Delivering Great Online Courses via Effective Teaching Strategies

Bb Blog Eric Kunnen Winter 2016 SM.jpg In a recent Blackboard Blog post, Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies, highlighted a few tips for “delivering great online courses via effective teaching strategies“.

“Great Teaching is Great Teaching”

In this post, Eric highlights the a few keys to success in delivering high quality courses:

#1. Student and faculty interaction is KEY

#2. Course design is KEY

#3. Instructional design and digital media development is KEY

#4. Faculty professional development and support resources are KEY

Finally, in the quest for delivering quality online courses, it is important to reach out to the campus for support. The eLearning Team provides an outstanding array of support, from exemplary instructional design, to instructional technology support, to digital media development, to Blackboard resources, and future oriented emerging technologies in the Technology Showcase.

Let the eLearning team know how we can help you deliver great courses through effective teaching strategies! We are here for YOU!

Read the entire article on the Blackboard Blog.

SMART Boards and Interactivity in the Classroom


The faculty and staff in the College of Education have made a strong commitment to training our students on the use of technology in their classrooms.  Working closely with Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer on the IDeL team in eLearning, the COE faculty strive to keep up to date on current trends in Educational Technology and to integrate these new technologies into their coursework.

This year, the Graduate Teacher Certification students, as well as 8 sections of EDT370 – Technology in Education students were trained in the use of “Interactive White Board” technology.  Our student teachers learned the mechanics of using the SMART Board and creating interactive materials for their classrooms.  In addition, they received instruction on how to integrate this tool into their curriculum and how the recent updates to SMART Notebook allow for students to use any web-based device to manipulate the board.

GVSU faculty and staff interested in learning more about this technology are welcome to contact Vince St. Germain or Kim Kenward for an individual consultation.

Introducing Online & Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities

This post highlights a special invitation from Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer, in IDeL:

Join our GVSU Online & Hybrid Faculty Learning Community!

cqqdn0eu8aeermsWhether you’ve been teaching online or hybrid courses for several years, or just getting ready to start your first semester teaching hybrid or online, all levels of expertise are welcome to join the “Online and Hybrid Learning Community”.    We have three learning communities (one per campus) located at the Allendale, CHS or Pew campuses.  We meet once a month for 90 minutes (September through April) during the fall/winter semester(s) 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

Sponsored by IDeL (Instructional Design for eLearning) and the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, we hope these learning communities will provide a venue for faculty-led dialogue and to share collective expertise regarding online/hybrid instruction at GVSU.

To officially apply to be a member for one of our Online & Hybrid Learning Communities, please visit this FTLC website:

  1. Select “Opportunities”
  2. Select “Faculty Learning Communities”
  3. Select “Apply for a Grant”
  4. Select “Create a new Application”

From the drop-down arrow, select “Faculty Learning Community Participation Grant”

Follow the on-screen prompts and then select from the drop-down menu “which” Online & Hybrid Learning Community (Allendale, CHS or Pew Campus) you wish to participate in.

Please complete the online registration by September 7th so that we can send out a survey to poll the best meeting times.  If you should run into technical issues with the application process, please contact FTLC at

Learning Community questions can be directed to Kim Kenward at

Kim Kenward & Justin Melick share “online student presentations” for Penn State Conference


Kim Kenward, instructional designer, and Justin Melick, digital media developer, in eLearning and Emerging Technologies presented with Dr. Rosemary Cleveland, COE Faculty, presented at the 7th annual virtual conference for the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

The session was held on Monday, February 15 at 11am EST via Blackboard Collaborate and their session topic was “Moving Student Presentations Online” and there were over 30 attendees from across the nation.

Session: Moving Student Presentations Online

Abstract: Our conference presentation will help faculty and instructional designers identify technology resources and assignment design considerations for supporting online student presentations. This session will also provide information on the role of student project partners to facilitate student engagement opportunities for peer review, feedback and building online community.
  • Kimberly Kenward, Instructional Designer,
  • Justin Melick, Digital Media Developer,
  • Dr. Rosemary Cleveland, Education Faculty,
    Grand Valley State University

Kim Kenward has worked as an instructional designer for over eighteen years. She has taught and developed several online/hybrid educational technology courses, as well as worked as the Instruction Librarian and Library Director at various institutions. Kim is actively involved in the GVSU College of Education teacher preparation programs, specifically in the area of integrating technology into teaching and learning.

