A guide for creating an Educational Innovation plan

November 27, 2012 By Käri Knutson

Photo: Students in a lecture hall

The Educational Innovation initiative is helping units across campus find creative new ways to approach teaching and learning.

Photo: Bryce Richter

While there are numerous outlets to demonstrate innovation here at UW–Madison, focusing on one of five areas may help get you started. For each area, there are Educational Innovation experts able to help guide you with the process.

Curriculum redesign

Our disciplines evolve over time; some very rapidly, especially with the exploding rate of new knowledge. Over time, the curriculum can become out of synch with the directions of the discipline – in terms of demand, focus and specialization. Reviewing and updating can help students and also ensure better use of faculty time.

You can review a department or a major to identify potential improvements, including assessing learning needs. Improvements may range from adding, closing or updating courses to incorporating new learning methods. Results can be improved learning outcomes, modernized/updated discipline or course, reduced time to degree, improved recruitment of best students, and/or better use of faculty time.

Contact Mo Noonan Bischof, mabischof@wisc.edu, for information about bringing principles and methods for assessment and curriculum design.

Delivery through technology and student experiences

Technology and student experiences, used well, can enhance learning outcomes, increase access to more knowledge and serve greater numbers of students. It can allow faculty and students to use their time together in more interactive ways, turning the classroom into an interactive coaching environment instead of lecture hall.  Learning can become more self-paced and flexible.

Classrooms can be “flipped” so that lectures are online and the classroom is interactive with the faculty member serving as coach and students working interactively. Some parts of the curriculum can be enhanced by incorporating excellent segments produced from our campus and beyond, which can also save time and resources.

Contact Linda Jorn, jorn@wisc.edu, to help you assess, design and implement blended learning to best fit your students’ needs and the nature of your course and discipline.

Photo: Student in class

Educational Innovation is working to implement exciting new ways to approach curricula, teaching and the classroom experience.

Post baccalaureate degrees and certificates

There are unmet demands for new knowledge growing at an ever-increasing pace. Addressing these demands can help raise new revenue, which can help ensure excellence throughout all our programs.

Professional masters programs and certificates can be taken online. Successful examples include Engineering and Biotechnology.

Contact Katy Duren, kduren@dcs.wisc.edu, or Jocelyn Milner, jlmilner@wisc.edu, for information on market analysis, viability, course design and approval processes.


Our structures can become out of synch as our disciplines evolve over time. Some units could gain strength through critical mass by partnering or restructuring. Committee structures often evolve over time, often ending up with too many committees, wasting faculty time.

Committee structures can be streamlined and roles clarified to greatly save faculty time. Rethink/redesign your department to update disciplines, which can help faculty and students save time and ensure they have the opportunity to be working at the leading edge of their fields.

Contact Maury Cotter, mcotter@wisc.edu, for help in building partnerships or new structures with other units to gain strength and critical mass and to foster interdisciplinary work. She can also assist with facilitating your self-review and consideration of alternative models.

Summer offerings

We have systems in place and open capacity to add courses in the summer. These courses can offer students more options, fill market demands and help students complete their degrees in a timely manner.

Courses can be offered that non-traditional students are interested in taking, including Wisconsin citizens who are students in other institutions but home for the summer and wanting to take courses.

Contact Katy Duren, kduren@dcs.wisc.edu, or Scott Owczarek, owczarek@em.wisc.edu, to help you assess your options and make decisions about programs that have the potential to serve a need and generate resources. They can also link you to information about similar programs elsewhere, help assess market demand and guide you through the process of development and approvals.

Find out more at http://edinnovation.wisc.edu.