Enrollments Grow in Online Learning while enhancing Teaching Effectiveness

Recently, an article in InsideHigher Ed “Online Enrollments Grow, but Pace Slows” featured new federal data that show that more than 1/3 of all 2018 college and university students took at least one online course, and online enrollments have grown.

In fact, 34.7% of students have taken at least one online course in 2018, making up 3,677,689 students. Further, there were 3,259,560 students enrolled in exclusively distance education courses.

In comparison, according to the federal data report, overall enrollment in higher education was down -1.1%.

Enrollment in online courses at GVSU continues to grow as do the national numbers.

At GVSU, 24.1% of students were enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course in the Fall 2019 semester. This is up from 20.4% in 2018. In addition, in the spring/summer semester, 57.8% of students were taking at least one distance education course in 2019, up from 49.7% in 2018.

Here is a chart of the number of the unduplicated count of students enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course from 2016 through 2019 at GVSU:


Related, in a recent “Faculty Attitudes on Technology Survey” administered by InsideHigher Ed, results indicate that professors’ are showing a steady acceptance of online learning.

In fact, professors also indicate that teaching online makes them better and more effective in their practice:

  • Three-quarters (77%) of instructors who have taught online say they have developed pedagogical skills and practices that have improved their teaching.

  • 75% think more critically about engaging students with content; 65% make better use of multimedia content; 63% more likely to experiment and make changes to try to improve the learning experience.

  • Two-thirds of instructors who had converted face-to-face course to an online or hybrid (blended) class said that they spent less time lecturing (65%) and incorporated more active learning techniques into the new course (69%).

Based on the Inside Higher Ed survey, now more than 46% of faculty members have taught an online course.

Further, for those faculty that have taught online, 61% agree that online courses can produce equivalent student outcomes.

As far as the adoption of using technology in teaching:

  • Nearly four in 10 instructors (39 percent) say they fully support the increased use of educational technologies, up from 32 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2017.

  • Professors who support educational technologies say they do so because “some students simply cannot attend a face-to-face class due to work or family obligations“ (64%) and “students learn better when I engage them with effective technology tools“ (57%).

  • Rated colleges positively on encouraging experimentation with new approaches to teaching (56% agree) and providing adequate technical support for creating and teaching online courses (52% agree for both).

About eLearning and Emerging Technologies


eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate digital learning at GVSU through supporting faculty in delivering high quality, innovative teaching.

We support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and enhance student success through:

Building Effective Student Learning Communities to Increase Engagement in Online/Hybrid Courses

Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities meet throughout the semester to focus on improving teaching and learning in distance education at Grand Valley State University.

The eLearning team and GVSU faculty gather to form Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities to:

  • Support new and experienced online/hybrid faculty through dialogue and samples
  • Explore best practices associated with online/hybrid teaching and learning
  • Identify emerging technological needs to support online teaching and learning
  • Share collective expertise across disciplines

Recently the focus was on the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI).  Participants in the Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities spent time discussing and sharing specific examples of how to build “Teaching Presence, Social Presence and Cognitive Presence” in courses.

Couldn’t attend the Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Community meetings? Don’t worry, we have you covered! Here is a recording of the October 17, 2019 Pew Campus Learning Community session, facilitated by Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer in IDeL group in eLearning and Emerging Technologies:

Pew Campus Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Community Recording


Additional Resources

The eLearning Team welcomes New Faculty at GVSU!



On, Wednesday, August 7, New Faculty Orientation kicks off with over 100 faculty participating in 2 days of sessions focused on equipping and preparing new faculty at Grand Valley State University.

From 1 to 3pm, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team will share a wealth of tips and strategies to leverage technology in teaching through break out sessions,  #EDTECH demonstrations, and consultations.

Specific sessions by the eLearning team include:

This post features a variety of technologies and resources that are available to faculty at GVSU.

Who is the eLearning team and what do they do?

Our eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is on mission to supporting faculty pursuing innovation in teaching an learning.

Our team provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate digital learning at GVSU through supporting faculty in delivering high quality, innovative teaching.

We support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and enhance student success through:

What enterprise technologies are available at GVSU?

Look no further then our Teaching and Learning with Technology Guide!


New to Blackboard?

Here are a few resources to help you get started!

  1. Checklist for getting started with Blackboard
  2. Tips for teaching and learning with Blackboard
  3. Facilitating live office hours and video conferencing with Collaborate
  4. Checking accessibility of your course content with Ally



Interested in kicking-it-up-a-notch with video?

Check out the Digital Studio, Lightboard, and get help with using Panopto, our streaming video solution at GVSU!

Need instructional design support in teaching online?

Join a growing movement in higher education by learning to teach an online or hybrid course. The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team includes instructional designers in IDeL focused on providing expert guidance in designing high quality courses.

We’re here to help!

