Annual Report 2016

Year One: A Reflection on Hub Progress

The Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology has been growing ever since its official 2016 inception at MSU. The following report is a review of some highlights from our first year, written by Director Jeff Grabill. Explore these sections to learn more about our projects, culture, and partners across the university.

What a year it has been. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call it a year and give the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology the birthday of January 1, 2016. To be sure, its origin story is more complicated and should probably be associated with the first meeting of a faculty committee in 2015. It is also true that we started our work prior to January of 2016, but still, let’s call it 1 year. The space where we work with many others on campus has been open since October of 2016, and so as I write this, we have been fully functional in that space for 6 months.

Early days, but not too early to render a simple account of ourselves. Our mission is to help MSU reinvent itself as a learning institution.

To help.

Nearly everything we have worked on to date has its origin elsewhere on campus. Every project we work on is an MSU project, not a Hub project. Rendering an account of our work, therefore, has added importance because it is a story about MSU.

Our current portfolio touches the learning experiences of every MSU undergraduate student. If we have the right portfolio of projects and execute the portfolio, then we will be able to help MSU become a new place to learn.

I am proud of what we have accomplished this year. I am inspired by the courage of the people with whom I work. I am inspired as well by the vision of the many people on campus who want to make MSU a better place to learn.


Jeff Grabill

Director, the Hub for Innovation in Learning and Technology
Associate Provost for Teaching, Learning and Technology

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Our Journey

We are defined by our team and our space: each continues to shift and change along with MSU’s needs.

  1. In building our team, we have asked a number of people to change how they work, where they work, what they do, and the people with whom they work. This much change often breaks teams. Yet we are (still) building our team, which is a testament to the people who work here. Thank you. In this first year, considerable energy has been spent building the culture and capacity necessary to help our colleagues elsewhere on campus. A special thanks is due to Joanna Young, our former CIO, and Rob McCurdy, our current CIO. Many who work with the Hub are actually IT employees allocated to our projects. An arrangement like this is as generous as it is creative.
  2. At the same time that we started building our team, we designed and built a space to support the collaboration and communication necessary for the projects on which we work and to facilitate the “collisions” between people and ideas necessary to be successful. Our vision was to create a space for the MSU community to “collide”–a Hub that connects people and ideas. The story of our space is a good one, and is the focus of the Designing MSU Hub video.


One of the wonderful things about working at Michigan State is the creativity and energy of its people. As is visible in “By the Numbers” below, MSU has been extremely busy, and so we have built a robust and meaningful project portfolio in addition to making our space available as a place to gather, talk, and create.

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Hub by the Numbers

While it is difficult for us to quantify the countless conversations and brainstorming sessions we’ve had in the past year, we can provide a little context for just how far we’ve stretched.

Hub By The Numbers

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Leading Conversations

We have partnered with faculty and staff across the university to discuss creative, collaborative and crucial changes to higher education.

We have led a process to develop what we are calling a “learning design strategy,” which is really a thinking tool for helping colleges, departments, and others create strategy to guide the design of new learning programs or the revision of existing programs. The Strategy is a response to an expressed need from a number of colleagues on campus for shared strategic thinking across the institution.

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Reinventing Curriculum

With a team of learning and instructional designers on hand, we’ve made headway re-imagining curricula to create more valuable and engaging student experiences.

  • Our colleagues in Veterinary Medicine are reinventing how they educate doctors of veterinary medicine. The goal is that they will provide a model for how to increase learning, provide a healthier experience for students, and reduce costs for those same students. We have added learning design support to this project.
  • The Mathematics Department is central to MSU’s Student Success Initiative because of their efforts to reinvent their core curriculum and support teachers as they engage new ways to teach. We are assisting with assessment, technology, and design capacity.
  • Our colleagues in Integrative Studies are piloting new ways for students to experience this essential part of the core undergraduate experience. Here again, we have supported them by designing process and assisting in the creation of new learning experiences for students, experiences that we hope are more integrated and compelling.
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Reimagining Learning Experiences

We have also found space to prioritize data collection and analytics, so we may learn from current students and trends to inform better revisions in the future.

  • Students work hard inside and outside the classroom. We partnered with an interdisciplinary team from across the university to track students’ co-curricular activities. This provides a record and point of reference for current students to maintain a portfolio of work, and for future students and faculty interested in understanding all that MSU has to offer.
  • Also part of MSU’s Student Success Initiative are efforts to proactively advise students–to reach out to them and engage them in conversation about their experiences on campus. We are also providing learning design support to advisors as they create new ways to do their work.
  • Finally, we are building capacity to support the development of new online learning experiences. I’ve mentioned some of that capacity (e.g., the learning design strategy), but other elements include more technical bandwidth (e.g., instructional video) and intelligence about the landscape of online learning and how MSU might fit.

MSU is evolving rapidly, thanks to the incredible minds and driven community here. We are happy to be part of the movement, providing the mental and physical space for these conversations and collaborations.

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