Online and Hybrid Learning

The Changing Landscape of Online Education Report meets eLearning at GVSU


Quality Matters and Eduventures has recently released a report with a variety of perspectives on the changing Thelandscape of online education.

The following charts are from “The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)” report and connections to GVSU are highlighted in each section.

See also:

  • “eLearning Team Supports Online Learning Growth at GVSU” – In the Fall 2018 semester, student enrollment in online/hybrid courses has risen to 5,318 which represents a +15% growth, as overall enrollments fell by -1.5%.  17% of all students at GVSU are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

The LMS is King

In the following chart, the top 5 technologies have risen to the top as the most important to online learning.

#1 – Learning management system
Blackboard is the university’s enterprise LMS at GVSU.

#2 – Anti-plagiarism
SafeAssign is available in Blackboard at GVSU to assist faculty with plagiarism checking of student assignments.

#3 – Audio/video conferencing
Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is GVSU’s enterprise instructional video conferencing system, available to all faculty and students.

#4 – Lecture/video capture and management
Panopto is GVSU’s enterprise video management solution.

#5 – Online assessment and proctoring
Tools like Respondus LockDown Browser and Respondus Monitor are increasing in use in higher ed.


Learning Analytics is the Next Big Bet

In the following chart, the top 5 emerging technologies have risen to the top as the most important to online learning.

#1 – Adaptive learning
Technologies such as SmartSparrow and Realizeit provide unique learning experiences that are individual and personalized.

#2 – Learning analytics
A growing field of connecting “big data” to actionable efforts, tools like Blackboard Predict bring intelligence to identifying and intervening with students “at risk”.

#3 – Student support dashboards
Focusing on the needs of online learners is key to supporting their retention and success.

#4 – Simulations/game-based
Providing game-based learning experiences and simulations enable active learning in distance education courses.

#5 – Virtual/augmented reality
New immersive technologies such as virtual and augmented reality provide opportunities to engage with content. The Atomic Object Technology Showcase at GVSU allows faculty and students to explore innovative technologies such as AR, VR, 3D printing, and more!


Asynchronous Discussions Today; Simulations Tomorrow

In the following chart, the top 5 pedagogical techniques are highlighted.

#1 – Asynchronous discussions
#2 – Group projects/activities
#3 – Problem-based learning
#4 – Quizzes
#5 – Research projects

At GVSU, the use of open educational resources (OER) is growing.  In fact, there has been an estimated savings of $480,000+ from the adoption of OpenStax textbooks.  Badging and micro-credentials continues to be offered to faculty for professional development, along with a growing use of badges for credit and non-credit.


Online Learning is Growing

  • Fully online undergraduate students as a percent of total enrollment = 12.5%
  • Fully online graduate students as a percent of total enrollment = 27.5%


Instructional Designers Help Build Better Courses

At GVSU, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team of instructional designers make up the IDeL group. Their mission is to “to develop confident and competent faculty, prepared to teach in blended and fully online learning environments, who are able to integrate technology in a way that is learner-centered and pedagogically sound.”

Based on the CHLOE report, instructional designers encourage faculty to include more:

  • student-to-student interaction in the course design
  • consistent use of online tools



Learn more about “The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE)


A Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology via Inside Higher Ed meets eLearning at GVSU

Inside Higher Ed recently released a report based on a survey of faculty attitudes on technology.


Here are a few noteworthy highlights:

  • 75% of faculty support increased use of educational technologies
  • More than two-thirds (70%) support increased use of open  educational resources (OER).
  • 25% of professors said they had worked with an instructional designer on online or blended course, and 45% said they had received professional development about course design
  • Instructors who had taught online were likelier than their peers (44% versus 9%) to say they had worked with a designer.
    • The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at GVSU provides faculty with instructional design through the IDeL team.
  • Challenges to online effectiveness include: concerns for “at risk” students learning online, maintaining academic integrity, and engaging students in rigor.

…professors who have taught online view online more favorably

  • 44% of college faculty members having taught at least 1 online course
    • At GVSU, 288 faculty are teaching online or hybrid courses per year.


  • 75% of instructors who’ve taught online said doing so helped “develop pedagogical skills and practices that have improved” their teaching:
    • Think more critically about ways to engage students with content (68%)
    • Make better use of multimedia content such as video and audio (65%)
    • Use LMS better (61%)
    • Experiment more and make changes to try to improve their students’ learning  experiences (60%)
  • Accessibility
    • 2 of 3 professors say their institution offers training in making course materials compliant with ADA


Learn more about the Inside Higher Ed “A Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology

eLearning Team Supports Online Learning Growth at GVSU

Online and hybrid learning is growing rapidly at GVSU – and the eLearning team is here to support and equip faculty with instructional design, instructional technology, and digital media development assistance.

See also:

  • “Online Education Ascends” – Number and proportion of college and university students taking classes online grew +6.4% in 2017, as overall enrollments fell by -.4%. A third of all students now take at least one online course. 

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team provides support to faculty at GVSU. Pictured left to right: Vince St. Germain, Matt Roberts, Justin Melick, Colleen Cameron, Sherry Barricklow, Kim Kenward, Katie Clark, Glenna Decker, and Eric Kunnen. (Not pictured: Hunter Bridwell)

As part of the Information Technology Department, eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate the support of faculty teaching hybrid and online classes as well as to assist faculty in delivering innovative classroom based instruction.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is dedicated to supporting facultycontributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through:


A Growing Demand in Online Learning

In the Fall 2018 semester, student enrollment in online/hybrid courses has risen to 5,318 which represents a 15% growth since Fall 2017.  Looking back to the Fall 2017 semester, GVSU offered over 300 online/hybrid courses, (177 unduplicated), representing a one-year increase of 17%  (from Fall 2016), and significantly, a 78% increase in online enrollment since 2013. In fact, as of the Fall 2018 semester, 17% of all students at GVSU are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course, with 12% of all classes now being offered via distance education.

17% of all students at GVSU (5,318 enrollments) are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

Additionally, in the summer 2018 semester, online/hybrid courses contributed to a 4% growth in overall enrollment, with 42% of all enrollment offered as distance education. During the summer, there were nearly 4,000 students in total enrollment, which represented a 10% increase in online/hybrid enrollment since the summer 2017 semester.

High Touch and High Tech

On Friday, August 24, 2018, GVSU President Haas provided the campus with an inspiring lecture for the opening semester faculty/staff address. Focusing on the topics of stewardship, leadership, and innovation, the address also highlighted flexible learning options that meet students’ needs, including online learning while also mentioning the importance of high touch practices through high tech methods.

“We must be responsible to the changing needs of our students… on how we deliver education. Online learning and that becomes more vital to our students… we will not lose our high touch practices as we smartly utilize high tech methods.” – President Haas

GVSU 2021 Strategic Connection

Distance education is connected to the following GVSU strategies with special focus on Objectives 3.D.2 and 3.D.3:

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

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. Baseline: 89% of faculty indicated either daily or weekly use of Blackboard in their teaching according to a GVSU faculty survey conducted winter 2016.

Objective 1.D.3: At least 60% of faculty members use state-of-the art instructional methods in their teaching. Baseline: 47% of faculty members use state-of-the-art instructional methods in their teaching according to a GVSU faculty survey conducted winter 2016. Additional Information Source: Education Center for Analysis and Research preliminary data is being collected for 2014-15, available June 2015.


  • The eLearning team provides support for innovative teaching methods, including the advancement and use of Blackboard.


Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Institutional outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 2.E.1: At least 75% of faculty and 75% of staff participate in professional development to expand, enhance or extend their competencies and capabilities within the context of the responsibilities of their positions. Baseline for faculty will be determined via Digital Measures in summer 2015. Baseline for Fall 2014 for staff is 50-55%.


  • The eLearning Team provides the facilitation and training of faculty through a variety of seminars, including the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery course.


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%.


  • Key to the advancement of online and hybrid courses, instructional designers in eLearning provide the point of contact for faculty in their work to design distance education courses as well as to facilitate a quality learning experience for students.


The eLearning Team is Here to Help!

If you are new to online learning or a seasoned veteran, the eLearning team is here to help! We provide consultations, faculty learning communities, coaching, and guidance to faculty. Please reach out and connect with us today!


2018 Students’ Use of Technology Research Study via EDUCAUSE

Each year, EDUCAUSE conducts research on students and their use of technology through the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR). GVSU has participated in this survey in the past. (See this post from 2015: ECAR Study of Students and Technology at GVSU)

This year, the ECAR study included 130 institutions and responses were collected from nearly 65,000 students. The goal of this study is to monitor trends and to determine technology usage patterns among students.

