Submit YOUR Course and Participate in the @Blackboard Exemplary Course Program

Blackboard recently featured a quality course program in a post entitled: “The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program: What’s in it for You?

In short, the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program recognizes faculty and course designers from schools, colleges and universities around the world who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

The award highlights technologically rich, engaging, well designed, and pedagogically sound courses that showcase best practices for the user community. Submissions are judged by peers and by experts on the following components through an Exemplary Course Program Rubric:

  • course design;
  • interaction and collaboration;
  • assessment; and
  • learner support

Faculty and instructional designers can:

  1. Submit their courses for self-review
  2. Submit their courses for peer-review
  3. Volunteer to review courses

The following video spotlight features the exemplary course program and includes a segment by GVSU Affiliate Instructor, Szymon Machajewski, from the School of Computing and Information Systems.


Last year, Grand Valley State University’s professors Szymon Machajewski and Cheryl Kautz, earned recognition from education technology company Blackboard Inc. as recipients of the “Exemplary Course Award” through the Blackboard Catalyst Award program. The winners were recognized during the BbWorld 2017 conference to be held July 25-27 in New Orleans.


Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2017 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award for his CIS 150 – Introduction to Computing Course.  The award also recognized Brad Brege, CIS150 course coordinator, as a course collaborator and contributor.


Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2017 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award for her CIS 238 – Internet Media and Programming Course.



About the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award – This award recognizes faculty and course designers who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

Congratulations again to GVSU faculty Szymon Machajewski and Cheryl Kautz, along with all of the 2017 award winners:

  • Hawaii Pacific University: Dr. Han Nee Chong
  • Algonquin College, Ontario, Canada: Dr. Albert Dudley
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Cheryl Kautz
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Szymon Machajewski
  • Columbia Southern University, Alabama: Jacqueline Pica and Dr. Christine Whitaker
  • Ohio University: Kyle Rosenberger
  • Kent State University, Ohio: Dr. John Staley

Shape the Future of Education at hackGVSU!

Join us on Saturday, April 14 from 9am to 6pm!

Grand Valley State University is hosting its first-ever hackGVSU event. Inspired by other college hackathons (like hackPSU, we’re inviting students and staff from area high schools, colleges, and universities to come to Grand Valley and envision how technology can shape the future of education.

The focus for this year’s event is Blackboard’s learning management system. Participants can attend training sessions lead by Blackboard employees and then work together in teams to build projects that extend Blackboard’s capabilities.

We’re planning a full day of food, beverages, and prizes for the best projects. Individuals of all experience levels are welcome, from experienced coders to first time hackers. If you know of anyone that might be interested in attending, they can find details at:


Grand Valley State University explores the future of Teaching and Learning through the Technology Showcase


With over 40 technology exhibits, the Atomic Object Technology Showcase at Grand Valley State University provides a space for students, faculty, staff, and the community to experiment with a variety of new and emerging technologies.

Tucked away under the stairs like Harry Potter, and located in room 012 of the Atrium in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, the showcase is an initiative of the Information Technology department that 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.

Visitors to the showcase can explore new worlds and become immersed through virtual reality with the HTC Vive, while enhancing their environment through augmented and mixed reality with the Microsoft HoloLens. The showcase has over 40 exhibits on display and is open Monday through Friday. Stop by the showcase today to experience






Faculty at GVSU leverage Blackboard for Professional e-Portfolios

This post by Sherry Barricklow, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, in eLearning and Emerging Technologies.

GVSU Faculty use Blackboard for their Professional Portfolio

Grand Valley State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is the largest of university’s colleges. This college supports more than 50 bachelor degrees (and a growing number of advanced degrees) in the natural and mathematical sciences, the fine arts and humanities, and the social sciences.

The CLAS Personnel Committee is now encouraging faculty seeking career advancement to use Blackboard for their supporting materials and for the unit materials. CLAS has been encouraging the use of this system over the last nine years.

