Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

At GVSU, the eLearning team is on mission to support faculty in their work to create high quality online and hybrid courses. Through the work of the instructional designers on IDeL team, as well as the support from the entire eLearning team, faculty have access to a wealth of resources including the required “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design Development” course, Faculty Learning Communities, digital media development, and more.

Visit the IDeL web site to learn more about teaching online and to connect with an instructional designer.

Students at the university take a blend of face to face and online/hybrid classes with some students residing in other states and even overseas. Learning online is growing nationally as well, with over 5.8 million students taking at least 1 online course (which amounts to more than 1 in 4 students) according to the Babson Survey Research Group.

Here are a few stats about online learning at GVSU:

  • Online and hybrid enrollment expanded this year by 17% (from 2016) to include over 5,318 enrollments in online and hybrid classes at GVSU.
  • Enrollment in online and hybrid courses has grown by 78% since 2013.
  • In addition, 17% of all students at the university are enrolled in at least 1 online or hybrid class.
  • The online/hybrid courses were taught by 173 faculty in 177 unique courses, representing 12% of the classes at the university.

Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

If you are new to online learning, we recommend the following course development timeline.

Best practice for developing an online or hybrid course is to allow at least 6 months from start to finish. Although even more time is better, especially if you want to be able to add learning objects or other media that you will create, we also recognize how difficult it is to carve out that much time. Therefore, IDeL recommends a minimum of one full semester for course design. IDeL recommends the same, one full semester of course prep if you are teaching an online course that someone else developed.

For an online / hybrid course offered Spring/Summer, faculty should take Foundations in the previous Fall semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Spring/Summer 2019; take Foundations no later than Fall 2018

For an online / hybrid course offered Fall semester, faculty should take Foundations the previous Winter semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Fall 2019 take Foundations no later than Winter 2019

Course Development Sequence

To teach a hybrid or online course at Grand Valley, faculty must complete a two-part certification process. In part one, faculty demonstrate that they can successfully use the Blackboard learning management system. In part two (the Foundations workshop), faculty learn eLearning pedagogy and learn strategies for delivering courses online.

2018-19 Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development Offerings


Ready to Start YOUR Online Teaching Journey?

Register for Foundations of Online & Hybrid Course Development in Sprout.

Here is a list of upcoming sessions:

Early Fall – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 9/21/18
9/28/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
10/5/18 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
10/12/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Mid Fall – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 10/17/18
Week One 10/22/18
Week Two 10/29/18
Week Three 11/5/18
Week Four 11/12/18

Early Winter – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 1/16/19
Week One 1/21/19
Week Two 1/28/19
Week Three 2/4/2019
Week Four 2/11/2019

Late Winter – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 3/8/19
3/15/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
3/22/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
3/29/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Spring – Hybrid (3 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 5/1/19
5/6/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)
5/13/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 9am – 12pm EC513
5/20/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)

Visit the IDeL Foundations web page for more information about Foundations and Blackboard Competencies.


Faculty Panel highlights best practices in Teaching Online and Hybrid Classes @GVSU

IMG_8634Moderated by instructional designer, Kim Kenward, a panel of online and hybrid faculty talk about best practices in teaching at GVSU. Panelists (pictured from left to right) include: Jeffrey Rothstein, Lissa Brunan, Raymond Higbea, Maureen Wolverton, and Kerry Mohney.

Question 1:   What are three things you wish you had known before you began teaching online or in hybrid format? What do you wish you could change about your online or hybrid teaching, and why?

  • Jeffrey Rothstein – Seek out support from eLearning! 20% of students seem to enroll online because they think it may be easier? Many drop and many simply stop doing anything. Now he includes a video with course expectations in first week. Students can be ‘scared’ at their faculty. If the students don’t know you, haven’t heard you joking around, or don’t really ‘see’ you, they may take your assignment feedback incorrectly or not fully engage in the course. One strategy is to include more personal video content to connect with your students. You need to humanize your course! Students can carry on discussions that are complex by themselves. Teaching online has transformed my teaching and I would lean more toward flipped classroom experiences in my face to face classes.
  • Kerry Mohney – Be a little cautious about too many resources to include in your course. While it’s easy to link students to resources don’t “muck up your course” and keep it clear and easy to navigate.
  • Raymond Higbea – Don’t me too enamored by the tool, but focus on the “end” and begin with the end in mind. What are the students going to need to learn.
  • Lissa Brunan – The eLearning team is here and is amazing, they have great events too that you can attend to learn from other colleagues. Attend them! Expand your resources.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Building your support network is helpful. Reach out to those that can help you. I believe being an online instructor is a better approach vs dipping in as a hybrid. Also, it’s important to prepare and build as much course as possible at the beginning.

