UM Center for Academic Innovation Logo

Office of Academic Innovation Increases Experimentation and Leads Presidential Initiative


The Office of Digital Education & Innovation (DEI) announced that it has changed its name to the Office of Academic Innovation. This change reflects the evolution of the office’s mission and activities and its role in redefining the public research university and its role in preparing U-M for its next stage of leadership in higher education.

“The Office of Academic Innovation is charged with creating a culture of innovation in learning,” said Martha Pollack, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. “As we head into our Bicentennial year, we celebrate our long-standing commitment to innovation in teaching and learning and are eager to continue catalyzing experiments that are shaping the great public research university.”

From its inception, the group has seeded experiments at the intersections of digital technology and residential education, personalization and learning analytics, and traditional and lifelong learning.  The Office now aims to further position U-M as a national leader in academic innovation and is planning for an eventful 2016-17 academic year. The group will steward a new Presidential initiative, expand the Academic Innovation Labs, and renew the Academic Innovation Fund.

Academic Innovation Initiative: A New Collective Focus for the University of Michigan

President Mark Schlissel and Provost Martha Pollack announced this week that they will launch an Academic Innovation Initiative to consider how U-M will lead the way for higher education through the information age and further strengthen our impact on society. In a letter to all U-M faculty, the President and Provost charged the Office of Academic Innovation and the faculty members of the Academic Innovation Initiative Steering Committee to lead this campuswide discussion and to “examine how teaching can be enhanced by ubiquitous access to digital content, by unprecedented opportunities for connection, and by an explosion of data about learners, educators, and their interactions.”

This highly engaging and collaborative community discussion connects U-M’s commitments to academic excellence, inclusion and innovation in order to continue Michigan’s leadership role in defining how the world learns from and with a great public research university.  “The potential here is enormous,” said President Schlissel in an address delivered at new faculty orientation, “as innovations developed right here at Michigan are creating new frontiers in personalized, engaged, and lifelong learning.”

Members of the U-M community are invited to attend a kickoff event of the Academic Innovation Initiative 2-5pm Thursday, Sept. 29 at the U-M Alumni Center. At the event, President Schlissel, Provost Pollack, and Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Dean of Libraries James Hilton will formally launch the new initiative and invite the community to participate in the next stage in the evolution of U-M’s leadership in higher education. The event will also feature a panel presentation from faculty innovators at U-M followed by a reception.

The new initiative will expand upon the work underway at the Office of Academic Innovation and engage the community in fostering broad and enduring participation at U-M; exploring innovation in the residential experience; and,creating catalysts for academic innovation.

Fostering a Culture of Innovation in Learning

The Office of Academic Innovation operates three Academic Innovation Labs at the intersection of curricular innovation, technology, and learning analytics and is expanding its partnerships with faculty innovators and academic units.  18 of U-M’s 19 colleges and schools and nearly 150 faculty innovators have launched projects in partnership with Academic Innovation over the last 2-3 years. These experiments have opened up new frontiers for teaching and learning in the information age.

“We’ve developed strong partnerships with faculty from nearly all of our colleges and schools, said James Hilton, Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Dean of Libraries, “these scholarly and practical experiments have unlocked new opportunities for campus and global learners and accelerated our own pace of discovery in redesigning the public research university for the 21st century.”

Faculty and academic units partnering with the Office of Academic Innovation work closely with experts in these three Academic Innovation Labs – the Digital Education & Innovation Lab (DEIL), the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG), and the Gameful Learning Lab (GLL) – to design experiments to transform higher education for the U-M community and learners around the world.

“We think it is critical for a great public research university like U-M to lead the way in designing future models of higher education,” said James DeVaney, associate vice provost for academic innovation. “Our legacy is one that combines a powerful engine for innovation with a fundamental commitment to public leadership. We are both committed to the discovery of what’s next and steadfast about sharing what we learn.”

Following another successful year of seeding faculty-led experiments around curricular innovation, technology, and learning analytics, the Office of Academic Innovation has announced that it will renew the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF).  The group invites faculty innovators and academic units to submit partnership proposals to design prototypes, projects, and programs that aim to shape the future of learning and extend U-M’s leadership role in shaping the future of higher education.

To register for the Academic Innovation Initiative kickoff event on September 29, please visit:

To learn more about the Academic Innovation Fund, please visit:

To view previously funded initiatives, please visit: