Author: ekunnen

Eric has a passion for, works to lead, support, and coordinate effective uses of technology in teaching and learning. He is an Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan. His primary role focuses on collaborating and supporting distance learning initiatives at the university while exploring future trends in emerging technologies in teaching and learning. He also collaborates to research and support academic technologies used in the classroom and in eLearning. Previously, Eric was the Emerging Technologies Coordinator at GVSU and a Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric has a background in teaching Computer Science and Biology at the secondary level and a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology. I'm on mission to advance teaching and learning through the integration of emerging and innovative instructional technologies... More

Blackboard Login Screen Changes in Support of Single Sign On at GVSU

On Monday, August 10, GVSU’s Blackboard system’s login screen will be updated as part of a transition to single sign on.

Blackboard SSO Background

Blackboard will be added to GVSU’s single sign on (SSO) experience, and join a variety of software applications currently using single sign on at Grand Valley such as: GVSU Google (Gmail), myBanner, myGV mobile, Ultratime, GVSUAlert (Rave Emergency Notifications), Qualtrics, library systems, Zoom, etc.

Blackboard SSO Purpose

The advantage of adding Blackboard into GVSU’s single sign on system is in providing a seamless experience across the enterprise applications currently in place at the university.

Because the student, faculty, or staff will only need to authenticate once, a user can seamlessly move from one system to another as needed without the extra step of logging in again to the other system. Further, there are some other security related advantages as well.

An example use case would be a student can login to Blackboard, click the GVSU Gmail tab to access their email, or access myBanner without the need to login again.

To best meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff, especially during remote teaching and into the upcoming Fall semester, adding Blackboard into the single sign on environment will help to remove obstacles and increase ease of access to the technologies supporting the teaching and learning environment at GVSU.

Blackboard SSO Login Screen

bbloginscreenInstead of being presented with a login prompt, users will be presented with this screen [see screen shot to the left] upon accessing Blackboard.

If the user is already authenticated and logged into another GVSU SSO application, there will be no need to enter credentials.

The language used on this login page is consistent with other SSO systems in place at GVSU. Because some users that connect to Blackboard do not have a GVSU network ID, the “Non-GVSU Network Account Login” link can be used to authenticate within Blackboard natively.

Register for FREE and join LIVE (July 21 and 22) for the Blackboard Galaxy of Learning



Join thousands of educators from around the world July 21 and 22 for a FREE, interactive online experience.

Tune in for two days of live sessions on topics that are top of mind for fall, including new models of teaching & learning, accessibility & inclusivity, student engagement and the impact of COVID-19 on education.

You’ll mingle virtually with thought leaders, instructors, techies, leaders and more – because you never know where you’ll get inspiration for your next great idea.

During this live online event, you will:

1 – Learn from our line-up of engaging speakers and presenters. Discover best practices, discuss what’s taking place on other campuses and spark new ideas from around the world in a single, supercharged event.

2 – Energize, chat, network! Explore the Discovery Hall and learn about Blackboard technologies, get involved with the Blackboard Community, and visit the UX Lab.
3 – Explore the first-ever BbWorld space station, which will be full of engaging and interactive spaces.
  • Step up your Blackboard game at the Partner Universe. Interact with Blackboard Partners and learn about the latest Blackboard integrations.
  • Take a well-deserved break at the Lunar Lounge which will offer a stellar line-up of surprise experiences to keep you engaged while having fun!



GVSU STA 419 Students assist in reviewing Blackboard Faculty and Student Survey Results

In the Winter 2020 semester, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team engaged with 2 students from a STA 419 Statistic Project class to assist in reviewing how both students and faculty are using Blackboard at GVSU.

The Blackboard Faculty and Student Surveys, administered in November 2019, were focused on investigating how often faculty and students use Blackboard, what features are most commonly used, and how best to improve the system for teaching and learning. The surveys were administered using the Blackboard Enterprise Survey tool. 

This blog post features key findings from the surveys based on a report submitted by the STA 419 students.

[See also: Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights – Winter 2016 and Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights – Fall 2017]

eLearning Note:  This survey was conducted before the pivot to remote teaching due to COVID-19, whereby, increases in the use of Blackboard, Collaborate, Ally, Panopto, Respondus and faculty development sessions/support were witnessed.

Faculty Survey Results

STA 419 students shared the following results based on the analyzed survey data using SAS and Microsoft Excel (N=293):

  • “On average, how many days (per week) do you access Blackboard?” Looking at Graph 1, 120 members (40.96%) use it every day, and 106 members (36.18%) use it 5-6 days per week. Only 6 members (2.05%) use Blackboard less than once per week, which is important since it means 98% of faculty are having at least weekly interaction with students via Blackboard.


  • Looking at Graph 4, 225 members (over 75%) have used Blackboard for more than 5 years, while the rest have used it for 4 or less years. One member did not answer this question.Bbsurveylongevity
  • Survey question 3 asked participants to rate the ease of use of Blackboard. Results indicate 243 members (82.94%) rated the ease of use to be easy or very easy. Thirty-six members (12.29%) gave it a neutral rating. That leaves 14 members (4.77%) rating Blackboard’s ease of use is difficult or very difficult.
  • “Please rate the efficiency of the Blackboard system this semester.” Looking at Graph 5, only 8 members (2.74%)  rated the efficiency as Poor, leaving the rest to rate it Fair, Good, or Excellent. One member did not respond to this question.Bbsurveyefficiency.jpg
  • Question 5 asked faculty members to check each Blackboard feature they have used this semester. Looking at Graph 6, the most used features used are Announcements, Content, Email, and Grade Center, while the least used features are. Achievements, Goals, Wikis, and Other.Bbsurveyfeaturesused.jpg
  • Question 6 asked faculty members to check each tool or service that integrates with Blackboard that they have used this semester. The most common tools used are Panopto, Blackboard Ally, and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, followed by the Blackboard Instructor mobile app. The least used tools are Clickers/Response System, Other, and Respondus.
  • Question 7 had faculty write in their response to the question “What features or capabilities do you think are missing in Blackboard?” In order to analyze this, all the responses were read through, and then grouped into “buckets” based on their response. Most faculty members (60%) think that there are no features missing from Blackboard. Faculty also reported experiencing problems with existing features (12%), followed by ease of use (9%), user interface (7%), and the desire for  more tools (7%).
  • Question 8 asked members to rate their experience with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra (if they used it). Based on the results, 221 (75%) members have not used Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and from those that have only 4 have had a poor experience with it.
  • Question 9 asked members to write in what “the most common technical problems you and/or your students have experienced with Blackboard?” Most faculty have not had technical issues with Blackboard (52%). Out of those that have, most of the issues involve uploading items (10%), user interface (9%), or having a poor connection to Blackboard (9%).
  • Question 10 asked “Does GVSU provide adequate Blackboard technical support for faculty?” Based on the results, 257 (92%) members said Yes, 21 said no, and 15 did not respond.
  • Questions 11 and 12 asked faculty members about the helpfulness of tech support provided by elearning Blackboard Graduate Assistants and from respectively. Based on the responses, 59 members rated GA’s as excellent, while 48 rated the website as excellent. 63 members rated GA’s as good, while 93 rated the website as good. 19 members rated GA’s as fair, while 32 rated the website as fair. 1 member rated the GA’s as poor, while 8 rated the website as poor. 143 members did not use the GA’s, and 8 did not respond to the question., while 107 did not use the website, and 5 did not respond to the question.
  • Question 13 asked faculty members to select which new or emerging technologies would be most useful to them in their teaching and their students’ learning. Looking at Graph 8, most faculty think that eTextbooks, Open Education Resources, Simulations, and Educational Games would be the most useful, while Social Networking, Learning Analytics and Early Alert, and badges would be the least useful.Bbsurveyemerging

Student Survey Results

The student questionnaire data was analyzed using a combination of SAS Enterprise Guide 7.12 and Excel 2016. In total, the 2019 student data had 16 questions and 1,714 observations.

