GVSU Celebrates National Distance Learning Week with Faculty Appreciation Breakfast

GVSU will be celebrating National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) from November 7-11, 2016 to recognize the continued growth and value of online and hybrid learning at the university. NDLW is organized by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and serves to highlight the successes and value of distance education.

To celebrate and to recognize faculty at Grand Valley State University, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team along with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC) have organized a breakfast on Wednesday, November 9, 2016!


We know how much work it takes to develop and teach quality online/hybrid courses and we appreciate the work of YOU, the faculty here at GVSU. Join us and allow us to treat you to a breakfast in honor of National Distance Learning Week!

WHAT:  National Distance Learning Week – Faculty Appreciation Breakfast

WHEN: 8:30am – 10:30am on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (Please stop by anytime.)

WHERE: University Club – Pew Campus

WHY: For an informal meet, greet, and eat – to appreciate YOU, our online and hybrid teaching faculty.

This event is sponsored by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies department including the IDeL (Instructional Design for eLearning) team and the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

RSVP: Please RSVP!

Grand Valley State University offers a wide array of courses and degree programs in the online and hybrid format with over 150 courses and just over 4,500 total student enrollments in distance education courses as of the Fall semester 2016. This represents a % 105% increase in enrollment since 2012 with 16% of students at GVSU taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.  Online and hybrid learning is an important flexible learning option at the university.  In addition, over 500 faculty have been certified to teach online/hybrid courses through the Foundations course that is offered through IDeL and the FTLC.

According the 2014 Survey of Online Learning, Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, there are more than 7.1 million higher ed students learning online with 33% of all higher ed students taking at least 1 online course.  In addition, 70.8% chief academic leaders are now reporting that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy for their institutions, which is an all time high.  This connects to GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan as well in the following areas:

Strategic Priority 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for undergraduate courses for Fall 2014 is 6%.

Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for graduate courses for Fall 2014 is 25%.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching and learning online, check out the eLearning and Emerging Technologies and IDeL websites along with the online/hybrid education faculty resources site at GVSU and the Faculty Learning Communities offered through the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

Bb Collaborate Ultra supports live events beyond the Classroom

You may already be aware of Blackboard Collaborate Ultra as a solution for live virtual class sessions, student group meetings, or online office hours – in addition to these uses, there are even more opportunities to take advantage of this easy to use and live collaborative tool!

Classroom Guest Speakers

To help save time and department travel costs, Collaborate Ultra is a good solution for guest speakers. In fact, sessions can be recorded and played back in subsequent semesters or for those students that missed class.  Courses in Occupational Therapy, Geology, and Technology in Public Relations and Advertising here at the university have used Collaborate Ultra to bring in guest speakers for their students.

Another example is the use of Collaborate Ultra for Online Library Research Instruction. Presented by Rita Kohrman, GVSU Education Librarian, the sessions are conducted in the Steelcase Library and provide assistance to education graduate students in understanding how to access, retrieve, and evaluate materials for their Projects/Theses. Students learn various library and/or research applications to better assist in obtaining materials for the completion of projects or theses.

The classes are simultaneously taught face-to-face and online via Collaborate Ultra for those students who are unable to attend in person.

Online Interviews

Collaborate Ultra was used for live streaming the Dean of University Libraries interviews from the Allendale to the Pew Campus downtown. This provided an opportunity for those staff whose offices are downtown, but still wanted to be able to see the candidate presentations.

Live Campus Events

The West Michigan Health Information Management Association recently used Collaborate Ultra to connect 2 remote locations in the upper peninsula in Iron Mountain and Newberry, Michigan for a continuing education coding workshop.

Virtual Conferences

Bb Collaborate Ultra supported the 2016 Youth Virtual Conference of the UNU RCEs Conference.  This project provides students with the perspective and practice of a global dialogue, in hopes that they will better understand the unique energy systems dilemmas facing the regions of the world and in turn reveal and embrace the universal themes of sustainable evolution through dialogue, empathy, and collaboration.

