GVSU Online/Hybrid Faculty Celebrate National Distance Learning Week

This Fall, over 5,000 students are participating in over 300 online and hybrid courses at GVSU. This represents a one-year increase of 17% (78% growth since 2013) and 17% of students at the university are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course. Further, the university now has over 700 faculty that are certified to teach an online or hybrid class with over 220 professors completing the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery training just last year!

To celebrate the 170+ faculty that are teaching distance education courses this Fall at GVSU, the university took part in National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) with a special faculty recognition breakfast in the University Club on the downtown Pew Campus.  The breakfast provided an opportunity to come together as faculty and staff to recognize the continued growth and value of online and hybrid learning at the university.

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This event was sponsored by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team along with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center (FTLC).

During the breakfast faculty and staff shared experiences and explored new ways to design, develop and teach high quality online/hybrid courses that are focused on enhancing student success, retention, and persistence at GVSU.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies along with the FTLC would like to thank faculty at GVSU for focusing on delivering high-quality online/hybrid courses through teaching excellence!

NDLW is organized by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and serves to highlight the successes and value of distance education.



Exploring presence online…in Traverse City

Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Lilly Conference on College and University Teaching and Learning held in Traverse City, Michigan. Founded in 1981 at Miami University, the Lilly Conferences have grown into a series of five different conferences held annually across the United States. Each conference offers faculty the opportunity to discuss issues of teaching and learning in a community environment.

Grand Valley was well-represented at this year’s conference with nine different individuals showing posters, facilitating roundtables, or giving presentations. Topics ranged from community-based learning and preservice teacher education to success with group projects and surviving the experience of teaching online.

Entitled “Expertise as Teaching Presence: Online Tools for Interactive Learning Experiences”, my presentation drew upon my experiences as both an instructional designer and adjunct professor in Political Science. In our Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development workshop we introduce faculty to the idea of the “Community of Inquiry.” This model helps future hybrid and online faculty focus on what it takes to deliver high quality educational experiences.

One important ingredient is known as “instructor presence.” Research shows that learners benefit when their instructors are involved in their courses in a visible, immediate, and interactive manner. This “presence” can be found in the ways that faculty design their course, deliver content, and interact with students through feedback on assessments.

At the Lilly Conference, I sought to expand on instructor presence by discussing the instructor’s role as subject matter expert. Learners benefit dramatically when their instructors can develop learning experiences that bridge the gap between how experts and novice learners see a given field of knowledge. When faculty don’t meet their students face-to-face on a regular basis—as in an online class—it can be difficult to build those bridges. Common instructional techniques like streaming video can only help so much.

Using examples from my online course about the American Constitution, I demonstrated the use of two free and easy-to-use tools that help faculty create interactive learning experiences. Activities built using Oppia and Twine can engage learners in the type of back and forth exchange that’s easy to have in the classroom but harder to recreate online. The usefulness of such tools, though, rests on faculty identifying common misunderstandings and misperceptions within their field and delivering targeted feedback that purposefully scaffolds the learner’s knowledge and understanding over time.

Slides, links, and a bibliography from my presentation can be found at http://ipsative.com/presentations/lillytc/2017/expertise/

(Photo credit: Lilly Conferences Facebook page)

@InsideHighered – Survey Highlights Technology Adoption as Moving to Mainstream

“It appears to be moving from the early adopters to the mainstream,” said Rebecca Griffiths, a senior researcher in SRI International’s Center for Technology in Learning. “It’s not just the adjuncts who may not have a choice anymore.”

More Teachers – Teaching Online

42% of instructors are now teaching at least 1 online course according to the Inside Higher Ed‘s 2017 Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology.

In addition, “increasing experience may be among the factors driving growing confidence in online learning”, in that as faculty begin to have experience teaching at a distance, their experience helps to shape their perspectives as to what is possible and what the benefits of online learning provides students.

Online Enrollment Growth at GVSU

For the Fall 2017 semester, GVSU offered over 300 online/hybrid courses, representing a one-year increase of 17%  (from Fall 2016). Additionally, there has been a 78% increase in online enrollment since 2013. In fact, 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. Additionally, in Fall 2017 courses, 173 faculty members taught the 5,318 students enrolled (4,180 unduplicated). 

This growth of online and hybrid enrollment, along with university’s 2021 Strategic Plan objectives 3.D.2 and 3.D.3, which provide a goal of 30% of courses offered in innovative format underscores the importance of support for faculty in the design and delivery of distance education courses.  The instructional designers as part of IDeL in eLearning  provide support that includes facilitating the Foundations training, along with additional ongoing support for course design and development for all faculty teaching in these programs.

Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery at GVSU

The Foundations of Online Hybrid Course Development and Delivery training is an intensive workshop offered at least 2-times each semester (6-times/year). Foundations involves significant preparation and set-up for each session. It is offered in Blackboard as either a 2-week hybrid course (meeting in-seat twice) or a 4-week fully online course.  

There is a high response rate to join Foundations and faculty actively participate. The university has a total of 774 faculty members who are certified to teach online and hybrid courses, of which 227 most recently completed the required Foundations training this previous year.

According to the survey: “A strong majority of those who have taught online, 71 percent, say doing so has helped them develop skills and practices that have improved their teaching both online and in person.

More than seven in 10 say online teaching has enabled them to think more critically about how to engage students with content, better use multimedia content and better use the learning management system. Roughly half say they are more comfortable using active learning and project-based learning techniques and better at communicating with students outside class.”

Indeed, the experience of faculty attending Foundations often provides skills, pedagogies, and practices that can be applied to traditional classes. The IDeL team provides support to faculty in the creation of online and hybrid courses and the adoption of technologies to enhance pedagogy.

Enter OER – Open Educational Resources

A campus wide initiative led by the library and supported by eLearning and Emerging Technologies, OER is gaining momentum.

In fact, according to the survey: “More than nine in 10 faculty members and digital learning leaders say textbooks are priced too high. The vast majority of both groups also say instructors should significantly consider price when assigning course readings and should assign more open educational resources.”

And further: “Faculty respondents overwhelmingly (93 percent) said they believed that course materials were too expensive, that instructors should make price a “significant concern” when assigning course readings (82 percent), and that professors should assign more free open educational resources (90 percent).

Learn more about OER at GVSU!

Join an Online and Hybrid Faculty Learning Community

Get engaged, get plugged into everything online and hybrid!  The Faculty Teaching and Learning Center provides “Faculty Learning Communities” (FLCs) to bring faculty together to foster a 1-2 semester-long conversations on a topic of mutual interest and to encourage an application of the knowledge gained.

The eLearning team supports Online & Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities through facilitation by IDeL with the purpose of engaging faculty in a variety of innovative teaching practices and topics to enhance teaching and improve student success.

Learn more about Online and Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities at GVSU!

eLearning and Emerging Technologies – We’re Here for You!

The mission of eLearning and Emerging Technologies is to support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and to enhance student success through:

According to the article: “A majority of instructors, though, say their institutions provide adequate technical support for developing and teaching online courses.”

Further, a “solid majority, 62 percent, strongly agree (29 percent) or agree (33 percent) with the statement “I fully support the increased use of educational technologies.” Just 8 percent disagree or strongly disagree.”

In short, the eLearning team is here to support YOU as a faculty member in your use of technology to generate new possibilities in teaching and learning.

Contact us! We’re here for you!

What about you? How can we advance student success through technologies while providing flexible learning options to meet students’ needs, while ensuring quality? How can eLearning and Emerging Technologies better support YOU as a faculty member here at GVSU?


eLearning Team attends ETOM Fall Conference

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The Educational Technology Organization of Michigan Fall Conference brings together faculty, instructional designers, instructional technologists, #edtechies, and administrators from around the state, every year to collaborate and come together around advancing online and hybrid teaching and learning.

This year, GVSU eLearning staff Eric Kunnen, Vince St. Germain, and Hunter Bridwell along with professors Lissa Brunan and Kerry Mohney attended the conference. Kerry Mohney presented at the conference on the topic: “Effective Online Supplementation to Clinical Education and Health Internships”.

This year’s keynote was entitled: “Developing Social Presence in Online Classes” by Karen Swan. Karen is the Stukel Professor of Educational Research and a Research Associate in the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield. For the past 20 years, she has been teaching online, researching online learning, and writing extensively about her experiences. She received the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, National University Technology Network (NUTN) Distinguished Service Award, and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award for her work in this area. She is also an OLC Fellow and a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Some of the highlights from Karen Swan’s talk included the following:

online communication is an excellent medium for social interaction

  • Quality Matters is helpful in the “design” of the course. Whereas,  COI is social constructivist measures “during” the course.
  • Social presence is a mediating variable between teaching and cognitive presence. – “Community of Inquiry”
  • Verbal immediacy behaviors can lesson the psychological distance in online classes.
    • Use ice breakers and initial courses activities to encourage trust
    • Model the use of verbal social presence indicators
    • Encourage students to engage and share their course experiences.
  • Student learning is related to quantity and quality of postings in online discussions.
    • Use discussions as a requirement in grading
    • Use rubrics
    • Require students to respond to other students
    • Stress unique nature of discussions in student orientations
  • Learning occurs socially within communities of practice.
  • Course design can increase social presence. You need a place for students to interact.
    • Include multiple opportunities for discussion
    • Timely feedback in assignments and tests
  • Instructors develop social presence through their interactions with students in a variety of activities.
    • Assessment feedback.
    • Audio feedback.
    • Reference student activities in feedback.
    • Journals
  • The quality and quantity of instructor interactions with students is linked to student learning.
    • Announcements
    • Clear expectations
    • Provide timely and supportive feedback
    • Establish communication expectations as far as instructor response time for email, etc.
  • Instructor social presence and social presence of peers are unique.
    • Instructor social presence related to perceived learning
    • Student social presence is related to student satisfaction
  • Social presence develops over time.
    • Model use and sustain over time throughout the course
  • Students will do what you expect them to do. If you treat them like prisoners they will not perform. Trust your students. Incorporate social elements in a variety of technology mediums from synchronous to asynchronous – from email to announcements to text in a variety of methods – text, audio, photo, videos.

More notes from this session are available on Eric Kunnen’s EdTech with Eric blog.


Additional sessions offered at the conference included the following:

  • New Rules for Accessibility: What You Need to Know
    Ronda Edwards, Michigan Colleges Online and Shane Lovellette, TechSmith
  • Student Success with LMS: A Collaboration Between Faculty and Instructional Technology Support
    Heather Mayernik and Tom Bradley, Macomb Community College
  • Engaging Distance Learning Students from Day One
    Jason Kane, Schoolcraft College
  • Effective Online Supplementation to Clinical Education and Health Internships
    Kerry Mohney, GVSU 
  • Using Google Keep for Note Taking
    Jon Hoerauf, Mid Michigan Community College
  • Do Mandatory Distance Learning Orientations Work?
    Garry Brand, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Putting the Pieces Together- the Professional Development Puzzle
    Stacy Whiddon, Schoolcraft College
  • Using Peer Reviews for Greater Student Success
    Nancy McGee, Macomb Community College
  • Designing for Success: Fostering self-regulated learning skills through online course design
    Bill Knapp, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Round-table Discussion Group
    Margaret Bourcier, Mott Community College

GVSU celebrates National Distance Learning Week with Online/Hybrid Teaching Faculty


GVSU will be celebrating National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) from November 6-10, 2017 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 8!



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 – 10:00am on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 (Please stop by anytime. RSVP Required.)

WHERE: University Club – Pew Campus

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

To ensure we have enough bacon, eggs, coffee, and assorted breakfast items…


This event is sponsored by the eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team and the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

Blackboard and 7 Principles of Good Practice


How can Blackboard be leveraged to help meet Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles of Good Practice in higher education? The following blog post highlights a few tips and tools for each of the 7 principles:


1 – Encourages Student/Faculty Contact

Tips: Respond to student e-mail within 24 hours. Facilitate multiple forums of communication with students. Be available electronically and in person, and inform students of availability, office hours, etc.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Email
  • Announcements
  • Discussion Board
  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Blackboard Instant Messaging
  • Embedded Video Orientations and Welcome Messages
  • Embedded VoiceThread, Vocaroo, etc.

2 – Encourages Cooperation among Students

Tips: Use online communications tools for groups, collaborative learning, and problem solving. Create electronic opportunities for class discussion of assignments and concepts.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Discussion Board
  • Groups
  • Blackboard Instant Messaging
  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Blogs
  • Wikis
  • Journals

3 – Encourages Active Learning

Tips: Leverage live real-time collaboration. Design lessons that use universal design and active learning principles, are hands-on, and facilitate engagement.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Live Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Sessions
  • Discussion Board
  • Journals
  • Blog
  • Wikis
  • External Links
  • Gamification (Kahoot, etc.)

4 – Give Prompt Feedback

Tips: Strive for effective use of e-mail, assignments, gradebook, etc. to give students prompt, constructive and meaningful feedback. Regularly monitor classroom environment (in person and online) to ensure student concerns are addressed and quality timely feedback is provided.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Assessments
  • Assignments
  • SafeAssign
  • Gradebook
  • Discussion Board
  • Email
  • Wikis/Blogs/Journals/Portfolios

5 – Emphasizes Time on Task

Tips: Ensure appropriate amount of time to complete online content and assignments. Refer students toward available resources. Design online experiences that allow for flexibility and universal design principles.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • External Links
  • Providing Estimated Times on Activities in Content Areas & Assignments
  • Extend Classroom-based Activities Online
  • Adaptive Release
  • Due Dates/Deadlines/Availability of Content
  • Assignments

6 – Communicates High Expectations

Tips: Provide criteria for evaluating assignments/activities that are clearly articulated. Collaboratively create course expectations with students. Provide samples of excellent, average, and/or poor performance.

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • State Learning Objective at Beginning of Week or Activity in Content Areas
  • Group Work
  • Provide Examples of Student Work for Assignments
  • Wikis
  • Adaptive Release
  • Use Praise and Model in Discussion Boards to increase Participation
  • Provide Gradebook Feedback
  • Provide Discussion Board Feedback

7 – Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Tips: Leverage different methods of learning through visuals and well-organized narrative.  Establish course tasks requiring analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, with application to real-life situations. Encourage self-reflection and self-evaluation. Assess student learning styles and tailor the educational experience. Facilitate student collaboration and group problem solving. Provide opportunity for empathy for students with different levels of technology literacy using universal design principles. 

Recommended Blackboard Tools

  • Embedding Videos and Digital media
  • Creating Animations
  • Group Work
  • Discussion Board
  • Offering Choice in Assignments/Assessments

Learn more about Blackboard at: gvsu.edu/elearn/help/

Reach out to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team… we’re here to help!

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: https://www.gvsu.edu/elearn/help/blackboard-collaborate-ultra-34.htm