ETOM 2016 – Innovations in Distance Learning and #EdTech


Call for Presentations NOW OPEN

Deadline: September 16, 2016

Last year, the Fall Educational Technology Organization of Michigan Conference was held at Grand Valley State University.  This year, the event will be held at Mott Community College.

Faculty and staff from GVSU are invited to submit a presentation and also attend the conference!

ETOM 2016 Fall Conference
Innovations in distance learning and educational technology.

November 11, 2016
8:30 am – 4:00 pm
Mott Community College, Flint, MI

Are you or someone you know at your college or university doing something special to increase online student success? Is your college or university leveraging instructional technologies to improve student engagement and retention?  If so, encourage them to share their ideas by doing a presentation at ETOM’s Fall Conference. We are currently accepting proposals for breakout sessions; please see the Call for Proposal listed below.

This year, Barry Fishman (University of Michigan) will open our conference with a keynote entitled “School is a Game… But is it a good game?”.  Please encourage your faculty and/or staff to share their great work and submit a proposal.

Subjects may include, but are not limited to:

  • Accessibility
  • Authentic learning
  • Breaking the Norm with Technology
  • BYOD in the Classroom
  • Competency-based learning
  • Data-Driven Learning & Assessment
  • Games & Gamification
  • Learning Analytics
  • OERs (Open Education Resources)
  • Student success in online learning
  • Students as Creators
  • 3D Printing

Submission Details

Proposals should be submitted online at under Conference Information and must be received no later than September 16, 2016 to be considered. Direct link to PROPOSAL FORM

The ETOM Board will review all proposals, and presenters will be notified by the end of September, 2016.  All presenters will be required to register and pay the conference registration fee. The Program Committee may recommend that several similar sessions be combined into one presentation. 

Highlights from #BbWorld16



Each year, Blackboard users from all over the world come to BbWORLD (main conference) and DEVCON (developers conference) which is a national conference that is focused on using educational technologies in teaching and learning that contribute to student success. This year sessions were also streaming live via BbWORLDLive.

Over 2,000 educators, administrators, and #edtechies from over 30 countries attended the conference this year. There were over 200 client sessions offered at the event that shared best practices, while Bb corporate sessions focused on the next generation of tools and services that help meet the needs of students, faculty, and institutions. The exhibit hall featured a wide array of vendors with technology that integrate with Blackboard.

bbworld16_gvsuteamThe conference was held from July 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV and 5 faculty and staff from Grand Valley State University (pictured from left to right Katie Clark, Eric Kunnen, Cheryl Kautz, Sherry Barricklow, and Szymon Machajewski) attended the event to present and to pick up the latest and greatest of everything Blackboard.

In addition to major announcements, such as new partnerships with IBM and Amazon, here are a few highlights from the conference that were captured by the GVSU eLearning and Emerging Technologies team:

  • GVSU faculty members received their awards for “Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States” in a session at the conference entitled: “Celebrating Inclusive Classrooms“.  Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU and Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems each received a certificate and recognition for their accomplishment.

    Session Abstract: Building an inclusive classroom means anticipating the diverse needs of students in the classroom and ensuring your pedagogy, content, and classroom technology can easily adapt to meet the needs of every student. In support of Global Accessibility Awareness day 2016 the Blackboard team ran a contest to find the most inclusive classrooms in the United States. We were looking for teachers who went the extra mile to ensure their classrooms were set up for inclusion and enabled students of all abilities to succeed. We’re excited to provide the winners, Cheryl Kautz and Szymon Machajewski from Grand Valley State University with the opportunity to share their stories during this rocket session.