 Sites that participated during the event that was held on March 2, 2016 included:

  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Portland, Oregon
  • La Paz School, Costa Rica
  • Minna, Nigeria
  • Medellin/Bogota, Colombia
  • Curitiba, Brazil

Here is a link to the YouTube Livestream Recording from the Youth Virtual Conference.

Another example of a conference was that GVSU Scribe Academy event. The Academy is designed to train individuals to assist healthcare providers in local Emergency Departments by documenting patient care in the electronic medical record. The Program consists of two training sections: Pre-clinical and Clinical Training.

Class sessions are simultaneously taught face-to-face and online via Collaborate Ultra for students who are unable to attend in person. Jeffery Trytko, Director of the GVSU Scribe Academy, acts as the online moderator/facilitator.

Remote Troubleshooting

The eLearning staff has been using Collaborate Ultra to help troubleshoot and support faculty in their use of educational technologies.  But having the remote user share their screen, it is often more efficient and effective to provide tips, guidance, and solutions to faculty requesting assistance.

Online Training

For those situations where it is challenging or difficult to come to a training session on campus, Collaborate Ultra is providing a solution to learn about a variety of topics and subjects whether the participants are on the main Allendale campus, or at one of GVSU’s other regional campuses.

Please let us know how we can help you best leverage technology to save costs, reduce travel, increase convenience, or enhance collaboration!

SMART Boards and Interactivity in the Classroom


The faculty and staff in the College of Education have made a strong commitment to training our students on the use of technology in their classrooms.  Working closely with Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer on the IDeL team in eLearning, the COE faculty strive to keep up to date on current trends in Educational Technology and to integrate these new technologies into their coursework.

This year, the Graduate Teacher Certification students, as well as 8 sections of EDT370 – Technology in Education students were trained in the use of “Interactive White Board” technology.  Our student teachers learned the mechanics of using the SMART Board and creating interactive materials for their classrooms.  In addition, they received instruction on how to integrate this tool into their curriculum and how the recent updates to SMART Notebook allow for students to use any web-based device to manipulate the board.

GVSU faculty and staff interested in learning more about this technology are welcome to contact Vince St. Germain or Kim Kenward for an individual consultation.

Clicks, Grades, Engagement and Student Success

In a recent article in the Chronicle for Higher Education entitled: “What Clicks from 70,000 Courses Reveal about Student Learning“, aggregate and anonymized data was assembled by Blackboard from 70,000 courses across 927 institutions with 3,374,462 students revealing that:

“The most successful students are those who access MyGrades most frequently; students doing poorly do not access their grades. Students who never access their grades are more likely to fail than students who access them at least once.”

John Whitmer, director of learning analytics and research at Blackboard, is quick to point out that this doesn’t indicate causality, but that the data can be used to explore opportunities to more effectively help students succeed.

See also Blackboard’s blog post with additional information: “How successful students use LMS tools – confirming our hunches

The article also references research around the use of learning management systems by groups such as EDUCAUSE. GVSU participated in the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis Research (ECAR) study in 2015. Related to the use of an LMS, 94% of GVSU students surveyed said that they used Blackboard in at least 1 course with 54% responding that Blackboard was used in all of their courses.

Further, in a baseline survey as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan, faculty indicated that: announcements were used at 85%, content at 82%, and the gradebook as well as email was used at 78% – as the top tools used faculty in Blackboard. (This survey also referenced that Blackboard was used by 95% of the faculty responding to the baseline survey.)

Finally, in the student Blackboard survey that was administered in the Winter 2016 semester, students indicated that their #1 desire was to be able to check their grades in Blackboard.  These results echo the importance and value that students place in being able to check their grades and performance throughout the semester.

The following graphs are from GVSU’s student survey data:student-more-features



For more survey results and information, please see our “FACULTY AND STUDENT BLACKBOARD SURVEY HIGHLIGHTS” blog post.

What do you think? How can we best use technology to increase student engagement and in turn improve student success at GVSU?

Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights

bbsurveyanalysis_classAs part of a Statistics 319 class with Professor Gabrosek, 2 students worked with the eLearning team to gather feedback and suggestions from faculty and students about how the Blackboard environment can be enhanced at Grand Valley State University.

In addition, the STA 319 students presented the results on Student Scholars Day on February 27, 2016.

The survey was completed in the Winter 2015 semester and the sample size of students and faculty that completed the survey in a five day time period were 1907 and 122 respectively.

Here are a few highlights of the results from the survey:


As shown above, 54% of faculty that responded to the survey indicated that they use Blackboard every day. These data matched the “Baseline Faculty Survey” that was administered as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan. (This survey also referenced that Blackboard was used by 95% of the faculty responding to the baseline survey.)

In addition, based on GVSU’s participation in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, this number was also reflective with 47% of GVSU respondents indicating a daily use of Blackboard.

Student Use.jpg

Over 92% of students surveyed indicate that they access Blackboard more than 5 days per week. In addition, in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, 94% of GVSU students indicated that they used Blackboard in at least 1 course with 54% responding that Blackboard was used in all of their courses.

Faculty Use How Long.jpg

80% of the faculty surveyed indicate that they have used Blackboard for more than 5 years.

Faculty Ease of Use.jpg

Faculty Features.jpg

These data also are reflected in the “Baseline Faculty Survey” as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan where: Announcements were mentioned being used at 85%, content at 82%, and the gradebook as well as email was used at 78% as the top tools used in Blackboard.

Student Features.jpg

Student More Features.jpg

The majority of students indicated a desire to be able to check grades within the Blackboard system, followed by the use of the Bb for assignments, announcements, and content.


Student New Features.jpg

Online office hours was reported by students that they would like to see more use of in their courses.



For comparison, in the university’s participation in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, 57% students reported that they “wish instructors used” Blackboard more with another 25% responding neutral.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank Professor Gabrosek and the STA 319 students for their work with our team in helping to facilitate this survey.



GVSUeLearn visits Digital Media Commons at UMich

Justin Melick, Vince St. Germain, Paul Wilson, and Eric Kunnen from the eLearning team and Technology Showcase, along with professor Star Swift from Grand Valley State University visited the University of Michigan Digital Media Commons to learn about the innovative digital media technologies available at the University of Michigan on September 6.

In brief, the Digital Media Commons (DMC) has a plethora of resources and services available to faculty, staff, and students to use to create a wide array of teaching and learning resources. The DMC includes:

  1.  Groundworks – A collaborative facility to create digital media and also to convert analog resources. There is even an audio booth that can be used to create podcasts. There is also a recording studio where you can walk in to record a lecture or as a student, work on a video assignment for class.
  2. Design Labs – This lab is the place for tinkering and making with a variety of tools to create.
  3. Video Studio – A cutting edge production studio that can be used for performances, motion capture, green screen and other creative projects.
  4. 3D Lab – A place to create 3D simulations and objects.  In addition there is a 3D “cave” where you can “walk through” your 3D designs.
  5. Emerging Technologies Group – Provides services and support for creative projects.
  6. Audio Studios – World class lab and recording facility.

Here at GVSU, we were inspired by all the technology resources available at the University of Michigan.  As we look to the future of the Technology Showcase, Digital Studio, our work in eLearning, and across the university, we will use our experiences at the DMC to help us move forward!

Thank  you to Eric Maslowski, Robert Newcomb, and the team at the DMC for the tour!

eLearning Top 10 #EdTech List @GVSU



From getting started to advanced technology integration into teaching, the eLearning team is here for you! We have expertise in instructional design through the IDeL team, creative multimedia production authoring capabilities through the Digital Studio, instructional technology support and course management solutions such as Blackboard, and a wide array of innovative emerging technologies in the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

Here is a top 10 list of #EdTech resources available through eLearning and Emerging Technologies (gvsu.edu/elearn) at GVSU.