Justin Melick is a Digital Media Developer at Grand Valley where he works with faculty to create a variety of digital content for their courses. He specifically works with faculty to increase instructor presence in their online and hybrid courses and is responsible for building and pioneering the use of GVSU’s Lightboard.

Dr. Rosemary Cleveland has been a faculty member in the GVSU College of Education for fourteen years. Previous to that, she was a school administrator and a teacher for thirty-one years. Rosemary teaches in the graduate teacher certification program in both the online and in-seat format. She is passionate about teacher leadership and curriculum development.

Building community is essential in online learning! – Rosemary Cleveland
Get started with building community in your class on day one. Here, Dr. Cleveland begins her courses with having students create an “about me” slide in Powerpoint.
Attendees in the session shared a variety of ideas of assessment activities for students, ranging from using the discussion boards and peer review tools in the LMS, to ApprenNet, to Voicethread.
GVSU uses Blackboard and Ensemble video for technologies to support this work.  Justin provides support to faculty and students to tackle the technical pieces. A helpful video for students gives students some tips for creating mobile video.  Here is the video:
Screencast-O-Matic is a great tool for students to use to record the screen and share their video assessments.
For more information, please check out the presentation slides on Slideshare!

Optimizing #EdTech is #2 in EDUCAUSE’s Top 10 IT Issues

Each year, EDUCAUSE researches the trends impacting education through technology – and the role that technology plays in advancing teaching and learning in a “Top 10 IT Issues” list.

Drum roll please… this year, #2 in the Top 10 IT Issues for 2016 is…

“Optimizing Educational Technology”

With a wealth of technological resources we have at our finger tips, staying up to speed can be a challenge.  Our focus in eLearning and Emerging Technologies is to not only help to provide access to technology but to assist faculty in adopting technology tools that can help to enhance teaching and learning – to solve instructional problems and with the ultimate goal of improving student success and retention.

Optimizing Educational Technology is what eLearning and Emerging Technologies at GVSU is all about!

As shown in the chart above, the top 2 technologies in which the highest percentage of faculty desire more training are: “Online Collaboration Tools” at 61% and the “LMS” (Blackboard) at 60%.  Along these lines, the eLearning staff provides a wide array of training through seminars offered in GVSU’s Sprout system. The eLearning team also offers individual consultations to help support faculty.  In fact, a list of upcoming workshops can be found on our website.  In addition, please reach out us if we can provide assistance to you!

As indicated in the survey results, the LMS (Blackboard) continues to be an important resource for faculty and students.  In fact, when students were surveyed as part of the ECAR study at GVSU, 94% indicated that Blackboard was used in at least one of their courses, with 54% reporting that all of their classes used an LMS.


Interested in learning more about GVSU’s student and faculty ECAR research survey results? Check out this related post:


GVSU Ranked 6th in the Nation for PBS LearningMedia Use

kenwardk_150tLooking for a way to create some interest and engagement in your course? Digital resources through PBS LearningMedia provides “Infinite Inspiration for your Classroom”… In this post, Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer in IDeL, highlights GVSU’s work with WGVU and PBS LearningMedia.

PBS Learning Media logo.jpg

Did you know that GVSU is currently ranked sixth in the entire nation for most usage and “hits” on PBS Learning Media?  Based on usage by faculty and students, our use of the video resources has been recognized by PBS!

If you haven’t explored this amazing online resource, this innovative tool provides an amazing wealth of “free” media resources, thousands of innovative, standards-aligned digital resources, and professional development opportunities.  

You can search for resources and embed them easily in your Blackboard coursesite! Each resource has a recommended grade level and includes educational standards information. Here is an example:



Interested in searching for course videos or digital resources?  You can get started today by registering and creating your account at:

In addition, if you would like more information, you contact Mike Fillman (, WGVU Education Coordinator, with any questions, trainings or assistance you may need with using PBS LearningMedia.  

Look for Mike Fillman at our 15th Annual Teaching & Learning with Technology Symposium that will be held on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons.


Flipped Learning: It’s the Goals, not the Tech

The flipped classroom is no longer breaking news for at least two reasons. First, the term itself has been popping up in the media for long enough that it’s hard to imagine any educator has managed to avoid it entirely. Here at Grand Valley we’ve been offering a workshop on the flipped classroom each semester since May of 2012, with a steady enrollment every time. More important than the fact that we’ve been talking about it for a while, though, is that the conversation has started to mature. Blog posts and “have you heard about this” news stories are giving way to books about flipped learning and academic studies that actually investigate its effectiveness.

I, for one, welcome this change. As an instructional designer, I spend a lot of time helping faculty look beyond technology to focus first and foremost on their students’ learning. The flipped classroom has generated some great discussions with faculty. I hope they’ve also gained a new set of tools for reaching their students. But so much of the early press about flipped learning focused on the role of technology that it tempts faculty to believe that they can become better teachers just by learning a new set of software skills. More often than not, faculty are told that the secret to flipped success is finding and creating videos.

Just to be clear, videos are not the secret. Neither is screencasting software. Or audience response systems (“clickers” or otherwise). In fact, there isn’t any technological tool, either individually or in combination with others, that will magically make you a better teacher or turn your students into better learners.

So if flipped learning isn’t educational magic, why has it become so popular? And beyond that, why is it worth adopting at all? Rather than offer a detailed recipe for flipped learning, I want to talk about why it’s a good idea in the first place. I believe that when it’s done right, flipped instruction gets us closer to achieving three valuable instructional goals. These goals can certainly be met with other instructional approaches. I’m convinced, though, that the flipped methodology gets us closer to achieving all three.

The first goal is meaningful engagement. In his book Teaching Naked, José Antonio Bowen wrote that “[o]ur challenge as 21st-century teachers is to leverage new content and new delivery systems into new course designs. We need to create courses that require and reward students who engage with material before and between classes.” For most students, learning is what happens inside the classroom. Once they walk out the door they’re free, their time is their own, and most try as hard as possible not to think about class unless they’re forced to “study.” Now that neuro- and cognitive science are shedding light on how learning actually happens, we know just how self-defeating this “out the door and out of mind” approach can be. Implementing flipped instruction forces students to encounter material outside of class time and it makes their contact with content in the classroom more engaging as well. Flipping makes it easier for faculty to implement active learning techniques, include structured time for reflection, encourage active interaction with the instructor and fellow learners, and move toward more authentic experiences like problem- and case-based learning. All of these make learning richer and deeper.

The second goal is agile teaching, a concept advocated by Derek Bruff. To understand this idea we should start with its opposite. Years ago someone told me that you should reconsider your teaching methods if you could walk into the classroom, discover that all your students had disappeared, and still carry on your class session in exactly the same way as if the room were full. Sadly, that’s how many classes are still conducted. The professor pre-plans the entire class period in a way that ignores the learners themselves. In such an environment, it’s hard to believe that student learning is actually the top priority. Flipped instruction encourages faculty to adapt class time to meet students’ actual needs, their struggles with the content, and to give students the chance to move closer to mastery. This requires a flexibility and “agility” in teaching. I like the picture that the term “agile teaching” brings to mind—that of a martial artist poised, balanced, and ready to respond to whatever might happen.

The third goal of the flipped classroom is the creation of self-directed learners. More than the poor writing skills that faculty perennially lament, perhaps the greatest problem for most students is that they aren’t prepared to take ownership of their own education. Students make poor use of their time, fail to keep track of important deadlines and course requirements, and expect to take a passive role in the learning process while knowledge is piped into their heads. These aren’t just bad habits—they’re signs of a problematic and ultimately self-defeating perspective on the learning process. Graduation will bring an end to the college experience but it won’t end the need to learn. One of the most important things we can do for our students is to help them understand how learning happens and to then equip them to learn effectively when they don’t have the benefit of instructors, classrooms, or grades.

Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis, education faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, use the term “affordances” when talking about technology. Their point is that technology is not magic and it doesn’t automatically improve education, but there are some things that it can make much easier. I think that’s the right perspective. As I said before, all three goals can be achieved without technology. Adding flipped learning—and the right technology—to the mix, however, makes these goals a lot easier to achieve. Technology is not what makes learning happen. But it can make it a lot easier for us to design experiences for our students that lead to truly significant learning. We won’t get there, though, if we put the technology before the learning.

Photo Credit: dusterdb88 via Compfight cc