Question 2:  Best practice indicates that the instructor’s presence and participation create a more lively class — one that greatly increases student engagement and completion of the course. What are some techniques, tools and/or advice you can share with our audience on how you create instructor presence in your hybrid/online courses.

  • Lissa Brunan – Humanize your course to start with, such as “Flipgrid“. This makes it really easy and you can also model your video responses. I know my students more through these videos, it puts a “face” on the students because of the heavy nature of text. I really like Remind, a text based system to announce to students what is coming up this week. Remind was a good way to “remind” students and keep them notified. A much quicker way to share information and allow student to connect with the instructor.
  • Jeffrey Rothstein – I’m starting to use Monday morning videos to review last week and introduce the upcoming week. Rubrics are also helpful and attaching audio files into my grading has increase my instructor presence. I am also cutting down the email and setting up Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for 1 to 1 virtual office hours.
  • Kerry Mohney – Collaborate was also helpful for midterm reviews. For classes that use textbook content in their course, it is valuable for students to know where to look for feedback. External content resources can create confusion for where the feedback is available.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Important for students to receive meaningful feedback. Clear, timely, and positive feedback goes a long way. I also share student handouts as reminders for where to find feedback.

Question 3:  Building community among students is equally important to the success of a hybrid/online course.  What suggestions do you have for building community with your online students?

  • Raymond Higbea – Team-based learning helps students build a community of learning as each student has a role to play. They receive participation score. An online quiz is used for the facts and discussion is used for exploring topics which allows the students to connect with each other. Some groups in fact, created a team name and bought matching t-shirts! I usually create random groups, but I do try to mix up the genders and also a mix of student experience/expertise.
  • Lissa Brunan – Start with a social contract. What are the expectations of behaviors. Mentimeter is used to create a list of 10 key words collectively. A poster is made and the students “signed” it to set the stage of what is expected. Google docs is used for ease of collaborating and having discussions on documents and spreadsheets. Students are expected to comment on each other’s posts. Google Sites is also used to easily build a website and they can keep this after the class. Groups can create a site together.
  • Kerry Mohney – Students in my program are cohort based and because of this the students have a “family” for 2 years!
  • Maureen Wolverton – Students have concerns about schedules, so when forming groups I pay attention to who is submitting their assignments first and group these students together as they tend to have similar work schedules.

Question 4:  Workload and time management issues are extremely important factors for both the instructor and the student.  What suggestions and tips can you share in regards to workload and time management while developing and teaching an online/hybrid course?

  • Maureen Wolverton – Communicating on the front end is important and also setting healthy boundaries for you and the students. Let students know your availability and be responsive to students as they may have a question that stops them in their tracks before they can complete an assignment. Have your students complete the online readiness quiz and have them share their results with you. Ask the students how they are using time management to overcome challenges with learning online. Mid-semester checkins too are helpful.
  • Raymond Higbea – Share an estimated time for completing assignments, this helps students manage their workload. Quizzes are used for readings, pre-class, so that material is mastered before content discussion.
  • Lissa Brunan – Communication can be like a “husband and wife” 🙂 so using Flipgrid, existing students created tips for other incoming students. This helps for “peers” to inform students of what the expectations are, it’s not just the instructor telling you to do it. Students have found a lot of benefit by listening to suggestions from other students.
  • Kerry Mohney – It is helpful for students to know their instructor is there. Take the time during the day to respond to students.
  • Jeffrey Rothstein – One tip is to schedule the assignments and due dates so that students are online working when the professor is available. For example, I shifted due dates from Sunday to Friday, so that students would be working during the week and not so much on the weekend, because I am not available as much on weekends. Be responsive to your email and answer students questions as promptly as you can. If your assignments are due on the weekend, that’s when they will need help. Vocaroo is a helpful tool that can give voice feedback and also with Panopto you can pull up visuals for feedback for students. Panopto can give you information about who is watching and how long they are viewing the video. I have emailed students too if I noticed they were not watching the video. Prep time for online courses takes more initial work (compared to traditional courses) but what is beneficial as it allows me to spend more time with responding to students.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Be as crystal clear as possible with course notifications, when thing are due, and assignment instructions!

