The top-down delivery of knowledge, from instructor to student, is a classic form of teaching. But it doesn’t work for every learner, especially when it comes to understanding difficult concepts. To address this problem, an instructor-guided, collaborative learning technology is being developed. It will encourage the generation of multiple explanations of each concept—by students and for students. ​Both groups will benefit from the experience: a true peer-to-peer process. This learning technology fits into the campus scale. A demonstration application will be built during Fall 2017, with a goal of testing the system in three large undergraduate courses at U-M in Winter 2018.

Categories: Collaboration, Learning Technology, and Pedagogy


The Campus of the Future is dependent upon greater capacity to build and scale entrepreneurial efforts across its campus. To realize this vision, this project has created a mobile app called Adjacent: a virtual incubator to help student entrepreneurs from different disciplines meet and collaborate while providing alumni entrepreneurs continued access to the valuable guidance and network of the university. Using location-based technology, Adjacent allows people to see what ideas, skills and resources are right around them. Gamification and an intuitive user experience make the process of starting a company more approachable, lowering the barrier to entry for non-traditionalists. On the back end, Adjacent gives the university valuable data into how and where innovations are happening, which allows them to better target valuable resources.

Categories: Collaboration, Mobile Apps, and Social Media

Beyster Bluepath

About 285 million people are estimated to be visually challenged worldwide. Yet buildings, cities and maps are designed with sighted users in mind, making navigation challenging at best and dangerous at worst. This project is building a mobile application that can provide audio navigation instructions. The application—currently being tested in the Beyster Building on North Campus—would elicit user input via voice commands in natural language, locate the user within a building and then provide turn-by-turn instructions to the destination. This solution currently fits into the room and building scales, but the prototype could be scaled further to cover every U-M building, ensuring campus-wide impact in the near future.

Categories: Inclusivity, Mobile Apps, Mobility, and Physical space

C2D Hub

The C2D Hub project is dedicated to developing a private dental clinic model that is ecologically sustainable, can be built in any environment and serves as a multi-purpose learning space for its community. This team is currently conducting interviews with faculty, staff and students of the U-M School of Dentistry, practicing dentists and members of the community to determine the must-have elements of the model. After a visit to the Earthship community in Taos, NM, this project will confer with the architecture firm SmithGroup JJR to help shape the clinic’s blueprints. Deliverables will also include a syllabus for a mini course on sustainable dental buildings and practices and a toolkit for developing the clinic of the future, to be distributed to incoming dentistry students at orientation.

Categories: Pedagogy, Physical space, and Sustainability


No adequate medium currently exists to facilitate the study three-dimensional academic material. This project’s solution is to develop an augmented reality platform that allows users to project and interact with such content, as if it were occupying the real world with them. Students and professors will be able to easily upload, view and share 3-D content. It can be sorted by course, section or any other relevant grouping, and accessed on any device with an Internet connection. This room-scale project will have university-wide benefits. The platform, which runs smoothly on common smartphones (IOS and Android), can also integrate seamlessly with current teaching strategies.

Categories: Learning Technology, Mobile Apps, and Virtual Reality

Detroit City Study

Detroit City Study positions itself as a campus-wide design initiative, exploring the possibilities of developing an enhanced educational environment in the city of U-M’s birth through the creation of communal work spaces. In 2016, a DCS pilot focused on entities that are usually separated by space, like Detroit and Ann Arbor, but also U-M’s School of Education and College of LSA. It incubated interdisciplinary research clusters in urban education, placemaking and sustainable humanities, then shared this knowledge through conversations that brought everyone’s voice in. The deliverable for this project would be a written report on the pilot that explores the possibilities of sharing across different academic spatial divisions, and offers new visions for how educational campuses could be structured in the future.

Categories: Collaboration and Physical space

Developing a MOOC through Engaged Learning: Students Creating for Students

An interdisciplinary group of upper-division undergraduate, master’s and PhD students from five different schools recently worked under the guidance of Dr. Michaela Zint, and in collaboration with the Office of Academic Innovation and the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching, to develop the first iteration of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) designed to help national and international learners engage in individual, community and political behaviors to “Act on Climate.” This project is considered to be one of the first original MOOCs developed collaboratively between a professor and students, and can now be used as a model of student-led digital curriculum development for others at U-M and academic institutions around the world.

