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

First ever hackGVSU ‘Hackathon’ brings innovative ideas to enhance Blackboard at GVSU

hackgvsubannerOn Saturday, April 14, 40+ students, faculty, and staff gathered together at GVSU’s first ever ‘hackathon’ event. hackGVSU was sponsored by Blackboard Inc. and supported by Matt Roberts, Eric Kunnen, Katie Clark, Colleen Cameron, and Hunter Bridwell from the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team along with Szymon Machajewski, CIS Affiliate Professor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems.

The ultimate goal of the hackGVSU event was to rethink education with the creation and coding of new ideas to enhance student success

This day long event provided attendees with hands-on learning, coding, and creation… all centered on the development of innovative technology to enhance teaching.

The focus for this year’s event was Blackboard’s learning management system and the ideas submitted for the hackathon provided opportunities for REST API integration as well as HTML coding for enhancing the Blackboard portal.

Participants attended training sessions lead by Szymon Machajewski and Scott Hurrey,  Blackboard Code Poet and Senior Technical Writer responsible for the Developer Community.


Matt Roberts, Instructional Designer, GVSU opening the first ever hackGVSU hackathon event.


Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Professor, GVSU talking about custom HTML modules in the Blackboard portal.


Scott Hurrey, Blackboard Inc., providing training and information for hackGVSU participants about REST APIs.

Photo Gallery [View More Photos on GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Facebook Page]

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes were awarded for HTML and REST API categories and 14 teams worked together to create unique and innovative apps that integrate with the Blackboard learning management system. All entries for hackGVSU are available on Devpost. Projects were scored according to the following rubric:


Judges for the competition were:

  • Scott Hurrey, Blackboard Inc,
  • Matt Roberts, Instructional Designer, IDeL, eLearning and Emerging Technologies
  • Katie Clark, Systems Analyst, eLearning and Emerging Technologies
  • Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies

Congratulations to the winners of hackGVSU 2018!!!

HTML Category:

API Category:

Additional articles and information about hackGVSU:

GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank our event sponsor, Blackboard Inc. for their support for hackGVSU!




Laker Bot says: “Thank you for attending hackGVSU!”



GVSU selects Blackboard Ally to Support Inclusive Education

eLearning and Emerging Technologies at GVSU is pleased to announce the addition of a new enterprise accessibility software solution called Blackboard Ally to support the university’s work in providing inclusive education through accessibility. Ally will be available to all 1,800 faculty and 25,000 students at GVSU beginning at the start of the summer semester.

allyBlackboard Ally is an innovative and revolutionary solution that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. It enables faculty to effectively and efficiently deliver course content to students that adheres to Universal Design Principles as well as being more accessible.

Through integration with GVSU’s Blackboard learning management system, Ally automatically scans course content that has been uploaded by faculty. A report is provided to faculty as well as guidance to resolve common accessibility issues. In addition, Ally automatically creates alternative files types for students, including: Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub.

“GVSU is committed inclusive education, and I am focused on ensuring my courses are accessible” said Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems and 1st Place Award Winner of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States, “Blackboard Ally will help me ensure that my courses are as accessible as possible for my students, save me time, and most importantly help faculty at GVSU to focus on improving student success.”

Ally Benefits

  • Increases capacity to support faculty in building accessible content and correcting files already in their Blackboard courses.
  • Assists in the creation of high quality levels of accessibility through content in Blackboard through the real-time conversion of files (Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub) uploaded into Blackboard without any faculty intervention or extra work.
  • Provides additional ADA Section 508 due diligence and good faith effort of evaluating content that has been uploaded by faculty into Blackboard.
  • Supports requests for an institutional dashboard view for the level of accessibility of all courses in Blackboard at GVSU.
  • Responds to student needs for accessible versions of content without the extra overhead of development time for our existing staff or faculty.
  • Builds capacity to respond to increased federal and legal requirements for accessibility at GVSU.

Grand Valley State University selected Blackboard Ally after evaluating the capabilities and reviewing the benefits to students and to faculty. In short, Ally increases accessibility of course content while saving faculty time, allowing more focus on connecting and communicating with students, rather than managing technology.

GVSU Strategic Connection

Blackboard Ally supports GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

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.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Inclusiveness/Access – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Learn more about Blackboard Ally at Blackboard Inc. and access more information about Ally at GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Blackboard Ally for Faculty support page.

eLearning Team attends #MACUL2018

maculThe 42nd MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer users in Learning) Conference brings together primarily K12 educators, but also a mix of highered attendees and presenters. It is the largest #edtech in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation with over 5,000 attendees.

The conference program [PDF] is full of keynote sessions, special interest group meetings, learning labs, panels, posters, and deeper dive sessions that include hands-on activities. You can also follow along and see the happenings live via social using the #macul18 hashtag.

A few of the universities in Michigan involved in the conference as presenters include: Grand Valley State University, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Specifically, GVSU is represented at the conference through a variety of sessions offered by faculty and staff.

  • Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Integrating Location-Based AR Mobile Games in the Classroom
    Beomkyu Choi and Mohammed Saleem, Assistant Professors, Grand Valley State University
  • PearDeck: There Is Life After Death by PowerPoint
    Lissa Brunan, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University
  • Three Sure-Fire Ways to Communicate With Students, Staff, and Stakeholders
    Alissa Thelen, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University
  • Keep Track. Keep Organized. Keep Sane: It’s Time You Met Google Keep
    Lissa Brunan, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University

One of the ways to see themes at a conference is to review the common words used in conference session titles. Here are the top 3 key words used from the MACUL conference program:

#1 – learning

#2 – classroom

#3 – students


eLearning Team Conference Notes & Highlights

Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning, captured the following notes from  keynote sessions and breakouts:

Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist collected the following notes from MACUL18:

  • SESSION – Putting You Back in YouTube
    YouTube, the most popular web tool in the world, is impossible to ignore, especially for its educational value. Learn how to leverage YouTube to enhance your instruction and engage and empower your learners. Together we’ll explore how you can create and share impactful digital video content and get our hands dirty putting it into action.

  • SESSION – Discovering and Creating Virtual Reality (Leslie Fisher,
    • Virtual Reality is a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and possibly interacted with by an individual learner. The easiest way to experience VR is with some sort of headset / VR mobile device viewer. Some VR experiences are quite immersive and include gloves or a controller that allow you to interact with objects within the VR. These usually require a computer instead of a mobile device.
    • How does Virtual Reality work? A graphics system sends a flood of images ‒ often 60 or 90 of them into each eye per second ‒ to draw views that perfectly match your head movements. When all this is done well, your brain accepts what it sees as real.
    • Where is VR being used?
      Simulations: Arcade, Education, Therapy


    • What do you need to get started? Some sort of smart device. Any device that is handheld and can have apps installed on it should work,  and a VR Viewer which you will insert into the device.


    • Headsets: Google cardboard, DSCVR Headset, Homido Virtual Reality Headset, Merge Headset, Oculus Go


    • Software: Google Cardboard App – a clearing house for VR applications


    • Resources for configuring/setting up your own VR kit include:

      A test site for device compatibility:

      Pair headset with device:

      Apps to consider include:

      Google Expeditions – Guide mode

      (Google app to build your own expeditions)

      Google Arts and Culture

      VR experiences

      Google Spotlight Stories

      Google Street View

      Sites in VR


      Discovery VR

      Life VR

      Juant VR – cinematic virtual reality experiences

      YouTube – VR channel

      EON Experience AVR

      EON Experience

      DinoTrek VR


    • You can also create your own Virtual Reality experiences using the following apps and/or hardware: Google Street View, 360 Panorama –iOS, Ricoh Theta,      CoSpaces, Roundme, Scene VR


    • For more information on how to get started:


  • SESSION – Hosting your own Webinars: They work if you do it Right
    • Pam Shoemaker
    • FTF vs Virtual
      • There are no major differences in the lesson structure between a face-to-face seminar and a virtual seminar/webinar. Webinar content and delivery are the most important elements! The webinar platform is secondary. The hardest part is doing the first one!
    • Webinar Structure
      • Structure your webinar using the following guidelines.
      • Share topic and learning targets
      • Poll attendees to find out experience & knowledge about the topic
      • Short Presentation – new info
      • Interactive learning activities
      • Sharing/Check-in
      • Q & A
      • Summary
      • Reflection and Evaluation
    • Tips for Success
      • Keep it interactive
      • Communicate expectations at the start
      • Frequent visual changes, including webcam video
      • Practice
      • Speak slowly
      • Focus – turn off device notifications. No noisy dogs, children, or spouses
      • Use a headset microphone
      • Use two monitors (host)
      • Prepare a resource doc/handout
      • Multimedia is good
      • Promote/advertise in as many ways as possible
      • Check Windows updates, battery charge, close all applications you are not using
      • Attendee default browser can matter (depends on topic)
      • Allow time for Q & A
      • Develop a survey template. Include:
        • Learning targets/objectives – Did attendees meet them?
        • Find out how attendees plan to implement the new learning – short and long term goals
        • Determine follow-up support
        • Feedback for presenters
      • Collect quotes from attendees and use for marketing future webinars
    • Additional resources:

Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer, highlighted the following:

  • Engaging Online Students Michigan Virtual Org
    • Use Google forms for collecting information/bio cards, create personal videos and video trailers which highlight the course and the major assignments (kinda like a course/movie trailer), using Padlet for brainstorming, use in place of a discussion board occasionally, sharing “good” things…where are you going for spring break?  Using Polls to collect information, Explore for creating interactive activities that can be embedded in blackboard, flashcards, hotlinks with pics, Schedule “online meet and greets” using Bb collaborate Ultra.

  • Learning First, Technology Second (Lisa Kolb)
  • Tech Tools for Upping your Learning Game (Michigan Virtual)
  • Student Center Classrooms for Today’s Student:  Engaging All Learners Through Choice, Technology and Innovative Practices (Maria Gonzalez)
    • Several resources and new web-based/apps technologies that support science, collaboration and assessments were explored.  Links to these resources are included in her Google slides.
  • Success in the Online for Students with Special Academic Needs (Michigan Virtual)
    • List of Accommodations to consider:
    • Alternate test options
    • Extended time on tests
    • Assessments read aloud
    • Student informed in advance of upcoming assignments/tests
    • Students can take assessments over x number of class periods
    • Students should receive frequent feedback on assignments
    • Reduction of length of applicable writing assignments/math problems
    • Student can use notes on tests
    • Student can submit assignments after reading instructor’s feedback
    • Frequent prompts and checks for understanding
    • Chunking of information into smaller segments with specific due dates
    • Advance notice of large assignments and tests
    • Ask students to reflect, set goals, explain their process to reach goals on major assignments, establish routines, suggest learning supports, encourage students to communicate with others, add links to support services, writing center, library liaison within Blackboard

      Tips for making your presentations accessible:
    • Minimize the amount of text on slides to keep the focus on what you are saying.
    • Pause to allow individuals a chance to read the slide and read it aloud so individuals who cannot see the presentation know what is on the slide.
    • Minimize the number of visuals on slides. Describe images, graphs, and charts for individuals who are visually impaired.
    • Use high contrast and take care with colors.
    • Avoid or control the speed of animations so they can be described fully.
    • Make sure that videos are captioned and audio described. Give a brief description of the video before it starts to help give context.
    • Parent Guide to Online Learning by Michigan Virtual and Planning Guide
    • Basic Checklist of Online Content Accessibility created by Michigan State University
  • 7 Digital Learning Theories you Should Know About
  • Awesome Online Teaching (Michigan Virtual)

    Proactive Communication

    Announcements, welcome letters, emails, texts, extra tips
    “Jazz” up those announcements with videos, pictures and fun “facts”
    Fun inviting way to relay important information to students
    Weekly pacing guides to help keep students on pace
    Instructor contact information clearly stated
    Fun ‘extra’ to help support student learning

    Welcome Letters
    Welcome students to the course, outline student expectations, set up guidelines for students, relay important information to students…”I expect this of you, but you can expect this of me”..etc.

    Open communication line for students and instructors, instructor availability more open for student help, all emails answered within 24 hours, use of “remind” to help spread the word about important issues/dates via text.  

    Extra Tips
    Proactively supporting students needs with extra tips added to the course. Adding extra videos and quizzes to help support student understanding. FAQs, Commonly Asked Questions..etc.  

    Research-based Feedback
    When providing feedback to students, always address students by their first name, start with a positive tone before suggestions for improvements, be timely in responses, be specific, grade assignments within 72 hours, ask questions to promote thinking…

    Where am I going?  What are my goals?
    How am I going?  What progress is being made toward the goals?
    Where to next?  What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?

    Relationships and Building a Sense of Community
    Instructors share about themselves with videos, in weekly announcements and in feedback
    Students are encouraged to share their background and interests and to talk with each other
    Fun Fact each Week.
    Share things that make you human
    Encourage students to share
    Use of polls and Padlet for community building, thanking students who do take the time to email the instructor

Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer in eLearning captured the following highlights:

Things to keep in mind when getting started in VR

  • Lenses matter
  • Lower end android devices don’t have an accelerometer
    • Tests mobile devices
  • Preload devices

Different Headsets

  • View-Master VR starter pack $20
  • Dodo case
  • DSCVR headset $8
  • MERGE headset $50 soft headset
  • Oculus Go new product yet to be released

Steps for Getting started….

  • Assemble viewer
  • Run a VR App
  • Stick mobile in viewer
  • Viewer on face

Helpful Resources

  • Hypergrid business has qr code of headset devices
  • Yellkey (not related to VR)


  • Google expeditions – teacher lead
    • Wifi drainer
    • Soon to Make your own expeditions
    • In AR as well
  • Google spotlight stories
  • Sites in VR
  • Discovery VR
  • Lifevr
  • Jaunt VR
  • Youtube VR
  • EON Experience AVR
    • Gamified AR/VR lessons
  • Vtime
  • Poly, user created content
  • iOS

Creating Content

  • Theta camera, Co-Spaces, Roundme, SceneVR
  • 4 video projects
    • Check out
    • Students will celebrate each other’s work
    • They see video as cool isn’t insignificant
    • When students know others will see it they want it to be good. When it’s just the professor they want it to be good enough
    • Any good video is good because it was planned well
    • Proper attribution is essential: Creative commons, using flicker for CC images, Use citation in file name
    • Time- give limited amount of editing time in class focus on using that outside the shot
    • Freedom of choice for final project
  • Creating Strong EDU Videos
    • Watch what others have done
    • Get scripts approved before they make videos
    • Create a plan –  get feedback
    • Draft a video – get feedback
    • Articulate reasons for following advice or not following advice
    • Revise and publish
    • Submit to next vista – get feedback
  • Integrating the Arts
    • Activate UDL to build projects that create something and apply context to lessons
    • Remember: Art scares people who aren’t in the arts
    • Art isn’t on standardized tests but the arts reinforce lessons and allow memorization and real knowledge absorption
    • Kandinsky paintings in math
    • Watercolors for microscopic images
    • Discussing the similarity of how musicians and writers use lines
    • Abstract drawings using leaves and classification in science
    • Dramatic renditions of historical events
    • Role play medical issues in spanish

Goal oriented: targets specific types of thinking

Used repeatedly over time

Few steps

Easy to learn and teach

Easy to support when students are engaged in the routine

Applicable across contexts

Group or individual use

  • Future ready classes
    • Think about envisioning teaching and learning in our school 5 years from now?
    • More buy-in and choice in learning
    • Pedagogy must shift with technology
    • Is the tech going to do anything? Not unless the curriculum adapts to it
    • Interactive learning – how much is the student interacting with learning
    • Use of tech to explore, design, and create
    • Digital drill and kill – throwing a worksheet on a chromebook is still just a worksheet
    • Digital use divide
    • Active use – creating, designing, exploring, coding, etc
    • Passive use – watch a video, look at a website
    • Digital Worksheet Storage Hub vs. Pathway to unleash genius
    • DIY Girls
  • Teaching the On-Demand Generation
    • Ryan Horne
    • Admitting what we’ve got to work with and accepting those terms
    • Brains are evolving from current tech revolution
    • 80+ hours a week on multiple devices
    • Brains are wired from chronic digital exposure thus wired differently
    • Finding and striking balance of tech vs no-tech
    • Strike out “They can’t, they won’t, they don’t”
    • Check yourself if you’re catch yourself using those lines
    • 33% of teens in 2012 said internet was more important than food, shelter, water
    • China and Brazil 60% of teens
    • Being bored is good, we need empty spaces for the brain to receive ideas
    • We may disagree with our audience but we have to meet our audience
    • Ask yourself
      • What is the higher Level of thinking?
      • Is this Creating or consuming media?
      • What are the unintended consequences?
    • Multimedia world
    • Connectedness/collaborations
    • Immediate gratification
    • Choice
    • 5 Components
      • Anytime anywhere access
        • Make content open to access at any given time
        • Give students a specific task don’t just give them resources
        • It’s not enough to just give resources, tell them what to do with it.
        • Anytime, Anywhere Access – optional projects
      • Choice
        • the choice of what to consume, the choice of creating
        • Paradox of choice – 3 or less
        • This or that
        • List of vetted resources
        • Listenwise, youtube, newsELA
    • Multimedia world
      • Anything that’s not text is preferred with students
      • Will they Consume or create this media?
    • Connectedness and collaboration
      • Prefer some level of connection or collaboration
      • Google docs collaborative features
      • Don’t want to promote the bads parts of social media (likes, etc.)
    • How can we give quick feedback and teach delayed gratification?
      • Don’t tie feedback to a grade
      • Chunk up project
      • Add checkpoints to create a drawn out project
      • Item specific deadlines


EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative “2018 Key Issues” meet the Initiatives in eLearning at GVSU

The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) has recently revealed the “Key Issues for 2018” [Infographic]. ELI has been conducting a survey since 2011 to discover and identify common trends and KEY ISSUES in highered.


In this post, the ELI KEY issues are presented, along with the role of eLearning and Emerging Technologies as it relates to supporting and responding to each issue.

  1. Academic Transformation and Faculty Development

    The eLearning team at GVSU is focused on both of these 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 and a enterprise campus technology resources in an effort to create the next generation of teaching and learning. In fact, eLearning aligns with the GVSU 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. 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 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, 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 2017 academic year, over 80 training seminars covering a large scope of instructional technology topics were offered to faculty. These seminars are centered on the effective pedagogical integration of technology in teaching.

  2. Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

    Accessibility and UDL continue to be important key issues and the eLearning team supports these initiatives through professional development and shared resources along with collaborative services with the Disability Support Resources department.

    eLearning Web Resource – Universal Design for Learning
    eLearning Web Resource – Accessibility Tips for Online Course Content

  3. 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 nearly 5,000 student enrollments in the Winter 2018 semester, just over 17% of all students are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.  To support distance education initiatives, eLearning has trained over 250 faculty to teach online/hybrid classes in just 1 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. Applications that integrate with Blackboard, include technologies such as: Ensemble, Echo360, Panopto, TechSmith Relay, and a variety of other web services (Padlet, Flipgrid, Vocaroo, etc.).  

    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 is based on the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program and Quality Matters.

  4. Privacy and Security

    The key issue 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. 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.

    eLearning Web Resource – Social Media and Third Party Tools in Teaching

  5. 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 the role of critical thinking 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 literacies 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 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 hoping to host “design thinking-based”conversations around establishing more support for student-based digital media creation at GVSU.

  6. Open Education

    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 #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.

    eLearning Resource – Open Educational Resources (OER)

  7. 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 through automation to make faculty advisors more effective and efficient in communicating with students through the Blackboard Organization Advisor sites.

  8. Learning Analytics

    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 the closing of the loop between students > faculty > advisors are becoming powerful tools 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 LMS 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.”

    This impacts our campus with opportunities through applications such as Blackboard Predict which provides capabilities to inform campus advisors with students at-risk, and also at the individual instructor level through tools like the Blackboard Retention Center.

  9. 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) enhanced collaboration, 3) increased faculty/student engagement, and 4) improved interaction through dynamic group work and classroom communication.

    IT Resource – Technology Enhanced and Active Learning Classrooms

  10. 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

  11. Competency-based Education/New Methods of Assessment

    New Methods of Assessment – Open Badges
    eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development.  In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning’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?

eLearning at the Occupational Science and Therapy Hybrid Faculty Retreat

The eLearning team at GVSU recently participated in an Occupational Science and Therapy (OST) Retreat that was held on Saturday, February 24 at the University Club, on the downtown DeVos Campus.

Glenna Decker, Matt Roberts, Kim Kenward, Sherry Barricklow, Hunter Bridwell, and Eric Kunnen provided learning experiences for hybrid faculty teaching in OST.

Topics that were shared included:

  • Introductio, to the Community of Inquiry Framework
  • ‘Bored-Free’ Discussions and Strategies beyond the Discussion Board
  • Good Practices in Facilitating Group Work Online
  • Virtual Advising, Office Hours, Guest Speakers, Interviews, Meetings etc. with Blackboard Collaborate Ultra
  • eLearning and Emerging Technologies #EdTech Resources and Support
  • Emerging Technologies in the Atomic Object Technology Showcase
  • Quality Benchmarks and Student Orientation / Readiness
  • Creating Quality Online Courses with:
    • Online/Hybrid Peer Review Rubric
    • Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Rubric
  • Using Blackboard/Word/PowerPoint to Create Accessible Materials

Materials were provided to faculty through a Blackboard organization site:


Submit YOUR Course and Participate in the @Blackboard Exemplary Course Program

Blackboard recently featured a quality course program in a post entitled: “The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program: What’s in it for You?

In short, the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program recognizes faculty and course designers from schools, colleges and universities around the world who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

The award highlights technologically rich, engaging, well designed, and pedagogically sound courses that showcase best practices for the user community. Submissions are judged by peers and by experts on the following components through an Exemplary Course Program Rubric:

  • course design;
  • interaction and collaboration;
  • assessment; and
  • learner support

Faculty and instructional designers can:

  1. Submit their courses for self-review
  2. Submit their courses for peer-review
  3. Volunteer to review courses

The following video spotlight features the exemplary course program and includes a segment by GVSU Affiliate Instructor, Szymon Machajewski, from the School of Computing and Information Systems.


Last year, Grand Valley State University’s professors Szymon Machajewski and Cheryl Kautz, earned recognition from education technology company Blackboard Inc. as recipients of the “Exemplary Course Award” through the Blackboard Catalyst Award program. The winners were recognized during the BbWorld 2017 conference to be held July 25-27 in New Orleans.


Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2017 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award for his CIS 150 – Introduction to Computing Course.  The award also recognized Brad Brege, CIS150 course coordinator, as a course collaborator and contributor.


Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU received a 2017 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award for her CIS 238 – Internet Media and Programming Course.



About the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award – This award recognizes faculty and course designers who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

Congratulations again to GVSU faculty Szymon Machajewski and Cheryl Kautz, along with all of the 2017 award winners:

  • Hawaii Pacific University: Dr. Han Nee Chong
  • Algonquin College, Ontario, Canada: Dr. Albert Dudley
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Cheryl Kautz
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Szymon Machajewski
  • Columbia Southern University, Alabama: Jacqueline Pica and Dr. Christine Whitaker
  • Ohio University: Kyle Rosenberger
  • Kent State University, Ohio: Dr. John Staley

Shape the Future of Education at hackGVSU!

Join us on Saturday, April 14 from 9am to 6pm!

Grand Valley State University is hosting its first-ever hackGVSU event. Inspired by other college hackathons (like hackPSU, we’re inviting students and staff from area high schools, colleges, and universities to come to Grand Valley and envision how technology can shape the future of education.

The focus for this year’s event is Blackboard’s learning management system. Participants can attend training sessions lead by Blackboard employees and then work together in teams to build projects that extend Blackboard’s capabilities.

We’re planning a full day of food, beverages, and prizes for the best projects. Individuals of all experience levels are welcome, from experienced coders to first time hackers. If you know of anyone that might be interested in attending, they can find details at: