Growing Digital Pedagogy in the Digital Innovation Greenhouse at the University of Michigan

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Brief Abstract

The University of Michigan Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG) is scaling “homegrown” digital pedagogy. Our group of software developers, user experience designers, and behavioral scientists work with faculty to iterate and spread innovative edtech. Join to discuss how DIG was born. Learn how to support and scale digital innovation.


Amy connects the University of Michigan Office of Academic Innovation (AI) with faculty, staff and students across the University of Michigan to support the successful growth of digital edu tech tools, and innovative higher education interventions at U-M. Amy works to ensure broad adoption and responsive design of AI's portfolio. Amy leads AI's advocacy efforts including communicating across various university stakeholders, representing AI in and outside of the institution and convening communities of practice focused on digitally mediated pedagogy. Prior to her position in AI, Amy worked throughout the University of Michigan including in the Alumni Association, Student Life, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) and the College of Engineering with increasing responsibility for launching or stewarding new education and career initiatives at scale in her various roles. Amy was also an Adjunct Instructor in LSA and is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Eastern Michigan University, where she teaches graduate students. Amy is a certified MBTI practitioner, StrengthsQuest educator and is trained in Motivational Interviewing. Amy received her MSW from Grand Valley State University and her AB from the University of Michigan.

Extended Abstract

“Let’s take a leadership role in edtech since it’s part of our core business” said Assistant Professor of Education at Stanford Candace Thille in a recent webinar on the evolving role of faculty in an era of increasing digital education technology. This is what we are doing at the University of Michigan (U-M) in the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG), a "homegrown" edtech accelerator that’s building and scaling digital pedagogy within and beyond U-M. What happens to faculty technological innovation? In many instances its usefulness does not extend beyond the departments in which it was born. Why? Because the infrastructure does not exist to scale it. DIG solves this problem by providing a team of software developers, user experience designers, behavioral and data scicentists who work with faculty champions to iterate quality edtech. DIG, then, can do what faculty and departments cannot do on their own-grow edtech tools from innovation to infrastructure personalizing education at scale. DIG was founded in 2015 with a staff of three and just three tools in its portfolio. Now, DIG has a full-time staff of 17, and currently has nine tools in its suite. Although diverse, these tools all center on the intersection of teaching and learning and technology. Some, like Policymaker, make it easier for faculty to implement simulation pedagogy. Policymaker takes what was a paper and pencil process and now is a web based application for instructors to plan and students to execute deep learning experiences. ECoach is a tailored communication system providing individualized messages to students in large courses, thereby increasing engagement with and ultimately the academic success of students. ART 2.0 visualizes U-M course and instructor data in meaningful ways to help guide class discovery and selection. M-Write uses writing to learn pedagogy to more easily implement and assess writing exercises in large STEM courses. These examples showcase the breadth of technological innovation happening in DIG, while not mitigating its focus on improving teaching and learning through digital intervention. As DIG grows so too do its needs. How does DIG increase the number of faculty and courses employing its tools? What challenges do we encounter when working with early and mid stage adopters? How do we work with faculty to ensure the pedagogy on which our tools rely scales in parallel with the technology? As we grapple with these questions we gain knowledge on strategies that increase faculty engagement including research opportunities. More importantly we learn how to ensure that pedagogy and technology are not divorced from one another as our user bases expand. In this session Participants will:

  • Learn about U-M’s Digital Innovation Greenhouse and how it supports faculty innovation as a model for other institutions

  • Gain information on DIG’s suite of tools and how they address common challenges in higher education like personalizing the education experience in large courses, or supporting differentiated learning

  • Understand the challenges DIG faces in expanding its user bases, and some of the early solutions we have adopted to respond to issues of scaling digital edtech

While participants are engaging these learning outcomes, they will have the opportunity to explore DIG tools, and to brainstorm with one another how to build a culture of faculty digital edtech innovation thinking both about early stage and enterprise level solutions.