Question 5:  What are some common technical issues or concerns your online/hybrid students have struggled with?  How do you handle those technical issues?

  • Kerry Mohney – It is important for students to know how to get technical help. Suggest to students what browsers are used, especially if there is external content from textbook publishers. Check over your gradebook to be sure your grading columns are correct and the total is correct or students will have a lot of questions. Make sure students know where to find their assignment feedback. Medical imaging can take up a lot of space, so you may need to adjust file sizes as needed. Another tip, maybe not technical, is to ensure your navigation is clear for students. Be sure to check your links to resources also.
  • Raymond Higbea – Clearing browser cache can help resolve a large number of problems. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra worked well with students overseas but a student from India had a problem connecting, as it depends on the students’ connection. A strong signal and a good microphone are key.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Suggest to have students learn about where to get help and make sure the students are using the “correct” browsers.
  • Lissa Brunan – Instructions are key. Suggest to use video when possible instead of typing everything out for instructions instead. It helps speed them along and helps them to visualization. Recommend with videos, don’t put dates in there or other things that may change… so you can reuse it!!! For students that turn it an assignments early, I will check on the assignment and allow them to resubmit it. For students to know you are on their side is super helpful in helping to contribute to student success.

Question 6:  What questions does the audience have for our panelists?

  • On student lectures, do you record them live? Panel responds with pre-recorded. Most “lecture” videos are not longer than 12 minutes and there are other resources that go into direct instruction. A good strategy is to: read, watch, and discuss to synthesize ideas. Good discussion board prompts are important for building a good conversations and to build community.
  • Suggestion for office hours. These are super important for students. These are when great communications can occur. Consider making it an obligation for students to meet online. Use Blackboard Collaborate Utlra for joining with students online. Strategically use virtual office hours, and remind students, as an option for those times when students are busy working on projects or there is an expectation of need.
  • Feedback? How can this be done with electronic assignments? Vocaroo and Panopto provide audio and video feedback, it helps with building instructor presence also. “Feedback banks” are helpful too for providing common feedback for students and then personalize it. Rubrics are also important so that students know what is expected on the assignments.


eLearning attends MiBUG – Michigan @Blackboard Users Spring Conference


Photo by Jason Kane, Instructional Designer, Schoolcraft College

On Friday, May 18, Vince St. Germain, Hunter Bridwell, and Sherry Barricklow attended the 2018 Michigan Blackboard Users Group Spring Conference (MiBUG) which was held on the campus of Central Michigan University.

This event brought together 90+ faculty and staff from 18 institutions – all focused on learning and collaborating to improve education with @Blackboard. In addition to the keynote, 10 sessions were offered on a variety of topics including: online science labs, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra features and tips, and building a success course development model with Quality Matters. For a complete list session descriptions check out the MiBUG Keynote and Breakout Session Descriptions.

Keynote Presentation

Widening Perspective, Shifting Focus: Adapting to Generation Next

Chad Kainz; Principal Strategist, Strategy and Transformation Services at Blackboard, Inc.

Eighteen years into the 21st century and we now accept that today’s students are different. Like their consumer and social interactions, students expect their educational experiences to be personal, streamlined, and on-demand. To a learner of today, the once sharp divide between face-to-face and virtual learning seems arcane in a world of consumer-defined seamless digital and physical interaction. And with careers being measured in sprints rather than lifetimes, the demand for lifelong learning is crafting new hybrid educational generations (and expectations) out of the old. In short, the 18-24-year-old “traditional” one-and-done learner of the last century is a fond memory.

Arguably, a college or university’s digital learning environment and its surrounding technology ecosystem establishes a student’s field-of-view regarding their experience, and enables (or inhibits) access and engagement. In his keynote, Chad will explore Blackboard’s research into the attitudes and expectations of five generations of learners, share his perspective on rethinking the student experience, and provide ideas for incorporating Generation Next thinking to create a more responsive campus digital learning environment.

