August 2021 Director Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

As we approach the beginning of a new semester, many of us are taking stock — thinking about where we were, where we are, and where we want to go. That applies to new students about to begin their journeys at University of Michigan, our amazing faculty partners, many of whom are exploring new ways of teaching, and our global network of lifelong learners who are learning new skills and passions in our online courses. 

At the Center for Academic Innovation, a lot has changed this summer as we continue to strive toward designing the future of learning. The pandemic has forced us to rethink processes, protocols and the ways we approach our mission, but our team has never stopped creating, collaborating and transforming how people learn. 

A recent ViewPoint summit brought together more than 20 users and potential users of our popular role-playing simulation software. Educators, ranging from primary school, undergraduate and graduate education, talked about how they use ViewPoint to help engage students, force them to adapt to real-time scenarios and build empathy for multiple points of view. 

We have also continued to develop transformative online educational opportunities, including the Sustainability and Development MasterTrack Certificate with our partners at the School for Environment and Sustainability, and an exciting new course called Visualizing Women’s Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice where senior lecturer Melanie Manos of the Stamps School of Art & Design teaches learners how to explore their communities and assess the art in public spaces and what it says about the erasure of women’s contributions in our society. 

In thinking about the future of our online offerings, we also announced a new partnership with Noodle, an online platform set to launch in January 2022 that will allow us a new pathway to engage with learners in social online communities and is committed to working with universities like ours to strengthen the quality and sustainability of online education for both the learners and instructors. 

We know that the future is never about being comfortable or sitting still. It’s not what our learners are doing, and we can’t afford to do it either. That is why we are always reaching out looking for new partners, new opportunities and new ways to transform the future of higher education. 

James DeVaney
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Founding Executive Director of the Center for Academic Innovation

screencap of Sean Swider using ViewPoint tool