James DeVaney, Associate Vice Provost and Founding Executive Director, Center for Academic Innovation
@DeVaneyGoBlue

Sarah Dysart, Director of Online and Hybrid Programs
@SarahDysart

online course illustrationLast week, President Mark Schlissel shared information about how the University of Michigan is continuing to move forward to deliver our mission, and Interim Provost Susan Collins shared that we are preparing for two scenarios this fall: an in-person, public health-informed fall term as well as a remote or hybrid fall term. U-M’s leadership team has encouraged us all to carry out the important work of the university guided by two principles: the safety and health of our community, and our long-standing commitments to academic excellence, equity, and inclusion.

To support the university community in preparing for the fall term, we are excited today to launch Online Teaching at U-M,a new website hosting resources and learning experiences to help faculty and instructional staff learn to teach effectively online. The origin of this new resource can be traced long before the pandemic and to our strategy at the Center for Academic Innovation to support faculty and academic units in creating exemplary online and hybrid programs.

While the original focus of this work was intended to extend U-M’s reach and impact through new online and hybrid programs, the intense set of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic motivate us to expand upon these resources, create more flexible and scalable options, and also provide continuous access to faculty and instructional staff. This new website is designed to support the university in preparing for a range of possible scenarios this fall by assisting faculty in their efforts to transform their teaching for the online or hybrid environment.

Over the past six weeks, we worked closely with faculty and instructional staff to deliver our academic mission and support wellness across our community as we completed the winter term. While engaging in these inspiring collaborations, we gained a better understanding of their greatest needs for support in continuing to deliver high quality instruction to our learners. As a result, we have refined our efforts in developing new learning opportunities and resources that best position our faculty and instructional staff to thrive while teaching courses that integrate multiple modalities. These resources will help faculty to continue to deliver the high quality educational opportunities expected from U-M students across disciplines and learning contexts.

While there is plenty of uncertainty ahead, we know we need to prepare our community to shift from emergency remote teaching to more resilient pedagogical approaches. As we prepare for the fall we also understand that we cannot lose sight of what is most important to a community bound together by discovery and committed to academic excellence, equity, and inclusion. We are focusing our preparation for the fall in areas that will have the most lasting positive impact on our community in the years to come.

With these principles and priorities in mind, we’re pleased to share the new Online Teaching at U-M website and a range of opportunities for faculty and instructional staff to learn on their own and with each other.

Online Teaching at U-M offers multiple ways for faculty and instructional staff to learn

We’ve developed opportunities to engage asynchronously through self-paced courses and curated resources as you prepare to teach online. Importantly, these resources are scalable and provide faculty and instructional staff with continuous access to content and support.

  • Online Teaching at U-M: Home to resources and learning experiences to help you learn to teach more effectively online.
  • Getting Started with Online Teaching: A self-paced course where you can learn foundational practices of developing and facilitating online courses. Connect with peers and our experts in discussion boards, workshops, and office hours to personalize your learning. (Launches June 1)
  • Resilient Teaching Through Times of Crisis and Change: A community-oriented massive open online course. You’ll be guided through the creation of a resilient teaching plan to aid pedagogical decision making. (Launches June 1)

We will also continue to offer opportunities to engage synchronously with other instructors and online teaching experts throughout the summer through a combination of communities of practice, workshops, and office hours.

  • Communities of Practice: Meet-ups to connect you with other instructors facing similar circumstances and challenges.
  • Workshops: Live structured sessions to develop more advanced understanding of online pedagogies.
  • Office Hours: Unstructured sessions where you can ask questions or problem solve with an expert.

We are actively creating new content and scheduling additional live sessions this summer based on the greatest needs of faculty and instructional staff, who can use the website to share feedback about the resources and support that would be most helpful. You  can sign up to receive notifications as additional learning opportunities become available throughout the spring and summer.

Online Teaching at U-M helps to expand our academic innovation network

A critical part of our mission at the center is to expand our academic innovation network. This involves expanding our U-M community of innovators, growing our portfolio of initiatives and programs, and creating a nationwide network for academic innovation. We have designed the Online Teaching at U-M website to support each of these aims while deeply considering current needs and future direction.

Through a flexible and scalable collection of resources we aim to help U-M faculty understand the unique affordances created by technologies and pedagogies in the online environment. Faculty that engage with these resources will be able to design online or hybrid learning experiences that create interactions with students and course content that are most effective and inspire deep learning. Through self-guided resources and a range of learning communities, we hope to support a portfolio of academic innovation initiatives that is growing rapidly in number, diversity, and complexity. By sharing resources through this website under creative commons license, we hope to support faculty, instructional staff, and institutions across the country and around the world.

The Online Teaching at U-M website is now available to support some of the highest priority needs we’ve heard from our community. It is also far from complete. We will work closely with our community to continue adding resources and valuable opportunities to network, explore, and transform our teaching together.