GVSU’s Technology Showcase and eLearning team at the Intersection of the EDUCAUSE NMC Horizon Report

nmcreportIt’s here! The 2018 NMC Horizon Report! Thankfully EDUCAUSE came to the rescue to help complete NMC’s work after the New Media Consortium declared bankruptcy.  Always an outstanding trend report which identifies and describes the areas in highered that bring challenges and opportunities in educational technology – all with the focus on the impact on teaching and learning.

QUESTION > So where does GVSU fit into this report? What are the key areas that align with projects or initiatives that are occurring here at the university? This post will attempt to provide links to various activities and work happening that focuses on the current trends, challenges, and developments in this report.

According to the report, here are the key areas trends, challenges, and developments:

Key TRENDS Accelerating Higher Education Technology Adoption

Short TermDriving technology adoption in Higher Education for the next one to two years

  • Growing Focus on Measuring Learning
  • Redesigning Learning Spaces

Mid-TermDriving technology adoption in Higher Education for the next three to five years

  • Proliferation of Open Educational Resources
  • The Rise of New Forms of Interdisciplinary Studies

Long-TermDriving technology adoption in Higher Education for five or more years

  • Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • Cross-Institution and Cross-Sector Collaboration

Significant CHALLENGES Impeding Higher Education Technology Adoption

SolvableThose that we understand and know how to solve

  • Authentic Learning Experiences
  • Improving Digital Literacy

DifficultThose that we understand but for which solutions are elusive

  • Adapting Organizational Designs to the Future of Work
  • Advancing Digital Equity

WickedThose that are complex to even define, much less address

  • Economic and Political Pressures
  • Rethinking the Roles of Educators

Important DEVELOPMENTS in Technology for Higher Education

Time to Adoption: One Year or Less

  • Analytics Technologies
  • Makerspaces

Time to Adoption: Two to Three years

  • Adaptive Learning Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence

Time to Adoption: Four to Five years

  • Mixed Reality
  • Robotics

GVSU’s Technology Showcase and eLearning team at the Intersection of the EDUCAUSE NMC Horizon Report

Atomic Object Technology Showcase – Emerging Technology and Makerspace

Established as a hub of high-tech experiences in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons, the showcase has seen over 60,000 visitors since being open in August of 2013. The average visitor count is almost 2,000 per month.

The showcase intersects with the Horizon Report in the areas of:

  • TRENDS – Redesigning Learning Spaces, Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • CHALLENGES – Improving Digital Literacy
  • DEVELOPMENTS – Makerspaces, Artificial Intelligence, Mixed Reality, Robotics


In the past 5 years, the showcase has been a beacon of emerging tech on campus, with the first accessible 3D printing, first pair of Google Glasses, first Oculus DK2 virtual reality headset, and the first true augmented reality device, the Microsoft HoloLens, that has been available at the university. A destination spot for campus tours, class visits, and the public at large, the showcase has been a place of “come and see”! Here is a list of highlights from the showcase over the year.

In the next 5 years, our vision for the Atomic Object Technology Showcase is transitioning from “come and see” to “go and do“.

By “go and do” we intend to dig deeper into the curriculum and to better connect students and learning – faculty and teaching to the technology. Integrating the technology more deliberately is key. In fact, the Digital Studio in eLearning and Emerging Technologies has begun work to develop 360 video, augmented reality, and virtual reality experiences. Here are a few examples of the Digital Studios past projects.


A Computer Generated 3D Molecule in Grand Valley's Technology Showcase

The Digital Studio along with the Atomic Object Technology Showcase created computer generated 3D models to be displayed in a Microsoft HoloLens with the Biomedical Sciences department to better understand molecules and compounds.


360 Farm Tour

Working with Cheryl Kaleka from the College of Education the Digital Studio created a 360 degree tour of Fellinlove Farms which aims to create a therapeutic environment for children with special needs.


Stereoscopic view of Grand Valley's Allendale Campus

With the help of Occupational Therapy assistant professor Carla Slabaugh, The Digital Studio created an augmented reality app. When used with a phone and an augmented reality headset, students can see what a patient with a left visual field cut would experience.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team – Monitoring Trends, Advancing Innovation, Rethinking Roles of Educators

Established in August of 2014, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team in Information Technology has been on mission and dedicated to:

…supporting faculty, contributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through: exemplary instructional design, effective application and integration of instructional technologies, interactive digital media development, administration and enhancement of the university’s enterprise learning management system (Blackboard), and the deployment of innovative emerging technologies.

