Annual Report 2020

Year Five: Obstacles and Opportunities Inspire Innovation

Why do students choose to learn at MSU? The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology supports MSU’s continued transformation as a learning institution to ensure that students choose MSU because learning experiences stand out as exceptional.

Our team helps our partners design and deliver transformative learning experiences as they reimagine existing programs, create new experiences in response to student and disciplinary needs, and enhance the entire student experience beyond the classroom. We do this through learning design, change management, online program management, and educator professional development that promote student success and well-being while increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

This report highlights a small sample of key collaborative projects from 2020, focused on building new experiences, transformative learning outcomes, and reimagined programs. Our support empowers campus partners to chart new, sustainable solutions in higher education to enhance the teaching and learning experience for all Spartans.

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Apple Developer Academy at MSU in Detroit

The Apple Developer Academy with MSU is a one-year program. Students can expect to work on real-world challenges and connect with community and industry partners. In addition, MSU will offer a month-long Foundations program designed for learners considering app economy careers, and who are interested in learning more about app development in general. 

End of year snapshot

Apple and Michigan State University have partnered to launch the Apple Developer Academy in Detroit in fall 2021. This is the first Apple Developer Academy in the U.S. where students 18 or older, including adults rethinking their careers, will have the opportunity to become world-class developers using the Apple iOS ecosystem and learn coding, design, entrepreneurship, and essential professional skills. The Academy aims to attract students from diverse backgrounds, interests, and neighborhoods across the city of Detroit. 

On the horizon

The specific details are being finalized in order to have the first Academy cohort begin October 4, 2021 in downtown Detroit. Visit to view the most up-to-date information. 

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The #iteachmsu Commons ( is where educator-to-educator conversations happen at MSU.

End of year snapshop

The Commons is a centralized social and professional network for educators to share ideas and engage in ongoing growth. In late 2020, the Commons became MSU’s digital resource for educator professional development and provided space for educators to share teaching resources, connect across educator networks, and learn. From June – December 2020 there were a total of 6,800 users on the site. The most frequently visited page was How Do We Best Support Students in a Remote Learning Environment?

On the horizon

We hope to continue to provide new experiences for educators to engage with the platform as the Commons further integrates with professional development and online/hybrid campus events. In addition, the Commons will be a featured platform in the 2021 Spring Conference on Teaching, Learning, and Student Success. It also continues to be the home of the Thank an Educator program for sharing appreciation for the work of educators across campus.

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Educator Professional Development

The Hub facilitated MSU’s teaching and learning change management in response to the coronavirus. The main goal was to provide necessary educator support and faculty professional development programming for the 2020-2021 academic year as the University responded to the ever-changing teaching and learning environment. 

End of Year Snapshot

These efforts required participation across campus. Sponsors included the MSU Provost, Jeff Grabill, Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, and Mark Largent, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, Dean of Undergraduate Studies. Partners included a variety of individuals from an expanded KeepTeaching team: partners in IT Services, Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, The Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, the MSU Libraries, and various educator developers from across colleges (e.g. College of Arts & Letters, Broad College of Business, College of Natural Sciences, College of Education, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, College of Communication, Arts & Sciences, College of Nursing). 

The Keep Teaching team was pulled together as an ad hoc group to tackle the most pressing needs of educators in the quick shift to remote learning. The group developed three different training modalities for educators shifting to online and/or hybrid course curriculum: 

  1. The SOIREE (Spartan Online Instruction Readiness for Educational Excellence) workshop is a combination of synchronous and asynchronous work. Educators learn online pedagogical principles and develop proficiency with a variety of technologies. 
  2. To maximize universal learning principles, the ASPIRE (Asynchronous Program Instruction Readiness) workshop provides the same content as SOIREE. However, it is entirely asynchronous and self-paced. 
  3. The Spartan QM quality review process utilized facilitators guiding small groups of faculty through peer-review against an MSU-specific variant of the Quality Matters rubric. This opportunity provided educators with the necessary resources and guidelines to pivot to digitally-enabled remote teaching. 

Workshops geared toward a deeper understanding of specific topics such as assessment, online engagement, etc. were also developed to support professional development across campus. 

Between April – December 2020, there were a total of eight SOIREE cohorts with a total of 1,029 participants. During the same time period, 784 participants accessed the ASPIRE course, with 92 participants completing all modules. Out of those cohorts, 328 courses completed the Spartan QM course review process and now have the resources to continue to iterate their course and provide consultation to others within their unit/college. In addition, 134 participants took advantage of the additional workshops sponsored by the Hub. These workshops expanded on the topics covered in SOIREE and ASPIRE, and included assessment and best practices for providing feedback. 

On the Horizon: 

Altogether, this project will provide insight and recommendations into a networked approach to educator development for campus moving forward. Programming for the next academic year will continue to expand opportunities and collaborations based on educator and faculty needs. Evaluation of the 2020 cohorts found that the Spartan QM quality course review process had merit and worth, and could be optimized and repeated. The Hub will continue to sponsor these educator development opportunities to facilitate transformative experiences and demonstrate that student learning outcomes are a top priority. 

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Growing MSU’s Online Programs

The Hub provides consulting services for emerging online programs and program re-designs, to continue to advance MSU’s online programs.

The Hub’s Online Program Management team provides free intermediary and consulting services to support the design, development, and sustainability of online/blended academic programs. The following projects provide a snapshot of the online program portfolio. 

Engineering and Criminal Justice Online Programs

This project focused on developing courses for the Civil Engineering online program to be modeled after the existing courses in the existing graduate programs. This project also focused on program coordination and support, including identifying the resources across campus necessary to launch a new online program. The benefits of putting these programs online are that it increases availability and accessibility of the Engineering Graduate Programs for students and expands market reach for the College of Engineering.

To develop these programs the Hub team worked with partners from the College of Engineering, IT Services, and All Campus. 

The online course development experience was designed based on the one-week, one-course workshop led by the College of Arts & Letters and Eli Broad College of Business. The team structured two sprints for the Civil Engineering faculty to develop their online courses in a condensed approach. The first sprint was held in fall 2019, and the second was in May 2020 (the group completed a one-week SOIREE session). During the summer and fall 2020 semester, the team supported the partners with bi-weekly check-ins and will continue to provide marketing research support into 2021.

The insights from this project were presented at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate 2020 national conference. 

March 31- April 3 Innovate 2020 

Building Bridges For Bridge Builders: Evolution Of Building Two Online Programs

  • Presenters: Breana Yaklin, Alicia Jenner, Alyssa Bradley
  • Track: Leadership and Advocacy 

Trial and Error: Our Iterative Approach to Developing Online Courses

  • Presenters: Breana Yaklin Alicia Jenner, Alyssa Bradley, Summer Issawi, and Liz Pollack 

Bridging the Accessibility Gap to Online Engineering Courses

  • Presenters: Alyssa Bradley, Summer Issawi, and Liz Pollack

Marketing technology (

The web portal launched on March 10th, 2020 featuring 72 programs (online, hybrid degree, and certificate programs). Designed specifically for prospective students researching primarily graduate program opportunities, the platform provides relevant information that assists potential students in making an informed decision about engaging with MSU. Each program page offers a “Request Information” button, enabling prospective students to inquire about their program of interest and connect with program staff, meaning a Request For Information (RFI) lead has been generated and can be tracked.   

In 2020, Michigan State University has again maintained the number one spot for unpaid Google search for main search terms related to online programs at MSU. In addition, there were an estimated 48 applications generated from RFIs between April – December 2020.

On the Horizon

The Hub Online Program Management (OPM) team had the opportunity to investigate and facilitate a series of sprints with the online learning working group for MSU’s future online learning strategy over the summer of 2020. The recommendations were provided to MSU’s leadership and included the following aspirational vision: MSU will revitalize the land-grant vision, becoming a highly engaged digital university, increasing the number and diversity of learners we serve, helping individuals and organizations thrive in a continuously disrupted economy and society by providing online learning that transcends our founding as a place-based institution. Such a revitalization will strengthen the reputation and financial position of the university.

MSU’s Strategic Planning Committee is focused on finalizing the future strategic initiatives for the University. That report should be available during the summer of 2021. Until then, the Hub OPM team will continue to advance the online learning opportunities through academic entrepreneurship, building the online programs’ infrastructure, and expanding external vendor relationships while the broader strategic plan is still being formulated.

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Student Experience Project 

The rebuilding effort after the COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity for Michigan State University to create a student-focused institution and a model of a 21st-century land grant university.

End of Year Snapshot

The two-year Spartan experience is crucial in accomplishing this goal. The Hub, REHS, and APUE approached this challenge through a series of sprints centered around key questions about the student experience. Three undergraduate students participated in the sprints to ensure student voices were central to the process.  

The three sprints were built upon existing work on student transitions at MSU: initiatives and existing data from a variety of campus units, and recommendations from the Transitions project. In addition, the Hub team met with ASMSU during their general assembly on Feb. 4, 2021 to gather feedback and engage in conversation around their transitions to, and experiences of, MSU.

On the Horizon

Project sponsors established a working group to execute a re-orientation plan for the student population in fall 2021. The goal is to anticipate, prepare, and address the various needs of undergraduate students as they return to campus after being in a remote environment for one-and-a-half years. The Hub will provide consultation around the student experience for programmatic initiatives, coordination of care strategies, advising strategies, and instructional considerations for the upcoming academic year. 

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SIRS Reform

Frequent requests of the Provost’s Office to revise MSU’s SIRS instrument in light of reports of instrumentation biases and subjective use of SIRS results for RPT (Reappointment, Promotion, and Tenure) prompted the Hub and AAN to craft a brief review of the research literature on the validity of teaching and course evaluations, as well as an examination of initiatives to redesign teaching and course evaluations underway at other higher education institutions. This review was written in spring 2019, and intended to guide Academic Governance in their decision to pursue a revision of SIRS policy at MSU, last updated in 1979. 

End of Year Snapshot

The Hub collaborated with the UCUE (University Committee on Undergraduate Education) subcommittee to produce evidence-based recommendations to UCAG (University Committee on Academic Governance) based on an evaluation of MSU’s current SIRS instrument and other models that exists in higher education that could offer a potential replacement for SIRS as a tool.

On the Horizon

This project successfully implemented changes for the course evaluation instrument used at MSU. The SIRS project will move next to a formal RFP process to choose a partner and implement the new student rating system for MSU.

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Science Gallery Detroit

Founded in 2017, Science Gallery Detroit is an initiative of Michigan State University and the first member of the prestigious, international Science Gallery Network in the Americas. Science Gallery Detroit enables MSU to create the next generation of public engagement and learning platforms in support of the university’s land-grant mission. As such, Science Gallery Detroit serves as a bridge between MSU and the diverse communities of Detroit. 

End of Year Snapshot

A place-based, informal, and interdisciplinary learning space, Science Gallery Detroit reaches audiences in ways that diverge from more traditional university methods and programs. Further, it leverages dialog and collaboration to bring together university research groups, staff, students, the creative community, and the general public.

Over the past three years, the team expanded programming, increased external funding, and hired a Director with considerable experience in Detroit and the cultural sector. 

On the Horizon

The Hub incubated the Science Gallery project and enabled it to grow into a fully elaborated programming platform. Science Gallery Detroit will now be a part of the University Collections and Arts Initiatives. These units include MSU’s museums, archives, and libraries, led by Associate Provost Dr. Judith Stoddart. Science Gallery Detroit will contribute to this portfolio that holds significant cultural and intellectual collections that serve the research, scholarship, and outreach missions of the University. 

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Scholarship: Our Publications

One of the principles that drives our work is that it be grounded in evidence-based practice.

We design learning experiences and focus on teaching practices in this way. What may not be completely clear is that our projects produce evidence as well. The design of our projects always looks for ways to engage in scholarly or analytical work, and we are happy that many faculty are eager to participate in scholarship as well. We are proud of the scholarly productivity of the Hub.

Work with us