, education and service with the island and its people.

“What I hope for the most is to help create awareness about Puerto Rico in terms of its past, present and future. At this point in history, when the island is facing a serious debt crisis and the devastating impact of a hurricane, Puerto Rico not only needs the help of its people, but also that of allies,” Moreno said. “What this process has demonstrated is the tremendous potential that we—our two great universities—have to promote awareness and justice. We can be a force for good together.”

University of Notre Dame faculty, Marisel Moreno and Thomas Anderson, speak with two Puerto Rican men about their experiences with Hurricane Maria.

University of Notre Dame faculty, Marisel Moreno and Thomas Anderson, speak with two Puerto Rican men about their experiences with Hurricane Maria.

Almost a year after Maria, emergency management leaders say power is restored, many houses have been rebuilt and essential services largely are intact in more populous areas, but the team found a different story in remote communities.

U-M School of Public Health doctoral student and Puerto Rico native Amilcar Matos-Moreno tells about an elderly couple living in the mountainous area of Orocovis, 40 miles outside of San Juan. The couple had just gotten power back two weeks before Matos-Moreno and his team traveled the two hours up the mountain in June to put up a roof and install a safe front door and appliances in the home. Following the hurricane, the elderly man had patched the house back together with scraps that had blown into the area.

“The owner had actually grabbed whatever was lying around. The doors they had were not safe at all,” Matos-Moreno said. “The couple did not receive government help with rebuilding because they were so far from any center. The government told them that.”

They did receive funding for the building materials and appliances, he said.

Among the interviews is one with a Federal Emergency Management Act official who explained what has taken place to restore essential services and facilities on the island. He acknowledged additional work could take another five to 10 years to fix an infrastructure that has been put back together with “Band-Aids.”

Amilcar Matos-Moreno, PhD candidate at the School of Public Health, gives directions to a group of students from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University as they work to rebuild a house destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Amilcar Matos-Moreno, PhD candidate at the School of Public Health, gives directions to a group of students from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University as they work to rebuild a house destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, associate professor of Spanish and American culture at U-M and a member of the team, called the situation there a “different normal.”

He talks about going down a few days after Maria to take his 88-year-old mother away from her badly damaged home, and his surprise upon returning three months later to find little change.

“There are still people who have no electricity, who are homeless, who have lost their jobs. The hurricane came to intensify a crisis that had already been going on for at least 12 years and possibly for more time,” La Fountain-Stokes said in reference to the ongoing economic struggle in Puerto Rico.

Among the stories, the team heard from a physician who chose to stay when many health care professionals left, a journalist who kept questioning official accounts of the death toll, a faculty member from the University of Puerto Rico who explained the compounding economic toll caused by the hurricane, an entrepreneur whose online business was disrupted by the power outage, and several other residents who organized grassroots efforts to help others.

The teach-out team says what comes through the interviews is a story of great resilience.

“This, for the most part, is not a place where people base their happiness on economic stability or well-being,” Anderson said. “Instead, Puerto Ricans have managed to weather many storms, so to speak—Spanish colonization, U.S. imperialism, several major economic crisis, devastating hurricanes—by maintaining a positive outlook, placing great importance on family and friends, loving and embracing their island and its culture, and sticking together when times are tough.”

Participants can register for the free teach-out online beginning Aug. 27. “Listening to Puerto Rico” will be available until Sept. 24.

Other events include:

  • Notre Dame teach-in (4:30 p.m. Aug. 31, Eck Visitors Center)
    This will be a panel discussion featuring Moreno, Anderson and other Notre Dame faculty from Puerto Rico, discussing the current state of affairs on the island and offer commentary on next steps and future solutions.
  • Student event, live-streamed webshow (5 p.m. Sept. 12)
    Notre Dame students from Puerto Rico will join Anderson and Moreno for a discussion on how Hurricane Maria impacted them, their families and their communities.
  • University of Michigan teach-in (6 p.m. Sept. 20, Pierpont Commons East Room, 2101 Bonisteel Blvd.)
    On the anniversary of Hurricane Maria there will be a mini-documentary screening followed by a panel discussion about the current situation in Puerto Rico, moderated by Will Potter and featuring La Fountain-Stokes, as well as other U-M faculty and partners from Puerto Rico.