[Keynote Slides]

Vince St. Germain captured the following notes from the keynote session:

Student expectations shift and change with each generation

Today, students favor experiences that are personal, streamlined and on-demand

What do we know about today’s students/learners

  • 5 generations of learners
    • 21% Gen X
    • 69% Gen Y / Millenial
    • 10% Gen Z
  • Majority are working
  • Majority are renting
  • Majority are single
  • Seek opinions of others/public opinion

Decision making attributes:

  • Affordability
  • Program attributes
  • Location
  • Career placement

What do you need to succeed:

  • Advising and support
  • Financial aid
  • Distance learning

George Mason Student Experience Redesign Project


  • Know your students
  • Think holistically
  • Act on your capability

What does it mean to support today’s student? Shape a unique experience that’s built around your institution and serves every generation of learner.

Closing Blackboard Panel

At the closing of the event, a panel of Blackboard staff provided a Q&A session for attendees.


In addition, Tim Atkin, Chief Client Officer (Blackboard, Inc.) presented a session entitled: “Improved Client Experience:  Understanding, Commitment, Communication


About the Michigan Blackboard Users Group

mibuglogoThe Michigan Blackboard User Group (MiBUG) is a user group for educational institutions throughout the state to network and share teaching and learning best practices.

Learn more about miBUG on the Blackboard Community site.

‘Spring Fling Seminars’ Encourage Innovative Ideas for Teaching

Join us for FREE learning and FREE lunch this May!
The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team has prepared 26 sessions focused on innovative technologies that can be leveraged in teaching to support student success and retention.



Join us and your colleagues to reimagine education through the application of #edtech in teaching and learning!

Spring Fling Seminar Calendar

Supporting Student Success and Retention via eLearning at GVSU

commencement_fall2017-1943Student success is a strategic area of focus at GVSU. With the rising costs of higher education, and the value of employability after graduation, student retention plays a key role in our vision and mission. eLearning and Emerging Technologies supports student success through a variety of technologies and faculty support.

Blackboard Supports Student Retention

For faculty there are many opportunities to leverage Blackboard to help support student success. Here are some capabilities:

  • Gradebook and Assignment Tools – Provides faculty with the ability to post grades and timely assessment/assignment/journal feedback. Interactive rubrics provide students with assignment grading criteria.
  • Student Photo Roster – Faculty can more effectively and efficiently learn students’ names and personalize instruction.
  • Retention Center and Performance Dashboard – Enables faculty to monitor frequency of logins of students, participation in discussions, and grades. This includes last login/date access to the course.
  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra – Real-time and live office hours for students unable to attend class or office hours. Helps build rapport and increases communication and instructor-student engagement.
  • Surveys – Used by faculty to gather information about the students’ experience in the course such as a mid-term “how is this course going” survey.
  • Announcements, Emails, and Discussion Board – Used to create an online learning community and open up communication.
  • Content – Benefits to students to provide easy access to course materials, even potentially before the class begins. Provides access to link students to open educational resources (OER) and no-cost or low cost resources.
  • Panopto – Ability to record and post lectures or instructional content and easily embed digital media into Blackboard.
  • Blackboard Ally – Helps faculty ensure accessibility of course materials while also supporting universal design for learning (UDL).

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Supports Student Retention

  • Consultations, Seminars and Drop-Ins – The eLearning team provides opportunities to work with faculty to build up their skills in best using technology effectively and efficiently. Including pedagogical support for flipped classroom design and other instructional models.
  • Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development – Providing support and training to faculty about how to best design and deliver an online/hybrid course.
  • FTLC Faculty Learning Communities – eLearning instructional designers help facilitate 3 faculty learning communities on topics such as student engagement, quality online courses, and more.
  • Blackboard Support –  Support is offered to faculty in collaboration with the IT HelpDesk.
  • Embedded Librarians – All liaison librarians have been certified through the Foundations course and they have been enrolled in over 200 Blackboard courses providing direct student support.
  • Digital Studio – Providing faculty with engaging multimedia and digital resources such as the Lightboard, and tools such as Panopto.
  • Technology Showcase – Enables faculty to evaluate emerging technologies that can be leveraged to transform teaching and learning.
  • GA’s – Graduate Assistants work to support faculty and students the team in responding to 1,800 faculty technical support needs related to Blackboard and other technologies.
  • Web Resources – eLearning offers a series of support pages to provide information to faculty regarding how best to leverage educational technologies.
  • Student Support – In addition to the IT HelpDesk, our GA’s and eLearning team provides tech support to students.  This includes some class visitations and student orientations.

New Initiatives Supporting Student Retention

  • OER – Open Education Resources Initiative is working to provide options for student textbook affordability.  OpenStax has been adopted by CHM115 and 116 saving nearly $150,000 for students in textbook fees.
  • Attendance and Learning Analytics – Research and evaluation of a new products and solutions such as Qwickly Attendance and Blackboard called Predict which provides student dashboards and predictors of success that can be used by advisors and faculty.
  • Accessibility and UDL – eLearning is implementing a new product from Blackboard called Ally which provides a dashboard view of the number of accessible courses and realtime auto-conversion of documents into accessible formats. In addition, Panopto is being implemented to support enterprise video. This solution enables faculty to auto-caption and edit their captions for digital video resources used in their classes.

Benchmarking & Research Supporting Student Retention

  • ECAR Study – GVSU participated in the 2015 Educause Center for Analysis and Research Student and Faculty Technology Survey.  These results have been shared and have been used in strategic planning and for seminar planning.
  • Blackboard Survey – Working with Susan Mendoza and John Grabrosek, eLearning worked with students from STA 319 in the development, deployment, and evaluation of results from a student and faculty survey around how we can improve and enhance the Blackboard environment.

Learn more and connect with the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at Grand Valley State University

Celebrating Faculty Innovation at the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium

In partnership with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and University LibrarieseLearning and Emerging Technologies hosted the 17th Annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium. 

Held on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, this event brought together more than 120 faculty, staff, and students from GVSU, including guests from Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Western Michigan University, and Grand Rapids Community College.

Put simply, this event was all about celebrating faculty innovation at the intersection of teaching, learning, and technology!

For 17 years, the Teaching & Learning with Technology Symposium has provided an  outstanding opportunity for faculty to showcase how they’re putting technology to use in their teaching to support student success and retention.

technology_test_kitchen_logoThis year,  in addition to ePosters, a brand new “Technology Test Kitchen” was offered, full of tasty #edtech recipes.



Always a highlight at this event is the presentation of the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center’s Teaching and Learning with Technology Award. Congratulations to Rosemary Cleveland, senior affiliate faculty of education, and Andrew Korich, associate professor of chemistry, as this year’s award recipients!


Pictured on the left, Rosemary Cleveland, senior affiliate faculty of education, and the left, Andrew Korich, associate professor of chemistry, 2018 Pew Teaching with Technology Award Recipients.



IMG_8469At the symposium, Dean Annie Bélanger shared how GVSU University Libraries support the adoption and creation of open educational resources (OER) through advocacy, education, curation, and library publishing services. Further, she provided insight as to the importance of OER as a critical component of liberal education.


Thank you to all of the presenters and attendees for an awesome afternoon of connectinglearning, and sharing – all focused on enhancing teaching practices and the effective use of technology to support student success.



See you next year for another great symposium to be held on Wednesday, May 1 in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons!

Emerging Technologies: Augmented Reality Round Table

On Thursday, April 19, Eric Kunnen and Hunter Bridwell from eLearning, along with Kristofer Pachla, director of the GVSU Regional Math and Science Center, attended a round table discussion focused on augmented reality at Miller Johnson offices in Grand Rapids.

The round table was an outstanding morning of conversations and possibilities that augmented reality and bring to education, government, and commercial applications such as:

  • Interior Design
  • Facilities Viewing / Models Onsite
  • Asset Management
  • Complex Assembly and Error Reduction
  • Realtime Data Visualization
  • Learning / Experiential
  • Healthcare
  • and more!

Hunter and Eric had an opportunity to share how GVSU is exploring augmented and virtual reality through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. They also were able to  experience the innovative DAQRI helmet and smart glasses first-hand!