Online and Hybrid Learning

Collaborate with Students LIVE – Anytime/Anywhere with Blackboard!

Uses for Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a real-time video conferencing tool that lets you chat, add files, share applications, and use a virtual whiteboard to interact with students. Collaborate Ultra provides opportunities for:

  • Online Office Hours
  • Online Guest Speakers
  • Interviews
  • Advising
  • Study Sessions
  • Small Group Projects
  • and more!

Virtual Office Hours

 Use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to have your office hours in any location!

 Guest Speakers

Bring in guest speakers from anywhere by sharing a guest link to the session. You can provide a guest link to anyone to allow them to access your Collaborate session.

Group Projects

collaborategroupUse Blackboard Collaborate Ultra to facilitate group work. With Collaborate you can create multiple sessions, one for each group, so each group can have a separate session to meet with other group members. This makes it easier for students to find time to meet for group work, and eliminates the issue of finding a common meeting spot. Students will be able to access these group session rooms whenever they need to, from anywhere. Inside the session group members can share audio, video, and chat.

Learn more about Collaborate Ultra at:


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!


Distance Learning by the Data – More than one in four students now take at least one distance education course…

Each year, surveys are conducted that track trends in the growth of distance learning. One survey that was released recently is the “Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report“.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

“Key report findings include:

The number of higher education students taking at least one distance education course topped 6 million in 2015.

A year-to-year increase of 226,375 distance education students represents a 3.9% increase over the previous two years.

More than one in four students (29.7%) now take at least one distance education course (a total of 6,022,105 students).

Public institutions command the largest portion of distance education students, with 67.8% of all distance students.

Large enrollment drops among for-profit institutions were driven by a few of the largest institutions; the majority of for-profits grew their distance enrollments.

The number of students studying on a campus has dropped by almost one million (931,317), between 2012 and 2015.”

Another survey was facilitated by the Instructional Technology Council, entitled: “2016 Annual National eLearning Survey“. Here are a few of the key finding from this report:

“2016 Survey Results: Key Findings
For the first time in the twelve-year history of the ITC eLearning survey,
online enrollments at community colleges were essential flat for the 2015-
2016 academic enrollment period. Nationally, overall community college
enrollment has been in a downward trend by an average of 2.7% each
year since 2011. Online enrollments remain stronger than traditional
enrollments but have also been adversely impacted by the postrecession
drop in college enrollments.

➢ eLearning REPORT LINE

Eighty-three percent of respondents indicate their eLearning program
reports to some type of academic administrator. This continues a
twelve-year trend of programs moving from IT oversight to academic


The top three challenges for eLearning program administrators, are:
▪ #1: Addressing accessibility and universal design
▪ #2: Support staff needed for training/technical assistance
▪ #3: Adequate assessment of eLearning classes


Four LMS providers now dominate the higher education market. Eighty seven
percent of respondents listed the following as their current LMS:
▪ #1 Blackboard Learn (43%)
▪ #2 Instructure Canvas (23%)
▪ #3 Moodle (13%)
▪ #4 D2L (8%)


Confidence about compliance has eroded over the past nine years; in
2008, seventy-three percent of respondents said their institution was
either completely or mostly compliant. For 2016, only thirty-seven
percent of respondents were confident they were either completely
or mostly compliant. Well-publicized lawsuits and Dear Colleague
letters from the US DOE and DOJ have complicated the compliance


Ninety-four percent of respondents confirmed that their institution
(primarily community colleges) offers at least one online degree.


Ninety-five percent of respondents described their online courses as
either equivalent (87 percent) or superior (7 percent) to traditional


The 2016 survey included a number of comments from respondents identifying
staffing as a serious challenge. Asked about staffing, 5 percent indicated they
had no staff, 15 percent indicated they had only part-time/temporary staff, 66
percent indicated they had 1-2 staff members, 11 percent said they had 3-5
staff members, and 1 percent said they had 6 or more staff members.


#1: Engaging faculty in developing online pedagogy
#2: Evaluation of faculty
#3: Training


#1: Assessing online student learning and performance
#2: Orientation and preparation for learning online
#3: Low student completion rate


For the 2016 survey, forty-six percent of respondents reported their
retention is comparative for online and traditional courses, and forty-seven
percent indicated their online retention is lower than for traditional

At GVSU, the eLearning team is on mission to support faculty in their work to create high quality online and hybrid courses. Through the work of the IDeL team, faculty have access to a wealth of resources of support, including the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development course, Faculty Learning Communities, and more! Visit the IDeL web site to learn more.

Survey Results: College Presidents Welcome Change

In a Chronicle of Education survey, sponsored by Blackboard, 350 presidents of four-year colleges provided feedback and insights around innovations in higher education, including the role various constituencies play in advancing ideas, as well as their opinions on online learning, hybrid courses, and competency-based degrees.

Read the full report here [PDF]:  “The Innovative University: Presidents Think About Change in American Higher Education”

The focus of the survey highlighted the following areas:

  • How public and private college leaders agree and disagree on the direction of U.S. higher education
  • Who should be leading change on the college campus
  • What innovations will have the most impact in the future

The following post highlights results focused on online and hybrid teaching and learning:

New ideas:

An overwhelming majority of presidents—three quarters at private institutions and even more at public campuses—think that hybrid courses that contain both face-to-face and online components will have a positive impact on higher education. They are more skeptical, however, about massive open online courses (MOOCs), at least in their current form. Half of the presidents surveyed suspect that MOOCs will have a negative impact on higher education.

Two-thirds of presidents say that the pace of change is too slow.

Presidents believe that the focus right now should be on changes to the model of teaching and learning.


Presidents believe hybrid courses that blend face-to-face learning as well as adaptive learning will have the most positive influence on the future of higher education.


57% indicate faculty don’t get enough support to move their courses online/hybrid:


The eLearning team at GVSU is here to support faculty in their work to transform education through good practice in leveraging #EdTech as well as to assist in the delivery of the next generation of teaching and learning through online/hybrid courses. Contact us!

Where will U.S. higher education stand in worldwide rankings 10 years from now?

Article in Rapid Growth features eLearning Team and Showcase

Rapid Growth has a series running on the topic of technology and education. In an article written on March 16, 2017, author Matthew Russell highlights a variety of innovative ideas and happenings from around West Michigan.

The article entitled “From virtual reality to online libraries, how technology is revolutionizing education in GR” highlights the work of the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team as well as the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

Explorative spaces installed at Grand Valley State University will help older students test and build the devices that tomorrow’s learning environments may rely on.


Atomic Object Technology Showcase – An immersive and engaging space for faculty and students to interact, discover, learn, and share how technology can transform teaching and learning.

“We have a lot of different drop-in space for students and faculty to experiment and play around with technology, to imagine what it would look like if we used these in teaching, and how it would make us more effective. The ultimate purpose is to solve instructional problems to meet students needs so that they’re successful.

Read the Full Article on Rapid Growth Media

Top 6 eLearning Posts from 2016


HAPPY NEW YEAR from the eLearning team!

2016 was a great year in eLearning at GVSU, and to celebrate a start of a new year, we assembled our most popular posts from 2016.

Here are the top 6 posts from our eLearning blog:

  1. 7 Things You Didn’t Know that Blackboard Can Do!
  2. Professor Cheryl Kautz receives Blackboard Exemplary Course Award
  3. GVSU Faculty Members Awarded “Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States”
  4. Virtual Office Hours for Student Success with Blackboard Collaborate and Bb IM
  5. Highlights from #BbWorld16
  6. Open Educational Resources Summit at Lansing Community College #LCCOER