Exploring presence online…in Traverse City

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning held in Traverse City, Michigan. Founded in 1981 at Miami University, the Lilly Conferences have grown into a series of five different conferences held annually across the United States. Each conference offers faculty the opportunity to discuss issues of teaching and learning in a community environment.

Grand Valley was well-represented at this year’s conference with nine different individuals showing posters, facilitating roundtables, or giving presentations. Topics ranged from community-based learning and preservice teacher education to success with group projects and surviving the experience of teaching online.

Entitled “Expertise as Teaching Presence: Online Tools for Interactive Learning Experiences”, my presentation drew upon my experiences as both an instructional designer and adjunct professor in Political Science. In our Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development workshop we introduce faculty to the idea of the “Community of Inquiry.” This model helps future hybrid and online faculty focus on what it takes to deliver high quality educational experiences.

One important ingredient is known as “instructor presence.” Research shows that learners benefit when their instructors are involved in their courses in a visible, immediate, and interactive manner. This “presence” can be found in the ways that faculty design their course, deliver content, and interact with students through feedback on assessments.

At the Lilly Conference, I sought to expand on instructor presence by discussing the instructor’s role as subject matter expert. Learners benefit dramatically when their instructors can develop learning experiences that bridge the gap between how experts and novice learners see a given field of knowledge. When faculty don’t meet their students face-to-face on a regular basis—as in an online class—it can be difficult to build those bridges. Common instructional techniques like streaming video can only help so much.

Using examples from my online course about the American Constitution, I demonstrated the use of two free and easy-to-use tools that help faculty create interactive learning experiences. Activities built using Oppia and Twine can engage learners in the type of back and forth exchange that’s easy to have in the classroom but harder to recreate online. The usefulness of such tools, though, rests on faculty identifying common misunderstandings and misperceptions within their field and delivering targeted feedback that purposefully scaffolds the learner’s knowledge and understanding over time.

Slides, links, and a bibliography from my presentation can be found at

(Photo credit: Lilly Conferences Facebook page)


Faculty @GVSU share Tips for Teaching Online

A set of videos were created to highlight teaching tips for online courses.  View the videos here:


Thank you to the following faculty for sharing your wisdom and expertise! Rosemary Cleveland, Karyn Raybourn, Raymond Higbea, Gisella Licari, Kristen Vu, Liz Storey, Many Forslund, and Pam Page

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.”


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


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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.


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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.


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“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!


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

eLearning visits e-Cornucopia.2017 – Teaching with Technology Conference

img_3668On Friday, June 23, Matt Roberts, instructional designer on the IDeL team along with Eric Kunnen, associate director of eLearning, visited Oakland University for their e-Cornucopia.2017 Teaching with Technology Conference.

Over 100 attendees participated at the conference with breakout sessions along with a keynote on “Gameful Learning” by Barry Fishman who is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Learning Technologies in the University of Michigan School of Information and School of Education.

During the event, Matt Roberts and Eric Kunnen tweeted highlights along with Eric Kunnen who captured some notes on his “#EdTech with Eric” blog.

16th Annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium Highlights Universal Design and Faculty Innovation

The 16th Annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium, held on March 22, highlighted Universal Design for Learning and a wealth of innovation happening across the campus in an out of the classroom.

With more than 30 topics to choose from, including breakout sessions in the morning by Techsmith and Blackboard, this event was a wealth of information and ideas for teaching with technology.

If you missed this event, don’t miss out on the highlights!

  1. Check out the symposium presenters page for more information about the presentations that were offered. Thank you to our faculty, staff, and students for presenting at this premiere event!
  2. View the Pew Teaching with Technology Award highlight video celebrating the accomplishments of Erica Hamilton and Sister Lucia Treanor. Congratulations to our award winning faculty!
  3. Watch the keynote video on the topic of Universal Design for Learning (access video on campus or through VPN) by Dr. Thomas Tobin.tomtobin

The Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium was sponsored by eLearning and Emerging Technologies, Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, and Disability Support Resources.  Support for refreshments was provided by Blackboard Inc.

Thank you to all of our presenters and attendees for an outstanding event!

See you next year in Allendale for more innovation at GVSU!