The eLearning team’s mission intersects with the Horizon Report in the areas of:

  • TRENDS – Redesigning Learning Spaces, Proliferation of Open Educational Resources, Advancing Cultures of Innovation
  • CHALLENGES – Improving Digital Literacy, Advancing Digital Equity, Rethinking the Roles of Educators

Our team has been centered on executing the following strategies:

  • Leverage exemplary instructional design and instructional technologies to: create pedagogically sound and learner centered instruction, improve and ensure course quality, enhance faculty effectiveness, and to increase student success and retention.
  • Accelerate the evaluation, implementation, and application of educational technologies by coordinating resources, assisting, equipping, and empowering faculty and students.
  • Partner with faculty, staff, and students, to showcase, advocate, and increase awareness of the effective application of innovative instructional technologies through sharing best practices.
  • Develop interactive digital media courseware and resources to enhance teaching and improve student learning.
  • Advance the capabilities and adoption of the university’s enterprise course management system (Blackboard) to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of content delivery, assessment, and communication to support innovative teaching and learner engagement.
  • Build institutional capacity to: integrate and implement technologies into teaching and learning practices, generate economies of scale, and increase their deployment across the institution.
  • Investigate, acquire, test, prototype, pilot, research, and evaluate cutting-edge emerging technologies that have the potential to transform education, enhance teaching, and improve student learning.
  • Survey, collect data, analyze, and evaluate the effectiveness of instructional technologies, services, and support.

2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Professional Development

The eLearning team at GVSU was recently recognized by Blackboard by receiving the 2018 Catalyst Award for Professional Development. In short, the team was recognized for their creative suite of innovative professional development support and resources at Grand Valley State University. 

“The eLearning team’s focus is centered on innovation in new pedagogies and the creative use of technologies at the intersection of teaching and learning. By leveraging Blackboard, the eLearning team provides high quality professional development through empowering faculty and students in the creation of the next generation of education.”

Active Learning and Technology Enhanced Classrooms

Through direct consultation with faculty, eLearning assists and helps to establish and accelerate conversations around active learning and redesigning learning spaces. Currently, GVSU has established a variety of student-centered classroom environments.

Active learning classrooms provide a unique faculty and student experience as the spaces include flexible and movable furniture and technology to support: 1) a student-centered design, 2) enhanced collaboration, 3) increased faculty/student engagement, and 4) improved interaction through dynamic group work and classroom communication.

The university has dedicated 12 spaces for active learning, a variety of informal learning spaces, group study rooms, and digital media classrooms as well. Here is a list of GVSU’s Technology Enhanced and Active Learning Classrooms.

Open Educational Resources

GVSU is seeing also a proliferation of open educational resources with increases in adoption and use by faculty at the university.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides faculty with support to:

  • Incorporate OER to make courses more flexible and effective
  • Explore learning object repositories and open textbook materials to discover effective OER
  • Learn tools and technologies for creating customized instructional materials with OER
  • Leverage OER in teaching by applying quality instructional design
  • Integrate OER into Blackboard courses, assignments, and assessments


Estimated student savings from OER use by faculty in Fall 2017 and Winter 2018


The number of course sections each semester which require no paper textbook.


The difference between the cost of a new hardcover OpenStax Chemistry OER textbook used in CHM 115/116 and the cost of a used copy of the formerly-used textbook.


Rethinking Education

Finally, on the topic of rethinking the roles of educators, the eLearning team’s slogan is: “supporting faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning”. As technology has impacted every aspect of our culture, so to has it shaped the classroom, teaching, and learning. Through a unique intersection of instructional design, emerging technology, digital media development, learning management system enhancement, and advances in teaching with technology, the eLearning team supports the rethinking of education.

Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium

From a support and services perspective, eLearning provides consultations and coaching, on demand support, seminars and workshops, faculty learning communities, and the “Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium“. This support and the events therein provide opportunities for the university to rethink education through the lens of technological advancement that supports student success.


Distance Education

In addition, the university continues to provide flexible learning options that meet students’ needs through online and hybrid courses. The eLearning team supports this strategic initiative by assisting faculty as they learn, prepare, and teach distance education courses at GVSU.

Here are a few stats about distance education at GVSU:

  • Winter 2018 Enrollment
    • 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.
    • Online/hybrid courses were taught by 173 faculty in 177 unique courses, representing 12% of the classes at the university.
  • Summer 2018 Enrollment
    • Overall enrollment for summer was up 4%
    • 42% of all enrollment was online and hybrid in the summer (almost 4,000 students in total enrollment)
    • 10% increase in online/hybrid enrollment between last summer and this summer
    • 231 online/hybrid course sections

As we look further into the future, GVSU is focused on advancing education in a variety of ways. Specifically for the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team, we align most directly under the following 2021 Strategic Outcomes:

GVSU 2016-2021 Strategic Outcomes

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

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

 Objective 1.D.2: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching. Baseline: 89% of faculty indicated either daily or weekly use of Blackboard in their teaching according to a GVSU faculty survey conducted winter 2016.

Objective 2.E.1: At least 75% of faculty and 75% of staff participate in professional development to expand, enhance or extend their competencies and capabilities within the context of the responsibilities of their positions. Baseline for faculty will be determined via Digital Measures in summer 2015. Baseline for Fall 2014 for staff is 50-55%.

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%.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution. Baseline: In 2013, IT implementation was above the median on 24 of 49 indicators across 7 functional domains.

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