September 2021 Director Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

I want to welcome everyone to the 2021-22 academic year. Whether you are new to the Center or a longstanding member of our global community of learners and innovators, we invite you to join us this year to reimagine the future of equity and excellence in higher education, to make a positive impact on the world, and to make a lifelong commitment to learning. As a series of global and societal challenges continue to impact us, I hope we can focus our time together this year on taking care of each other, creating spaces to learn with and from one another, and helping learners throughout our community to #LearnForGood.

Nearly 10 million unique learners have engaged with U-M through our open online courses, leading to nearly 16 million enrollments. More than 96% of current undergrad students are using software developed at CAI, and these tools are also actively licensed by more than 100 universities around the world. We are proud to support this amazing community, explore new innovations through the dual lens of academic excellence and public purpose, and to cultivate innovations that advance equity and justice. We are grateful for the many faculty innovators, student fellows, and dynamic colleagues across campus, as well as our partners at Coursera, edX, FutureLearn, and Noodle, who work with us to extend U-M’s mission.

As we continue to create and inspire change in higher education and reinforce an engaged and informed society, the world continues to face seismic challenges on many fronts. We are aligning our work to support global learning communities who are eager to understand and solve these grand challenges. Whether you are looking to understand the refugee crisis in Afghanistan, the global pandemic, or climate change, we are ready to learn with and from you.

  • Join the upcoming Afghan Refugees and Displaced People Teach-Out where we will address the impacts and implications of the multi-nation evacuation of Afghan nationals to other countries and provide learners with ways to raise awareness about what’s happening in Afghanistan and help refugees in their own communities. The Teach-Out will launch Sept. 20. Learn more about the Teach-Out model and explore additional free Teach-Out opportunities.
  • The global pandemic continues to threaten our public health. Explore the World and Covid-19 Collection on Michigan Online to understand the many dimensions of this crisis.
  • The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. Learn more about climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) prior to this important summit by joining our Sustainability and Development MasterTrack Certificate program or exploring our Climate Change Collection.

As we reflected over the summer about the work we do and how to maximize positive impact, we realized that a primary purpose is helping people to learn for good. You may seek more equitable justice, a more sustainable planet, or a healthier world. You may want to invest in a healthier, happier, more purposeful you. We want to help you realize these goals. We are going to do some exciting things on Michigan Online this year to support you and a global community of learners who want to adopt a learning lifestyle and create a better world. Join us for the adventure ahead and make a commitment to learn for good.

Go Blue!

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

screencap of Sean Swider using ViewPoint tool