    Here is a video of Szymon and Cheryl receiving their awards at the conference:

  • Katie Clark presented at BbWorld DEVCON which is Blackboard’s developer conference in a session entitled: “Making it Simple: Automate Blackboard Administration using SIS Integrationbbworld16_KatieClark.jpgSession Abstract: GVSU has been using a SIS Integration for several years, and has developed ways to simplify user engagement opportunities. The university creates courses, users, and enrollments with SIS, but have started populating the hierarchy with courses and users based on Banner enrollments. It also uses data from Banner to create Academic Advising sites for individual advisors with their advisees enrolled. This integration enables the university to create organizations for academic units with students enrollments based on the applicable major or minor.
  • Szymon Machajewski and Eric Kunnen presented in a session at DEVCON with the University of Illinois at Chicago in a session entitled: “Open Source Analytics for Growing Adoption of Blackboard Learn using BbStatsimg_0204Session Abstract: BbStats has been a leading OSCELOT project for about seven years. The analytics tool reports on Blackboard Learn system health and usage and provides valuable information about activity and use patterns. This session will dive deeper into the tools and reports needed to increase adoption.This session highlighted the use of the free open source Blackboard Building Block called BbStats, written by Szymon Machajewski. The session was facilitated by Szymon who is an affiliate instructor at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and serves at a Blackboard system administrator at UIC.Szymon Machajewski also presented in 2 additional sessions entitled: “Help! I need Somebody” (Blackboard Student Services & Managed Hosting) and “Using the ITIL Framework to Drive True Technology Adoption”.

  • Session highlights were also captured in the following blog posts by Eric Kunnen:

More information about this conference can be found on the BbWorld16 website and via social #bbworld16 tag.  Next year, the event will be held in New Orleans from July 25-27.


#BbWorld16 LIVE – FREE Online Sessions from Blackboard Conference


A free, online conference for faculty and instructional designers will be held on July 14. Several sessions from the #BbWorld16 conference will be streamed LIVE!

Sessions will cover a variety of topics, new ideas, and best practices in using technology in teaching and learning.

Be sure to REGISTER for BbWorld LIVE between June 26 and July 1!

Here are a few of the sessions that will be offered on July 14:

Rocket session: great teaching in a world of connected students

11:30AM ET
Multiple presenters

Love a TED talk? Who doesn’t! We took that format and supercharged it. Introducing rocket sessions: 7-minute sessions that pack a punch. Not sure what to expect? You won’t be disappointed in these seven rocket sessions. Topics include: Engaging your students via text message, Integrating video into your courses, Social presence in online learning

Dr. Howard Gardner

1:30PM ET
Dr. Howard Gardner
Harvard Graduate School of Education

Dr. Gardner is best known in educational circles for his theory of multiple intelligences. However, he’s a man with many hats. He’s authored over 30 books and received honorary degrees from over 30 institutions in recognition of his work’s impact on education. He’s been named one of the 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world. Join us for this rare, online keynote address just for faculty.

Building (attr)active courses:
a session on instructional design

3:30PM ET
Tim Boon
University of Leuven

Engaging students in online courses can be quite challenging. Good-looking and well-structured courses help students stay motivated. By embedding web 2.0 tools (Google Drive, Prezi, Padlet, …) and using just a tiny bit of coding you can make your Blackboard courses stunning and a lot more interactive. Tim Boon will show you how.

Featured speaker: making sense of the new world of digital credentialing

4:30PM ET
Carla Casilli
Badging + Credentials expert

More than five years have passed since the inception of the open badges experiment, and in that time the concept of digital badges has moved steadily into the general consciousness. As this idea evolves, so do its many opportunities and challenges. Part technology and part conceptual approach, the digitization of representations of learning now includes wide-ranging considerations such as competency-based education and e-portfolios, as well as professional development. This presentation will explore the evolving dimensions of this work.

Learn more about BbWorld LIVE and REGISTER TODAY!

7 Things You Didn’t Know that Blackboard Can Do!

Blackboard isn’t just a place to upload your syllabus, in fact, there are many benefits of using the system to better engage with students, increase communication, provide 24×7 access to course materials, collect assignments, and promptly post student assessment feedback and grades!

Here are 7 things you didn’t know that Blackboard can do!

1. Class Photo Roster

The Class Photo Roster is an effective way to more quickly learn students names, increase engagement, and to better personalize instruction. In just a few clicks, faculty can access the official student ID photographs of enrolled students.


Learn more about the photo roster on the Blackboard Class Photo Roster Tip Sheet.

2. Retention Center and Performance Dashboard

The Retention Center provides an easy way for you to discover which students in your course are at risk. Based on preconfigured rules and rules you create, students’ engagement and participation are visually displayed, quickly alerting you to potential risk. From the Retention Center, you can contact the most at-risk students immediately and flag those you want to monitor closely. As you observe their progress and send emails, you can also keep track of this correspondence and make notes about each student right in the Retention Center.


