This fall, 18 U-M instructors are piloting the Canvas learning management system (LMS) in their courses. The pilot of Canvas will expand to additional courses in the winter term. U-M is evaluating whether Canvas is the right choice to be our next generation LMS. Canvas is available to U-M by virtue of our membership in the Unizin Consortium.

Canvas includes many features that are similar to CTools, the current LMS on campus, such as gradebook, assignments, quizzes, file sharing, and announcements. Canvas also has powerful tools for improving the teaching and learning experience such integrated rubrics and peer evaluations. The Canvas SpeedGrader tool is proving popular among pilot instructors because they can view, annotate, comment on, and grade assignment submissions without downloading and re-uploading files. 

CRLT is currently interviewing the pilot instructors and surveying their students about their Canvas experience and how it compares to CTools. We'll share these findings with ITS and the Digital Innovation Advisory Group (DIAG) this December to inform next steps in U-M's exploration of Canvas. 

Learn more about Canvas and the pilot on the NextGen LMS pilot site

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What does it mean to succeed as a U-M student? This is one question the upcoming SuccessFest, organized by LSA's Newnan Advising Center, is designed to help answer.

The October 22 event will bring together representatives from a range of campus programs and offices that provide support and opportunities to help students succeed in many different senses. Topics range from academic skill-building to career development, financial strategizing, and personal wellness. Students sometimes perceive campus support services as designed only for those who are struggling, but teachers see first-hand that students who regularly seek help and take advantage of campus resources are often among the most academically successful. SuccessFest captures this idea with their slogan, "everyone needs this."

SuccessFest banner

Though SuccessFest is organized by LSA, all members of the campus community are welcome. You can encourage your students to attend, or check it out yourself. Whether you're new to teaching at Michigan or have been here for decades, you're likely to learn something new about the range of campus resources available to your students, whether they are facing challenges or just looking for a boost. Read more »

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After many months of preparation, U-M Student Life and the Educational Theater Program launched a major new initiative this fall to promote a welcoming campus climate for diverse students. If you’re teaching first-year undergraduates, your students will very likely attend a "Change It Up!" training this month, where they will learn about bystander intervention strategies to promote safe and respectful communities on campus. 

Based on a nationally recognized bystander intervention model, the Change It Up! program is organized around several key goals, including:

  • encouraging students to recognize themselves as members of a campus community where individual behaviors can collectively have a powerful effect upon broader campus climate 
  • increasing students' awareness of language and behavior that disrespects or excludes some campus community members based on their social identities 
  • building students' skills and confidence at intervening effectively in potentially harmful situations. 

The program highlights strategies a bystander can use to intervene in discrimination, disrespect, and even interpersonal violence. As highlighted in the image, these are represented by the “4 Ds” of Direct, Delay, Delegate, and Distract.

U-M teachers might be especially interested in the "Delegate" strategy. In this bystander intervention option, students are encouraged to turn to other people who can be resources or allies when they witness or feel targeted by language or behavior that insults or excludes members of the campus community. The workshop identifies instructors as one group of people to whom students might delegate and with whom they might strategize an effective intervention.

As a teacher, how might you prepare yourself to respond should such a request come your way? Read more »

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The deadline for applications to the Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning is fast approaching. Applications are due at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 21. Grants of $6000 (for individual faculty members or small faculty groups) or $10,000 (for departments, programs, or large faculty groups) are awarded for innovative projects to improve student learning at U-M.
 
You should consider applying for a Whitaker grant if:
  • You are involved in pedagogical innovation, whether piloting new technologies in the classroom, creating engaged learning opportunities, or building new opportunities for students to reflect on their learning across a curriculum. Grant funding can be used for needs assessment, program development, or instructional skill development.
  • You are involved in a curricular assessment project in your department or program. Grant funding can be used to fund survey development, focus groups, curricular mapping and more.
  • You are involved in educational development activities to increase instructional capacity in your program, whether for faculty or GSIs. Grant funding can be used to pay for workshops or other pedagogical training, or to support faculty retreats.  
Access full guidelines for the Whitaker grant here. For more information about all of CRLT's grants programs see our CRLT grants page. CRLT staff are always happy to answer questions about grant competitions and to consult on in-process applications. You can contact us at crltgrants@umich.edu.
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With its world-class musical, theater, and dance performances, the University Musical Society (UMS) is often touted among faculty as a signal benefit of living in Ann Arbor. But did you know that UMS can also be a rich resource for your teaching? Thanks in large part to a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, UMS has been devoting significant resources toward the goal of infusing performing arts into the curriculum across campus. Their initiatives to support U-M teachers in connecting their courses to particular performances include:

  • The guide "Arts in Context: UMS in the Classroom" (this season's is available here in pdf) provides detailed guidance about each performance, including a list of disciplines with which it might intersect, some key topics or themes, resources for exploring and contextualizing the performance, and even reflection questions to guide student responses. The guide also highlights some themes that are shared across several performances, helping faculty think about clusters of events that might be incorporated into their syllabus.
  • Campus Engagement Specialist Shannon Fitzsimons is available to meet with faculty individually to design ways to incorporate one or more UMS performances into their courses. You can contact her at skfitz@umich.edu or 734-764-3903.
  • UMS's student ticket programs reduce the cost to students to attend performances; group discounts are available as well. 
  • The Arts at Michigan program provides $500 grants to support arts-related learning activities in courses across the curriculum. Funds can be used to buy student tickets to UMS performances integrated into a course. 
  • The Faculty Institute on Arts Academic Integration provides more extensive training and resources for faculty fellows who seek to incorporate performance and arts-based learning into their teaching.
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