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March 2021 Director Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

One of the more subtle, yet central, themes of our work at the Center for Academic Innovation is an emphasis on providing information and transparency to support decision-making across the U-M community. After a full year of unprecedented and sustained disruption, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of this aspect of our work and the range of decisions we support. Here are some examples that connect with March milestones at CAI.

Informing academic pathways. This month, CAI is launching a new Schedule Builder as part of Atlas which will modernize the course selection experience for students across U-M. While some innovations have a big impact over time and others facilitate important change in the short run for specific populations, we occasionally create opportunities for wide impact that are realized quickly. By providing students with actionable data about courses, instructors, and majors, this new feature will have a big impact across campus almost immediately as we head into backpacking season. Students will be able to make more informed academic decisions as they co-create their own tailored U-M experience.

Informing career exploration. Earlier this month, we launched the Career Kickoff Collection, a new Michigan Online Collection, to help students navigate their career journey. Collections provide learners on campus and around the world with curated and interdisciplinary educational content on topics of interest. As students think ahead toward summer internships and the first steps of their careers after graduation next month, we’re excited to offer this newest Collection to help students to understand strategies and methods they can use to launch and advance their careers.

Informing problem solving. Four years ago this month we launched the U-M Teach-Out Series to bring together people from around the world to learn about and address important topics in society. After launching the Teach-Out model in March 2017, not only did we create 38 Teach-Outs, engage more than 400 experts to share their expertise with the broader public, and fill more than a Big House full of participants (+125K and counting), but we also designed a Teach-Out Academy, sharing this new approach with Institutions like the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University, and Leiden University. The result is that top institutions and diverse experts across the globe are engaging with the public in new ways to understand and advance societal goals. This month, learners everywhere can participate in our Feminism: From Origins to Evolution Teach-Out and discuss what feminism means today and how we can work toward gender equality in our own communities.

Informing ethical engagement. Last week we announced the Center for Academic Innovation’s 2021 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows. An impressive new cohort of 11 Fellows and 6 Mentor Fellows will spend the summer with our team reflecting, building skills, and planning projects with public engagement experts across campus. Fellows will work together, with our growing campus public engagement network, and with community partners to strengthen our collective ability to foster conversations that bridge gaps and open new ways of thinking across disciplines, research areas, and spaces for engaging different publics. Faculty will work together to create more informed models for ethical engagement.

As always, our community is open and our work is iterative. I invite you to join us for an upcoming event to think and connect with a growing community of innovators around some of the important questions at the intersection of teaching, learning, design, and technology. Join the conversation in one or more of these upcoming events:

  • On March 25th, we will host our second event in our new Michigan Online Visionary Educators Series (MOVE) where our guests from the Health Infrastructures & Learning Systems program will describe how medical system innovations are transformed by data and analytics and how they are working to change the future of healthcare.
  • On April 6th and 7th, we are hosting the Extended Reality (XR) at Michigan 2021 Summit which will feature experts from industry and higher education who will share their knowledge and insight around XR and learning.
  • On May 5th, we are co-hosting the Pandemic Pedagogy Symposium with Duke Learning Innovation, Penn’s Online Learning Initiative, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning at Princeton, and the Stanford Center for Professional Development. The symposium will feature interactive presentations and panel discussions on new and emerging research related to teaching and learning during the pandemic with a focus on applied scholarship that advances the art and science of teaching.

Finally, we are humbled by the generous support we received on Giving Blueday. These additional resources will go a long way in supporting lifelong learners through greater information and transparency to support decision-making throughout their lives and careers. Thank you for your continued support for our efforts to create an uncommon education for everyone.

Go Blue!

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