U-M’s Successful Gameful Learning Technology Available to Other Institutions

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—Technology for a University of Michigan learning approach that employs video game-style strategy made its way to the market this week.

The gameful instruction tool known as GradeCraft is now available to K-12 schools and universities, and a key university that promotes the use of technology in the classroom has signed on.

“With the ability to access and leverage GradeCraft, instructors around the world are now able to join a growing global community of educators committed to increasing student learning,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation. “This is a perfect example of what’s possible when a research university like U-M supports a culture of innovation in learning, and a talented group of faculty, staff and students invests significant effort and creativity into solving a complex problem.”

One of the first universities to purchase a site license is University of Arizona, a national leader in using digital technology in the classroom.

“We are excited to partner with Gradecraft and the University of Michigan. It is fantastic to find an educational technology that is built from the ground up with faculty leadership and based upon cutting-edge scholarship,” said Vincent Del Casino Jr., UA vice president of academic initiatives and student success. “The University of Arizona looks forward to deepening our partnership over time as we push toward a more comprehensive vision of gameful learning on our campus.”

Much like the video games students grew up playing, gameful instruction encourages them to take risks as they make choices about how to progress through a course. Students choose assignments they find challenging, and the unique software not only guides them through those choices but also helps them know what to do to succeed.

GradeCraft was co-developed in 2012 by Barry Fishman, professor at the U-M schools of Information and Education, and Caitlin Holman, doctoral candidate in the U-M School of Information and lead software developer at the Digital Innovation Greenhouse within the Office of Academic Innovation.

After successful implementation in his courses, Fishman shared the approach with colleagues across the university. Earlier this year, GradeCraft became available to all U-M faculty and staff through its Canvas course management system.

To date, 56 courses have employed some aspects of gameful learning, serving more than 10,000 students. This includes a series of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

“We believe gameful is a great way to reconnect students to learning and we’re excited to bring it to a larger audience,” Fishman said.

He and Holman have been working on developing the web application to support scaling the technology for use by others.

Prior to the public release, the team invited instructors from K-12 and higher education institutions across the world to develop courses and programs using the beta version of the application.

“This launch is coming after five years of work that started with an idea I had for how to use technology to support gameful courses,” Holman said. “Everyone starts at zero and then they build toward mastery of the course material.

“We get questions about how rigorous a course is given how many students earn high grades, but we consistently hear instructors describe their students doing creative and high quality work. When you design these environments properly you can create an incredible learning experience for students.”

Their work was supported by funding from the U-M Learning Analytics Task Force and a $1.88 million grant from university’s Third Century Initiative, the latter a $25 million fund created in advance of the university’s Bicentennial—which kicks off in full this year—to support faculty in the creation of courses and programs that transform learning for U-M’s next century.

GradeCraft was embraced by the Office of Academic Innovation and added to the portfolio of the Digital Innovation Greenhouse, where its developers could harness existing resources around software development, infrastructure expertise and user experience design.

“We created the Digital Innovation Greenhouse for just this purpose: to help translate digital education innovations like GradeCraft to scale. We’re thrilled to see it begin its expansion beyond campus, and look forward seeing gameful learning spread across higher education in the coming years,” said Tim McKay, professor of physics, astronomy and education, and director of the Digital Innovation Greenhouse.

The Transforming Learning for a Third Century grant funded the Gameful Assessment in Michigan Education (GAME) project in summer 2015, enabling the creation of a Gameful Learning Community of Practice. This resulted in formation of a Gameful Learning Lab with goals to convene educators from U-M and other institutions to collaboratively design gameful learning environments, and conduct a research-based approach to the development of tools around this theory of learning.

“The Gameful Learning Lab is committed to helping instructors at Michigan and beyond transform their courses to support students,” said Rachel Niemer, director of the Gameful Learning Lab.

Holman said some might think gameful learning is only for faculty who want to use technology extensively, but at U-M there are high- and low-tech uses.

For example, one Literature, Science, and the Arts faculty member uses a high-tech approach to teaching multiple sections of a course at the same time. Essentially being in the same place at the same time allows him to offer smaller course sections, which promotes better engagement and camaraderie among students.

