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February 2024 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community, 

Almost all University of Michigan students use at least one of the educational technology tools developed at the center every year. They are using Atlas as they prepare to register for upcoming courses, Problem Roulette to help them study for exams, engaged in a gameful learning pedagogy in a course using GradeCraft, group work with the help of Tandem, or the professional writing tool Lettersmith, among other tools found in the center’s portfolio. 

As students increasingly take advantage of the power of these educational technology tools, the center has been more focused than ever, engaging with and providing opportunities for instructors and staff members to utilize these tools in their courses and create learning opportunities.  

This year, we held an Educational Technology Showcase for the first time. It was an opportunity for interested faculty to come to the center’s office on Maynard Street and see demonstrations of educational technology in action, hear from faculty who have harnessed the power of these tools in their courses, and researchers on how these tools are opening up new insights and avenues to how people communicate and learn. Together this group gathered at CAI to advance a range of important conversations focused on advancing student success and equity.

Sarah Oliver, an assistant professor at the School of Music, Theatre, & Dance, discussed using GradeCraft in multiple courses and developing the open online course “Equitable Stage Makeup and Hair.”

Michela Arnaboldi, a teaching professor in LSA, discussed using three tools available at the center, GradeCraft, Lettersmith, and Problem Roulette, in several Climate and Earth and Environmental Sciences courses. 

Finally, Ana Cools, also of LSA, who helps lead the Intend to Attend program, talked about using Lettersmith and ECoach, a personalized coaching tool, to help underserved students based in Michigan prepare for what comes after high school, including applying to higher education institutions like Michigan, going to trade schools, the military, or entering the workforce. 

This event was not just an opportunity to learn about the potential of our ed tech tools, it was also a chance to bring together like-minded faculty innovators who are passionate about how new modes of teaching and new technology can help improve the student experience and enhance student success. 

It’s always inspiring to be around faculty who come together from all over campus, be inspired and energized around what they are passionate about, and see the creative ideas and potential as they discuss how this technology can help them achieve their goals. 

The tools featured in the showcase include the four currently part of our open Call for Proposals in educational technology. The center is providing qualified instructors and staff members with adoption funds and in-kind support to help develop and implement these tools in their courses. 

The educational technology call for proposals (deadline May 17) is one of three current calls accepting submissions at the center. We also have a call focused on educational research (deadline March 15), and a call for proposals regarding the creation and support of online and hybrid degrees (deadline April 5). 

The response to the first Educational Technology Showcase was enthusiastic, with our panel of faculty discussing how they have implemented the technology, including Oliver, saying, “GradeCraft is the most important course design tool you will ever use.” 

I encourage everyone to look into the open calls for proposals, including exploring how adopting educational technology offered through the center can help you achieve your goals and best serve your students.  

Go Blue! 

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