  • Question 1 asked, “On average how many days (per week) do you access Blackboard?”  Looking at Graph S1 A, 65.79% of students access Blackboard daily and 24.85% access Blackboard five to six times a week. Leaving only 9.36% of students accessing Blackboard four or less times per week on average. Bbsurveystudentsfreq.jpg
  • Question 2 sought to find out which features of Blackboard were being accessed more frequently over the semester compared to other features. Overall, Assignments, Announcements, and Viewing Grades were the most accessed features in descending order. Wikis, Achievements, and Blogs and Journals were the least accessed features, with close to zero students using Achievements and Wikis. Bbsurveystudentusetools.jpg
  • Question 3 sought to identify the student’s primary reason for accessing Blackboard. Looking at the write in answers for the ‘Other’ variable, the students chose that option because they could not identify one reason for accessing Blackboard, they wanted to select all of the options. Graph S3 was generated to display this data. Having almost double the number of responses than any other option, Course Content had the most responses, followed by Assignments, and Grades. Bbsurveystudentaccess.jpg
  • Question 4 asked whether students believed Blackboard improved their learning experience or not. Based on the responses, students overwhelmingly believed that Blackboard did improve their learning experience with 93.96% of students saying yes to the prompt.
  • Question 5 had students rate the efficiency of Blackboard’s system on a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, and Excellent. Good was selected the most followed by Excellent, Fair, and Poor. Results show that more students chose Excellent over Poor or Fair. This indicates that students are generally satisfied with the efficiency of the Blackboard system.
  • Question 6 asked if students believed their learning experience would be improved with more instructors using Blackboard for course content, announcement and grades. Results indicated that 88.54% of students believed that it would improve their learning experience.
  • Question 7 asked the students to identify a professor that uses Blackboard effectively. This information is for the client to use for recognition of professors that have used the Blackboard platform well. A list has been generated of each professor that was mentioned by the students along with which course they teach and how many students mentioned them.
  • Question 8 asked students what tools, outside of the Blackboard website, they used to work with Blackboard. Graph 5 shows that the mobile App was used the most, followed by Textbook/ Publisher Resources.
  • Question 9 asked students to identify features of Blackboard they want their instructors to use more. Based on the responses, posting Grades was the most frequent, followed by Calendar at nearly the same frequency of around 900. While not nearly as frequent, Announcements, Assignments, and Assessments also were frequently chosen. Comparing Graph S9 to Graph S2, it seems that the Calendar feature is being under utilized by instructors, when students want it to be used more.Bbsurveystudentsdesiremore
  • Question 10 is a write in question asking students “What features do you think are missing from Blackboard?” The most common reply was that students wanted the Calendar to be improved (0.036%). Students indicated desire to have the Calendar show all of the due dates for all of their classes, as well as send notifications whenever a due date is approaching and they haven’t submitted the assignment yet.

    Next, students indicated desire to see Grades (0.030%) feature improved. Students indicated seeing what percent they were at instead of how many points as well as letter grades.

  • Question 11 was a write in question asking students “What are the most common technical problems you have experienced with Blackboard? Based on survey responses, Grades was the highest reported technical problem with 145 out of 1,714 (0.085%) students reporting this feature as having issues, followed by 135 mobile App (0.079%) and 130 students indicating notifications (0.076%). 
  • Question 12 students are asked whether or not they believe GVSU provides adequate Blackboard technical support for students. Based on survey responses, 92.07% of students responded “Yes” and 7.93% responded “No”. 
  • Question 13 had students rate the support provided by the GVSU IT HelpDesk. Observing the responses, most students had not used these services before. Out of the students who had used the resource most thought it was a Good service, and many also thought it was an Excellent service. Only a few rated the service Fair or Poor.
  • Question 14 had students rate the eLearning Blackboard resources for their helpfulness and quality. Based on survey responses, students haven’t used the service very much. Most who have reported that the service was Good. Excellent ratings were third in frequency followed by Fair and Poor.
  • Question 15 asked which technologies students would like to see more of in their courses. The top three options students chose were Online Office Hours, then eTextbooks, followed by Live Online Lectures. Only a few students entered their own ideas, wanted Badges, or Social Networking.Bbsurverystudentemerging.jpg

“Overall both students and faculty seem satisfied with Blackboard, and make use of it frequently. Several comments mentioned wanting some kind of learning tool on how to use Blackboard. Creating videos for both students and faculty could help them both use Blackboard more efficiently. Students seemed particularly interested in faculty increasing their use of the Calendar. Because of this we recommend focusing on improving the Calendar and making it easier for Faculty to learn how to use.”

GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank our student partners and John Gabrosek in the Department of Statistics at GVSU for assisting us in reviewing the Blackboard Faculty and Student Survey responses.

Record Numbers of Faculty attend eLearning Seminars and Professional Development Sessions

As Grand Valley State University continues to respond to COVID-19, engage students in quality remote teaching, and in the work to better prepare for Fall 2020, the eLearning team is here to help!

[See also increases in the use of Blackboard, Ally, Collaborate, Panopto, and Respondus during GVSU’s pivot to remote teaching.]

eLearning June Seminar HandoutIn May and June, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team offered over 40 faculty professional development sessions on a wide array of topics, including: leveraging the Blackboard learning management system, meeting students LIVE with Blackboard Collaborate, monitoring accessibility with Blackboard Ally, tips for time management in online/hybrid courses, building online learning communities, creating video with Panopto and much more!

[View the June Seminar Handout]

During this time, there were over 1,471 faculty registrations. This is a record number of faculty attending the spring seminars! All seminars were offered LIVE via Blackboard Collaborate.

Here were the 10 most popular sessions (by total faculty registrations) offered by eLearning and Emerging Technologies:

  • #1 = Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery (205)
  • #2 = Blackboard Learn (179)
  • #3 = Blackboard Collaborate (141)
  • #4 = I wish I’d known Blackboard could do That (133)
  • #5 = Panopto (131)
  • #6 = Introduction to Flipgrid (101)
  • #7 = Lights, Camera, Action (79)
  • #8 = Creating and Facilitating Grading in the Blackboard Discussion Board (78)
  • #9 = Essential Time Management for Online/Hybrid Instructors (73)
  • #10 = Tips for Building and Maintaining Instructor Presence (70)

We’re here to help!

Missed a session? No problem!

We can meet with you individually, you can browse our self-help resources, and you can connect with us electronically, head on over to our eLearning and Emerging Technologies Web Site.

Stay Updated with the Latest Info and News from eLearning

Using Blackboard Collaborate to connect Faculty and Students during Remote Teaching at GVSU

Blackboard Collaborate is a simple, convenient, and reliable online  video conferencing solution designed for education. Collaborate delivers a level of engagement that makes learners feel like they’re together in the same room via collaboration and conference tools.

At GVSU Collaborate is integrated seamlessly into Blackboard as an enterprise solution for supporting the needs of faculty and students to meet live, remotely, at any time and anywhere. This post highlights the use of the system throughout the Winter 2020 semester.

Winter 2020 (Jan 1 – Apr 24) Totals

  • Collaborate Sessions Launched 53,550
  • Hours of Use 37,000
  • Recordings Created 8,297
  • Hours Recorded 4,500
  • Attendees in Sessions 210,179
  • Max Attendees in Single Session 210

Peak Usage

  • March 16 had the highest number of session instances launched in a day (2,958)
  • March 17 had the highest number of attendees (10,627) and unique attendees (7,715)

Blackboard Collaborate Session Charts

Use of Blackboard Collaborate expanded quickly as GVSU pivoted to remote teaching.



Teaching at GVSU?

Head on over to our web page for more information
and help in increasing student engagement, facilitating online office hours,
bringing in virtual guest speakers, establishing teaching presence,
and using Blackboard to support student success!

GO TO: Blackboard at GVSU

Winter 2020 Blackboard Usage Report

Blackboard is GVSU’s enterprise learning management system, used by faculty to:

  • enhance student success
  • increase student engagement
  • improve instructor efficiency
  • build and share course content
  • establish teaching presence
  • provide effective course design

This post highlights a variety of statistics related to the use of Blackboard by faculty and students.

Blackboard Login and User Statistics

As of April 15:

    • In the last 30 days, 1,667 faculty and 22,263 students have logged in to Blackboard.
    • At 4:00 PM on 4/15 there were 20,077 simultaneous users logged in, with the Blackboard environment averaging 78 logins per minute.


Content Uploaded by Faculty

  • 278,369 total items created
  • 3,558 courses with content
  • Top content types: 25% PDF, 22% Items, 18% Word, 11% Images, 9% Presentations, 6% External Links

Simultaneous Assessments Delivered

The most assessment delivered simultaneously was recorded at noon on April 22 with 4,415 tests taken within 1 hour. In addition, a total of 36,946 assessment attempts occurred within 24 hours.



Use of Blackboard Tools by Faculty

    • In the past 30 days as of Friday, April 24:
      • Announcements
        • 3,302 courses have posted announcements
        • 64,068 announcements have been posted
        • 107,798 student enrollments have received
        • 25,002 emails sent within 1 hour
      • Assessments
        • 1,726 courses have assessments created
        • 11,033 assessments have been created
        • 66,376 student enrollments are impacted
      • Assignments
        • 2,674 courses have assignments created
        • 23,632 assignments have been posted
        • 86,425 student enrollments
      • Discussion Boards
        • 2,135 courses have discussion forums
        • 18,254 discussion forums have been created
        • 68,149 student enrollments have access
      • Grade Center
        • 3,401 courses have grade center columns
        • 80,557 columns have been created
        • 111,231 student enrollments have access

Blackboard Disk Usage

Files and content have also grown over the Winter 2020 semester. Course files are those content items uploaded by faculty and protected files are student assignment uploads.


Blackboard Course Page Views

Total number of course page views to date. A course page view is a request for a page that occurs within a course or organization.

The most page views ever recorded at GVSU occurred on April 22, the total was 1,045,069.  An increase in use of Blackboard and access to courses was also observed,  beginning on March 8.


Teaching at GVSU?

Head on over to our web page for more information
and help in increasing student engagement, improving instructor efficiency,
building and sharing course content, establishing teaching presence,
and using Blackboard to support student success!

GO TO: Blackboard at GVSU

Winter 2020 Respondus Monitor Usage Report

Adopted in the Fall of 2019, Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor was selected at GVSU to provide a new academic integrity solution for online tests and quizzes that are delivered through Blackboard. This software was piloted in the summer of 2019 and was supported by the Office of the Provost, the Online Education Council, and eLearning and Emerging Technologies.

In brief, Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor provide faculty with the ability to offer proctored assessments for our online and hybrid courses. The two programs used together deter cheating and increase student identity verification capabilities.

Use of Respondus Monitor in the Winter 2020 Semester

3,253- Monitor Sessions during Final Exam Week
86 – Total Courses Using Respondus Monitor
10,994 – Total Monitor Sessions in Winter 2020


Teaching at GVSU?

Head on over to our web page for more information
and help in creating engaging course content
to support student success!

GO TO: Respondus at GVSU

Panopto powers video for Remote Teaching at GVSU

Adopted in the spring of 2018, Panopto is GVSU’s enterprise instructional video platform.

