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June 2023 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation community, 

One of the great privileges of our work at the Center for Academic Innovation is stewarding the university’s Academic Innovation Fund (AIF). At the beginning of the year, the center opened new calls for proposals supporting student success, enhancing equity, and delivering innovative learning experiences in residential and online courses and programs. With the fiscal year coming to a close, it feels like a great time to reflect on everything we’ve accomplished with our partners and highlight some of the AIF-supported work across campus. 

The AIF was established in 2014 to provide the U-M community access to expertise as well as financial and in-kind support that facilitates the creation, growth, and research of new academic innovations that benefit learners on campus and around the world. 

Since 2014, the center has awarded support to nearly 300 projects across the university involving nearly 400 faculty innovators. Today, the center has active projects in development with all 19 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor schools and colleges.

The center funded 46 projects this fiscal year, providing in-kind support and distributing more than $1.3 million in AIF support to the campus community. The following is a representative sample of the collaborative projects our center pursued with our faculty partners, supported by the AIF.

Among our projects in the past year, we have focused on impacting student success and equity. This includes a new open online course that supports student mental health developed with CRLT and applying  our personalized student coaching tool ECoach in academic advising for use in Engineering, LSA, and Ross in partnership with the Advising Council at the University of Michigan. Our projects also focus on innovative learning experiences, including an immersive learning experience that allows people to see an interactive human brain in three dimensions to understand the impact of concussions in a new partnership with the U-M Concussion Center

Our online portfolio continues to expand. The AIF has supported the development of more than 250 open online learning experiences, and this year we added new modes of learning and a diverse array of courses. We are advancing immersive learning by launching extended-reality enhanced online courses. We are strengthening relationships with newer partners like the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance on equitable stage makeup and hair. We are also continuing long-standing relationships, including our partners at the School of Social Work and their online degree programs. 

Our most recent awards include 13 educational technology adoption funding awards. These funds provide faculty technical support from the center and financial support that helps pay for supplies and student assistance during the build and implementation phases. These projects will utilize five tools from our educational technology portfolio to help increase student success and enhance equity for faculty, students, and staff. 

In the coming weeks, we will announce additional AIF-supported projects across our portfolio, including new research projects, online and hybrid degree portfolio development, and the creation of new open online learning opportunities. 

These projects will help us further the university’s ability to create equitable learning experiences for students on campus and lifelong learners around the globe. I look forward to announcing these projects soon and in speaking to more innovators and leaders in the campus community in the coming year. 

Go Blue! 

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