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October 2022 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

Partnerships are the lifeblood of innovation. You cannot transform education without bringing together people with expertise and unique perspectives to create something truly impactful. At the Center for Academic Innovation, our path to creating open learning content, educational technology and online degree programs involves partnering with faculty innovators, leaders at schools and colleges, and often working together with industry partners who share our belief in the transformative power of education. 

A successful partnership is about accomplishing something together that neither can accomplish alone. Two recent launches at the center highlight just how vital and powerful a partnership between academia and industry can be. Recently, I shared my thoughts on successful industry-university partnerships with Inside Higher Ed. However, I wanted to spotlight two projects that exemplify our approach at the Center for Academic Innovation and why finding the right partners is the key to lasting impact. 

The center teamed with Google and Coursera to address important skills training in the high-demand career of data analytics as part of the Grow with Google campaign. We worked with the brilliant faculty team of Christopher Brooks from the School of Information and Paula Lantz from the Ford School, to create Data Analytics in the Public Sector with R. Brooks and Lantz bring their experience in public policy and data science and help learners understand how visualizing public data can lead to better policy decisions and ultimately a better world.  

The new online course series is designed for data science professionals and those in the public sector who want to learn how to use public data to drive decision-making and make better policy. The course series complements the skills learned in Google’s Career Certificate in Data Analytics. People who complete the Google certificate and U-M specialization gain access to potential jobs through Grow with Google’s consortium, which features 150-plus employers.

These courses will help nontraditional learners and early career professionals diversify their skills in the emerging field of public data analytics. These learning opportunities will lead to better jobs, better policies, thriving communities, and, ultimately, serve the public good.   

Another longtime partner we are proud to work with is Siemens Digital Industries Software. We recently launched our second course series with Siemens, People, Technology and the Future of Mobility. The new online course, taught by the Ford School’s Elisabeth Gerber, introduces learners to major technological innovations in the mobility space and their potential impact on society. The course features interviews and insight from scientists and executives from Siemens, a global industry leader in mobility technology. 

These open online courses make learning more equitable, accessible and inclusive for a global audience. Equity and accessibility are important values at the center. We host several events that explore equity issues in education, including recently bringing together U-M faculty and the Linux Foundation to discuss how open-source programming can boost representation in the field, and hosted Microsoft’s Sam Schillace to discuss careers in tech. We also have two upcoming events this semester as part of our Advancing Undergraduate Education Symposia Series, one dedicated to college readiness and another discussing the transfer credit divide in higher ed. These events bring together leaders from all over the U-M campus and external partners to discuss important issues facing undergraduate admissions and success. We also have an upcoming AIM Research event on Dec. 12 on equity in assessment for large undergraduate courses. 

All of our learning opportunities and tools are only made possible because of our collaborations with the world-leading faculty at U-M. Industry partners seek us out because of the knowledge, skills, expertise of our faculty partners. We’re proud to work with faculty in learning experience design, production, software development, and beyond to bring these courses, programs, and tools to life.

We know there is even more potential for impactful strategic partnerships, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss the ways we might partner, innovate together, and make meaningful differences in the lives of U-M students and global learners.

Go Blue!

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