Panopto was chosen to support teaching and learning through Grand Valley State University’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

  • Encouraging innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.
  • Increasing focus on digital learning.
  • Building digital literacy skills among students.
  • Focusing on ensuring inclusiveness and accessibility.

Use of Panopto video streaming continues to grow, and in fact, a significant increase was noticed as GVSU pivoted to remote teaching in March.

Notable is a +500% increase in average viewers from 2,000 to 12,000 and roughly a +815% increase in the amount of video watched.

Bar chart showing weekly usage of Panopto with a large increase beginning on March 11 and running through April 15. A red vertical line marks the before and after the switch to remote teaching.

Semester Breakdown

Semester Bb Courses w/Panopto Content Courses w/Assignment LTI (Videos with embedded quizzes)
Spring/Summer 2018 48 1
Fall 2018 259 11
Winter 2019 364 20
Spring/Summer 2019 147 14
Fall 2019 380 27
Winter 2020 1017 49

Total Hours Watched

Total Hours 187,595

Semester Hours
Spring/Summer 2018 3,907
Fall 2018 19,534
Winter 2019 26,292
Spring/Summer 2019 12,689
Fall 2019 29,173
Winter 2020 96,000


Teaching at GVSU?

Head on over to our web page for more information
and help in creating engaging course content
to support student success!

GO TO: Panopto at GVSU

Winter 2020 Ally Usage Report

Ally was adopted at GVSU in June 2018 with the following goals:

  1. increase awareness of the importance of accessibility, to
  2. build the capacity of faculty in creating accessible content, and to offer
  3. greater insight at the institutional level around ADA compliance.

In the Winter 2020 semester, Blackboard Ally has been leveraged by faculty and students to zero in on accessibility. The following blog post highlights the use of Ally at GVSU:

Alternative Formats Used by Students

  • Total Alternative Engagements 30,478

Bar Graph showing total downloads at 2,746 and total alternative formats window launched at 30,478

  • Total Downloads 24,746
  • Total Courses with Downloads 2,532
  • Most Usage Alternative Formats (in order of most popular): Tagged PDF, HTML, OCRed PDF, BeeLine, ePub, Audio

Bar Graph indicating largest access of tagged PDF format at 16,293 downloads

Line graph showing downloads of alternative file formats from Ally. A sharp increase on first day of class is noted on January 6 and a dip on March 2, beginning of spring break.

Professors Use of Ally to Detect Accessibility Concerns and Apply Fixes

  • Total Ally Feedback Engagements 654
  • Total Fixes 176
  • Courses Impacted 57

Line graph showing instructor access to Ally, with largest peak on semester start date January 6 and another peak at the beginning of covid training on march 16.

Blackboard Ally Global Adoption

Learn more about the use of Blackboard Ally’s growth in an article entitled: “Student and Instructor Usage of Blackboard Ally Increase as Remote Learning Accelerates

During this timeframe, students downloaded over 3.5 million alternative formats of their course content through Blackboard Ally. Instructors also improved the accessibility of over 250,000 files during this time, with a 50% increase in improved files in April, as compared to February.

Since launch, Blackboard Ally has now checked over 1 billion digital content items for accessibility issues, providing millions of instructors with guidance for improving the accessibility and quality of their course materials, and millions more students with access to file formats that meet their diverse needs, abilities, and devices.

Teaching at GVSU?

Head on over to our web page for more information
and help in creating accessible course content
to support inclusive education!

GO TO: Ally at GVSU

GVSU CIS Student Capstone Team creates Augmented Reality Application

A team of computer science students worked on a unique augmented reality application for the Atomic Object Technology Showcase as the project sponsor. Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer, and Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies met with a team of students at the beginning of the Winter 2020 semester to discuss ideas around creating an application that would make it easy for faculty to upload their own 3D models and place them into a real world context.

Team Innovation, a group of stellar students from the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU came together to create the project which included a mobile app and a web application.

View Team Innovation’s Lightning Talk

View Slides from Team Innovation’s Presentation