IDeL – Instructional Design for eLearning (gvsu.edu/idel)

  1. Instructional Design Expertise and Support
    Looking for help in designing high quality instruction by leveraging technology? The IDeL team includes three instructional designers (Glenna Decker, Kim Kenward, Matt Roberts) and one digital media developer (Justin Melick) who have assisted faculty in online/hybrid course development and taught online or hybrid courses for over twenty years. Individual consultations are available, and the IDeL team provides seminars and web-based resources to support faculty in their work to best leverage technology for teaching and to design high quality media-rich online/hybrid instruction.
  2. Foundations for Online/Hybrid Course Development
    Learn how to build the next generation of teaching and learning and become certified to teach an online or hybrid course at GVSU.  The IDeL team facilitates the Foundations course that is designed to help you prepare, design, and teach an online or hybrid course.  While technology tools are used, the focus of this course is on instructional design and the conversion of materials for the online environment.  Foundations is offered throughout the year.
  3. Faculty Learning Communities (Formerly Teaching Circles)
    One of the best ways to get plugged in with distance learning at GVSU is to join a faculty learning community.  Working through the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC), the IDeL team facilitates monthly university-wide teaching circles on the subject of online and hybrid instruction.  Faculty are encouraged to join one of the communities to make connections and to find additional support and resources!

Digital Studio (gvsu.edu/elearn/ds)

  1. Multimedia and Digital Media Development
    Media-rich instruction can help solve instructional problems, enhance learning, and support student success. The Digital Studio, through the leadership of Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, and Justin Melick, Digital Media Developer, seeks to promote the creation of digital learning experiences by providing consulting services, project development, and technology exploration for GVSU faculty and staff. Services are provided to faculty to assist in converting materials for online use, as well as to create custom interactive media elements that engage students.
  2. Lightboard
    One of the newest instructional technologies at GVSU is the Lightboard. This exciting technology was custom built by Justin Melick, Digtial Media Developer, and it combines a whiteboard-like experience with visibility of the instructor for highly engaging lectures. Lightboard videos can be easily integrated into Blackboard and placed online.

Atomic Object Technology Showcase (gvsu.edu/techshowcase)

  1. Innovative Emerging Technology
    Interested in learning more about virtual or augmented reality, 3D printing, gesture computing, mobile and wearable computing, and telepresence? Located in room 012 of the Atrium in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, the showcase provides faculty, staff, and students with an immersive and engaging environment to: interactdiscoverlearn, and share how innovative emerging technologies can enhance teaching and improve student learning at GVSU. Check out the latest in #EdTech in the showcase!

Instructional Technology and Blackboard (gvsu.edu/elearn/help)

  1. Teaching and Learning with Blackboard
    Looking to save time, increase your efficiency and effectiveness, better communicate with your students, easily share content, and provide timely feedback to students? One of the best ways to engage with students outside of the classroom is through Blackboard.  In fact, in the Winter 2016 semester, more than 1,400 faculty and 23,000 students accessed the system. The eLearning team of instructional technologists (Vince St. Germain and Sherry Barricklow) and Blackboard specialists and systems analysts (Katie Clark and Colleen Cameron) provide support to faculty in individual consultations, seminars, email support, and web resources.
  2. Teaching with Technology
    One of the best ways to contribute to student success and to increase effectiveness and efficiency is to take advantage of technology to solve instructional problems and create engaging teaching resources. Sherry Barricklow, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, Graduate Assistants, and the eLearning team have assembled a wide array of resources that can be used in teaching such as: Blackboard, Blackboard Collaborate, Ensemble, TechSmith Relay, and much more.

Get Plugged In

  1. Seminars
    Not sure where to start? Let us help you! We offer individual consultations, email support, and training opportunities through a wide array of seminars. These are available through the Sprout system and are also listed on our eLearning web site.
  2. Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium
    One of the best ways to enhance your teaching and determine the impact of teaching and learning with technology is to look for examples and to learn from others. There is no better place for this than the annual symposium. This event brings together faculty from across the campus to share how they are using technology to advance their teaching and improve student learning.

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