Blackboard Organization Sites as ePortfolios

Each faculty going up for review is given a Blackboard organization with the following suggested categories and are asked to attach a PDF to each of the items:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal Statement
  • Faculty Activity Reports, Faculty Activity Plans, and Salary Recommendations
  • Teaching – Supporting Materials
    • Faculty are asked to attach a single pdf file, per course taught, with all teaching supporting documents combined within the pdf.
  • Scholarly/Creative Activity – Supporting Materials
  • Service – Supporting Materials
  • End of Semester Student Evaluations


The faculty have six months to construct their portfolios. At the end of the six months, instructor rights are taken away and the department’s tenure track faculty are given read access to evaluate the candidate.

The Department has a folder for each candidate to add review materials that consists of the following:

  • Unit Recommendation Report
  • Departmental Personnel Standards
  • Unit Vote
  • Unit Meeting Agenda
  • Unit Meeting Minutes
  • Additional Unit Materials (optional)

Benefits of Blackboard Portfolios

The benefits have been immense!

  • Blackboard allows the faculty to gather their course materials for review.
  • Reviewers no longer have to sit with boxes of materials to evaluate a colleague.
  • With the suggested organization, it is easy to find the candidates’ materials.
  • Faculty may keep their portfolio for the next round of reviews.

Once the departmental process has been concluded, the department’s members are removed and the Deans views committee is added. Finally, another benefit is that department personnel do not have to transport boxes and boxes of materials to the Deans office!

Technology Showcase partners with @GVSU Art Gallery for an Immersive Experience


Artist Herbert Murrie’s daughter Karen used Google Tilt Brush to create this creative masterpiece using an HTC Vive for the grand opening of the GVSU Art Gallery’s “Ebb and Flow” exhibit!

In a unique partnership with the GVSU Art Gallery, the Atomic Object Technology Showcase provided a unique virtual reality experience at the opening reception which was held on January 15, from 5 – 7 PM. To celebrate the grand opening of “Ebb & Flow: Explorations in Painting” with art by artist Herbert Murrie, participants were able to create their own painting in a 3D virtual reality experience using Tilt Brush by Google.

Here are a few photos from the event. The video wall was generously provided by Pride Tech Solutions.


Learn more about this opening exhibit in the following Grand Valley Lanthorn article: “‘Ebb and Flow’ exhibit highlights artist’s creative journey, return to fine arts

Blackboard Achievements, Badges, and quick-and-easy Certificates

Blackboard’s Achievements tool allows instructors and course designers to develop criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates.  In short, faculty can use achievements to create opportunities for students to earn recognition for their work, while students can see which badges and certificates they have earned and what is required to receive additional recognition. achievement_flow

While the built-in achievements capability is helpful, Blackboard Building Blocks provide colleges and universities with the ability to extend the functionality of the system. With the aid of an opensource “Certificate of Completion” building block by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, instructors at GVSU now have the ability to create and distribute custom certificates that students can proudly post, print or display.

Colleen Cameron, a GVSU Blackboard Administrator, modified the opensource building block so that a blank template could easily be used to add content specific certification details, that when printed, included the students name and date of completion. These new custom certificates will allow students to better showcase the skills and knowledge they’ve achieved, while saving time for GVSU faculty and staff.


If you are interested in learning more about Blackboard Achievements tool and the “Certificate of Completion” capability, check out these instructions, or contact the eLearning team!

Blog post authored by: Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist


Improve Student Success and Save Time with @Blackboard Rubrics

Rubrics are extremely valuable in helping to align faculty assignment expectations with student performance. In other words, rubrics help to communicate faculty expectations for an assignment and help make grading much more clear to students.

Blackboard provides a robust, effective, and easy to use rubric tool that is built-in. Once created, students can view the assignment criteria and faculty can quickly and efficiently, click-to-score their students’ assignments. Further, faculty can provide personal feedback for each student using the rubric tool.

To learn more about creating rubrics in Blackboard, head on over to the GVSU eLearning Help page.