Visit our eLearning and Emerging Technologies web page to connect with a plethora of possibilities in teaching and learning with technology at GVSU!


The Future and Online Learning


Back in 2017, The Chronicle of Higher Education and VitalSource released results from a survey entitled: “Online Education Heading toward the Future“. This report includes key findings regarding distance education as online learning moves into the mainstream.

The survey captured the feedback of 1,286 respondents including higher-ed administrators, chief information officers, provosts, chief academic officers, deans, program directors and chairs, and directors of educational media.

This blog post captures a few highlights as well as connections to the work of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU.

“Online education is not a fad… online education — that is, distance learning delivered digitally, whether for an entire course or part of one — is not going away. A majority of colleges and universities understand this and are working to find the best online learning solutions for their students and faculty members.”

Online Learning Enrollment Expands

Almost all, 94%, of the institutions responding to the survey indicate that they offer classes entirely online, while enrollment in these classes has also increased at most institutions.


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future

Enrollment in Online and Hybrid Learning Increased by 30%

Grand Valley State University started offering online courses before 2007 and the number of online/hybrid courses and enrollment are increasing annually. Since 2016, GVSU’s enrollment in online and hybrid courses has increased by 30%. In fact, in the 2018-19 academic year, 375 online courses are being taught to 10,221 students or 38 percent of the university’s student body. Read more at: “eLearning Team supports growth in Online/Hybrid Learning at GVSU“.

Increases in Acceptance and in Strategic Priority


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future

“There seems to be a growing desire among faculty to at least figure out what it means to teach online.”

Institutions plan to continue or increase the investment, including 72% increasing resources dedicated to online learning initiatives, as illustrated in the following chart:


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future

Quality is Key

According to the survey, 86% of the institutions reported having course enrollment caps for online courses as well as an internal process to review course quality.

Quality Matters and the Online Learning consortium where mentioned as resources for external quality certification.

Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Winners at GVSU

GVSU faculty have received awards for their quality courses through the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Program.

Good Practice Teaching Standards

The eLearning team’s, IDeL group has provided a series of good practice teaching standards are derived from the GVSU’s Online Education Council’s Online/Hybrid Course Peer Review Rubric. The recommendations and good practice guidelines are adapted from: Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric 2011 – 2013 Edition, Penn State Peer Review Guide, Chickering, A. & Gamson, Z. (1987) Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin (39)7, and the Blackboard Exemplary Course Rubric.

Instructional Design

51% of those responding to the survey indicated that their institution has 1 or 2 instructional designers, followed by 33% having 3 – 5. One of the important aspects of course quality has been contributed to the use of instructional designers in course creation.


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future

In a recent article by Campus Technology entitled: “Survey: Instructional Designers Drive Better Student Outcomes“, the importance of instructional design (ID) was raised in support of increasing the quality of online courses and in turn improving student learning as part of the 2019 CHLOE 3 REPORT. Read more in the “Working with Instructional Designers Improves Student Outcomes” blog post.

Connect with an Instructional Designer at GVSU!

At GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team includes 3 instructional designers making up the “IDeL” (Instructional Design for Learning) group.

When preparing, designing, or facilitating an online or hybrid course, please reach out to one of our instructional designers for support, join an Online and Hybrid Faculty Learning Community, and/or review a variety of tipsvideo advice, and good practice teaching recommendations.

Online Teaching Improves Teaching Skills and Strengthens the Institution

In general administrators surveyed indicate that online teaching improves the institution and face to face teaching also. As faculty are prepare to teach online through professional development, this shapes also their teaching in person, traditional courses.


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future


Figure retrieved from: “Online Education Heading toward the Future

eLearning and Emerging Technologies @GVSU

Learn more about the support provided to faculty in the design, development, and delivery of online, hybrid, and traditional courses on the eLearning and Emerging Technologies website.

The eLearning team provides a wide array of support and services designed to empower faculty and contribute to student success.


From getting started to advanced technology integration into teaching, the eLearning team is here to support faculty. We have expertise in instructional design through the IDeL team, creative multimedia production authoring capabilities through the Digital Studio, instructional technology support and learning management solutions such as Blackboard, and a wide array of innovative emerging technologies in the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

In short, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is dedicated to supporting faculty, contributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through:

Working with Instructional Designers improves Student Outcomes

At GVSU, the eLearning team is on mission to support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning. One of our strategies in achieving this mission is to:

  • Leverage exemplary instructional design and instructional technologies to: create pedagogically sound and learner centered instruction, improve and ensure course quality, enhance faculty effectiveness, and to increase student success and retention.

We also always say:

“We’re here to help!”

And we are!

In a recent article by Campus Technology entitled: Survey: Instructional Designers Drive Better Student Outcomes, the importance of instructional design (ID) was raised in support of increasing the quality of online courses and in turn improving student learning as part of the 2019 CHLOE 3 REPORT.

Online Student Performance compared to Face-to-Face Students, with and without Instructional Design Support

In the following chart, findings revealed that a higher proportion of institutions that require the use of an instructional designer in online course design and development indicate online students as “performing comparably to or better than on-ground students.”


Image Retrieved from CHLOE 3 REPORT

Online Course Development Model

As part of the 2019 CHLOE 3 Report, the survey also indicated that on average 38% of institutions use a faculty + option ID model, followed by 24% a faculty + required ID.


Image Retrieved from CHLOE 3 REPORT

Online Engagement and the Student Experience

Further, the following chart illustrates a variety of course design and development approaches as it relates to the types of engagement used in the online course. For example, when faculty work independently, 64% of the student engagement is with course materials, whereas, when faculty are required to work with an ID or a team, course material engagement dropped to 47% and 44% respectively.


Image Retrieved from CHLOE 3 REPORT

Connect with an Instructional Designer at GVSU!

At GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team includes 3 instructional designers making up the “IDeL” (Instructional Design for Learning) group.

When preparing, designing, or facilitating an online or hybrid course, please reach out to one of our instructional designers for support, join an Online and Hybrid Faculty Learning Community, and/or review a variety of tips, video advice, and good practice teaching recommendations.


Title: Instructional Designer
Phone: 616-331-2598
Office: 4453 P. Douglas Kindschi Hall of Science (KHS)

Glenna’s Web Site


Title: Instructional Designer
Phone: 616-331-2131
Office:  268C Richard M. DeVos Center (DEV)

Kim’s Web Site


Title: Instructional Designer
Phone: 616-331-9085
Office:  4452 P. Douglas Kindschi Hall of Science (KHS)

Matthew’s Web Site

We’re here to help!

ELI Key Issues in Teaching and Learning

keyissues2019ELIRecently, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative released the 2019 “Key Issues in Teaching and Learning“.

Each year, ELI surveys the higher education community to determine key issues and opportunities in postsecondary teaching and learning. These key issues serve as the framework, or focal points, for our discussions and programming throughout the coming year.

More than 1,400 community members voted, and the following were identified as the 2019 Key Issues.

This blog post captures the highlights from the ELI’s 2019 Key Issues with alignment and connection to the work of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU.


1 – Faculty Development & Engagement

ELI1The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU is on mission to engage with faculty and to “Support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning…”

Innovation in teaching and learning happens when technology is creatively applied to craft active learning techniques that help students most efficiently achieve learning objectives.

The following facets of the eLearning team provide effective faculty development at GVSU:

From a professional development perspective, the eLearning team offers: consultations and coaching, on demand support, seminars and workshops, a teaching and technology podcast, tips for teaching with technology, faculty learning communities, video “TECHBytes”, and a “Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium” that has been held for 18 years.

2 – Online & Blending Learning

ELI2Distance education continues to grow at GVSU with a +25% increase in enrollment in online/hybrid classes since 2017.  With over 5,000 student enrollments in the Fall 2018 semester, just over 17% of all students are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

To support distance education initiatives, eLearning and Emerging Technologies has trained over 250 faculty to teach online/hybrid classes in the past 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.

As faculty begin to engage with online and blended learning, and construct courses to serve remote learners, the skills and techniques learned also provide extensive benefits to on-campus students as well.

3 – Instructional & Learning Experience Design

ELI3Through the IDeL group of instructional designers, the eLearning team facilitates faculty learning communities on the topic of online teaching and learning, enhancing the skills of faculty. The instructional designers have also established TIP (theory into practice) sheets, offering guidance to faculty in the use of student feedback to help shape and improve teaching.

The eLearning team also hosts regular weekly open office hours to connect directly with faculty, enabling opportunities to focus on learning experience design by leveraging technology.

Finally, each year, the eLearning team organizes the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium to provide a venue to showcase unique innovative pedagogical approaches based on peer experience in delivering high quality courses.

4 – Digital & Information Literacy

ELI4GVSU has established opportunities for students to build literacy and fluency as it relates to the use of everything digital. The eLearning team supports equipping the digital literacy of students and the campus community by offering a variety of enterprise applications and services.

The eLearning Digital Studio maintains a vast project list that provides great breadth and depth of leveraging to technology that contributes to dialogue around 21st century literacy skills for students.

Virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D printing, and a wide array of other emerging technologies are provided to students through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

Further, the eLearning team is looking into the future by working collaboratively to establish more support for student-based digital media creation at GVSU through a potential “Digital Media Center“.

5 – Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

ELI5Diversity, equity, and inclusion is “built-in to the DNA” at GVSU through the university’s vision:  “GVSU demonstrates its commitment to providing an inclusive learning environment where all students can explore new directions, find their niches, and develop skills for life and productive careers.”

