Month: February 2020

2020 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program – Now Accepting Submissions


We know you are awesome!

We know you have a high quality course!

ecp_winnerBlackboard is now accepting submissions through April 1, 2020 for the 2020 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program. The Exemplary Course Program gives awards for high quality courses! Professors Julia VanderMolen, Cheryl Kautz, and Szymon Machajewski from Grand Valley State University have received the award in the past!


VIEW the Blackboard Exemplary Course Video

Submit your course for an Exemplary Award before April 1, 2020

The Exemplary Course Program began in 2000 with the goal of identifying and disseminating best practices for designing high quality courses. The core of the program is the Exemplary Course Rubric, which defines key characteristics of high quality courses within the framework of Course Design, Interaction and Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support.

The Exemplary Course Rubric is offered under a Creative Commons license, and we encourage you to reuse and remix it as part of your own discussions on quality course design.




Meet the NEW eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team!

As GVSU looks to the future, eLearning and Emerging Technologies is building up and aligning services, support, and structure – targeted to scale up digital learning options for learners.

We partner with YOU to create programs, courses, certificates, and digital experiences to support student success. In addition, we collaborate with the Office of the Provost, Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, University Libraries, and Disability Support Resources to ensure we provide wrap around services and encourage high impact practices.

Our eLearning and Emerging Technologies team specializes on the following 5 key areas as we focus on accelerating digital transformation at GVSU.

Ven diagram with Instructional Design, Technology Showcase, Blackboard, Teaching with Technology, and Digital Studio

The eLearning team includes 15 staff and 15 student assistants on mission to support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning.

With over 150 years of higher education experience in leveraging technology in teaching – we’re here to help faculty deliver the next generation of teaching and learning…

  1. David Nivala, Instructional Technology Project Specialist
    David is located in Lake Michigan Hall.

    David holds an MA plus 20 credits in Educational Administration. He has been immersed in educational technology since 1993 in California and Michigan, became an instructional designer in 2010 at a local 4 year university and joined GVSU in 2020.

    As a teacher, school administrator and instructional designer, David has always been focused on student success. Learning objectives, student engagement and authentic assessment are of particular interest to him. He has also planned and implemented a wide range of subjects in faculty and staff development. Away from work, David enjoys kayaking, mountain biking and snow skiing.

  2. Jeanne Smith, Instructional Technology Project Specialist
    Jeanne will be starting on March 12, and be located downtown in the Center for Health Sciences.

    Most recently, Jeanne Smith worked as a Learning and Development Specialist at the Michigan State University and as a member of the Spectrum Health/MSU Graduate Medical Education program. Formerly, Jeanne was an Instructional Design Specialist working at GVSU from 2007-2013. Jeanne has an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from GVSU, B.S. in Business Administration from Aquinas College, and was a participant in the Program for Educators in Health Professions from the Harvard Medical School, Macy Institute.

  3. Barbara Stevens, Instructional Technology Project Specialist
    Barbara’s office is located in the Kindschi Hall of Science.

    Barb Stevens has been working in higher ed since 1998 and in online education since 1999. She has experience in instructional design, course development as a subject matter expert, managing faculty, and teaching, both on campus and online. She has experience working with faculty from a multitude of disciplines at both the undergrad and graduate levels. She lives in Kalamazoo with her husband and two Yorkies.

  4. Stephanie Webber, Instructional Technology Project Specialist
    Stephanie is located downtown in DeVos on the Pew Campus.

    Stephanie Webber joins Grand Valley State University with a background in operations management, project management, and instructional design solutions.Prior to GVSU, she worked as a Project Specialist for Davenport University serving clients around the globe to develop innovative training solutions. She has a passion for cultivating the next generation entering the workforce and enjoys mentoring young students.

    In her spare time, Stephanie is a hospice volunteer, violinist, and martial artist. She completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Grand Valley State University with an emphasis in business management. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning. Through her professional practices, she aspires to consistently exceed the expectations of those around her.

  5. Justin Melick, Instructional Designer
    Justin was promoted to Instructional Designer from his prior position as Digital Media Developer. Justin will be located downtown in DeVos on the Pew Campus.

    Justin joined the eLearning team in 2014 and holds master’s degrees from Grand Valley State University in both Educational Technology and Adult and Higher Education. Prior to coming on board at GVSU, Justin taught social studies at the K-12 level. He has also served as an adjunct faculty member in Grand Valley’s College of Education since 2018, teaching and developing courses in educational technology.

  6. Noah Campbell, Digital Media Developer
    Noah comes to us as a former eLearning Digital Studio student assistant and most recently a graduate assistant in the College of Education. He will be replacing Justin Melick, and his office will be in the Kindschi Hall of Science.

    Noah is a Graduate student in the Educational Technology Master’s program, set to graduate in December 2020. He has been working with the eLearning department since 2017 through the Digital Studio. His goal is to help faculty and staff by creating videos and other digital content to fit their course needs, and is thrilled to be able to get a job that will allow him to do this so early on in his career.

