International Policy Center Home Page

Gerber recognized for innovation in the classroom

April 29, 2019

Elisabeth Gerber, the Ford School’s associate dean for research and policy engagement, has earned a Teaching Innovation Prize for her development of ViewPoint. The simulation software enables educators to create a simulation activity in their classroom. While the software was originally designed to be used for policymaking simulations for Professor Gerber’s students at the Ford School, the software is flexible enough to design, create, and customize scenarios for a wide range of topics.

The creation of ViewPoint grew out of Geber’s experience teaching the Ford School’s Integrated Policy Exercise (IPE), a multi-day simulation that challenges students to make sound, responsible policy decisions under real-world time constraints and pressures. Over the decade of running IPE, Gerber focused the simulation on economic revitalization, healthcare, regional transit, and other policy challenges.

After a decade of doing simulations with paper-and-pencil, Gerber developed the software. Thanks to the cloud-based program, the barriers of creating a simulation are now much lower for the educator, compared to designing it without a template provided by the ViewPoint portal.

One of the greatest benefits of the simulation experience is the added perspective students get from role-playing. Through ViewPoint, students gain insight into the complexity of the decision-making process, and also how to empathize with different people, organizations and interests. Learners must develop strategy, collaborate, advocate for their positions, and communicate effectively with one another. Through the complex process, students build skills, such as coalition building, and also learn about the issues related to the scenario itself.

Gerber is sharing the tool widely, including with 10th graders in the Wolverine Pathways program and faculty at U-M and other universities who use it in engineering, social work, public administration, and international affairs courses. In her collaborations with these many partners, Gerber is not only teaching instructors in various programs how to use the ViewPoint platform; together, they are experimenting with new approaches to deliver rich engaged learning experiences.

Congratulations, Liz! Read more about the award at The University Record.

Elisabeth R. Gerber is the associate dean for research and policy engagement and the Jack L. Walker, Jr. Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School, as well as a research associate at the Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research, with a courtesy appointment as professor of political science in the University of Michigan Department of Political Science. Her current research focuses on regionalism and intergovernmental cooperation, sustainable development, urban climate adaptation, transportation policy, community and economic development, local fiscal capacity, and local political accountability.