Online Portal Helps Learners Find U-M Digital Learning Opportunities in One Place

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—As the University of Michigan continues to expand its digital learning portfolio, the Office of Academic Innovation announces a new gateway for one-stop access to online courses and learning experiences created by Michigan faculty and instructional teams.

Called Michigan Online, the portal brings together more than 120 massive open online courses (MOOCs), teach-outs, specializations, MasterTrack certificates, XSeries, MicroMasters and professional certificate programs currently hosted on online platforms Coursera and edX. These learning experiences already have generated nearly 7 million enrollments, reaching learners in more than 190 countries around the world.

“Michigan continues to play a leadership role in shaping how the world learns from and with a great public research university,” said Martin Philbert, U-M provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Michigan Online provides new and important opportunities to broaden access to U-M and enhance participation in our flexible and networked model for global and lifelong learning.”

U-M was a founding partner with Coursera in 2012 and since then that affiliation has produced some 68 MOOCs. Some of these are organized into specializations of multiple courses for those who want a deep dive into a topic.

The partnership expanded five years later to add teach-outs, free and open online learning events designed to bring together people from around the world to learn about and address the biggest topics in society.

More recently, U-M and Coursera announced online master’s degree programs in applied data science from the School of Information and in public health from the School of Public Health, as well as a MasterTrack Certificate in construction engineering and management from the College of Engineering.

In 2015, U-M joined edX as a charter member to offer a portfolio of more than 40 MOOCs and teach-outs, including several series of courses called XSeries, and MicroMasters, a collection of courses that give students a head start on a residential degree.

U-M’s Office of Academic Innovation was established in 2014 to create a culture of innovation in learning. Among its goals is to create opportunities for personal and engaged learning by positively impacting pre-college, residential, and global and lifelong learners, as well as support public engagement at U-M.

“When the first MOOCs were launched, no one knew how they would evolve. And then the amazing U-M faculty embraced the opportunity to experiment with online courses that were aimed at learners from across the lifespan and across the globe. And those experiments continue to be successful,” said James Hilton, U-M vice provost for academic innovation. “The launch of Michigan Online will make it easier for people on and off campus to navigate the rich and growing content that is Michigan.”

In 2016, U-M President Mark Schlissel announced the Academic Innovation Initiative to “leverage networked access to information, new modes of learning and the power of data analytics to strengthen the quality of a Michigan education and enhance our impact on society.”

A short time later, the president announced the Teach-out Series, modeled after the teach-ins U-M pioneered in the 1960s. The just-in-time learning experiences focused on important issues of the day, such as the Vietnam War. The success of the U-M teach-ins sparked a series of similar events on more than 35 campuses across the country. In 1970, a U-M teach-in attracted thousands of participants in the first U.S. Earth Day, and the events continue today.

The relationships with all platform partners remain but the intent is to make the content more available and easier to navigate for a global community of Michigan learners.

“Michigan Online further extends U-M’s ability to provide high quality learning opportunities for learners at all levels,” said James DeVaney, U-M associate vice provost for academic innovation. “Michigan students will have even greater access to university expertise and resources, and learners around the world will discover new opportunities to acquire new skills, access global learning communities and explore new topics, at their own pace.”

Michigan Online offers users a chance to browse an extensive library of online experiences developed by faculty and instructional teams at U-M. Users can look for courses by subject, duration of the course and type (e.g., course or teach-out).

Course and teach-out subjects include biology and life sciences, arts and humanities, social sciences, business and finance, education and teacher training, physical science and engineering, data science, computer science, health and safety, and design. Among the offerings are applied data science, leadership, Python programming, sleep deprivation, and computer user experience and design.

Creators of the learning portal welcome audience feedback on the tool which may be submitted at michigan-online@umich.edu.

University Announces First Online Degrees through Coursera

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

Online learners may soon have three new University of Michigan master’s degree options through a partnership with Coursera—one in the growing field of applied data science, a first of its kind in public health and an advanced program in construction engineering and management.

In a joint announcement today with the online platform, the School of Information said its Master of Applied Data Science under development will build upon the school’s leadership in offering programing courses online, including several on Coursera.

Online learners on six continents have enrolled more than one million times in the UMSI MOOCs, taking courses in programming, user experience research and design, web design and applications, public library management, and applied data science.

U-M’s Master of Public Health from the School of Public Health is among the first degrees in this area of study to be delivered on a massive open online course (MOOC) platform. This degree program emphasizes application of research methods and public health principles to improve population health.

The announcement at the Coursera Partners Conference also includes the debut of a new Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate that allows users to take courses for certification or toward an advanced degree to be completed on campus for those who meet admission criteria.

“We are expanding our efforts to scale the great public research university through further investment in our flexible, personalized and networked model for global and lifelong learning,” said Martin Philbert, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“We intend to design two new fully online programs and augment our hybrid offerings. This will increase opportunities for learners around the world, enabling them to join our community in understanding and addressing global problems in pursuit of a more equitable world.”

To date, U-M has seen 6.5 million enrollments in its portfolio of more than 120 courses. Many MOOCs are for enrichment, some lead to certification, and others are part of micromaster programs, which allow students to take advanced-level courses online first, possibly leading to enrollment on campus for completion of a master’s program.

The School of Information leads in U-M’s MOOC space with nearly 40 courses online, including a micromaster’s in user experience research and design; a Coursera Specialization in Applied Data Science with Python; and course series on Python for Everybody, Web Applications for Everybody, Web Design for Everybody, and Public Library Management. UMSI has historically been known as a graduate school but four years ago developed a curriculum for undergraduate students.

“The development of this new degree represents progression toward our goal of extending access to professional education outside the conventional residential environment,” said UMSI Dean Thomas Finholt. “The demand for data scientists has grown dramatically in the past decade and it will continue to grow far beyond our capacity to accommodate students in a traditional classroom setting. UMSI continues to explore innovative ways to deliver the information-based knowledge and skills needed to meet the challenges of our increasingly data-intense world.”

The U-M School of Public Health has a 76-year history of offering master’s and doctoral level degrees and just this year launched a bachelor’s degree program. The school currently educates and trains more than 1,000 students a year.

The online program is expected to offer students and working professionals exposure to a variety of public health disciplines through a broad foundational curriculum that will equip them to tackle complex health challenges such as chronic and infectious diseases, obesity and food insecurity, health care quality and costs, climate change and environmental determinants of health, and socioeconomic inequalities and their impact on health.

Learners will have the opportunity to select from a wide range of specializations for focused expertise, including population health, program planning and evaluation, health analytics, genomics and precision health.

“Opening access to a global learning platform will increase public health knowledge and skills that are critical to our pursuit of a healthier, more equitable world for all,” said Cathleen Connell, interim dean of the U-M School of Public Health. “Through information sharing and capacity building, we can create a continuum of learning that reaches beyond the traditional degree program, leading to greater public impact.”

Meeting the demands of another growing profession has led to the development of a hybrid degree offering.

The Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate is a new program co-created by U-M and Coursera. It allows learners to earn certification or take additional advanced courses, potentially leading to on-campus enrollment for completion of the Construction Engineering and Management Master of Engineering (MEng) degree.

The construction business is booming in the United States and is expected to continue great growth in the future, yet the industry suffers from a shortage of workers and managers.

Someone taking the Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate can expect to learn from faculty at one of the top engineering programs in the world the skills of accounting, decision making and project management through an engineering lens. Participants will be prepared to take on a role as construction manager in as little as 6-7 months.

“We are deeply committed to leading the evolution of 21st-century engineering education for the benefit of the common good,” said Alec Gallimore, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. “Our new construction engineering and management master track certificate program is the first of its kind and is consistent with our strategic vision at Michigan Engineering to pioneer innovative educational models designed for global impact.”

MasterTrack is distinct from other programs of its kind in the way learning is structured. Learners have an opportunity to preview programs through open courses before engaging in smaller cohorts designed around high immersive projects and high quality feedback. They can join program-level learning communities and networks to pursue standalone digital credentials and pathways into top graduate degree programs.

“MasterTrack learners will enjoy rich applied projects, vibrant social learning environments, and the many benefits of frequent high quality feedback,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation. “The advanced courses will provide immersive experiences built around applied projects that will benefit learners seeking advanced degrees as well as learners seeking to advance their careers.”

Coursera currently has four online master’s programs in computer science, business administration, accounting, and innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to the Michigan programs, today’s announcement included two master’s programs in computer science from Arizona State University and University of Illinois, a master’s in global public health from Imperial College London, and a bachelor’s in computer science from the University of London.

“The University of Michigan took a bold step six years ago as one of Coursera’s four founding university partners. We are thrilled to continue working with this university to push the status quo by pioneering a new way to offer degrees that fits the evolving needs of students who demand degrees that are more affordable and are available when and wherever they are ready to learn,” said Nikhil Sinha, chief content officer at Coursera.

“The University of Michigan Master of Public Health and Master of Applied Data Science offered entirely online through Coursera will enable students to achieve top-caliber University of Michigan degrees with the flexibility and high quality online learning experience of Coursera.”

The Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate will enroll its first learners in 2018, pending final approval.

The Master of Applied Data Science and Master of Public Health degrees are expected to launch in fall 2019, subject to approval.

Master of Public Health
Master of Applied Data Science
Construction Engineering and Management MasterTrack Certificate
Coursera online degrees
U-M Coursera

Free speech: U-M President, Faculty, Students and Media Lead Online Teach-Out Series

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

From football players taking a knee during the national anthem to debates over allowing controversial speakers on campuses to the question about rights of immigrant activists, interpretations of the First Amendment right to free speech are front-and-center in many of our conversations today.

Issues being discussed across the United States seek to answer if a concern for safety trumps free speech, or if universities should penalize students that shout over and disrupt speakers whose views are different from their own.

The proliferation of so-called “fake news” has led many to wonder what information sources can be trusted.

For the next several months, as the University of Michigan explores through various events issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, the Office of Academic Innovation will present a teach-out series that focuses on free speech on college campuses, in journalism and in sports.

Leaders of the three-part series include U-M President Mark Schlissel; faculty from the Law School, School of Education, School of Information, School of Kinesiology and College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at U-M; faculty from American University and Michigan State University; the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation; U-M students; and members of the media, including a journalist participating in the Knight-Wallace Fellowship program at U-M.

“Our society’s greatest challenges tend to play themselves out in very intense ways on university campuses. And as a public institution, I think we have to be open to these challenges to make sure discourse on campus represents a broad variety of viewpoints and perspectives, and that we make our challenges visible to the public,” Schlissel said in an interview that will be part of the first teach-out on “Free Speech on Campus.”

“Free speech is a particularly important value at a university, not just a public university, but all universities. It’s the way we learn and grow and improve our understanding.”

Teach-outs are free, short learning opportunities that allow people across the world to engage with experts on various topics of national and international interest. They are modeled after the teach-ins of the 1960s, started at U-M, which physically brought people to campus for a short-term, intensive educational experience on a timely topic.

Delivered on the Coursera online platform, teach-outs take advantage of current technology to engage learners. Participants can enroll and move through the learning opportunities at their own pace for the few weeks they are posted online.

The free speech teach-outs are part of a larger “2018 Speech and Inclusion: Recognizing Conflict and Building Tools for Engagement” series sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and several other campus units.

Events throughout the winter semester invite students, faculty and staff to “openly discuss, listen, and engage with differing views on free speech and to advocate for voices that have historically been silenced—important issues that continue to challenge both our campus and the nation,” according to the DEI website.

The idea that opinions, however unpopular, should be heard is what student Jesse Arm said prompted student groups to bring controversial author Charles Murray to campus in the fall.

In the late 1990s, Murray wrote a book called the “Bell Curve” that claimed that the normal distribution of IQ showed differences in intelligence based on race and class. Murray’s appearance on campus in October to share his latest book “Coming Apart: The State of White America,” was met with protests. Students attempted to shut down the event by shouting down the speaker.

“We hoped to bring in people who may not agree with Dr. Murray, may not see eye-to-eye with him,” for an exchange of ideas, said Arm, chairperson of the American Enterprise Institute’s Michigan Executive Council. “We believe that forwards intellectual diversity. We believe that forwards the competition of ideas on our campus.”

The news recently reported that a Princeton University professor canceled a free speech course following intense criticism over his use of a racial slur in class as an illustration of words that incite negative feelings and reaction.

Some of U-M’s free-speech-on-campus discussion will center around what are called trigger warnings—advance notices to students that subject matter in classes could get uncomfortable and cause unpleasant responses.

“They emerged to really help people not trigger anxiety, loss of concentration or other more severe reactions,” said Vasti Torres, professor in the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the School of Education. “The way they are taken today is to assume that trigger warnings are about restricting when someone doesn’t believe what you believe.”

Knowing what to believe with the barrage of information coming at us through traditional and nontraditional news sources is behind a second teach-out that will focus on “Free Speech in Journalism.”

As public trust in news organizations reaches historic lows, in part due to accusations of “fake news” by top leaders, and an increase in false or misleading information masquerading as news, many are asking what is the role of journalism in a free society?

In her video segment, HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen said the discussion often focuses on journalism and journalists but free speech is bigger than one institution.

“The First Amendment is first because it applies to all of us and it’s really the bedrock of our democracy and our identity as Americans,” Polgreen said.

“The true menace of restrictions of speech is less and less the government and more and more big and powerful companies,” she said, explaining that most people today do not seek information from newspapers but from Facebook, Twitter and various websites backed by companies that limit, control and sometimes distort the available information.

As top officials accuse even mainstream press of proliferating fake news, Chuck Lewis, professor at the School of Communication at American University, said such assaults on journalism and a free press are not new. In the past, he said, the subjects of news stories have faced prosecution, broadcast operations have been threatened with license revocation and journalists have even been murdered for their reporting.

“There have been a number of incidences where the press has reported about uses and abuses of power that has enraged and offended and angered the powers that be, whichever party is in control,” Lewis said, citing the Pentagon Papers and Watergate as chief examples. “Even though we have this amendment, that’s always been subject to interpretation and the subjectivity of individual political actors. That’s why this amendment is so crucial.”

The third teach-out on “Free Speech in Sports” will ask if athletic events are appropriate venues for social and political activism, and the role of players and various stakeholders with respect to free speech during those activities.

U-M has an ongoing series of teach-outs on topics such as sleep, opioid use, fake news, and privacy and reputation in a digital age.

U-M Experts to Help Public Understand Hurricanes through Online Teach-Out

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

As Florida assesses the damage from Hurricane Irma, Texas continues to rebuild from Harvey and meteorologists keep their eyes on Jose, University of Michigan experts in weather events and their aftermath offer the public a new teach-out called “Hurricanes: What’s Next.”

The timely educational opportunity for learners across the globe will be led by Perry Samson, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, professor of information and founder of the Weather Underground. It will address the basics of hurricanes, forecasting, monitoring, preparation, damage and response to the powerful storms.

“A Teach-Out now on ‘Hurricanes: What’s Next’ is timely given the impacts of hurricanes Harvey and Irma this year,” Samson said. “The approach is to present the facts in hurricane formation, forecasting, preparation and response, in the hope of generating a larger discussion on how to respond to natural disasters.

“While controversial, this is also an important time to discuss if or how a warming ocean may influence the frequency and intensity of tropical storms in the future.”

Others participating include Richard Rood, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and environment and sustainability; Chris Ruf, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and electrical engineering and computer science; Jeff Masters of Weather Underground; and U-M students.

They will address questions including:

  • What drives a hurricane?
  • How accurate are hurricane models?
  • How do authorities prepare for hurricanes and, when destructive events like hurricanes Harvey and Irma happen, how do we respond?
  • Is this hurricane season a fluke, or should we start planning for more/similar storms?
  • Teach-outs are short, just-in-time learning opportunities that allow people across the world to engage with experts on various topics of national and international interest.

They are modeled after the teach-ins of the 1960s, which physically brought people to campus for a short-term, intensive educational experience on a timely topic. Teach-outs take advantage of current technology to engage learners. Delivered online, faculty and staff from U-M offer information through videos and interactive discussions.

This teach-out will be the first offered on the Coursera online platform.

“Through the U-M Teach-Out series, we are reimagining public engagement in the information age and creating the compassionate public square for just-in-time knowledge sharing and the exchange of new ideas within a global learning community.” said James DeVaney, U-M associate vice provost for academic innovation.

“We invite the world to join U-M experts in a global discussion about hurricanes as we seek clearer understanding of the present, greater preparedness for the future and better ideas for individual, community and government action.”

DeVaney said the free teach-outs, open to anyone, are part of U-M’s commitment to public engagement and global knowledge creation and sharing.

New Library Management MOOC Series Fills Educational Gap

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

A new massive-open online course (MOOC) series offered by the University of Michigan will provide advanced training in management to public librarians, many of whom say they have to learn most of those skills on the job.

The Public Library Management series is among 11 Professional Certificate programs being announced today by online platform edX.org. Professional Certificate programs are a series of on-demand, self-paced, online courses designed to build or advance critical skills for a specific career.

“U-M is well on its way to creating a flexible and networked model for global and lifelong learning,” said James DeVaney, U-M associate vice provost for academic innovation. “This new certificate program provides a truly unique opportunity for learners around the world to engage with U-M experts and each other in order to develop the critical management skills needed to understand and address the needs of their local communities.”

The first in the sequence of eight courses in the Public Library Management series began in May 2017. The courses cover identifying community needs, diversity and inclusion, personnel management, budget and finance, infrastructure management, strategic planning, grant writing and crowdfunding, and marketing and public relations.

“Public libraries are among our most valuable public institutions. They play a vital role in our democracy, serving as community centers and resources of trusted information that is accessible to all,” said U-M School of Information Dean Thomas Finholt. “As one of the first ALA-accredited programs in the nation, the U-M School of Information has played a leading role in the education of professional librarians for over 90 years.

“Through this new Professional Certificate online program in public library management, we look forward to sharing our practical expertise on the many essential aspects of running a successful public library, whether in a major city, small town or rural community.”

The series of MOOCs is led by Kristin Fontichiaro, clinical associate professor of information, who said the Office of Academic Innovation and School of Information took this focus for its first Professional Certificate program because of a gap in current library education.

“We discovered two things: that many of our alumni called themselves ‘accidental managers’ and that 58 percent of Michigan libraries are small enough that they are not required by the state of Michigan to have any formal degree or university coursework in order to receive state aid,” Fontichiaro said. “That identified a unique niche that we believed we could fill with high-quality courses designed by a team of professors and highly respected practitioners.”

In addition to Fontichiaro, the courses are taught by Lionel Robert, U-M associate professor of information; Josie Parker, U-M School of Information alumna and director of the Ann Arbor District Library; and Larry Neal, U-M alumnus and director of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library and former president of the Public Library Association.

There are more than 400 libraries in Michigan and 119,487 in the United States, according to the American Library Association.

Fontichiaro said those who would benefit from the series include new managers and directors in public libraries, library board members, library students and current librarians who aspire to be managers.

“Current librarians can complete the coursework, develop job-embedded portfolio pieces to show current or future employers that they are ready for more responsibility, and determine if the duties of managers and directors are a good fit for their career interests and trajectory,” she said.

Fontichiaro said that librarians who go through graduate programs, like the one offered at the U-M School of Information, get a chance to build professional networks. Those in small or rural libraries may not have the opportunity to do so. The course structure allows shared ideas among colleagues that could help form those connections.

She said interest is not limited to the U.S. So far, about two-thirds of enrollment comes from international students representing 155 countries.

“We’ve heard from our global community of learners that they are seeking courses to help them advance their careers,” said edX CEO Anant Agarwal, “Professional Certificate programs on edX deliver career-relevant education in a flexible, affordable way, by focusing on the critical skills industry leaders and successful professionals are seeking today.”

With the latest additions, edX now has 23 Professional Certificate programs.

This new offering is one of the latest additions to U-M’s growing portfolio, which includes more than 100 MOOCs, three micromasters programs and the Teach-Out series, among other initiatives.

Civil Rights, Elusive Sleep, Technology are Next Teach-Out Topics

Four new Teach-Outs in August and September will focus on technological advances that have changed the way we live, civil rights and civil liberties in the current political environment, and sleep deprivation.