July 2020 Newsletter

DJames DeVaneyear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

As we protect ourselves and each other through social distancing and address ongoing challenges of COVID-19, we remain committed to creating new learning experiences and tools that bring us closer together. Our togetherness is essential to the goals of transforming access, creating new knowledge, and developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.

We know the academic year ahead will look and feel different than anything we have seen before as our nation and our university community confronts both structural racism and a global pandemic. To prepare for the challenges we can see as well as those that might wait around the corner, the Center for Academic Innovation team has skillfully continued to advance our work this summer. As always, I am impressed by the creativity and compassion that our staff, student fellows, and faculty innovators contribute to our growing community.

Our team has been working to build the capacity and capabilities required to support teaching and learning in the public health-informed academic year ahead. To do this, we launched Online Teaching at U-M, a new website hosting a range of asynchronous resources and synchronous learning experiences to help faculty and instructional staff learn to teach online. For faculty at U-M new to online instruction, we created a new on-demand course called Getting Started with Online Teaching to guide instructors through some of the major considerations when beginning to teach in an online environment. For faculty and instructional teams at U-M and across the wider higher education landscape, we created a community-oriented MOOC called Resilient Teaching Through Times of Crisis and Change. Learners from around the world have been sharing ideas around resilient teaching and learning within the course since it launched June 1. We are also working with faculty through a new call for proposals to create a new Democracy and Debates Collection on Michigan Online to support learning in three areas throughout the Fall 2020 campus-wide Democracy and Debates theme semester: free speech & exchange of ideas, what it means to be a member of a democratic society, and democratic engagement from a global perspective. 

While we help faculty and instructional teams prepare for the new academic year, we are also increasing access for learners around the world. In June, we expanded our strategic partnership with Coursera by providing no-cost access to more than 4,000 online noncredit courses to all University of Michigan students, staff, and faculty at the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. On July 6, we launched the Police Brutality in America Teach-Out. More than 3,500 participants have already joined the month-long conversation to better understand why people are protesting and to gain the tools and knowledge to advocate for local change. This is our 35th Teach-Out since launching the series in March 2017. To date, more than 100,000 learners have joined us for conversations about timely topics of widespread interest and significance. 

Our ability to reach learners around the world continues to grow. We just surpassed 11 million enrollments in our open learning initiatives and are closing in on 7 million unique learners. The expansion of Michigan Online and our strong partnerships with Coursera, FutureLearn, and edX continue to allow us to support learners at all levels. You can read more about the growth of our open learning experiences impact report. We are also motivated to continue addressing language as a barrier to learning together. This month we expanded our Spanish-language offerings by launching Programación para todos with edX and Negociación exitosa: Estrategias y habilidades esenciales on Coursera. We will continue to move purposefully towards the creation of a multilingual destination for learning and problem solving in the months ahead. 

Despite the current need to mask-up and stay at a safe distance from each other, we see an increasing need to lower the barriers to interaction and close any gaps that stand in the way of learning together.

Wishing you health, safety, and togetherness,

James DeVaney

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