A low-tech approach can be found in the College of Engineering, Holman said, where single technical communications course is paired with numerous departmental courses to give students a writing component in core engineering curriculum.

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U-M to Launch Digital Teach-Outs on Current Topics

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

ANN ARBOR—Authoritarian rule and fake news are among the topics for the University of Michigan Teach-Out Series, a new open online opportunity for global learners.

U-M President Mark Schlissel kicked off an Academic Innovation forum March 13 with the announcement of the first four global community learning events on the edX platform, intended to encourage public discourse about relevant issues.

“The University of Michigan Teach-Out Series is precisely the type of idea we hoped would emerge from the creativity of our faculty and staff through our Academic Innovation initiative,” Schlissel said.

The four offerings that will begin on a Friday and run through Sunday night include:

Teach-outs are modeled after the historic U-M teach-ins, which started in 1965 in response to military action in Vietnam. Faculty who had considered taking a stance against President Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of troops into the country instead brought together experts for a marathon educational event.

As a result, similar teach-ins were held at 35 other campuses, and years later the model inspired the first Earth Day event, which had its origins at U-M.

Teach-Out SeriesThose who have orchestrated the Michigan Teach-Out Series hope to leverage technology to bring a global audience of learners to U-M.

“The University of Michigan Teach-Out Series can be a model for a new era of engagement between institutions of higher education and the global communities they serve,” said James Hilton, U-M vice provost for academic innovation. “Part of our public mission is to create opportunities for citizens to be informed, because the more informed people are, the more informed debate can be.”

Academic Innovation leaders refer to the teach-outs as digital just-in-time community learning events, designed to take place over a short, fixed period of time.

“These are intended to be relatively small scale experiences which enable a wide variety of global learners to join our campus community in exploring a topic which is timely for all of us,” said Timothy McKay, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Physics and director of the Digital Innovation Greenhouse within the Office of Academic Innovation. “We hope learners across the world will see them as an opportunity for a healthy conversation—a give and take of ideas and information.”

In the fall, Schlissel announced an Academic Innovation Initiative, encouraging faculty to further embrace digital technology, learning analytics and innovation in their work at Michigan and across the world.

This year, the Office of Academic Innovation announced a partnership with Microsoft to deliver online content and three MicroMasters programs on edX in the schools of Information, Education and Social Work. In addition, several faculty innovations have been scaled for campuswide use, and learning analytics—the use of data to inform educational choices—has been employed by students and faculty alike.

Schlissel’s announcement of the Teach-Out Series came at a two-day forum “Academic Innovation Forum on Broadening the University of Michigan Community.” The CEO of edX presented a keynote at the forum that also included a panel discussion and student design jam.

“We are honored to work with University of Michigan to empower our community of global learners to engage with the critical issues and challenges of our time,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor. “This online series connects learners with experts, academic theory and current events in real-time, which is made possible by the power of technology.”

James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation said the goal of this program and the ongoing work of his office is to “activate public engagement by bringing U-M to the world while bringing the world to U-M.”

“We’re building on U-M’s longstanding commitment to public engagement and our leadership role as a pioneer in online education to create new opportunities for learners to explore the problems, events and phenomena most important to society,” he said.

“We’re starting to see the benefits of an experimental and collaborative mindset that guided us first to prototype rapidly in a nascent MOOC space, next to open access to U-M through new models like the MicroMasters programs, and now to transform public engagement through the Teach-Out Series.

“We expect the teach-outs to provide new social learning experiences that combine the reach of MOOCs with the focus of well-timed community events to accelerate the creation of opportunities for public engagement in ways that fit naturally with the strengths of a great public research university.”

Arun Agrawal’s teach-out on authoritarian rule will debut the series roughly 52 years after the first teach-in.

“Contemporary political landscapes around the world are in extraordinary flux—from BREXIT, to the upending of conventional politics in the U.S., Philippines and Brazil, to the slower moving shifts in other countries. How are we to make sense of these seemingly overwhelming changes?” said Agrawal, a political scientist at the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

“We look forward to engaging online learners in this teach-out. Our historical and comparative lens will inform how societies and citizens have responded to the back and forth of more democratic versus more authoritarian political structures. The almost-daily churn of the current political climate makes our just-in-time approach to the learning experience ever more relevant.”

Michigan X
Office of Academic Innovation

Related stories:
U-M, Microsoft, edX collaborate to enhance K-12 teaching, learning
U-M joins edX to announce three social innovation MicroMasters for online learners

R&D Leaders from Top Universities Gather at U-M To Discuss What’s Next in Academic Innovation

Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News

As universities increasingly experiment with how technology can enhance the learning experience, what if the people on the front lines of these efforts could systematically share stories of success and failure to help others steer in the right direction or avoid pitfalls?

This is just one of the topics leaders from nearly 20 educational institutions discussed as they met earlier this month at the University of Michigan to explore new models for academic research and development.

Staff members who manage efforts like those of U-M’s Office of Academic Innovation came from places like MIT, Georgetown, Stanford, Arizona State, Dartmouth, Davidson, Southern New Hampshire and a number of other colleges and universities that are in various stages of growing their academic innovation efforts.

President Schlissel speaks to HAIL Storm attendeesThe sharing that took place represented what U-M President Mark Schlissel had in mind when he announced a focus on Academic Innovation at his annual faculty breakfast in the fall, during which he laid out initiatives for the new academic year. The president addressed participants at the conference called HAIL Storm, Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners.

“We are taking the approach that there are limits to what one institution can do alone. We want to engage with others and approach the work ahead as partners,” Schlissel said. “Our institutions have different missions, different structures and different types of students. There is a tremendous amount we can learn from one another.

“If all of us are able to help build a nationwide culture of academic innovation, we have the best opportunity of seeing more successful collaborative projects. Your work as the top researchers and innovators in academic R&D and your commitment to experimentation give us a solid foundation moving forward.”

Leaders, many of whom have been recognized nationally for their work in this area, shared approaches that have worked and others that failed. They discussed the cultures of their institutions that often embrace experimentation but sometimes rail against “disruptive” change.

In opening remarks, James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation, posed tough questions to the group.

“Can we handle what happens next after we take a close look? Are our institutions equipped to absorb true accounts of where we are today? Can we handle the expectations we will set for ourselves and can we fight the urge to look away from imperfections?

“We’ve posed questions about participation, pipelines, partnerships, and intellectual property. We’ve underlined equity in education and meeting the needs of diverse learners as a shared interest. We’ve asked ourselves how we can convert growing momentum into a sustainable way of thinking and doing.”

The event was co-sponsored by EdSurge, an online resource for educators created in 2011 to provide information about what new technologies “can and cannot do to support learning,” according to its website.

EdSurge Director of Higher Education Allison Salisbury guided participants through sessions, one of which asked them to propose innovations that would assist with collaboration among the institutions.

“This is the first meeting of its kind to bring these R&D leaders together. These are the people who are leading innovation on their campuses,” Salsbury said. “Some will choose to end their involvement tomorrow but some teams likely will go on to collaborate.”

EdSurge interviewed Schlissel following his remarks to the team. He discussed the opportunities for using technology to strengthen educational quality, tailor content to meet student needs and transform teaching.

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5 Questions for U of Michigan’s Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation

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U-M joins edX to announce three social innovation MicroMasters for online learners

edX MicroMasters

ANN ARBOR—Online learners interested in educational leadership, social work and the growing field of user experience research and design now can earn more comprehensive certification or complete work toward an advanced degree at the University of Michigan.

In some cases, learners can earn as much as a quarter of the required credit for enrolled master’s degrees through three MicroMasters announced today by the university in partnership with online platform edX.

U-M and 13 other universities are launching 19 of the advance MOOC-based study programs on edX. Michigan is offering three MicroMasters: Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement; Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research; and User Experience (UX) Research and Design.

What’s exciting, U-M leaders say, is that learners across the globe can advance in their professions by earning a certificate at the end of the series of courses or, if they become enrolled Michigan students, can work to earn credit toward several master’s programs before setting foot on campus.

The MicroMasters collectively add 20 courses to the university’s massive open online course (MOOC) portfolio of 92 offerings across two online platforms that to date have reached 5 million learners.

“Michigan is proud to be a leader in creating a new pathway for global learners to advance their skills and knowledge,” said Martha Pollack, U-M provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “These MicroMasters reflect Michigan’s unique and long-standing commitment to expanding conceptions of the public research university.”

Enrollment in all three MicroMasters is open now, with some courses available right away and others to be in place by January.

U-M is the only institution offering three MicroMasters—most others have created one—and leaders say the programs they represent are unlike any others.

“What’s particularly exciting about these MicroMasters is that they highlight Michigan’s mission-based commitment to addressing the societal issues of today, and they do it in ways that take advantage of hybrid modes of discovery for global, residential and lifelong learners,” said James Hilton, U-M vice provost for academic innovation.

The School of Education MicroMasters, which will launch in January, allows learners to take five courses that focus on innovation and educational improvement, with a focus on the emerging field of improvement science.

The courses can be used by career teachers to advance their current knowledge or, if accepted for admission at U-M, may allow them to count their credits toward fulfillment of the typical four-semester master’s programs in Educational Leadership and Policy, Teaching and Learning, New Media and Literacy, and Urban Pedagogy.

“The University of Michigan School of Education is pleased to continue our leadership in educational improvement and social innovation efforts by expanding opportunities for current education professionals around the globe to learn new tools and strategies for making and sustaining change,” said Dean Elizabeth Moje. “The unique structure of the U-M SOE Educational Improvement and Innovation MicroMasters allows current and prospective leaders to learn by discussing and analyzing cases of actual education improvement as they also build change networks with leaders around the world.”

The School of Education MicroMasters was created in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

“The Carnegie Foundation’s work in Improvement Science with Networked Improvement Communities offers a new and effective R&D strategy for addressing persistent, high-leverage problems we face in education,” said Anthony Bryk, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. “I am delighted that these principles and methods are now more broadly available to education leaders worldwide through the University of Michigan MicroMasters in Leading Educational Innovation and Improvement.”

The social work MicroMasters includes six courses that cover practice, policy, research, diversity, social justice and work with individuals, families, small groups and community organizations.

Upon completion, participants will advance their careers or accelerate progress through the master’s program, upon admission to the School of Social Work.

“The University of Michigan is pleased to host the first-ever MicroMasters in social work,” said Lynn Videka, dean of the School of Social Work. “The courses will provide a strong introduction to basic social work skills and knowledge for working social services workers and others who want to learn about the profession.”

Students interested in this MicroMasters can jump in right away, as the first course is available online today.

The social work program was created in partnership with an advisory board of professionals in the field, including alumni.

Understanding how users experience technology and what they want and need from it are at the heart of the MicroMasters called User Experience (UX) Research and Design, created by the U-M School of Information.

The nine courses in this MicroMasters provide an intro to the field, and teach students how to better understand user needs and how human behavior impacts the experience. Courses take online learners through usability testing, design principles and approaches to research on user experience.

In addition to certification, those who earn admission to U-M can use these courses to fulfill a significant portion of their programs toward a School of Information master’s degree.

“We see these online offerings as a way to expand our academic reach, presenting learners with opportunities they might not otherwise have to study with the School of Information,” said UMSI Dean Thomas Finholt. “The MicroMasters courses present a flexible, accessible option, whether the student enrolls for professional development, to sample the graduate school experience, or for academic credit.”

Students can take the first UX course beginning Oct. 4. The School of Information MicroMasters was created in partnership with an advisory group of program graduates.

EdX is an online learning destination created by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT is announcing MicroMasters today as are Australian National University, Columbia University, Curtin University, Galileo University, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Rochester Institute of Technology, Thunderbird School of Global Management of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise, Université catholique de Louvain, University of Queensland and Wageningen University.

EdX leaders say MicroMasters are designed to prepare learners for the careers in demand today by supporting an inverted admissions process, allowing learners everywhere to try master’s-level course work before committing significant time and money toward applying for and enrolling in a master’s degree.

“We are honored to work with the University of Michigan to launch MicroMasters, marking a new and exciting step toward furthering our shared mission to expand access to high-quality education.” said Anant Agarwal, CEO at edX and professor at MIT. “MicroMasters provides the next level of innovation in learning and meets the needs of learners, universities and employers in today’s on-demand, tech-driven world.”

The MicroMasters and MOOCS are among the ways U-M is leading in the area of digital education through the Office of Academic Innovation at Michigan (formerly the Office of Digital Education and Innovation). The office is charged with creating a culture of innovation in learning through personalized, engaged and lifelong learning.


More information:

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/


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/

U-M Launches Two Specializations for New Generation of Data Scientists

Recognizing that new career pathways require new approaches to education and training, the University of Michigan is launching two new series of courses on Coursera as part of its commitment to developing curricula and lifelong learning opportunities for a new generation of data science students.

“Learners who engage in these skills-based specializations will become data storytellers,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for digital education & innovation. “An increasing number and range of organizations across sectors of the global economy want to engage talented individuals who bring structure to complex problems and see possibilities in a world of messy data.”

These specializations, Applied Data Science with Python and Data Collection and Analysis, will help learners thrive in data science roles by equipping them with the skills to collect, mine and analyze big data. These series of courses provide learners around the world with paths to learn and apply data science and survey methodologies, whether they explore individual courses or complete all courses sequentially.

Since joining Coursera as a founding partner in 2012, U-M has reached more than 4 million learners throughout the world. These data science specializations mark the next phase of the partnership, building upon the success of four specializations U-M launched in September 2015 including Python for Everybody.

“As one of Coursera’s original four partners, the University of Michigan continues to be at the leading edge of innovation in open education,” said Daphne Koller, president and co-founder of Coursera. “In a little over four years, over 4 million people have enrolled in Michigan’s online Coursera courses and watched over 240 years of Michigan lecture video. Beyond those impressive statistics, the University of Michigan has continually demonstrated its understanding of the skills that learners need in today’s world by offering courses and specializations in areas like data science and technology where job demand is growing fastest.”

The Applied Data Science with Python Specialization, developed by School of Information faculty Christopher Brooks, Kevyn Collins-Thompson, Daniel Romero and V.G. Vinod Vydiswaran, delves into the techniques and skills to manipulate and gain insight into data through the Python programming language. This specialization introduces learners to data science through Python and is intended for those with a basic Python or programming background and want to apply statistical, machine learning, information visualization and/or text analysis techniques to gain new insight into their data. The courses are all focused on data science methods, techniques and skills within the Python domain, building on existing MOOC specializations offered by U-M.

“The goal of this specialization is to merge core intellectual data science skills — critical, skeptical and scientific thinking — with applied technology skills,” said Brooks, research assistant professor and director of learning analytics and research, digital education & innovation. “This specialization is very much aligned with the University of Michigan’s commitment to preeminence and excellence in data science, as evidenced by the $100 million investment made last October.”

The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization, created by U-M professors Frederick Conrad and James Lepkowski with professors Frauke Kreuter and Richard Valliant from the University of Maryland, teaches the tools and techniques to collect and analyze diverse types of data to make strategic decisions. This specialization builds on the success of the Questionnaire Design for Social Surveys MOOC, which has reached more than 65,000 global learners and helps establish a framework for creating well-designed surveys. The seed for this collaborative endeavor can be sourced to the faculty partners’ involvement with the U-M Institute for Social Research, the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization.

“The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization will provide learners with broad knowledge of what is required to conduct and interpret scientifically sound, cutting edge survey research,” said Conrad, research professor and director of the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology. “The capstone project will draw on, integrate, and solidify the material presented in the six courses. Learners who complete the specialization will contribute to the survey research enterprise in new and productive ways.”

In addition to these two specializations, U-M continues to build upon its track record as a pioneer in digital education with additional courses on the Coursera platform. Three Pillars of Business Decisions, developed by Professor George Siedel, provides a global business framework to help learners make sound business and legal decisions regarding risk management, value creation and ethical management. Veteran Centered Care, created by professors Monica Lypson and Paula T. Ross, provides learners with a comprehensive overview for healthcare practitioners to meet the unique physical, mental and emotional needs of veterans.

