Online and Hybrid Learning

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

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.

GVSU Celebrates National Distance Learning Week with Faculty Appreciation Breakfast

GVSU will be celebrating National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) from November 7-11, 2016 to recognize the continued growth and value of online and hybrid learning at the university. NDLW is organized by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and serves to highlight the successes and value of distance education.

To celebrate and to recognize faculty at Grand Valley State University, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team along with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC) have organized a breakfast on Wednesday, November 9, 2016!


We know how much work it takes to develop and teach quality online/hybrid courses and we appreciate the work of YOU, the faculty here at GVSU. Join us and allow us to treat you to a breakfast in honor of National Distance Learning Week!

WHAT:  National Distance Learning Week – Faculty Appreciation Breakfast

WHEN: 8:30am – 10:30am on Wednesday, November 9, 2016 (Please stop by anytime.)

WHERE: University Club – Pew Campus

WHY: For an informal meet, greet, and eat – to appreciate YOU, our online and hybrid teaching faculty.

This event is sponsored by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies department including the IDeL (Instructional Design for eLearning) team and the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

RSVP: Please RSVP!

Grand Valley State University offers a wide array of courses and degree programs in the online and hybrid format with over 150 courses and just over 4,500 total student enrollments in distance education courses as of the Fall semester 2016. This represents a  105% increase in enrollment since 2012 with 16% of students at GVSU taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.  Most students are from Michigan, however, we do have students from states such as Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Washington, and also internationally.  Online and hybrid learning is an important flexible learning option at the university.  In addition, over 500 faculty have been certified to teach online/hybrid courses through the Foundations course that is offered through IDeL and the FTLC.

According the 2014 Survey of Online Learning, Grade Level: Tracking Online Education in the United States, there are more than 7.1 million higher ed students learning online with 33% of all higher ed students taking at least 1 online course.  In addition, 70.8% chief academic leaders are now reporting that online learning is critical to their long-term strategy for their institutions, which is an all time high.  This connects to GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan as well in the following areas:

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%.

If you are interested in learning more about teaching and learning online, check out the eLearning and Emerging Technologies and IDeL websites along with the online/hybrid education faculty resources site at GVSU and the Faculty Learning Communities offered through the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights

bbsurveyanalysis_classAs part of a Statistics 319 class with Professor Gabrosek, 2 students worked with the eLearning team to gather feedback and suggestions from faculty and students about how the Blackboard environment can be enhanced at Grand Valley State University.

In addition, the STA 319 students presented the results on Student Scholars Day on February 27, 2016.

The survey was completed in the Winter 2015 semester and the sample size of students and faculty that completed the survey in a five day time period were 1907 and 122 respectively.

Here are a few highlights of the results from the survey:


As shown above, 54% of faculty that responded to the survey indicated that they use Blackboard every day. These data matched the “Baseline Faculty Survey” that was administered as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan. (This survey also referenced that Blackboard was used by 95% of the faculty responding to the baseline survey.)

In addition, based on GVSU’s participation in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, this number was also reflective with 47% of GVSU respondents indicating a daily use of Blackboard.

Student Use.jpg

Over 92% of students surveyed indicate that they access Blackboard more than 5 days per week. In addition, in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, 94% of GVSU students indicated that they used Blackboard in at least 1 course with 54% responding that Blackboard was used in all of their courses.

Faculty Use How Long.jpg

80% of the faculty surveyed indicate that they have used Blackboard for more than 5 years.

Faculty Ease of Use.jpg

Faculty Features.jpg

These data also are reflected in the “Baseline Faculty Survey” as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan where: Announcements were mentioned being used at 85%, content at 82%, and the gradebook as well as email was used at 78% as the top tools used in Blackboard.

Student Features.jpg

Student More Features.jpg

The majority of students indicated a desire to be able to check grades within the Blackboard system, followed by the use of the Bb for assignments, announcements, and content.


Student New Features.jpg

Online office hours was reported by students that they would like to see more use of in their courses.



For comparison, in the university’s participation in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, 57% students reported that they “wish instructors used” Blackboard more with another 25% responding neutral.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank Professor Gabrosek and the STA 319 students for their work with our team in helping to facilitate this survey.