Categories: Collaboration, Learning Technology, and Pedagogy

Find Your Ditto

Almost 20 percent of U-M students have registered some form of chronic physical condition or mental challenge with the university. Such illnesses often take their emotional toll, causing sufferers to experience anxiety and depression at rates 50 percent higher than the general population. And those feelings can lead to isolation. To combat this situation, this project proposes Find Your Ditto: a mobile platform that helps these students connect with on-demand, in-person peer support from “dittos” fighting the same battle.This network of peers can provide relief—e.g., a simple “me too” over coffee at the union—at the touch of a button and serve as an adjunct to the university’s existing counseling and psychological services system.

Categories: Mobile Apps and Social Media


Deep learning requires students to be actively engaged with the content, to pursue the connections between what they’re learning and what they already know and to take ownership for their progress. These states of mind do not come about casually, and all too often have been ignored by an educational system built on lectures and high-stakes assessments. The solution is an application called GradeCraft that aims to actively involve students in their education. At the room level that means no more “perfect” grades; students all begin at zero and earn up as they gain mastery. On the building level, GradeCraft can be used to help students flesh out their experiences. We can also reach the total campus by designing an interactive visualization to describe students’ engagement and performance.

Categories: Learning Technology and Pedagogy

Honors Leadership Capstone

In partnership with the Honors Program, Central Student Government proposes the creation of an Honors Leadership Capstone which would serve students interested in purposefully connecting knowledge learned in the classroom with skills learned outside of it. Capstones could be defined as an experiment, project, research study or entrepreneurial venture, with a completion date of 1.5 to 2 years. Successful students would graduate with honors, and be able to display or present their capstone results for others to see. In Fall 2017, the Honors Program, in cooperation with CSG, will pilot this program for a small group of students. The HLC goes beyond the framework of rooms and buildings to impact any student enrolled in the College of LSA and, later, any student across campus.

Categories: Curriculum and Pedagogy

Initiative for an Inclusive Campus

A student group in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is prepared to take on the challenge of studying the relationship between physical space and education through the lens of disability. Preliminary research suggests that the current use of space at U-M–at the room, building and campus levels–contributes to unequal learning opportunities for those who are differently abled. Obvious trouble spots include staircases, narrow doorways and the absence of accessible entryways. But this study will also consider land use, transportation, housing, dining, athletics, Ann Arbor’s infrastructure and how all of these aspects can contribute to creating an equitable education for all. Deliverables will highlight the successful remedies that the university currently employs and also offer suggestions for improvement.

Categories: Inclusivity, Learning Technology, and Mobility

Instagram for the Extended Classroom Curriculum

Teaching is communication: sharing knowledge with the hope of generating a response. As our forms of communication change with the development of new social media, shouldn’t our teaching change, too? A class Instagram project was created as a response to this dilemma, encouraging students to take their class with them as they go about their day and to share some of their world with them by tying it back to the themes of the class. This created a virtual community for students to engage in, learning to learn through their most intuitive forms of engagement. By teaching through technology rather than against it, this project hopes to help students become more thoughtful, engaged and critical media producers and consumers.

Categories: Learning Technology, Pedagogy, and Social Media

An Interactive Education Platform

This project aims to combine the ancient ideals that enabled the formation of universities with the innovative technologies of the current age. To facilitate this change, lecture halls could be structured like Roman amphitheaters, with multiple podiums to encourage the debate of multiple opinions. Lecture courses, especially in the social sciences, could have an accompanying seminar course enlivened by the participation of on- and off-campus experts. Classroom technology could consist of a touchscreen at each student’s desk, wired to the lecturer’s podium and displaying corresponding interactive content. Imagine how powerful it would be if students could manipulate boundary conditions of a differential equation to see the solution change in real time, or change the exhaust pressure of a rocket engine to watch the formation of shock diamonds.  

