UM launches online social work, medical school classes

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan announced that students will, for the first time, be able to take online courses in the university’s Masters of Social Work program, ranked the best social work program in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and the first of its kind Health Infrastructures & Learning Systems program offered by the UM Medical School.

These online courses will enable learners across the country to access graduate-level courses to build skills that are critically needed by hospitals, health care providers, and the public sector as communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and face new challenges requiring novel solutions.

“During this unprecedented period of stress on our health care and social service infrastructure, we’re facing a renewed sense of urgency to develop and support the next generation of leaders in health care and social service,” said James DeVaney, UM associate vice provost for academic innovation and executive director of the UM Center for Academic Innovation. “This work is about unlocking the potential of health and social work educators to reach and serve new student populations at a time when their expertise is needed most in our society.”

The University of Michigan has selected Dallas, Texas-based instructional design firm iDesign, which has worked with more than 100 institutions to design, build and support award-winning online courses, to collaborate with the Center for Academic Innovation in designing and developing online courses for both degree programs. A team of faculty experts and staff from Michigan’s School of Social Work is now working with iDesign to transform the course content from its top-ranked in-person program into a new online format that will accommodate students with a prior Bachelors in Social Work, as well as those who enter via an innovative Social Work MasterTrack certificate program that reduces credit hour requirements for the MSW.

Each course in the social work program, which launches in May 2021, will use cutting-edge synchronous teaching methods coupled with professional video production and course design. Working closely with instructional and media design experts from iDesign and Michigan’s Center for Academic Innovation, Michigan faculty are scheduled to build and launch a total of eighteen online courses over a period of 18 months.

In addition, Michigan’s Academic Innovation team and faculty in the Medical School’s Department of Learning Health Sciences are working with iDesign to expand the University of Michigan’s Medical School’s Health Infrastructures & Learning Systems (HILS) Master of Science degree program to the online environment. The HILS-online degree focuses on the use of data and analytics to generate knowledge and change behavior in healthcare systems. Program faculty are working with iDesign to design curriculum and assessment in the unique online program, designed to serve a diverse population of graduate and professional students from a variety of disciplines, including public health, engineering, economics.

“As our country continues to grapple with the unprecedented public health and societal challenges, there’s been a surge in interest among prospective students in the caring professions who support the health and wellness of patients and clients across the country,” said Whitney Kigore, co-founder and chief academic officer of iDesign. “It’s critically important that we support the educators building the next generation of healthcare and social services talent who are playing such a critical role in leading and supporting the response and recovery during COVID-19.”

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