For more information on how to use Bb’s Retention Center Watch a Tutorial.

The Performance Dashboard provides you with a view into all types of user activity in your course. All users enrolled in your course are listed, including instructors, students, teaching assistants, graders, observers, and guests, with pertinent information about each user’s progress, last course access, discussion board participation, and activity. The numbers provided in the Review Status column of the Performance Dashboard indicate the number of items that a student has marked as Reviewed and provides an at-this-moment view of the item availability and a student’s progress on reviewing items.


For more information on how to use Bb’s Performance Dashboard Watch a Tutorial.

3. Review Status and Adaptive Release

The Review Status tool allows instructors to track user review of specific content items. After an instructor turns on the tool for an item, students track their progress. A Needs Review button appears with enabled items. After reviewing the item, a student selects this button to mark it Reviewed. If the Review Status tool is turned off, all data is saved.

To learn how to make the review status tool available in your courses see How to Manage Tools.

Adaptive Release controls the release of content to users based on a set of rules you create. The rules may be related to availability, date and time, individual users and user groups (such as course Groups), scores or attempts on any Grade center item, or review status of another item in the course. An Adaptive Release rule consists of a set of criteria that defines the visibility of a content item to users. Criteria are the parts that make up the rule. For example, date and membership are two types of different criteria. Each content item may have multiple rules, and each rule may consist of multiple criteria. To view an item, a user must meet all of the requirements of the rule. This means that if a rule has multiple criteria, the user must meet all criteria before the item is available.

For more information on best practices see Approaches to Adaptive Release.

4. Date Management

Use the date management tool to easily adjust all content and tool dates in your course. Accessed on the Control Panel in the Course Tools section, you can choose to adjust dates automatically or individually from one convenient location. You can adjust dates according to the course start date. The Current Start Date displays the date that the course is currently set to start. Change the new start date to reflect when this new course is going to start. All dates in the course adjust by the number of days each date occurs after the start date.

To learn how to adjust and manage course date’s Watch a Tutorial.

5. Blackboard Grader for iPad with Video/Audio Feedback

Bb Grader is a mobile app that provides teachers with a portable solution for reviewing, providing feedback, and grading student submissions to to your Blackboard Learn courses—when and where you have time. Bb Grader requires iOS 7 + and is compatible with iPad Air, iPad mini, and iPad 2, 3, or 4.


Visit the Blackboard website for more information on Getting Started with Bb Grader.

6. Gradebook Colors


You are able to create rules to apply color to the cells in the Grade Center grid, either by grade or status. Creating color rules in the Grade Center provides visual indicators to help you interpret information quickly. For example, you can use yellow to highlight graded items with failing scores so students and columns that require attention are prominent. Also, you can assign colors to the following grading statuses: In Progress, Needs Grading, or Exempt.

To learn how to use the Colors feature in your course Watch a Tutorial.

7. Rubrics for Assignments

A rubric is an assessment tool listing evaluation criteria for an assignment. A rubric divides the assigned work into parts and provides clear descriptions of the characteristics of the work associated with each part, at varying levels of skill. You can use a rubric to quickly grade an assignment and/or communicate the assignment requirements and acceptable performance standards. Rubrics can help ensure consistent and impartial grading.

Students can use the rubric to organize their efforts to meet the requirements of an assignment, and you can use them to explain evaluations to students. When you score assignments with a rubric, students can more easily recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their work and direct their efforts accordingly.


To learn how to grade using a Rubric Watch a Tutorial.

BONUS:  Badges, Certificates, and Achievements

The achievements tool allows instructors and course designers to designate criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates. These can be beneficial in the #gamification of instruction. Students can see which rewards they have earned and what is required of them to receive additional rewards, providing insight into learning progression toward defined competencies.

Achievements has four functional areas: achievements description, reward, notification and sharing. Criteria identified in the achievement description must be met before a reward is earned. Students are notified when a reward is earned and can then share it as they choose. Each achievement must have at least one reward identified during set up. The reward is the item awarded upon meeting the required criteria. It is given in the form of badges and certificates.


For more information on Blackboard’s Achievement tools see Achievements.

For assistance and support with any of these tools, please contact the eLearning team or visit our eLearning Teaching with Technology support site. We are here to help!




Ensemble Video’s Dropbox and Blackboard Integration Enhances Online Education at Grand Valley State University

Video is becoming more and more strategically important in the delivery of instruction.  At GVSU, the university supports the use of video in Blackboard through the use of Ensemble.

Recently, the staff of eLearning and Emerging Technologies (Eric Kunnen, Justin Melick, Kim Kenward), along with faculty and staff from GVSU and University Libraries were featured in a case study by Ensemble Video about the university’s use of video in teaching and learning. The article is entitled: “Ensemble Video’s Dropbox and Blackboard Integration Enhances Online Education at Grand Valley State University

The Article is Available on Ensemble’s Website


Online & Hybrid Learning Expands @GVSU

Grand Valley State University currently offers 6 online (100% of the courses are online) and 23 hybrid (at least 50% of the courses are in the online or hybrid format) programs.

The online programs are offered by:

  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Education
  • Nursing

The hybrid programs are provided by:

  • Community and Public Service
  • Education
  • Health Professions
  • Interdisciplinary Studies
  • Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • Nursing

Online and Hybrid Enrollment at GVSU Up by 17%

Flexible learning options at the university continue to grow as more faculty become certified to teach online and as more courses are offered in the online and hybrid modality.

Online and hybrid enrollment expanded this year by 17% (from 2015) to include over 3,800 enrollments in online and hybrid classes at GVSU.

In addition, 14% of all students at the university are enrolled in at least 1 online or hybrid class.

The online/hybrid courses were taught by 136 faculty in 150 courses, representing 11% of the classes at the university.

Students at GVSU 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.

“The trend of increasing distance education enrollments in the face of declining overall higher ed enrollments suggests an important shift in the American higher education landscape, with contemporary learners leaning in to online options,” said Kathleen S. Ives, chief executive officer and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium. “The majority of academic leaders recognize this and understand online learning is critical to their institutions’ long-term strategy.”

GVSU Strategic Plan

As indicated in the Babson survey above, eLearning (online/hybrid) is critical to an institutions long-term strategy.  In fact, the 2016-2021 GVSU Strategic Plan includes a priority statement for expanding the number of courses offered in the online and hybrid format.

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%.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Provides Faculty Support

With the growth in eLearning nationally and locally at the university, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is here to provide support to faculty at GVSU that are interested in creating and/or teaching an online or hybrid course.  Faculty learn how to prepare, design, and teach an online or hybrid course through a Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development workshop which is facilitated by 3 instructional designers in the IDeL group.

In addition, digital media and technology support is provided by a digital media developer, 2 eLearning and instructional technology specialists, and 2 system analysts that work with the university’s Blackboard learning management system.  Blackboard support for faculty is provided by the eLearning team including 2 graduate assistants through seminars, email, phone, and office consultations.  Online readiness for students, along with a variety of student services are also offered by the university, including the GVSU IT HelpDesk.

How can the eLearning team help YOU? Please reach out and let us know!

eLearning is a movement elearning

GVSU Faculty Members Awarded “Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States”

Two of our faculty members at Grand Valley State University have been selected as winners of the “Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States” contest that was organized by Blackboard.

To recognize Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2016, Blackboard held a contest to find the most inclusive classrooms in the United States. Bb looked for teachers who have put in the extra time and effort to ensure their pedagogy, content, and classroom technology enables all students to learn and be successful without complex accommodations.

 1st Place Award

kautzcCheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU  received a 1st Place Award

As 1st place winner of this contest, Blackboard has invited Cheryl to share her story as part of the Accessibility Track at the BbWorld Conference that will be held July 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV.


2nd Place Award

machajesSzymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2nd Place Award

As a 2nd place winner of this contest, Blackboard has invited Szymon to share his story as part of the Accessibility Track at the BbWorld Conference that will be held July 12-14 in Las Vegas, NV.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies department offers our congratulations to Cheryl Kautz and Szymon Machajewski in their hard work to support student success through creating instruction that is inclusive!