Online and Hybrid Learning

Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

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 instructional designers on IDeL team, as well as the support from the entire eLearning team, faculty have access to a wealth of resources including the required “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design Development” course, Faculty Learning Communities, digital media development, and more.

Visit the IDeL web site to learn more about teaching online and to connect with an instructional designer.

Students at the university 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.

Here are a few stats about online learning at GVSU:

  • 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.

Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

If you are new to online learning, we recommend the following course development timeline.

Best practice for developing an online or hybrid course is to allow at least 6 months from start to finish. Although even more time is better, especially if you want to be able to add learning objects or other media that you will create, we also recognize how difficult it is to carve out that much time. Therefore, IDeL recommends a minimum of one full semester for course design. IDeL recommends the same, one full semester of course prep if you are teaching an online course that someone else developed.

For an online / hybrid course offered Spring/Summer, faculty should take Foundations in the previous Fall semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Spring/Summer 2019; take Foundations no later than Fall 2018

For an online / hybrid course offered Fall semester, faculty should take Foundations the previous Winter semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Fall 2019 take Foundations no later than Winter 2019

Course Development Sequence

To teach a hybrid or online course at Grand Valley, faculty must complete a two-part certification process. In part one, faculty demonstrate that they can successfully use the Blackboard learning management system. In part two (the Foundations workshop), faculty learn eLearning pedagogy and learn strategies for delivering courses online.

2018-19 Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development Offerings


Ready to Start YOUR Online Teaching Journey?

Register for Foundations of Online & Hybrid Course Development in Sprout.

Here is a list of upcoming sessions:

Early Fall – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 9/21/18
9/28/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
10/5/18 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
10/12/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Mid Fall – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 10/17/18
Week One 10/22/18
Week Two 10/29/18
Week Three 11/5/18
Week Four 11/12/18

Early Winter – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 1/16/19
Week One 1/21/19
Week Two 1/28/19
Week Three 2/4/2019
Week Four 2/11/2019

Late Winter – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 3/8/19
3/15/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
3/22/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
3/29/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Spring – Hybrid (3 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 5/1/19
5/6/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)
5/13/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 9am – 12pm EC513
5/20/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)

Visit the IDeL Foundations web page for more information about Foundations and Blackboard Competencies.


Faculty Panel highlights best practices in Teaching Online and Hybrid Classes @GVSU

IMG_8634Moderated by instructional designer, Kim Kenward, a panel of online and hybrid faculty talk about best practices in teaching at GVSU. Panelists (pictured from left to right) include: Jeffrey Rothstein, Lissa Brunan, Raymond Higbea, Maureen Wolverton, and Kerry Mohney.

Question 1:   What are three things you wish you had known before you began teaching online or in hybrid format? What do you wish you could change about your online or hybrid teaching, and why?

  • Jeffrey Rothstein – Seek out support from eLearning! 20% of students seem to enroll online because they think it may be easier? Many drop and many simply stop doing anything. Now he includes a video with course expectations in first week. Students can be ‘scared’ at their faculty. If the students don’t know you, haven’t heard you joking around, or don’t really ‘see’ you, they may take your assignment feedback incorrectly or not fully engage in the course. One strategy is to include more personal video content to connect with your students. You need to humanize your course! Students can carry on discussions that are complex by themselves. Teaching online has transformed my teaching and I would lean more toward flipped classroom experiences in my face to face classes.
  • Kerry Mohney – Be a little cautious about too many resources to include in your course. While it’s easy to link students to resources don’t “muck up your course” and keep it clear and easy to navigate.
  • Raymond Higbea – Don’t me too enamored by the tool, but focus on the “end” and begin with the end in mind. What are the students going to need to learn.
  • Lissa Brunan – The eLearning team is here and is amazing, they have great events too that you can attend to learn from other colleagues. Attend them! Expand your resources.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Building your support network is helpful. Reach out to those that can help you. I believe being an online instructor is a better approach vs dipping in as a hybrid. Also, it’s important to prepare and build as much course as possible at the beginning.

Question 2:  Best practice indicates that the instructor’s presence and participation create a more lively class — one that greatly increases student engagement and completion of the course. What are some techniques, tools and/or advice you can share with our audience on how you create instructor presence in your hybrid/online courses.

  • Lissa Brunan – Humanize your course to start with, such as “Flipgrid“. This makes it really easy and you can also model your video responses. I know my students more through these videos, it puts a “face” on the students because of the heavy nature of text. I really like Remind, a text based system to announce to students what is coming up this week. Remind was a good way to “remind” students and keep them notified. A much quicker way to share information and allow student to connect with the instructor.
  • Jeffrey Rothstein – I’m starting to use Monday morning videos to review last week and introduce the upcoming week. Rubrics are also helpful and attaching audio files into my grading has increase my instructor presence. I am also cutting down the email and setting up Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for 1 to 1 virtual office hours.
  • Kerry Mohney – Collaborate was also helpful for midterm reviews. For classes that use textbook content in their course, it is valuable for students to know where to look for feedback. External content resources can create confusion for where the feedback is available.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Important for students to receive meaningful feedback. Clear, timely, and positive feedback goes a long way. I also share student handouts as reminders for where to find feedback.

Question 3:  Building community among students is equally important to the success of a hybrid/online course.  What suggestions do you have for building community with your online students?

  • Raymond Higbea – Team-based learning helps students build a community of learning as each student has a role to play. They receive participation score. An online quiz is used for the facts and discussion is used for exploring topics which allows the students to connect with each other. Some groups in fact, created a team name and bought matching t-shirts! I usually create random groups, but I do try to mix up the genders and also a mix of student experience/expertise.
  • Lissa Brunan – Start with a social contract. What are the expectations of behaviors. Mentimeter is used to create a list of 10 key words collectively. A poster is made and the students “signed” it to set the stage of what is expected. Google docs is used for ease of collaborating and having discussions on documents and spreadsheets. Students are expected to comment on each other’s posts. Google Sites is also used to easily build a website and they can keep this after the class. Groups can create a site together.
  • Kerry Mohney – Students in my program are cohort based and because of this the students have a “family” for 2 years!
  • Maureen Wolverton – Students have concerns about schedules, so when forming groups I pay attention to who is submitting their assignments first and group these students together as they tend to have similar work schedules.

Question 4:  Workload and time management issues are extremely important factors for both the instructor and the student.  What suggestions and tips can you share in regards to workload and time management while developing and teaching an online/hybrid course?

  • Maureen Wolverton – Communicating on the front end is important and also setting healthy boundaries for you and the students. Let students know your availability and be responsive to students as they may have a question that stops them in their tracks before they can complete an assignment. Have your students complete the online readiness quiz and have them share their results with you. Ask the students how they are using time management to overcome challenges with learning online. Mid-semester checkins too are helpful.
  • Raymond Higbea – Share an estimated time for completing assignments, this helps students manage their workload. Quizzes are used for readings, pre-class, so that material is mastered before content discussion.
  • Lissa Brunan – Communication can be like a “husband and wife” 🙂 so using Flipgrid, existing students created tips for other incoming students. This helps for “peers” to inform students of what the expectations are, it’s not just the instructor telling you to do it. Students have found a lot of benefit by listening to suggestions from other students.
  • Kerry Mohney – It is helpful for students to know their instructor is there. Take the time during the day to respond to students.
  • Jeffrey Rothstein – One tip is to schedule the assignments and due dates so that students are online working when the professor is available. For example, I shifted due dates from Sunday to Friday, so that students would be working during the week and not so much on the weekend, because I am not available as much on weekends. Be responsive to your email and answer students questions as promptly as you can. If your assignments are due on the weekend, that’s when they will need help. Vocaroo is a helpful tool that can give voice feedback and also with Panopto you can pull up visuals for feedback for students. Panopto can give you information about who is watching and how long they are viewing the video. I have emailed students too if I noticed they were not watching the video. Prep time for online courses takes more initial work (compared to traditional courses) but what is beneficial as it allows me to spend more time with responding to students.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Be as crystal clear as possible with course notifications, when thing are due, and assignment instructions!

Question 5:  What are some common technical issues or concerns your online/hybrid students have struggled with?  How do you handle those technical issues?

  • Kerry Mohney – It is important for students to know how to get technical help. Suggest to students what browsers are used, especially if there is external content from textbook publishers. Check over your gradebook to be sure your grading columns are correct and the total is correct or students will have a lot of questions. Make sure students know where to find their assignment feedback. Medical imaging can take up a lot of space, so you may need to adjust file sizes as needed. Another tip, maybe not technical, is to ensure your navigation is clear for students. Be sure to check your links to resources also.
  • Raymond Higbea – Clearing browser cache can help resolve a large number of problems. Blackboard Collaborate Ultra worked well with students overseas but a student from India had a problem connecting, as it depends on the students’ connection. A strong signal and a good microphone are key.
  • Maureen Wolverton – Suggest to have students learn about where to get help and make sure the students are using the “correct” browsers.
  • Lissa Brunan – Instructions are key. Suggest to use video when possible instead of typing everything out for instructions instead. It helps speed them along and helps them to visualization. Recommend with videos, don’t put dates in there or other things that may change… so you can reuse it!!! For students that turn it an assignments early, I will check on the assignment and allow them to resubmit it. For students to know you are on their side is super helpful in helping to contribute to student success.

Question 6:  What questions does the audience have for our panelists?

  • On student lectures, do you record them live? Panel responds with pre-recorded. Most “lecture” videos are not longer than 12 minutes and there are other resources that go into direct instruction. A good strategy is to: read, watch, and discuss to synthesize ideas. Good discussion board prompts are important for building a good conversations and to build community.
  • Suggestion for office hours. These are super important for students. These are when great communications can occur. Consider making it an obligation for students to meet online. Use Blackboard Collaborate Utlra for joining with students online. Strategically use virtual office hours, and remind students, as an option for those times when students are busy working on projects or there is an expectation of need.
  • Feedback? How can this be done with electronic assignments? Vocaroo and Panopto provide audio and video feedback, it helps with building instructor presence also. “Feedback banks” are helpful too for providing common feedback for students and then personalize it. Rubrics are also important so that students know what is expected on the assignments.


‘Spring Fling Seminars’ Encourage Innovative Ideas for Teaching

Join us for FREE learning and FREE lunch this May!
The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team has prepared 26 sessions focused on innovative technologies that can be leveraged in teaching to support student success and retention.



Join us and your colleagues to reimagine education through the application of #edtech in teaching and learning!

Spring Fling Seminar Calendar

Join an Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Community

cqqdn0eu8aeermsWelcome back and Happy New Year!

If you are teaching an online or hybrid course this semester we would like to extend a personal invitation for you to considering joining our GVSU Online & Hybrid Teaching Faculty Learning Community.

The initial group began meeting in January 2015 and we now have three learning communities (one per campus) located at the Allendale, CHS or Pew campuses where we meet once a month for 90 minutes 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, these learning communities provide a venue for faculty-led dialogue and to share collective expertise regarding online/hybrid instruction at GVSU.   During the winter semester we will be meeting at the following dates/locations:  

  • Wednesday(s) meeting at CHS
    1pm – 2:30pm 1/17 (CHS127), 2/14 (CHS209), 3/14 (CHS209), 4/18 (CHS209)
  • Thursday(s) Meeting on the Pew Campus
    9:30am – 11am  1/18, 2/15, 3/15, 4/19 (302E DEV)
  • Friday(s) Meeting in Allendale
    11:30am – 1pm 1/19, 2/16, 3/16, 4/20 (KHZ4402)

We will use our first meeting to introduce members, share technology updates, review discussion topics and assign various faculty to act as lead facilitators for subsequent meetings.  In addition to monthly meetings, a Blackboard organization has been set up to provide access to new resources/meeting agendas and minutes related to online & hybrid teaching.  If you’d like me to add you to this Bb organization so that you can be part of our email distributions (even if your schedule doesn’t allow for meeting attendance) we are happy to add you. 

Please contact Kim Kenward if you are interested in joining our Online/Hybrid Teaching Faculty Learning Community and best wishes with your winter semester preparations!

Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer
Grand Valley State University

kenwardk_150tThis eLearning post comes to you from Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer in IDeL. Kim holds a Masters in Information and Library Studies from the University of Michigan, and joined GVSU in 2000 as an instructional designer. In addition to her instructional designer duties, she is also responsible for facilitating university-wide and department specific faculty development workshops and coordinates the Online & Hybrid Teaching Faculty Learning Communities.  

The Potential of Global Learning @GVSU

Online learning continues to expand at Grand Valley State University with over 170 instructors teaching in 174 different online/hybrid courses with a student enrollment of 4881 (3,870 headcount) in the Winter 2018 semester. This represents a +25.8% enrollment growth since last year. Additionally, roughly 17% of our students are taking at least 1 online/hybrid course.

To assist in preparing students, GVSU provides an “Are you Ready for Online Learning?” assessment for students interested in enrolling in online courses.

The survey offers an opportunity for potential or existing students to review their: 1) time management skills, 2) independent learning skills, 3) learning environment, 4) technology skills, and 5) computer requirements as to a variety of factors that can contribute to success in distance learning.

At the end of the survey, students are also asked to enter their current living location and zip code. The following maps indicate responses by students with an interest in online learning at GVSU.  Through online courses, the university has great potential to extend learning globally.


Top 7 Posts from 2017

At GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is here to support faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning. Our team is dedicated to supporting faculty, contributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through:

  • exemplary instructional design
  • effective application and integration of instructional technologies
  • interactive digital media development
  • administration and enhancement of the university’s enterprise learning management system (Blackboard)
  • deployment of innovative emerging technologies


Reflecting back on 2017, we would like to recognize and celebrate the work of faculty at GVSU in their work to advance education through the application of technology in teaching.

Here are the top 7 most viewed posts from the eLearning blog from this year:

1 – GVSU Blackboard Photo Roster Enhances Personalized Instruction

2 – Virtual Office Hours for Student Success with Blackboard Collaborate and Bb IM

3 – 7 Things You Didn’t Know that Blackboard Can Do!

