GVSU Professor receives Blackboard Award for Optimizing the Student Experience

Dr. Szymon Machajewski, an affiliate professor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at Grand Valley State University, has been named a winner of the Blackboard Inc. Catalyst Award in the “Optimizing Student Experience” category.

szymonawardquote.PNGMachajewski said using Blackboard in his CIS 150 course is a critical component and helps drive student success.

“The coordination of the course focuses on improving student experience and ensuring that Blackboard technology scales instructor efforts in communication of announcements, grades and course outline,” Machajewski said. “Students have a better course experience when they know their current grades to manage their academic effort and exact due dates through notifications and mobile technology to manage their time.”

GVNow – “Grand Valley faculty member wins Blackboard Catalyst Award

See Also: “Blackboard Announces Winners of 2019 Catlayst Awards


About the Optimizing Student Experience Blackboard Catalyst Award

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

Specifically, the “Optimizing Student Experience Award”, honors those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. This includes their addressing of new and changing dynamics in fields such as student recruitment, financial aid, enrollment, retention and assessment, graduation, and beyond. More information about the Catalyst Awards can be found on Blackboard’s website.

Optimizing Student Experience at GVSU

As coordinator and instructor of CIS 150 Introduction to Computing, Machajewski has integrated Blackboard tools to engage with students and to motivate them to succeed. In addition, he is an expert in leveraging technology in a variety of ways, always focused on student success and optimizing the student experience. Here are a few examples of his work at the intersection of teaching and technology:

  1. “Using Blackboard Goals to Monitor Curriculum and for Accreditation” – GVSU eLearning Blog Post
  2. “GVSU’s Blackboard Student Photo Roster enhances Personalized Instruction”  – GVSU eLearning Blog Post (The photo roster application was also released as an open educational resource, available for download.) 
  3. “Move over, Mario Professor invents game to engage students in learning” – Grand Valley Magazine Article
  4. “Open Source Analytics for Blackboard Learn” – 2014 GVSU Big Data Conference
  5. Gamification Strategies in a Hybrid Exemplary College Course” – International Journal of Educational Technology


The eLearning team at GVSU congratulates Dr. Szymon Machajewski in receiving this recognition, and his commitment to student success!!!

“We’re thrilled to honor this year’s Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community,” said Lee Blakemore, Chief Client Officer and President, Global Client Operations & Success at Blackboard. “Clients like these inspire us to accelerate innovation driving student success and we’re proud to be a part of their story.”

Lee Blakemore, Chief Client Officer and President, Global Client Operations & Success at Blackboard

Machajewski will also be honored alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2019, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held July 23-25 in Austin, TX.


Dr. Szymon Machajewski was also recognized with a Blackboard Exemplary Course Winner award in 2017 for “Introduction to Computing” at GVSU.

About Blackboard
Blackboard is the leading provider of learner success-focused technology solutions and services. Its product portfolio is unmatched in the marketplace, spanning teaching and learning, analytics, community engagement, campus transactions and security solutions as well as student services.

Our mission is to partner with the global education community to enable learner and institutional success, leveraging innovative technologies and services. With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education’s partner in change.


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