The eLearning team focuses on supporting inclusive education through accessibility and UDL by equipping faculty. Blackboard Ally was adopted and put into production at GVSU in the summer of 2018 to:  generate awareness, build capacity, and increase institutional oversight of accessibility.

In addition, Panopto was implemented to provide video caption capability for faculty who are using instructional video content in their teaching. Both Ally and Panopto support the principles of inclusive education through accessibility and UDL.

6 – Competency and New Methods of Assessment

ELI6eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development in partnership with the Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and University Libraries at GVSU.  In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning and Emerging Technologies’s “#EdTech Summer Teaching Institute” badge. Further, 7 badges are currently offered by eLearning, including 4 Blackboard badges, a digital media badge, and a badge for the successful completion of Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery.

GVSU also offers a variety of credit and non-credit student badges such as mobile computing, data analytics, and cybersecurity.

7 – Learning Analytics

ELI7Taking advantage of “big” data and “small” data through analytics offers many opportunities.

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 that provide student insights empower faculty and advisors with unique capabilities in the support of early alert to improve student retention.

Applications such as Starfish Retention Solutions and Blackboard Predict provide capabilities to inform faculty and advisors with students at-risk through early alert, and also at the individual instructor level through in course tools such as the Blackboard Retention Center.

Notable also is “Clicks, Grades, Engagement, and Student Success” whereby, Blackboard has provided research in how successful students are using learning management system tools based on learning analytics.

“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.”

8 – Open Education

ELI8GVSU 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 K-12 #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. At GVSU, students have saved over $480,000 in textbook costs, with 3000+ course sections each semester that require no paper textbook.

9 – Evaluating Instructional & Learning Innovations


Gathering data to inform decision making enables measurement and supports continuous quality improvement.

The eLearning team has used surveys to gather improvement recommendations for the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design and Development course, Blackboard, and also the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research survey of faculty and students and their attitudes and use of technology in education.

10 – Academic Transformation


The eLearning team aligns with GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas that support academic transformation and innovative faculty development and strategic academic transformation:

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 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.

As part of the eLearning team’s work toward academic transformation, 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: interactdiscoverlearn, 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 and makerspace, the showcase is an outstanding and very unique example of education, technology, and innovation.

See also: “EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative ‘2018 Key Issues’ Meet the Initiatives in eLearning at GVSU


Designing Quality Courses in Blackboard with Cheryl Kautz

kautzcSit back, relax, and watch as Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems at GVSU guides you through her CIS 231 course in Blackboard.



As a previous “Blackboard Exemplary Course Award” and “Most Inclusive Classroom Award” recipient, Cheryl focuses on using quality course design methods including key tools in Blackboard such as Blackboard Ally for accessibility (eg. Syllabus, course content etc. includes alternative formats such as audio only), Panopto for video with popup formative quizzes, and tips for improving navigation including using course links to keep students on track and to provide easier navigation.

Highlighted in Cheryl’s course tour are the following design principles in using Blackboard to delivery quality instruction at GVSU.

Streamlined Course Menu

Customizing the course menu provides students with a simple and easy way to navigate the areas of her course. When designing your menu, aim to keep your navigation areas as clean, short and simple as possible. Use headings and dividers to break up the menu into chunks.


Course Links

Course Links assists students with navigating and jumping from section to section in a course site. Using Blackboard Course Links ensures students can easily navigate to other areas of your course quickly.


Checking for Accessibility with Blackboard Ally

Cheryl has dedicated time for inclusive learning by ensuring the content uploaded is accessible with Blackboard Ally. A GREEN indicator indicates that the file has a good rating. Yellow or red indicators appear when a file has low or poor levels of web accessibility.


Students benefit from using Blackboard Ally by accessing alternative file formats such as audio only.


Getting Started

Establish a “Getting Started” content area to help students “get started”. This area of Cheryl’s course provides:

  • links to “Are you ready for online learning at GVSU”
  • encouraging students to upload a Blackboard profile picture for increased engagement
  • an introductory Blackboard blog post for student to student interaction
  • a course link directing students to begin the “week 1 tasks”

Weekly Folders

Each weekly folder uses a consistent design and includes key dates and reminders such as midterm, spring break, final exams, and most importantly the objectives to be covered. The objectives are connected to the learning activities and assessments to inform students clearly about what they are expected to accomplish throughout the week which is good instructional design.


Inside of each weekly folder, students are presented with a “To Do” instruction list, practice assignments, video lectures, discussions, projects, quizzes, audio PowerPoints, and homework help.


Panopto Videos with Quizzes

Cheryl uses Panopto to present video based instruction with quizzes to check for students’ understanding and to provide formative feedback.



eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team offers Course Design and Development Support

As you build courses in Blackboard, please feel free to reach out to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team for assistance in most effectively leveraging the use of Blackboard in your teaching at GVSU. We’re here to help!