Did you know that the University of Michigan Library published an open-access book that was crowdsourced in a single week? In May 2010, editors Dan Cohen and Tom Scheinfeldt gathered submissions for Hacking the Academy, a multi-faceted collection exploring how digital media might productively transform the ways academics go about their scholarship and teaching.  Here’s the section focused on teaching, which is well worth browsing if you’re interested in how the evolving media environment intersects with instructional strategies: “Hacking Teaching.”   

For some more general information about how the volume came together, check out the Preface to Hacking the Academy. The printed book is also forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press

When Thurnau Professor of Art Sadashi Inuzuka visited a colleague’s performance studies class to give a guest lecture, he began by handing each student a chunk of clay to work while he talked. The gift of clay invited students to engage their bodies in the process of thinking about land and their physical connection to it—an invitation they delightedly accepted as they kneaded the lumps into small forms that Inuzuka later fired and returned to them. Inuzuka is internationally renowned as an artist whose sculptures powerfully explore the relationships between humans and the natural world. But he is equally renowned among U-M colleagues and students as a remarkable teacher who can guide students, through such simple acts as handing them clay, to deeply embodied insights about the transformative social power of art.

Thurnau Professor of Art Sadashi Inuzuka

The sheer breadth of Inuzuka’s teaching speaks to his flexibility as a teacher. But whether through his innovative drawing workshops for first-year medical students (designed to develop skills of observation as well as a comfort with loss of control), or his interdisciplinary course on environmental concerns in the Great Lakes region, Professor Inuzuka’s teaching consistently reflects two core pedagogical principles: 

  • The artistic process creates community and provides tools for social engagement.
  • Learning happens best when students are given the space to find their own methods, forms, and answers.
Inuzuka’s enactment of these ideas is perhaps best illustrated by the innovative ways he has connected the School of Art & Design to Southeast Michigan’s low-vision community. Through his “Many Ways of Seeing” courses and workshops, created in partnership with the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Detroit Public Schools, and community groups, Professor Inuzuka has given students what many describe as a life-altering experience of collaboration with blind and visually-impaired children and adults.

Congratulations to Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mathematics Stephen DeBacker for being named the 2012 Michigan Professor of the Year!  Already recognized as an outstanding teacher here at U-M, DeBacker was honored with the Thurnau Professorship in 2011.

You can learn more about DeBacker and the Professor of the Year award in this University Record article. Follow this link for further information about the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program, including winners nationwide. [Note: This awards program was discontinued after 2015.]

The University's Learning Analytics Task Force has recently announced a new Fellows Program. This program will bring together faculty, staff, graduate students, and postdocs in a semester-long collaborative study of Learning Analytics. If you're considering applying for this opportunity or just curious what "Learning Analytics" means, read this guest post by Natalie Sampson, Public Health Ph.D. student and Graduate Student Instructional Consultant at CRLT.

Natalie Sampson

As academics, many of us think a lot about assessment in the classroom. How do we best assess our students' learning? How can we be sure they are getting it? In this information age of "big data," Learning Analytics is an emergent field that is tackling these core pedagogical questions.

You may have heard the term "Learning Analytics" (LA) around campus but still wonder what it refers to. According to the Society for Learning Analytics Research (SOLAR), LA is "the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs."

What might that mean for your teaching?  In practice, Learning Analytics may look like...