4 – GVSU Professors receive Blackboard Catalyst Awards

5 – Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights

6 – Applying the Blackboard LMS to TPACK

7 – Help Students be Successful with these Gradebook Tips for Blackboard

TIPS for Teaching Online via LIFT

GVSU has adopted a student evaluation instrument from IA Systems to collect feedback about courses and instructors. This initiative is called: “Laker Impressions of Faculty Teaching (LIFT)”.

In short, LIFT is GVSU’s university-wide system for collecting student feedback about courses and instructors.  All course sections (with limited exceptions) use the online LIFT surveys to collect student feedback.

LIFT is administered by the Office Of Institutional Analysis, under the oversight of the LIFT Advisory Committee.

Courses delivered via distance education, such as GVSU’s online and hybrid classes use a special LIFT GVSU Distance Education form.


The questions that connect most directly to teaching online are compiled below, within a category of pedagogical focus:

Instructor Presence

  • LIFT QUESTION:  The instructor’s contribution to the course was:
  • LIFT QUESTION:  The instructor’s effectiveness in teaching the subject matter was:
  • LIFT QUESTION:  Student confidence in instructor’s knowledge was:
  • LIFT QUESTION:  Online interactions to accomplish learning outcomes were:

TEACHING ONLINE TIPS: Be present and engaged in your online or hybrid class. If students do not see announcements, posts in discussions, or emails, it may feel to them that there isn’t an instructor teaching the class.

Discussion threads are a popular component of Blackboard courses, but an online conversation is just one of many ways you can help students demonstrate knowledge or practice skills.

Think beyond the discussion forum: given your course content, how might you build in multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge or mastery of a skill across a variety of activities? How will you reinforce skills or knowledge learned in one portion of the course in a future activity? What short assignments might you ask students to engage in and post for quick feedback?

Here are more tips from currently faculty teaching online, on the topic of Building Community:

Faculty Feedback

  • LIFT QUESTION:  Timeliness of instructor responses was:
  • LIFT QUESTION:  Quality/helpfulness of instructor feedback was:

TEACHING ONLINE TIPS: Students need (and want!) to know how they’re doing throughout the semester, so your timely feedback on assignments, discussions, and course activities is essential. And each time you provide feedback to students, you make your presence known–key to making students feel connected to your course and supported in their work.

As you craft assignments, consider the frequency of and methods by which you’ll provide feedback to students’ work. Try audio recording feedback to students’ writing, or giving formative, brief feedback more frequently during an assignment to encourage students’ reflection and learning.

Establish a goal of responding to students’ inquiries or activities on Blackboard within 24 hours Monday – Friday, or on Mondays for activities students may complete over the weekend.

Maximize student retention by proactively contacting inactive students, students with missing deadlines, or poor performance. The Blackboard Grade Center shows the date of last course access for students. The Retention Center,  Performance Dashboard and Item Statistics provide faculty with information about student activity as well as the ability to monitor students at-risk. Use these tools to determine whether any students in your class are falling behind or neglecting to check Blackboard regularly. Intervene early on, so they get back on track quickly.

Here are a few more tips for providing student feedback from Rosemary Cleveland:

Course Navigation/Menu

  • LIFT QUESTION: The organization and ease of navigation of the course website was:

TEACHING ONLINE TIPS: Review your course from the viewpoint of a student. Is information clearly labeled by its function and easy to find? In addition to using consistent formatting and terminology, consider adding features such as Blackboard assignment due dates, guideposts, assignment checklists, multiple representations of essential information (reading assignments listed in the syllabus as well as in a course calendar), and introductory text or audio overviews with each folder/module.

Will it be crystal clear to students when assignments are due? Which readings are required or optional? How much time should students expect to spend on a quiz or project? Ensuring this information is easy to find and clearly stated will go a long way toward helping students stay on track.

In short, pay close attention to the overall navigation of your course. For example, if your menu is too long this can be confusing for students. The goal is to keep your menu short and simple with a focus on getting students where they need to be to access your weekly content, learning activities, and assessments.

Technology Preparation/Orientation

  • LIFT QUESTION: Instructor’s use of technology to support learning outcomes was:
  • LIFT QUESTION: Clarity of student responsibilities and requirements was:

TEACHING ONLINE TIPS: Be sure to welcome your students and orient them to your course. You can do this via email, announcements, or a brief video. Flipgrid can be an effective tool to use as an icebreaker for students to get to know one another and to feel like part of a learning community.

To help students assess their preparation on the online/hybrid learning experience, you may wish to assign your students the online self-assessment. In an easy-to-find location, provide students direct links to resources such as the Blackboard student support, GVSU IT HelpDesk, and other relevant student support services.