What is an Instructional Technology Project Specialist?

The specialists will be responsible for working collaboratively with faculty, subject matter experts, instructional designers, digital media developers, and cross-departmental stakeholders in leading the design, development, and on-time delivery of quality digital learning experiences.

Top 10 Digital Learning Support, Services, and Resources at GVSU

Our goal is to help ensure GVSU’s digital learning experiences are designed in alignment with a cohesive and consistent learner experience, focusing on best practices, quality frameworks, and high impact teaching practices.

We’re here to help! Here are the Top 10 Digital Learning Support, Services, and Resources offered by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team.


The mission of eLearning and Emerging Technologies is to support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and to enhance student success through:

Top 10 Digital Learning Support, Services, and Resources at GVSU

We’re here to help!


Goal: To ensure degrees, programs, micro-credentials, courses, and digital learning experiences are designed in alignment with cohesive and consistent learner experience best practices and quality frameworks.

We are here to help faculty transition courses from in person to online, while supporting faculty in the delivery of high quality – high impact digital learning experiences.


IDeL – Instructional Design for eLearning (

  1. Instructional Design Expertise and Support
    IDeL includes 4 instructional designers (Glenna Decker, Kim Kenward, Matt Roberts, Justin Melick) who specialize in designing online/hybrid teaching and learning.
  2. NEW! Instructional Technology Project Specialists (ITPS)
    NEW! To more effectively prioritize support in the creation of digital materials, 4 ITPS positions (David Nivala, Barb Stevens, Stephanie Webber, Jeanne Smith) have been created! The specialists will be responsible for working collaboratively with subject matter experts, instructional designers, digital media developers, and cross-departmental stakeholders in leading the design, development, and on-time delivery of high-quality digital learning experiences.
  3. Foundations for Online/Hybrid Course Development
    Learn how to design, build, and teach the next generation of education. Learn more:
  4. Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities (FLC)
    Faculty are encouraged to join an FLC to make connections, learn best practices, and to find additional support and resources. Learn more:

Digital Studio (

  1. Multimedia and Digital Media Development
    Media-rich instruction can help solve instructional problems, enhance learning, and support student success. The Digital Studio promotes the creation of digital learning experiences for faculty.
  2. Lightboard
    This exciting technology was custom built at GVSU, and it combines a whiteboard-like experience with visibility of the instructor, resulting in highly engaging course content. Lightboard videos can be easily integrated into Blackboard and placed online. Learn more:

Atomic Object Technology Showcase (

  1. Innovative Emerging Technology
    The showcase 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. Check out the latest at:

Teaching and Learning with Technology (

  1. Teaching and Learning with Technology
    Save time, increase your efficiency and effectiveness, better communicate with your students, easily share content, and provide timely feedback to students with a variety of technologies.Blackboard is GVSU’s enterprise learning management system, providing a consistent user experience for students as they access digital resources. In addition, resources such as online proctoring tools such as Respondus LockDown Browser/Monitor, and Blackboard Ally help to ensure content is accessible.

    Further, all students are provided a tutorial and Online/Hybrid Orientation to learn the basics of how to be successful at GVSU. Here is a complete list of Grand Valley’s Enterprise Instructional Technologies.

    The eLearning team of instructional technologists provide support to faculty in individual consultations, seminars, email support, and web resources. Learn more at:

Get Plugged In

  1. Seminars
    In addition to individual consultations and email support, training opportunities are offered through a wide array of seminars. Registration is available through the Sprout:
  2. Contact Us

GVSU Accessibility Tool provides Students with Flexible Content Formats

Students at Grand Valley State University can now access course materials in a variety of ways – to best meet their needs!

With Blackboard Ally, content uploaded by faculty is automatically converted and optimized for:

  • Tagged PDF
    Structured PDF for improved use with assistive technology
  • HTML
    For viewing in the browser and on mobile devices
  • ePub
    For reading as an e-book on an iPad and other e-book readers
  • Electronic braille
    BRF version for consumption on electronic braille displays
  • Audio
    MP3 version for listening
  • BeeLine Reader
    Enhanced version for easier and faster on-screen reading

“Accessible content is better content for all students, supporting inclusive education at GVSU.”

Ally scans content and auto-magically converts it to different file types, and in addition, the tool can be used by faculty to help them determine the level of accessibility of the content uploaded into Blackboard.

Without Ally, students who required content to be converted into new formats had to put in a request with GVSU’s Disability Support Resource office. However, now with Ally, students have faster and easier access to alternative formats of their course materials.

“Students can download a course document into an audio version and they can listen to it during their commute to campus or while riding the Laker Line to downtown.”

GVSU and the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team strives to provide student centered services such as Blackboard Ally to support teaching and learning.

Learn more about Blackboard Ally at GVSU

Learn more about Alternative File Formats in Blackboard Ally