Also, U-M is relaunching three popular MOOCs in an on-demand format: Introduction to Thermodynamics developed by Professor Margaret Wooldridge, Introduction to Cataract Surgery developed by Dr. Elizabeth Du, and Instructional Methods in Health Professions Education developed by Dr. Caren Stalburg.

U-M Launches First 3 XSeries on edX Platform

The University of Michigan is launching three new certificate programs on the online edX platform that are designed to help global lifelong  learners keep pace with their careers and prepare for the rigor of academic programs at the university.

The three series, which are 15 courses in total, are: The User Experience Research XSeries; the User Experience Design XSeries; and the Corporate Financial Analysis XSeries.

The launch of these XSeries Programs marks the next phase of the U-M edX partnership, which began in October 2015. In March, U-M announced its first four massive open online courses (MOOCs) on the edX platform. The audience for U-M’s programs already exceeds 4 million.

Human-computer interaction is a rapidly growing field that addresses human needs with technology. Learners in the UX Research XSeries will develop skills to conduct research to understand these needs, and those in the UX Design XSeries will learn principles of design in order to create prototypes that delight users.

The corporate finance XSeries focuses on quantitative and analytical aspects of finance. Learners will understand the building blocks of finance, human behavior and how to make sound financial decisions and structure sustainable deals.

“Leaders at many of our schools like the U-M School of Information and the Ross School of Business have seen the potential in pursuing mission-aligned innovation and are proactively identifying new opportunities to transform higher education,” said Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Leaders say each MichiganX XSeries Program, developed within the Office of Digital Education & Innovation, will engage learners in flexible, outcome-based sequences that equip them with tools to harness data and conduct sophisticated analyses.

“This marks another important step in Michigan’s long history of innovation and experimentation in the academic space,” said James Hilton, dean of Libraries, vice provost for digital education & innovation. “These sequences will allow us to deepen our engagements with lifelong and global learners while also helping us improve and differentiate our residential programs.”

The XSeries was created by edX to allow learners to “develop a deep understanding of exciting and in-demand fields.”

“We are honored to deliver University of Michigan’s high-quality education to our seven million global learners,” said Anant Agarwal, edX CEO and MIT professor. “These XSeries Programs meet the growing demand for education in the fields of UX and finance, and provide learners with meaningful and actionable knowledge to enrich their lives and accelerate their careers.”

The series also will move DEI toward its goal to transform 200 courses by the end of its bicentennial year in 2017, including the launch of nearly 100 MOOCs by December 2016. U-M faculty will explore new opportunities for digital and academic innovation this week in Ann Arbor at the U-M edX Workshop.

“As many of the constraints imposed by time and space erode, we are building bridges to share the vast resources of U-M with learners around the world while simultaneously leveraging our global reach to enrich the learning experiences of our students in Ann Arbor, said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for digital education & innovation. We see elegance in the design of these offerings as we strike a balance between openness, innovation, and inclusivity.

Mark Newman, associate professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science, developed the User Experience Design XSeries and User Experience Research XSeries. The courses equip learners with the skillset, knowledge base and tools to leverage creativity to research and understand user needs, in order to design products that users love.

“UMSI is harnessing the transformational potential of digital and blended learning to equip global learners to understand and solve complex issues that lie at the intersection of people, information and technology,” said Thomas Finholt, professor of information and dean, School of Information.

Gautam Kaul, the Fred M. Taylor Professor of Business Administration and professor of finance, Amiyatosh Purnanandam, professor of finance, and Qin Lei, lecturer II, developed the Corporate Finance Analysis XSeries to provide an essential toolkit on project evaluation, risk assessment, financial markets and corporate financial policy.

“This X-Series builds upon what I’ve learned from the past several years of MOOC experimentation with global learners,” Kaul said. “Through these courses, I look forward to helping learners use finance and analytical thinking to enhance decision making in our increasingly complex world, and providing a natural bridge for learners interested in pursuing higher education at our great university.”

For additional information or to enroll visit MichiganX.


New Specialization: Survey Data Collection and Analytics

The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization, an inter-institutional collaboration between the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland, launches April 4. The six-course series of MOOCs provides learners with techniques to collect and analyze good data from various sources and effectively communicate results. With this new Specialization, the U-M Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI) continues to shape the future of learning by enabling personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning for the U-M community and learners around the world.

“We’ve entered an era where it’s now well understood that data analysis and visualization skills are incredibly valuable for professionals across fields and industries,” says James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost for Digital Education & Innovation. “We are excited by our newest digital learning offering as it prepares learners not only to understand how to effectively analyze data and communicate results but also how to apply the best mix of techniques to collect good data in the first place.”

The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization teaches the tools and techniques needed for professionals to source diverse types of data in order to collect information to be used for market research, evaluation research, social science, political research and official government statistics. Professionals in NGOs, government agencies and anyone whose work incorporates customer surveys and/or data collection on a regular basis will find this Specialization useful to understand the importance of collecting quality data and for implementing best practices that differentiate useful data from the large swathes of data available in order to curate useful and correct input.

The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization builds off the success of the Questionnaire Design for Social Surveys MOOC, which has reached over 65,000 global learners and helped to establish a framework for creating well-designed surveys. The Survey Data Collection and Analytics Specialization expands upon the subject of survey design and delves into key aspects for collecting and using data. The Specialization will release the following six courses sequentially: Framework for Data Collection (available today), Questionnaire Design, Data Collection Methods, Sampling People Networks and Records, Dealing with Missing Data and Combining and Analyzing Complex Data.

“Michigan is interested in preparing diverse learners to solve complex global problems,” said DeVaney. “With complex global problems, the data required for breakthrough doesn’t often live in a single tidy discoverable file. 21st century problem solvers have to know how to collect good data in order to analyze and communicate. We’re thrilled to further expand our partnership with Coursera and to share expertise and learning resources from U-M’s Institute for Social Research, and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology, with learners around the world.”

This Specialization, the result of the collaborative efforts of Professors Frederick Conrad and James Lepkowski from the University of Michigan and Professors Frauke Kreuter and Professor Richard Valliant from the University of Maryland, showcases the potential for innovation to arise from collaboration between institutions. The Specialization aligns with U-M President’s Schlissel’s priorities to enhance U-M excellence through inter institutional collaboration in order to foster experimentation and innovation in education, on both a residential and global scale. The seed for this collaborative endeavor can be sourced to the faculty partners’ involvement with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Statistical Research (ISR) which is the world’s largest academic social science survey and research organization. Professors Conrad, Lepkowski, Kreuter and Valliant have collaborated together on numerous committees and development activities over the past decade through their participation in the Michigan Program in Survey Methodology through the ISR and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology through the University of Maryland.

The University of Maryland is the state’s flagship university and one of the nation’s preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 37,000 students, 9,000 faculty and staff, and 250 academic programs. Its faculty includes three Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners, 47 members of the national academies and scores of Fulbright scholars.

DEI aims 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. To date, U-M has reached more than 4 million lifelong learners through MOOCs developed by faculty in partnership with DEI and continues to be a pioneer in digital learning and learning analytics. This Specialization is part of a continued commitment from DEI to transform 200 courses by 2017.

Enrollment for the first course in the Survey Data Collection and Analysis Specialization is currently open. To enroll/for additional information, please visit: Survey Data Collection and Analysis Specialization.


Frederick Conrad
Professor Frederick Conrad
Research Professor, Survey Methodology
Institute for Social Research
University of Michigan

James Lepkowski
Professor James Lepkowski
Research Professor, Survey Methodology and Professor of Biostatistics
Institute for Social Research and School of Public Health
University of Michigan

Frauke Kreuter
Professor Frauke Kreuter
Professor, Joint Program in Survey Methodology
University of Maryland

Richard Valliant
Professor Richard Valliant
Research Professor, Joint Program in Survey Methodology
University of Maryland