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Innovation Programs

Faculty Working Groups

Student Innovation Awards






The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) announces a call for proposals to initiate a new series of experimental working groups in digital innovation. These small working groups are designed to provide faculty with the resources for open-ended experimentation with a novel digital tool, pedagogic approach or research avenue.

VIDL will provide funds of up to $4,000 for eligible workshops to be spent primarily at the group’s discretion, with likely expenses being for equipment, expertise, speakers, etc. Preference will be given to proposals that address one or more of the following criteria:

  • Inclusion of a significant digital learning component
  • Advance novel research approaches
  • Potential to make an impact on campus
  • Involvement of faculty from across disciplinary backgrounds

Proposals should include:

  • A group organizer who is a member of the Vanderbilt faculty assembly (full-time, part-time, tenure, non-tenure)
  • Name, position, department and email address of all members
  • An overview of the group’s goals (up to one additional page)

All members of the group need not be working on the same project but may share an interest in applying the same technology or idea to a wide variety of individual projects.

The default expectation is that working groups will consist of five to 10 faculty members meeting at least monthly over the course of one year. Deviations from this model are welcome but should be explained in the proposal. Graduate students may be included but should not make up a majority of the working group.

Existing working groups on campus (for example, those sponsored by the library, the Center for Teaching or the Center for Second Language Studies) should feel free to apply for funding.

Groups receiving funding will be expected to:

  • Provide a report on how the funds are spent
  • Share outcomes of their projects
  • Share their experiences at a later date

Groups are encouraged to build on their successes after the funding period’s end.

The deadline for submissions is April 22. Awards will be announced May 14.


Applications should be sent to with the subject heading “Working Group.”
Inquiries may be addressed to Ole Molvig (



The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) is seeking nominations for two student awards: The Prize for Digital Innovation by an Undergraduate Student and the Prize for Digital Innovation by a Graduate or Professional Student.

Awards will consist of $500 for the top prize, $250 for second prize and $100 for third prize for both the undergraduate and graduate/professional categories.

Awards will be given for student projects that illustrate innovation in digital learning tied to either research or pedagogy, including research in the digital humanities. Awarded projects may emerge from course work or thesis or dissertation research, but are not limited to these types of projects.

A wide net for nominations will be cast, with the main goal being to highlight innovation. Nominated projects should illustrate new ideas or directions in digital learning.

Nominations should include:

  • A letter of nomination describing the project, explaining the reasons for which it was developed and highlighting its innovative features; and
  • The names of everyone involved if the project was carried out by more than one person, with the respective work percentage of each person described.

 Self-nominations will be accepted.

Awards in the undergraduate category will only be given to projects for which the majority of the work was carried out by undergraduate students, and awards in the graduate/professional category will only be awarded to projects carried out primarily by graduate/professional students.

The deadline is April 15. Only projects completed in the last two years will be considered.


Nominations should be sent to with the subject heading “Student Prize.”
Inquiries may be addressed to Ole Molvig (



The Vanderbilt Institute for Digital Learning (VIDL) in partnership with Vanderbilt University Information Technology (VUIT) is currently accepting proposals for MicroGrants.

VIDL will accept proposals for funding of up to $500 for faculty and staff with preference given to requests for the purchase of digital equipment to aid with innovative projects in teaching or research. Funding can be used to purchase minor equipment and software (e.g., microphones or cameras) meant to enhance innovation, and VUIT staff can offer advice on software and equipment purchases.

Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis year-round, and decisions on awards will be made once a month by the VIDL staff.

Evaluation criteria

Applications should be no longer than one page and should include

    • justification for the grant explaining how it will lead to innovation in teaching or research by the faculty member
    • a budget with documented pricing

 Those receiving grants will be expected to provide

    • a brief report on their use of the equipment
    • justification for its future use
    • the possibility of sharing the experience at a forum at a later date

Receipt of a MicroGrant does not include training or technical support.


All members of the Vanderbilt faculty (full-time, part-time, tenure, non-tenure) and full-time staff in the College of Arts and Science, Law School, Owen Graduate School, Peabody College, Blair School of Music, School of Engineering, Divinity School, School of Medicine Basic Science departments, and School of Nursing faculty in non-clinical departments are eligible to apply.


Proposals should be directed to with the subject line “MicroGrants.”
Please address queries to Ole Molvig.



MacroGrants are a seed-funding program to promote development and research in digital learning. The goal of this program is to jumpstart innovative projects that may otherwise not be undertaken, such as online closed seminars or digital learning workshops. Ideally, these projects will continue to grow beyond the initial seed-funding period. VIDL invites proposals for projects ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Evaluation criteria

Proposals will be evaluated in consultation with a faculty committee. Priority will be given to projects that:

  • identify benefits of the project for on-campus education
  • identify research opportunities stemming from the project
  • identify potential steps beyond the initial seed-funding period

Additional criteria for selection may include:

  • feasibility of the project plan
  • relationships to other Vanderbilt stakeholders
  • benefits to the region, nation, and world


The grants are intended to be as flexible as needed to best support each project. However, the following expenses are typical:

  • purchase of necessary equipment or software
  • payment of an undergraduate or graduate student for labor
  • payment for expert labor found either on or off campus
  • other activities and resources


All recipients of awards will be asked to provide a report on the project and to make a public presentation on campus. They also may be asked to talk to those who make proposals in the future.


All members of the Vanderbilt faculty (full-time, part-time, tenure, non-tenure) and full-time staff in the College of Arts and Science, Law School, Owen Graduate School, Peabody College, Blair School of Music, School of Engineering, Divinity School, School of Medicine Basic Science departments, and School of Nursing faculty in non-clinical departments are eligible to apply. Proposals that include support for students, at any level, are encouraged.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should include a cover page with the project title, name, title and contact information for the project director and a summary of the project’s goals, activities, benefits, timeline and post-funding potential. Applicants should also provide a proposed budget for one year and details on budget items.

When to Apply

Applications are due:

  • by 5 p.m. Friday, April 8, 2016, for an anticipated start date as early as June 1, 2016.
  • by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, for an anticipated start date as early as Dec. 1, 2017.


Proposals should be sent to vidl-innovation@vanderbilt.eduwith the subject line “MacroGrants.”
Please address queries to Ole Molvig at


Awards for 2015-2016


 Harnessing Digital Storytelling for Teaching and Research

  • Laura M. Carpenter (PD); Department of Sociology, also affiliated with Women's and Gender Studies and the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society




Learning Old French in an Immersive Video Game Environment

  • Lynn Ramey (PD); Department of French and Italian




 Using Interactive Video to Teach Clinical Procedures

  • Amy Robertson, MD (PD); School of Medicine, Department of Anesthesiology
  • Leslie Fowler, MEd; Department of Anesthesiology




 Exploring Open Textbooks at Vanderbilt

  • David Weintraub (PD); Department of Astronomy







Awards for 2014-2015

Our America Digital Learning Lab

  • Ifeoma Nwankwo (PD);  English, also affiliated to other departments in A&S and Peabody

Building Modular Courses in Global Health Informatics 

  • Stephany Duda (PD) and Cindy Gadd; Biomedical Informatics
  • Douglas Heimburger and Marie Martin; Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health
  • Marie Griffin; Public Health Program

Deploying Collaborative Technology to Expand and Enhance Learning

  • Nunzia Guise; Biomedical Informatics and Eskind Biomedical Library
  • Rachel Walden (PD); Eskind Biomedical Library

Midwifery Skills Through a New Lens

  • Julia Phillippi (PD), Margaret Buxton, Michelle Collins, Sharon Holley, Linda Hughlett, 

    Tonia Moore-Davis,  Jeremy Neil, and  Deanna Pilkenton;  Nursing