Here are few highlights:

1 – More than 75% of Students indicate that an LMS (Blackboard) was used for Most or All of their Courses

“LMS use remains prevalent across higher education institutions, with continued high rates of use and student satisfaction. Three-quarters of all students reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their institution’s LMS, and more than three-quarters of students reported their LMS was used for most or all of their courses. This likely reflects satisfaction primarily with the functional aspects of their institution’s LMS.

Consistent and widespread use of the LMS and ensured access to it in public institutions can benefit students. Even the basic functions of the LMS, such as posting grades, have been found to contribute to a student’s academic performance; access to grades allows for real-time monitoring of their course progress and the ability to make mid-course adjustments as needed. And the convenience of the LMS offers off-campus students much needed flexibility in contacting instructors and classmates, accessing course content, or taking quizzes.” 1

GVSU uses Blackboard to support the delivery of content, provide live communication capabilities, and enable grading feedback in teaching and learning.

2 – Laptops are the most important Device for Students


“Continue providing students with access to the basic technologies
that are most important to their academic success. The maintenance of
desktop computer labs, laptop and tablet rental programs, and negotiated
discounts for personal academic devices enable nearly all students to have
access to the technologies they need to succeed. Avoid the creation of a new
digital divide by making bleeding-edge technologies such as AR and VR
headsets and 3D printers and scanners equally and publicly available to all
students in venues such as makerspaces and libraries.” 1

GVSU provides unique bleeding-edge technologies in the Atomic Object Technology Showcase.

3 – Accessibility remains a Concern


“Overall, our data suggest that IT accessibility is an issue for many college students with both physical and learning disabilities. According to these students, institutions have a lot of room for improvement. Awareness may be especially challenging for the largest public DR institutions given the sheer number of students they serve, but resources to accommodate may be an issue.

To increase institutional awareness and provide better support to students with
disabilities, we recommend the following:

  • Be a collaborative partner in testing and implementing assistive/accessible technologies and the principles of universal design for learning.
  • Provide professional development to IT staff via accessibility workshops,conferences, and training; develop campus IT accessibility policies related to the development, procurement, and implementation of products.
  • Encourage the cultivation of an “accessible mind-set” across all campus stakeholders to better understand the needs of students with disabilities.
  • Offer training for faculty on implementing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and other universal/inclusive instructional practices.
  • Educate faculty on the inequitable impacts and potential legal implications that bans on in-class use of personal devices can have on students with disabilities.
  • And stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Stop banning laptops.” 1

GVSU supports the use of Blackboard Ally (and Panopto for video captions) to provide accessibility awareness and to establish a pathway to inclusion.

4 – 62% of Students Favor Online and Hybrid Courses over Face to Face


“Expand student awareness of the benefits, expectations, and demands of
blended learning environments. Students should receive consistent and
clear information from multiple campus sources so that they can make
well-informed decisions about the learning environments that are best
suited to their own learning and lives. Expose students to blended learning
early in their college careers and provide faculty who lack blended learning
experience with professional development and opportunities to teach in
these environments.” 1

GVSU offers instructional design support and assistance to faculty through IDeL (Instructional Design for eLearning).

5 – 67% of Students indicate that their Instructors use Technology to Enhance Learning, Engage Students, and Encourage use of Online Collaboration


“Eliminate classroom bans of student devices important to their success. Although devices that can connect to the internet have the potential to distract students during class, many students—especially women, students of color, students with disabilities, first-generation students, students who are independent (with or without dependents of their own), and students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds—find these devices significantly more important to their academic success than do their counterparts. Classroom device bans have the potential to indiscriminately undermine students who may disproportionately rely on them, creating unnecessary (and possibly illegal) obstacles for those who may need them the most.” 1

GVSU offers support for the use of a wide array of instructional technologies such as (Blackboard, Panopto, Lightboards, etc.) through the eLearning team.

Access the full report, view an infographic, and learn more about the 2018 Students and Technology Research Study on the EDUCAUSE website.

[1] Galanek, Joseph D., Dana C. Gierdowski, and D. Christopher Brooks. ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2018.  Research report. Louisville, CO: ECAR, October 2018. Retrieved from:

Advancing Teaching and Learning in Traverse City

Thanks to a run of good luck with presentation proposals, I’ve had the privilege of attending the Traverse City Lilly Conference for several years now. Even though this time the winds blew harder and the first snowflakes of the season were in the air, Traverse City in October remains a great time to reflect on the art and science of teaching.

My presentation this year was titled “Alone at the Table Together: Hospitality, Community, and Online Education.” In this talk I tried to bring together some very different things. One part of the conversation was about the design choices we make in building online classes as well as the “big picture” pedagogical choices we make about designing our classes themselves. The other part of the conversation was about how we conceptualize what education and teaching really mean. I presented a way to think about teaching that focuses on the idea of hospitality and welcoming students into a shared exploration of the world. From this perspective, many decisions about how to design online courses actually end up communicating that students aren’t really welcome in our virtual educational spaces.

Several of the other sessions I attended focused on helping prepare faculty to do a better job teaching online. Staff from Wayne State University’s Office for Teaching and Learning led a session in which participants discussed how their institutions train faculty to teach hybrid and online classes. Before the session ended, the presenters gathered contact information to help continue the conversation beyond the conference. In a similar session, an instructional designer from Central Michigan University talked about the services his university offers to faculty through a cohort-based model of training faculty.

Founded in 1981 at Miami University, the Lilly Conferences have grown into a series of seven different conferences and events held annually across the world. Each conference offers faculty the opportunity to discuss issues of teaching and learning in a community environment. For more information, please see

Glenna Decker and Eric Kunnen deliver webinar for the @Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS)

On Wednesday, October 10, Glenna Decker, instructional designer, and Eric Kunnen, associate director of elearning, delivered a webinar for the Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS).

Their session title was “Improving Student Engagement and Retention through the Community of Inquiry”. Over 700 attendees registered for the webinar. The session provided attendees with an overview of the importance of student engagement and retention in higher education, an introduction to the Community of Inquiry model, and a variety of tips, application, and suggestions for integrating CoI principles into courses in Blackboard.

Student engagement and retention continues to be central as a success measure in higher education. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework provides an opportunity to focus on learning as a result of interaction of social, cognitive, and teaching presence. Through purposeful instructional design, the students’ educational experience can lead to higher satisfaction and better learning through active engagement and the application of CoI.


A selfie before the start the BITS webinar with Glenna Decker, instructional designer (left), and Eric Kunnen, associate director (right), from eLearning and Emerging Technologies.

Webinar SessionBITSCOIwebinar

Webinar Slides

Webinar Resources

Community of Inquiry TIP Sheets on IDeL Website

e-learn Article

About Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS)

The Blackboard Innovative Teaching Series (BITS) is comprised of bi-monthly professional development webinars for faculty, instructional technologists, course designers, and faculty trainers. Participants learn the top strategies and pedagogy for both increasing educator efficiency and improving learning outcomes during these free webinars that are taught by educators and supported by Blackboard experts.

2018 Fall Webinar Schedule

For more information about each session, to register, and to view recordings of sessions on demand, please visit the BITS registration page.


Online/Hybrid Faculty at GVSU to Celebrate National Distance Learning Week with Breakfast


To celebrate National Distance Learning Week and to recognize faculty at Grand Valley State University, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team, along with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and GVSU University Libraries, organized a breakfast on Wednesday, November 7.

We know how much work it takes to develop and teach quality online/hybrid courses, and in honor of this work, a breakfast was held for celebration, some time for reflection and connection with others, and thinking about the future!

  • WHAT National Distance Learning Week / Faculty Appreciation Breakfast
  • WHEN – 8:30 am until 10:00 am on Wednesday, November 7, 2018
  • WHERE – University Club / Pew Campus
  • WHY – For an informal meet, greet, and eat to appreciate YOU, our online and hybrid teaching faculty.

Thank you to the 40+ faculty who attended the breakfast. Here are a few photos from the event!


GVSU provides flexible learning options to meet students’ needs through online and hybrid courses. Distance education is expanding at the University, with enrollment increasing by 15% since last Fall, with over 5,300 students. 17% of students are now enrolled in at least 1 online or hybrid course. Students enrolled in distance education at GVSU are mostly located in Michigan, with students also residing in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah and other areas around the world!

See also: