Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice


How can Blackboard be leveraged to help meet Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles of Good Practice in higher education? The following blog post highlights a few tips and tools for each of the 7 principles:


1 – Encourages Student/Faculty Contact

Tips: Respond to student e-mail within 24 hours. Facilitate multiple forums of communication with students. Be available electronically and in person, and inform students of availability, office hours, etc.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Email
  • Announcements
  • Discussion Board
  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Blackboard Instant Messaging
  • Embedded Video Orientations and Welcome Messages
  • Embedded VoiceThread, Vocaroo, etc.

2 – Encourages Cooperation among Students

Tips: Use online communications tools for groups, collaborative learning, and problem solving. Create electronic opportunities for class discussion of assignments and concepts.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Discussion Board
  • Groups
  • Blackboard Instant Messaging
  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Journals

3 – Encourages Active Learning

Tips: Leverage live real-time collaboration. Design lessons that use universal design and active learning principles, are hands-on, and facilitate engagement.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Discussion Board
  • Journals
  • Blog
  • Wikis
  • External Links
  • Gamification (Kahoot, etc.)

4 – Give Prompt Feedback

Tips: Strive for effective use of e-mail, assignments, gradebook, etc. to give students prompt, constructive and meaningful feedback. Regularly monitor classroom environment (in person and online) to ensure student concerns are addressed and quality timely feedback is provided.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Assessments
  • Assignments
  • SafeAssign
  • Gradebook
  • Discussion Board
  • Email
  • Wikis/Blogs/Journals/Portfolios

5 – Emphasizes Time on Task

Tips: Ensure appropriate amount of time to complete online content and assignments. Refer students toward available resources. Design online experiences that allow for flexibility and universal design principles.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • External Links
  • Providing Estimated Times on Activities in Content Areas & Assignments
  • Extend Classroom-based Activities Online
  • Adaptive Release
  • Due Dates/Deadlines/Availability of Content
  • Assignments

6 – Communicates High Expectations

Tips: Provide criteria for evaluating assignments/activities that are clearly articulated. Collaboratively create course expectations with students. Provide samples of excellent, average, and/or poor performance.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • State Learning Objective at Beginning of Week or Activity in Content Areas
  • Group Work
  • Provide Examples of Student Work for Assignments
  • Wikis
  • Adaptive Release
  • Use Praise and Model in Discussion Boards to increase Participation
  • Provide Gradebook Feedback
  • Provide Discussion Board Feedback

7 – Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Tips: Leverage different methods of learning through visuals and well-organized narrative.  Establish course tasks requiring analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, with application to real-life situations. Encourage self-reflection and self-evaluation. Assess student learning styles and tailor the educational experience. Facilitate student collaboration and group problem solving. Provide opportunity for empathy for students with different levels of technology literacy using universal design principles. 

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Embedding Videos and Digital media
  • Creating Animations
  • Group Work
  • Discussion Board
  • Offering Choice in Assignments/Assessments

Learn more about Blackboard at: gvsu.edu/elearn/help/

Reach out to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team… we’re here to help!


Blackboard and The Chronicle of Higher Ed underscore the importance of Instructional Design

In a recent report by Blackboard and The Chronicle of Higher Education, the value and importance of instructional design is underscored.

This post highlights a few of the key areas in the report:

Higher education is experiencing an increased demand for instructional designers who have the knowledge and skill set to help faculty members adopt new technologies and strategies in their teaching. The shift is being pushed, in part, by the growth of online learning and developments in technology.

Overall, the use of Instructional Designers in increasing and there is a wide range of technology tools available to support learning.

“Of the faculty respondents who say they teach online courses, nearly all (96 percent) have worked with an instructional designer.”


Chart retrieved from: https://www.blackboard.com/consulting-training/enterprise-consulting/case-study/instuctional-design-in-he.aspx

The primary responsibility of instructional designers reported was: “Work with faculty to revise or adapt existing courses, lessons, activities, assessments, and learning resources.”


Chart retrieved from: https://www.blackboard.com/consulting-training/enterprise-consulting/case-study/instuctional-design-in-he.aspx

Instructional designers are more likely than faculty to have used a wide range of technological tools—which is not surprising, as the instructional designers likely designed many more courses or components of courses than the faculty members who work with them.”

The top 5 most common technological tools used in courses include: 1) discussion forums, 2) slide presentation software, 3) audio elements, 4) recorded lectures, 5) video elements.


Chart retrieved from: https://www.blackboard.com/consulting-training/enterprise-consulting/case-study/instuctional-design-in-he.aspx

Unfortunately, only 23% of survey respondents indicated that: “Faculty on my campus use technology in ways that improve student learning”.  Here in eLearning and Emerging Technologies, we are on mission to support faulty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning. The IDeL team is squarely focused on supporting faculty in using technology that improves student learning.


Chart retrieved from: https://www.blackboard.com/consulting-training/enterprise-consulting/case-study/instuctional-design-in-he.aspx

“Instructional designers have the potential to help faculty members use new research-based methods of learning in their courses and to figure out how to best incorporate new technologies that are changing the ways society learns, interacts, communicates, and does business.”

Reach out to eLearning and Emerging Technologies and our Instructional Design for eLearning team… we’re here to help!

Online and hybrid learning grows 17% at GVSU

Grand Valley State University provides flexible learning options to meet students’ needs through online and hybrid courses.

Students at GVSU take a blend of face to face and online/hybrid classes with some students residing in other states and even overseas. Learning online is growing nationally as well, with over 5.8 million students taking at least 1 online course (which amounts to more than 1 in 4 students) according to the Babson Survey Research Group.

“The trend of increasing distance education enrollments in the face of declining overall higher ed enrollments suggests an important shift in the American higher education landscape, with contemporary learners leaning in to online options,” said Kathleen S. Ives, chief executive officer and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium. “The majority of academic leaders recognize this and understand online learning is critical to their institutions’ long-term strategy.”

Enrollment Grows by 17% (Fall 2017)

Online and hybrid enrollment expanded this year by 17% (from 2016) to include over 5,318 enrollments in online and hybrid classes at GVSU.

Enrollment in online and hybrid courses has grown by 78% since 2013.

In addition, 17% of all students at the university are enrolled in at least 1 online or hybrid class.

The online/hybrid courses were taught by 173 faculty in 177 unique courses, representing 12% of the classes at the university.

The growth in enrollment has continued over the past several years. As the following chart reveals, the university is providing increased options for students to access education through online and hybrid courses.


The 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan

As indicated in the Babson survey above, eLearning (online/hybrid) is critical to an institutions long-term strategy.  In fact, the 2016-2021 GVSU Strategic Plan includes a priority statement for expanding the number of courses offered in the online and hybrid format.

Strategic Priority 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for undergraduate courses for Fall 2014 is 6%.

Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for graduate courses for Fall 2014 is 25%.

GVSU Values Connected to Online and Hybrid Courses

  • 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.Online and hybrid courses remove barriers and provide access to flexible educational opportunities for those students that are unable to attend class in traditional formats and schedules.
  • Innovation – Encourage and appreciate innovative application of new ideas, technologies, and teaching and learning principles and methods.Online and hybrid courses offer innovative opportunities for unique pedagogical approaches to learning through the advancements of technology.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Provides Faculty Support

With the growth in eLearning nationally and locally at the university, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is here to provide support to faculty at GVSU that are interested in creating and/or teaching an online or hybrid course.  Faculty learn how to prepare, design, and teach an online or hybrid course through a Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development workshop which is facilitated by 3 instructional designers in the IDeL group.

In addition, digital media and technology support is provided by a digital media developer, 2 eLearning and instructional technology specialists, and 2 system analysts that work with the university’s Blackboard learning management system.  Blackboard support for faculty is provided by the eLearning team including 2 graduate assistants through seminars, email, phone, and office consultations.  Online readiness for students, along with a variety of student services are also offered by the university, including the GVSU IT HelpDesk.


How can the GVSU eLearning team help YOU? Please contact us and let us know!


Teaching with the Lightboard @GVSU

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Video is becoming an important tool in teaching. The value of video to support traditional classes, online/hybrid courses, and “flipped classrooms” has rapidly increased at GVSU.

With over 100 videos being created in the past year, the Digital Studio, along with digital media developers, Justin Melick and Hunter Bridwell have been busy!

Lightboard videos are engaging and an innovative approach to a standard “screen recording”

In a nutshell, Lightboard videos are created when an instructor writes on a glass panel with flourescent markers that are lit by LEDs. This creates a unique display as compared to the typical whiteboard recording that is common in many instructional videos such as those from Khan Academy.

The benefit of the Lightboard is that students can also view the instructor which increases teaching presence and the inclusion of the non-verbal instructor cues that are so important.

Here are a few example videos of professors at GVSU who have used the Lightboard:

Ready to start creating you own Lightboard videos? Here is how to get started:

  1. Meet with one of our Digital Media Developers, Justin Melick (melicjus@gvsu.edu) or Hunter Bridwell (bridwehu@gvsu.edu) to get a tour of a ligthboard studio and set a date to record your first video!
  2. Use our planning document to lay out what you want to present during your lightboard video. This document helps you plan what you will write on the board and how to space that content in a way that is more meaningful and easy to understand.
  3. Come and record your first video! Usually faculty will take a half hour to forty five minutes to record their first five to seven minute lightboard video. After a few presentations most people get used to the format and can create five to six videos in an hour.

Faculty Learning Communities highlight Innovative Teaching Practices @GVSU

The Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center provides Faculty Learning Communities (FLCs) to bring faculty together to foster a 1-2 semester-long conversations on a topic of mutual interest and to encourage an application of the knowledge gained.

The eLearning team supports Online & Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities through facilitation by IDeL with the purpose of engaging faculty in a variety of innovative teaching practices and topics to enhance teaching and improve student success.

Compiled by Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer in IDeL, the following topics are being highlighted in the Fall semester:

Allendale Campus Learning Community (KHS4402)
Friday’s 11:30 – 1pm

  • October 20 – Discussion Topics
    Maximizing Blackboard
    Presenters:  Sherry Barricklow, Vince St. GermainEngaging Students in Hybrid/Online Courses (Padlet, FlipGrid, Video Reflective Journals, etc)
    Presenters: Janel Guikema and Lisa Hammer
  • November 17 – Discussion Topics
    Multimodal Learning in the Online Classroom
    Presenter: Julia VanderMolenBadges, badges, badges!
    Presenter:  Matt Roberts
  • December 1 – Discussion Topic
    Amazon Alexa and AI in Education
    Presenter:  Szymon Machajewski

CHS Campus Learning Community (CHS209)
Wednesday’s 1 – 2:30pm

  • October 18 – Discussion Topics
    Peer assessment tools, Best practices for facilitating group work and team-based learning, and Adaptive Release, Bb Goals, and Bb Achievements
    Presenters:  Raymond Higbea, Lara Jaskiewicz, Vince St. Germain (and others)
  • November 15 – Discussion Topics:
    Video/Audio (tools and best practices) Ensemble dropbox, Collaborate Ultra, lightboard, PlayPosit, Flipgrid, and other tools, and ADA/UDL Considerations
    Presenters:  Erika Bailey, Kristin Vu, Scott Truskowski (and others)
  • December 6 – Discussion Topics
    Course organization & design considerations to Maximize Learning (Show-n-Tell of Bb sites) and Quality Matters Standard 1
    Presenters:  OST Hybrid courses and other departmental samples including Educational Leadership NHA cohort

Pew Campus Learning Community (DEV302E)
Thursday’s 9:30 – 11am

  • October 26 – Discussion Topics
    Student Readiness for Online Learning/Academic Integrity (Samples from Math), Supporting Online Students (GVSU University Libraries and GVSU Writing Center), Supporting Students with Technology Requirements, and Adaptive Release/Peer Feedback
    Presenters:  Lindy Scripps-Hoekstra, Writing Center representative, Amanda Forslund (Math), Meagan Knoll and Kim Kenward
  • November 16 – Discussion Topics
    Creative uses of Video in Online/Hybrid Courses, Synchronous Best Practices,
    and UDL/ADA considerations
    Presenters:  Justin Melick, Hunter Bridwell, Jeremy Robinson, Rosemary Cleveland
  • December 7 – Discussion Topics
    Alternative Technology/Assignments & Tips for preparing for Winter Semester
    Presenters:  Pam Page, Lissa Brunan, Coeli Fitzpatrick and Kim Kenward

GVSU @Blackboard Photo Roster Enhances Personalized Instruction

Based on a project request from faculty involved in the Pew FTLC Strong Start Initiative, a class photo roster feature has been implemented in Blackboard to enhance personal connections between faculty and students.

The Strong Start Initiative, led by Pew FTLC Faculty Fellow Tom Pentecost, focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first-year undergraduate courses and important aspects of the college experience vital to student success.

The Strong Start Initiative highlighted the importance of making it a priority to learn students’ names and calling them by name as a recommendation for improving student success, along with being more approachable as a faculty member.

Introducing the Blackboard Class Photo Roster…

Beginning in August 2016, each course site in Blackboard included a class photo roster (in the course tools area) that displays the official GVSU ID photographs of enrolled students.

This photo roster application was brought to GVSU through the collaboration of the author, Dr. Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU, and eLearning and Emerging Technologies system analysts Katie Clark and Colleen Cameron.  Katie Clark provided key areas of the implementation, including automation and card ID system integration.

Dr. Machajewski has written many open source Building Blocks, which are plugins for Blackboard Learn.  Some of these plugins include: LoginAs for help desk support, a My Blackboard Amazon Alexa Skill for the Amazon echo, and BbStats that is beneficial to monitor and to track analytics of course design and student activity. A number of universities have adopted the same photo roster tool, such as the University of Illinois at Chicago.  The BbStats module is the second most frequently downloaded software package in the open source Blackboard directory with almost 14,000 downloads.

“Learning student names in a classroom course is important to creating an inclusive learning environment.”

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language. The average person is more interested in their own name than in all the other names in the world put together. People love their names so much that they will often donate large amounts of money just to have a building named after themselves. We can make people feel extremely valued and important by remembering their name.” Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People – Open Photo Roster for Blackboard Learn – Learning Student Names

How to Access the Blackboard Class Photo Roster at GVSU

For additional information, along with instructions for accessing the class photo roster, please visit the Photo Roster for Faculty and Photo Roster for Students websites. For additional policy questions, please contact the Registrar’s Office at regdept@gvsu.edu or 616-331-3327. For support in using this new Blackboard feature, please visit the eLearning and Emerging Technologies website or contact bbadmin@gvsu.edu.