Since 2011, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) has compiled a list of “Key Issues in Teaching and Learning” [See Infographic]. These key issues assist in our work in eLearning and Emerging Technologies to discover and identify common trends that are impacting higher education in the areas of teaching and learning.
In this post, 11 ELI key issues are presented, along with the role of eLearning and Emerging Technologies as it relates to supporting and responding to each issue.
Academic Transformation and Faculty Development
The eLearning team at GVSU is focused on both of academic transformation as well as faculty professional development as we strive to:
“Support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning…”
Instructional technology and new pedagogies are the eLearning team’s focus as we provide creative professional development coupled with enterprise campus technology resources in an effort to create the next generation of teaching and learning – all in support of student success.
In fact, eLearning aligns with GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas that support academic transformation and innovative faculty development:
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.
Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.
Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented.
Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.
For many institutions, in addition to individual consultations, training sessions and seminars are often provided to faculty as part of a professional development program. To successfully engage faculty at GVSU, the eLearning team offers a wide array of sessions that focus on best practices in the application of technologies to solve instructional problems. Throughout the academic year, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team provides over 80 training seminars covering a large scope of instructional technology topics are offered to faculty. These seminars are centered on the effective pedagogical integration of technology in teaching with the goal of enhancing student success.
Further, the eLearning team facilitates faculty learning communities on the topic of online teaching and learning as well as hosting regular weekly open office hours to connect directly with faculty. Finally, each year, the eLearning team organizes the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium to provide a venue to showcase innovative pedagogical practices.
Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Accessibility and UDL continue to be important key issues and the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team supports these initiatives through faculty professional development and shared resources along with collaborative services with the Disability Support Resources department. Blackboard Ally was adopted and put into production at GVSU in the summer of 2018 to: generate awareness, build capacity, and increase institutional oversight of accessibility. In addition, Panopto was implemented to provide video caption capability for faculty who are using instructional video content in their teaching. Both Ally and Panopto support the principles of inclusive education through UDL.
Online/Blended Learning and Instructional Design
Distance education continues to grow at GVSU with a +25% increase in enrollment in online/hybrid classes since 2017. With over 5,000 student enrollments in the Fall 2018 semester, just over 17% of all students are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course. To support distance education initiatives, eLearning and Emerging Technologies has trained over 250 faculty to teach online/hybrid classes in the past year through the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery course.
As one of the most desired professional development opportunities, the “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery” workshop is a required training for all faculty that teach an online or a hybrid class at GVSU. As part of this professional development, Blackboard competencies are also required. Faculty must demonstrate basic competency in using the essentials of Blackboard, whereas the Foundations training focuses on best practices in online/hybrid pedagogies.
All in all, the required Foundations training has led faculty to develop and teach high quality courses at the university. This professional development experience has been created and is delivered entirely through Blackboard, showcasing and modeling best practices, as well as a variety of technology tools that are available to faculty to use in their own teaching.
Finally, in order to successfully complete the Foundations training, faculty must create a week of instruction using Blackboard. The week of instruction is peer reviewed using a quality rubric that has been created by the GVSU Online Education Council. This rubric is based on the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, Quality Matters, 7 principles of good practice in undergraduate education, and Grand Rapids Community College’s course quality review rubric.
Privacy and Security
One of the key issues in privacy and security is in maintaining the integrity of our enterprise systems while ensuring student privacy. This is also essential when 3rd party technologies are used as part of a course. While encouraging the use of GVSU’s enterprise systems such as Blackboard, the eLearning team has created a few tips for instructors who are using external web services and social media with their students and in their courses.
Digital and Information Literacies
As a liberal arts educational institution, GVSU’s mission is as follows: “Grand Valley State University educates students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. The university contributes to the enrichment of society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service.”
Part of this work is establishing opportunities for students to build literacy and fluency as it relates to the use of everything digital. The eLearning team supports the equipping of students and the campus community in supporting a variety of enterprise applications as well as the advancement of digital fluency through support and infrastructure. Inclusive education and the support for digital media is most notable in the work of the eLearning Digital Studio. The studio maintains a vast project list that provides great breadth and depth of leveraging to technology that contributes to dialogue around 21st century literacy skills for students. Further, the eLearning team is looking into the future by working collaboratively to establish more support for student-based digital media creation at GVSU.
GVSU has been involved in the open education resources (OER) movement for many years, and most recently has seen a growth in the adoption and use of #OER in teaching and learning. For example, there have been several adoptions of OpenStax textbooks in Chemistry and Mathematics and a new interdisciplinary team lead by the university’s library is helping to coordinate resources and raise awareness.
In fact, GVSU has been participating with the K-12 community through the #GOOPEN initiative as part of the US Department of Education’s goal to encourage states, school districts and educators to use openly licensed educational materials to transform teaching and learning. GVSU joined the K-12 #GOOPEN initiative in January last year.
Further, there has been activity across the state for several years, and one recent example is the #MIOERSummit, which brought together faculty across the state with the goal of improving student success through the use and adoption of OER. At GVSU, students have saved over $480,000 in textbook costs, with 3000+ course sections each semester that require no paper textbook.
eLearning Resource – Open Educational Resources (OER)
Integrated Planning and Advising
GVSU IT supports a variety of student information system initiatives across the university. The eLearning team supports retention and student success through the use of Blackboard automation to make faculty advisors more effective and efficient in communicating with students through the Blackboard Organization Advisor sites. Opportunities exist also to leverage Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for live online counseling and advising.
The opportunities are abound with big data and small data. BIG data, meaning the large scale and mass amounts of data that can inform strategic decisions. Also, SMALL data in the use of course level information about students and their levels of engagement in their courses. Solutions that include early alert, intervention, and that provide student insights empower faculty and advisors with unique capabilties in the support of student retention. Most notable here is “Clicks, Grades, Engagement, and Student Success” whereby, Blackboard has provided research in how successful students are using learning management system tools.
“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.”
Big and small data can enable unique solutions that support student success. Applications such as Blackboard Predict which provides capabilities to inform campus advisors with students at-risk through early alert, and also at the individual instructor level through tools like the Blackboard Retention Center.
Learning Space Design
As the campus continues to create classroom and in-between spaces for students to informally gather and learn, active learning becomes more important and so too the purposeful design of facilities.
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) enhance collaboration, 3) increase faculty/student engagement, and 4) improve interaction through dynamic group work and classroom communication.
IT Resource – Technology Enhanced and Active Learning Classrooms
Emerging Technologies – Technology Showcase
As part of the eLearning team’s work, the latest emerging technologies are a focus of the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. The mission of the showcase is to provide faculty, staff, and students with an immersive and engaging environment to: interact, discover, learn, and share how innovative emerging technologies can enhance teaching and improve student learning at GVSU. With over 40 emerging technology exhibits that include virtual reality, augmented reality, and 3D printing, the showcase is an outstanding and very unique example of education, technology, and innovation.
While being a spotlight for campus tours, visitors, and also a destination for a variety of classes at GVSU, the showcase also engages with partnerships across the campus. For example, in a unique partnership with the GVSU Art Gallery, the showcase provided an innovative virtual reality experience at the opening reception which was held on January 15, 2018. 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.
A GVSU campus wide beacon of emerging #edtech, the Technology Showcase has had over 53,000 visitors since 2015, hosting a variety of colleges and university visitors, including most notably the President of the country of Palau who brought with him the United States Secret Service!
eLearning Resource – Technology Showcase as Engaging Space with Emerging Technologies
Competency-based Education/New Methods of Assessment
eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development with the faculty teaching and learning center and university libraries. In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning and Emerging Technologies’s “#EdTech Summer Teaching Institute” badge. Further, 7 badges are currently offered by eLearning, including 4 Blackboard badges, a digital media badge, an #EdTech Summer Teaching Institute badge, and a badge for the successful completion of Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery.
What about you? What are some other key issues or trends that resonate and that bubble up in importance on our campuses? How can we focus more deliberately on supporting student success through innovative technologies and pedagogies?