Categories: Learning Technology and Physical space

Knowledge Village

Knowledge is neither equally distributed nor easily accessible—a situation that supports the development of Knowledge Village, an online community of experts available to learners worldwide. Educators in schools, after-school programs, summer programs and other learning environments will be able to search a database, reach out to speakers and arrange online video visits. While students and faculty at U-M could benefit from using this resource, the university is also uniquely positioned to provide speakers—current and emeritus faculty and alumni—to share with the world. Looking forward, graduating students could also be asked to join the Knowledge Village, creating an ongoing asset to learners and solidifying U-M’s reputation as an educational institution of the first order.

Categories: Collaboration, Learning Technology, and Social Media

Living Technology Exhibition Space

In 2014, the DoIIIT Studio (Designers of Interactive, Intelligent, Internet of Things) was launched at U-M School of Information to support research and design exploring how people can better create and interact with technologies—from augmented reality displays to robots to “enchanted” objects. Some temporary exhibitions have been launched in the studio, but they were limited by space, funding and time. This group proposes to build a permanent exhibition space which would provide more robust demonstrations of technologies, longer-term presentations of novel work and periodic rotation of exhibits, all of which would make the interactive experience available to a wider range of visitors. This proposal is “room-scale,” and will require the renovation of a storage space adjacent to DoIIIT’s workspace.

Categories: Learning Technology, Physical space, and Virtual Reality

Lorch Hall Lives

Lorch Hall was the finest facility for an architecture program in the country at its completion in 1928. However, it was rapidly outgrown, forcing the architecture program to move to North Campus and jeopardizing the future use of the original Central Campus building. The building’s namesake had hoped that it would expand from an L-shaped structure to a quadrangle. This project, operating in an alternative reality, follows through on that plan by employing advances in digital fabrication as well as bacteria and agricultural waste to create an ever-growing, living lattice framework for new construction. This project operates at the scale of the building, with a keen awareness of its surroundings. Deliverables will include a digitally fabricated mock-up of the design and renderings of it in context.

Categories: Physical space and Sustainability

Maestro: The Conductor’s Baton

The goal of this project is to develop a virtual conducting system that would allow for the refinement of kinesthetic skills that are essential to creating subtle gestures improving conductor performance and confidence on the podium. This project will support the learning of kinesthetic conducting skills while furthering development of essential musical and cognitive skills.

Categories: Learning Technology and Pedagogy

A Manual of Campus Civic Spaces

U-M’s North Campus is a truncated world that distances itself from Ann Arbor, with dispersed buildings that discourage pedestrian traffic and limit the development of civic space. To remedy this, this project looks to the past: to 1952, when the original plan for North Campus was developed. The preliminary work of this bicentennial project, set as a 1952 narrative projection into the future, imagines a divergent course of historical campus development, one in which postwar U-M expanded along the Huron River rather than on the heights north of it. This will reveal the current weaknesses of civic space on North Campus, and also allow U-M to address those weaknesses by envisioning alternative spatial configurations and radically innovative planning solutions.

Categories: Physical space


Traditionally, an education at U-M has focused on the model of a teacher transferring professional knowledge to students. But what about students seeking to learn something for personal enrichment? For that audience, this project proposes a different delivery method: a website called Match.Meet.Master. M3 will be a student-to-student enterprise executed on a campus-wide scale. Students with a skill to share will create a teaching profile on M3: describing lessons they would offer, pricing and meeting times and locations. Learners will be able to easily “shop” the site for desired lessons. M3 will foster relationships between campus members who rarely interact with each other—for instance, a dental student connecting with a dance student for ballet lessons—while making the most of the abundant talent within the student community.

Categories: Collaboration, Learning Technology, Pedagogy, and Social Media

Michigan Aquaponics

Michigan Dining has made significant strides in increasing the overall sustainability of the dining halls at U-M, but there still remains room for improvement. Our student organization suggests that improvement can be achieved by implementing aquaponics: a combination of conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Preliminary projections estimate that a system of just two 3,750-gallon tanks would be able to consistently supply a dining hall with enough food to serve all of the students who eat there. This project’s proposed campus-scale solution will help educate all students on how we can create a tangible impact and promote a sustainable future, all while dining on wholesome food.

Categories: Physical space and Sustainability

Michigan Foreign Policy Council

How can students across all majors with an interest in foreign policy gain research experience and develop professional skills in the field? This project’s answer was to create the Michigan Foreign Policy Council, an undergraduate think tank. Members are sorted into teams based on policy interests and work together throughout the semester to form a research question. They then produce a thorough social science research paper to address this question. Team papers are published in a student-produced research journal, available at twice yearly conferences. The conferences also enable members to showcase and present their findings in a public forum. council challenges the traditional method of learning—-in a professor-to-students structure—and allows students to gain research experience outside of the classroom.

Categories: Pedagogy

Music House Sessions

It is a struggle to find space at U-M where non-SMTD students can express themselves. The long-term goal of this project is to develop a student arts center at U-M: a dedicated space that serves the needs of amateur artists in the same way that the Central Campus Recreation Building caters to amateur athletes. To generate support for such a structure, this group will create a monthly series of performances at various venues: the “Music House Sessions.” Each would include a jam session, an open mic period, time for networking and educational presentations and a live performance. Participants will also be encouraged to bring their ideas and needs to the table. This will facilitate the development of an inclusive, student-centered plan of action to achieve our final goal.

Categories: Collaboration and Physical space


Today’s students believe that brick-and-mortar libraries are outdated, and even a library’s digital offerings are suspect. Yet these offerings are needed to perform meaningful research. MyResearchPal, a web-based application, can address this campus-wide issue. MyResearchPal enables students to sync assignments through Canvas into a special dashboard. From there, they can connect with university resources, complete an MLibrary research guide and produce an exportable outline containing topics, sources, source notes and citations. MyResearchPal also enables users to “like” a resource or provide a review. Librarians can use this data to gauge the effectiveness of their offerings and better design future resources. Currently in the prototype phase, MyResearchPal requires additional funding for user testing and to develop the code for open source.

Categories: Learning Technology

Office Wall of the Future

Guardian has developed large-area, transparent touch-enabled (LATTE) glass. The focus for this project will be to develop a functional prototype of LATTE that can be incorporated into a conference or classroom.

Categories: Learning Technology and Physical space

Pedestrian Priority on Central Campus

Almost every day at U-M, there are close calls between cars, bicycles and pedestrians. To help prevent a tragedy from happening, this project would like to examine the conversion of certain portions of Central Campus roadway into pedestrian- and bicyclist-friendly routes. The primary deliverable will come in a report which will analyze several scenarios, including full pedestrian-priority malls, bus and service vehicle-only lanes and bike lanes. The report will also detail proposed costs, parking revenue replacement, traffic flow impacts, bus rerouting, local business impacts, service access and how to sell the project to the city. Additionally, it will consider impacts in relation to existing campus planning documents and the proposed Ann Arbor Connector.

Categories: Mobility and Physical space

Personalizing the Future

The future we all dreamed about is here, and gives students more access than ever to material and research through online media. Yet, face-to-face interactions between peers and teachers are declining, resulting in disengaging and impersonal classes. What can be done to improve this situation? The solution may be found in critical improvements in classroom design. This project proposes that classrooms be outfitted with semi-circle seating designed to position students side-by-side in groups of five. This would enable the students to face the professor, but also face each other–facilitating small-group discussions. The professor could also move easily between groups of students to comment or assist. By encouraging this physical proximity, this approach can give students of the future a better and more personal education.  

Categories: Physical space

Pop-Up Learning Labs

The campus of the future must break free of its institutional and geographic barriers to branch out into surrounding communities, create experiential learning options for students, engage individuals with limited access to higher education and provide space for interdisciplinary collaboration to solve local problems. The proposed solution is to create pop-up learning labs. To test this idea, this team proposes to develop a pilot pop-up lab in Ann Arbor with the opportunity to operate at three scales. At the room scale, the lab will take the form of interactive gatherings between town and gown. At the building scale, the lab will function as a live-in learning community. At the campus scale, the lab will serve as an interactive, engaging set of satellite spaces around campus.

Categories: Collaboration, Pedagogy, and Physical space

Regents Plaza Redesign

Regents Plaza, an outdoor space on U-M’s Central Campus, is nearly 50 years old and it shows. Its current design is outdated and is seldom used by students — or other community members. This project aims to reimagine, redesign and eventually transform this space. It will showcase U-M’s commitment to sustainability and intelligent design by increasing the social and ecological function of Regents Plaza. The final deliverable will be a finalized design, budget and plan for the redesign of this space. If implemented, it has the potential to impact students, faculty, staff and other community members for decades to come.

Categories: Physical space

Reinventing Interdisciplinary Classes and Curricula

Interdisciplinary, project-based courses are not new. This idea differs from what has come before by bringing together students who do not normally interact and creating an environment of cooperation to tackle contemporary problems. Such courses will be beneficial in helping young students arrive at a choice of major and will enable older students to apply their refined skills in a practical, project-based setting. The final deliverable will be comprised of a written report that details three potential elective courses designed with stakeholder feedback in consideration. The report will specifically lay out the structure of the classes and potential faculty involvement.

Categories: Curriculum and Pedagogy

Restructuring LSA

This group feels that there are currently many challenges in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts application process that it may be limiting U-M students’ educational experience. To address these concerns, this project suggests several changes. The first is to create a required mini-course for all freshman students within LSA to inform them about all majors, programs and schools at Michigan. The second idea is to create certificate programs for all majors, based on the existing success of the Ross School’s Entrepreneurship and Sales tracks. This would give students who weren’t accepted into a desired major the opportunity to gain basic/foundational knowledge. The implementation of these ideas could give students within LSA a more enjoyable and well-rounded liberal arts experience.

Categories: Curriculum and Pedagogy


Imagine moving to a foreign country, where you are expected to not only get used to a strange culture, but also learn a strange tongue. To ease that process, this project proposes an app called Sahbi (the Arabic word for “friend”). The application’s goal is language development for English as Second Language students. (Sahbi is currently focused on native Arabic speakers, but can be tailored to other languages such as Spanish and Chinese.) It is free, customizable to each student’s needs and provides additional online resources/suggestions for future activities. Sahbi combines writing, oral communication, vocabulary skill building, and promotes cultural assimilation all in one app. It is also available to students outside the classroom, ensuring access to an expert with a click of a button.

Categories: Inclusivity, Learning Technology, and Mobile Apps

A Satellite Campus on Mars

The University of Michigan Bioastronautics and Life Support Systems (BLiSS) project team believes that if human civilization is to succeed in space, then the University of Michigan must be a leader in the endeavor. This project will develop a design for a U-M campus on Mars, as it might appear during the university’s tricentennial in 2117. This design would include but not be limited to the engineering of buildings; suggested scientific research to be conducted on the planet; curriculum considerations; and student life, health and recreation ideas. Input from students, faculty, staff and alumni (especially those employed at leading space agencies and organizations) will be used so that the widest possible worldview can be incorporated into the Mars campus design.

Categories: Pedagogy and Physical space


Despite the opportunities for connectedness that are available through the Internet, we still tend to congregate with those we share a common bond with. This practice flies in the face of research that suggests inclusive communities are happier, more innovative and more productive. smallworld remedies this situation with a digital tool that helps make connections. An administrator creates a personalized invite page and sends it to a group of people: e.g., music students. Recipients use the page to learn about smallworld and sign up. Then smallworld randomly pairs members, who agree to meet in a one-on-one setting. In a pilot program among 100 U-M Medical School students, smallworld facilitated more than 600 pairings–and 100 percent of survey respondents found value in the connections they made.

Categories: Collaboration and Social Media

A Sustainable Living Community

We are regularly told that Americans live an unsustainable lifestyle and that we need to consume, pollute and waste less. But what would a sustainable living situation look like? Our approach leverages U-M’s housing system to teach students the skills needed to live more sustainably—now and in the future. This project proposes that the university pilot a building-scale behavioral intervention for willing students to learn more about how sustainability education can move beyond the classroom and into residential life. The building could track energy, waste reduction, composting, use of public transportation, small-scale gardening and more—all in a social and supportive space. If successful, this project could be scalable to the whole campus, giving U-M an excellent opportunity to showcase its commitment to sustainability.

Categories: Collaboration, Pedagogy, Physical space, and Sustainability

A Sustainable Living Complex

The U-M campus of the future should intentionally connect students to the environment. One way to achieve that goal would be to build a Sustainable Living Complex, comprised of small living units for 30-50 students and shared learning and experimental spaces. The complex could be built on the grounds of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, where the student farm and other resources would provide rich programming opportunities and embed students in an eco-friendly lifestyle. Suggested residents would include sophomores through seniors and a handful of graduate students from a variety of academic backgrounds: all driven to live sustainably and to lead that effort on campus, in the state and in the world. The physical infrastructure—centered around a large, multipurpose, “green” building—would actively support research, inquiry, risk-taking and creativity.

Categories: Physical space and Sustainability

Sustainable Residence Halls

The university houses about 10,000 students in 18 residence halls. These buildings represent a critical mass of energy usage and waste creation on campus, but they also provide a unique opportunity to make significant inroads in helping U-M achieve its campus sustainability goals. Operating at both the building and campus scale, this project intends to suggest ways to make U-M halls “greener.” One 􏰀deliverable will be a computer simulation of a redesigned residence hall. The team also plans to report on the positive environmental impact of such a redesign in comparison to the existing hall. It will advocate for involving the on-campus student population in the sustainability experience, in the hopes that it might inspire the environmentally conscious leaders of tomorrow.

Categories: Physical space and Sustainability

A System for Course Reflection and Records (SCōRR)

All too frequently, graduate student instructors find that “legacy” learning materials—-left behind for them by the previous teacher of the course—are lacking in some way. One solution is to spend hours trying to redo them. This group proposes another idea: a software tool that would enable instructors to archive materials and as well as their reflections about their course and any ideas for changes for the benefit of future instructors. This would facilitate continuous course improvement by reducing the learning curve for new instructors and preventing mistakes or inefficiencies from being repeated. The System for Course Reflection and Records (SCōRR) would initially be designed for use on the room (course) scale. Ideally, it would become an enhancement to Canvas, and be implemented across campus.

Categories: Learning Technology

The UGLoo

The vision of this project is to build a temporary, heated structure that can be erected over North Campus’ Gerstacker Grove during the winter, transforming the landscape into a usable “hang-out” space and source of mental well-being for students, faculty, and staff. The proposed structure would be a transparent, cushioned shell without conventional supports. This would minimize disturbance to the natural landscape and maximize usable space inside, while also using as little material as possible. During the spring, summer and fall, the structure would be removed and stored, leaving the grove open for its current use.

Categories: Collaboration and Physical space

Underground Campus

In near the future, U-M will face a problem centered around creating more space for further development. This project’s radical idea for the university of the future is to construct new buildings and environments beneath Central Campus. The relationship between existing public spaces (e.g., the Diag) and educational spaces (e.g., Hill Auditorium, Michigan League, Rackham Graduate School) could be mirrored on the lower level, facilitating wayfinding. Additional structures–like a particle collider, which would take up a great deal of room on the surface–could also find a home underground. To facilitate access, an underground autonomous vehicle system could be developed.

Categories: Mobility and Physical space

A Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality MOOC

In its mission statement, U-M pledges “to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge.” Developing a Massive Open Online Course enhanced by virtual reality/augmented reality technology will help the university meet this goal and position itself as a leader of emerging trends in education access and availability. VR/AR technology, in the form of hand-held, phone-based headsets, offers unique opportunities for the graphic representation of research findings, making otherwise dry material seem more engaging and relatable. This content can be enhanced through room-scale, in-class enrichment exercises. The proposal will also shape the future of the university on a campus-wide scale, by expanding its reach far beyond the geographic boundaries of the institution.

Categories: Mobile Apps, Pedagogy, and Virtual Reality

What If…

What if U-M had never moved out of Detroit? How would the city and university have shaped each other? And what can the university do now to help shape Michigan’s largest metropolis? One pressing need is to address the glut of abandoned homes. From 2014-16, Detroit demolished 11,000 of these buildings: a necessary process that nonetheless created an enormous amount of construction waste and also a surplus of undeveloped land. In this proposal, this project will illustrate how this construction waste be used to enhance the topography of the land and create a continuous green space in the city benefiting animals and humans.

Categories: Physical space

Who’s There

Students on this project team will leverage existing facial recognition software capabilities and will utilize off the shelf video and audio technology to develop a low-cost solution: a tool to help the visually impaired know “Who’s There?” in their immediate surroundings. If well-designed and executed, this tool will have significant benefits for both students and faculty who are affected by low vision.

Categories: Inclusivity and Mobile Apps