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September 2023 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community, 

The summer was a busy time for the Center for Academic Innovation, and the beginning of the Fall term has been full of activity – a new location, new partnerships, and new ways we are connecting with our U-M teaching and learning communities. 

We moved into our new offices at 317 Maynard Street and are excited to welcome the U-M community to our two open houses in September. The first is on Sept. 20, and the second is on Sept. 27. I hope you will join us on one of those dates for a chance to tour our new space and learn from our staff how we’re embracing new technologies, research, and pedagogies to drive learning innovation and create tools that enhance student success and equity. 

The center recently announced two important strategic advisory councils featuring leaders throughout the university’s schools and colleges. These councils bring educational leaders from across campus to inform the center’s strategic direction and consider the most significant academic challenges facing students and learners worldwide. 

We greatly value the time and consideration these leaders give these issues. I believe it will strengthen us as we continue to make Michigan one of the world’s top educational institutions. 

Another way we are connecting with the U-M community is through our new event series, Innovation Insights. These events feature a diverse lineup of topics, delivered by leaders in academia and private industry, united by the common goals of providing insights into how to further academic innovation and build the future of education.

Our first Innovation Insights talk featured Joel Podolny, a leader in educational technology pedagogy, who discussed how his team at Honor Education is working to use technology to bring transformational education to the online space.  

We have two upcoming Innovation Insight events, with more announced soon. On Oct. 2, Rodney Parks will discuss making experiential learning part of a student’s academic record. Next, on Oct. 13 Stanford’s Jeremy Bailenson, a leader in the psychology of how people interact with virtual reality, will deliver a keynote address. Bailenson will be at the Michigan Union to discuss a framework for determining when virtual reality technology truly enhances an experience and when it should be avoided. Bailenson is a U-M grad who we are always excited to bring back to campus, and we are eager to work with him as we continue to work with U-M faculty partners to bring interactive experiences to residential and online courses with the power of extended reality tools and virtual production. 

We are holding several Innovation Insights talks throughout the year, and we will be inviting our campus community to engage with us in our new space at Maynard Street as we strive to be a connector and convener of the larger academic innovation community.

I’m excited to announce other things we have in store, and I hope to see you at one of our open houses so we can connect. 

Go Blue!

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