Supporting Student Success and Retention via eLearning at GVSU

commencement_fall2017-1943Student success is a strategic area of focus at GVSU. With the rising costs of higher education, and the value of employability after graduation, student retention plays a key role in our vision and mission. eLearning and Emerging Technologies supports student success through a variety of technologies and faculty support.

Blackboard Supports Student Retention

For faculty there are many opportunities to leverage Blackboard to help support student success. Here are some capabilities:

  • Gradebook and Assignment Tools – Provides faculty with the ability to post grades and timely assessment/assignment/journal feedback. Interactive rubrics provide students with assignment grading criteria.
  • Student Photo Roster – Faculty can more effectively and efficiently learn students’ names and personalize instruction.
  • Retention Center and Performance Dashboard – Enables faculty to monitor frequency of logins of students, participation in discussions, and grades. This includes last login/date access to the course.
  • Blackboard Collaborate Ultra – Real-time and live office hours for students unable to attend class or office hours. Helps build rapport and increases communication and instructor-student engagement.
  • Surveys – Used by faculty to gather information about the students’ experience in the course such as a mid-term “how is this course going” survey.
  • Announcements, Emails, and Discussion Board – Used to create an online learning community and open up communication.
  • Content – Benefits to students to provide easy access to course materials, even potentially before the class begins. Provides access to link students to open educational resources (OER) and no-cost or low cost resources.
  • Panopto – Ability to record and post lectures or instructional content and easily embed digital media into Blackboard.
  • Blackboard Ally – Helps faculty ensure accessibility of course materials while also supporting universal design for learning (UDL).

eLearning and Emerging Technologies Supports Student Retention

  • Consultations, Seminars and Drop-Ins – The eLearning team provides opportunities to work with faculty to build up their skills in best using technology effectively and efficiently. Including pedagogical support for flipped classroom design and other instructional models.
  • Foundations of Online/Hybrid Course Development – Providing support and training to faculty about how to best design and deliver an online/hybrid course.
  • FTLC Faculty Learning Communities – eLearning instructional designers help facilitate 3 faculty learning communities on topics such as student engagement, quality online courses, and more.
  • Blackboard Support –  Support is offered to faculty in collaboration with the IT HelpDesk.
  • Embedded Librarians – All liaison librarians have been certified through the Foundations course and they have been enrolled in over 200 Blackboard courses providing direct student support.
  • Digital Studio – Providing faculty with engaging multimedia and digital resources such as the Lightboard, and tools such as Panopto.
  • Technology Showcase – Enables faculty to evaluate emerging technologies that can be leveraged to transform teaching and learning.
  • GA’s – Graduate Assistants work to support faculty and students the team in responding to 1,800 faculty technical support needs related to Blackboard and other technologies.
  • Web Resources – eLearning offers a series of support pages to provide information to faculty regarding how best to leverage educational technologies.
  • Student Support – In addition to the IT HelpDesk, our GA’s and eLearning team provides tech support to students.  This includes some class visitations and student orientations.

New Initiatives Supporting Student Retention

  • OER – Open Education Resources Initiative is working to provide options for student textbook affordability.  OpenStax has been adopted by CHM115 and 116 saving nearly $150,000 for students in textbook fees.
  • Attendance and Learning Analytics – Research and evaluation of a new products and solutions such as Qwickly Attendance and Blackboard called Predict which provides student dashboards and predictors of success that can be used by advisors and faculty.
  • Accessibility and UDL – eLearning is implementing a new product from Blackboard called Ally which provides a dashboard view of the number of accessible courses and realtime auto-conversion of documents into accessible formats. In addition, Panopto is being implemented to support enterprise video. This solution enables faculty to auto-caption and edit their captions for digital video resources used in their classes.

Benchmarking & Research Supporting Student Retention

  • ECAR Study – GVSU participated in the 2015 Educause Center for Analysis and Research Student and Faculty Technology Survey.  These results have been shared and have been used in strategic planning and for seminar planning.
  • Blackboard Survey – Working with Susan Mendoza and John Grabrosek, eLearning worked with students from STA 319 in the development, deployment, and evaluation of results from a student and faculty survey around how we can improve and enhance the Blackboard environment.

Learn more and connect with the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team at Grand Valley State University


Celebrating Faculty Innovation at the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium

In partnership with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center and University LibrarieseLearning and Emerging Technologies hosted the 17th Annual Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium. 

Held on Wednesday, May 2, 2018, this event brought together more than 120 faculty, staff, and students from GVSU, including guests from Cornerstone University, Davenport University, Western Michigan University, and Grand Rapids Community College.

Put simply, this event was all about celebrating faculty innovation at the intersection of teaching, learning, and technology!

For 17 years, the Teaching & Learning with Technology Symposium has provided an  outstanding opportunity for faculty to showcase how they’re putting technology to use in their teaching to support student success and retention.

technology_test_kitchen_logoThis year,  in addition to ePosters, a brand new “Technology Test Kitchen” was offered, full of tasty #edtech recipes.



Always a highlight at this event is the presentation of the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center’s Teaching and Learning with Technology Award. Congratulations to Rosemary Cleveland, senior affiliate faculty of education, and Andrew Korich, associate professor of chemistry, as this year’s award recipients!


Pictured on the left, Rosemary Cleveland, senior affiliate faculty of education, and the left, Andrew Korich, associate professor of chemistry, 2018 Pew Teaching with Technology Award Recipients.



IMG_8469At the symposium, Dean Annie Bélanger shared how GVSU University Libraries support the adoption and creation of open educational resources (OER) through advocacy, education, curation, and library publishing services. Further, she provided insight as to the importance of OER as a critical component of liberal education.


Thank you to all of the presenters and attendees for an awesome afternoon of connectinglearning, and sharing – all focused on enhancing teaching practices and the effective use of technology to support student success.



See you next year for another great symposium to be held on Wednesday, May 1 in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons!

Emerging Technologies: Augmented Reality Round Table

On Thursday, April 19, Eric Kunnen and Hunter Bridwell from eLearning, along with Kristofer Pachla, director of the GVSU Regional Math and Science Center, attended a round table discussion focused on augmented reality at Miller Johnson offices in Grand Rapids.

The round table was an outstanding morning of conversations and possibilities that augmented reality and bring to education, government, and commercial applications such as:

  • Interior Design
  • Facilities Viewing / Models Onsite
  • Asset Management
  • Complex Assembly and Error Reduction
  • Realtime Data Visualization
  • Learning / Experiential
  • Healthcare
  • and more!

Hunter and Eric had an opportunity to share how GVSU is exploring augmented and virtual reality through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. They also were able to  experience the innovative DAQRI helmet and smart glasses first-hand!


GVSU selects Panopto to Increase Accessibility and Enhance Teaching with Video

eLearning and Emerging Technologies is excited to announce that Panopto will soon be replacing TechSmith Relay, our current screen and lecture capture software and Ensemble Video, our video-hosting platform. Panopto will provide a new way to engage students with digital video at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and the university wide enterprise video solution will be available to all 25,000 students and 1,800 faculty at GVSU beginning in the summer 2018 semester.


Panopto is the leading platform for business and education, providing an easy way to manage, live stream, record, and share videos.

“As one of the most engaging sources of distributing educational content, video is rapidly increasing in its use by faculty at Grand Valley State University. In fact, during the past few years the number of videos created by faculty has increased substantially,” said Eric Kunnen, Associate Director, eLearning and Emerging Technologies, “Panopto will empower our faculty and students with innovative digital tools to more effectively support innovative teaching and ultimately student success at GVSU.”

Evaluating and looking at the needs of the campus strategically, a pilot of Panopto was executed in the Fall 2017 semester with the principal goal of working directly with faculty in evaluating the capabilities and ensuring their needs for video were addressed.

“We began the process of evaluating video-hosting platforms in the summer of 2016 and after a thorough investigation of available products, their features and capabilities, our team agreed that Panopto was the solution that would take GVSU to the next level of video content creation. Its seamless integration with our Blackboard LMS will give faculty, staff and students the tools they need to further enhance their teaching and learning.” said Vince St. Germain, an eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist on the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team.

During the pilot faculty reported the following benefits when using Panopto:

  • “While testing Panopto it was very easy and quick to create shorter grading videos, and then insert the link into the grade center. The feedback from the students was very positive. It is also convenient that I don’t have to send the video from TechSmith to Ensemble and wait for the transfer.” – GVSU Faculty Member
  • “The amount of time saved by using Panopto contributes to faculty productivity, which would offset any costs in purchasing this product. It also allows for increased student participation through recording.  As we explore an increase in online and hybrid courses, this software is a valuable resource as a teaching/learning strategy and to increase faculty presence in a course.” – GVSU Faculty Member
  • I am in full support of the University switching to Panopto for video recording and storage. Panopto is a more efficient system compared to the current TechSmith Relay and Ensemble combination.” – GVSU Faculty Member

Faculty at GVSU will benefit from using Panopto’s enterprise video solution to improve their teaching through active learning, increasing engagement with students through video. Further, through the Blackboard learning management system integration, accessing the video capabilities is streamlined, providing quick and easy access to Panopto’s powerful video capture capabilities.

“Our faculty will soon have a new set of resources to support students with video,” said Justin Melick, Digital Media Developer in eLearning and Emerging Technologies. “Panopto now gives the ability for students to record, edit and submit video projects for their classes. This is a trend that we have seen growing at GVSU as more faculty are recognizing the need for their students to have basic video creation skills as they prepare to enter the workforce.”

Students at GVSU can interact with video in a variety of new ways. Panopto provides the ability to connect with other students through discussions that display along side video. In addition, students can respond to quiz questions while viewing video content, directly from the player without launching a separate application.Panopto includes the ability to search for keywords in a video, saving students time in finding the right moment and jumping to the segment of the content they would like to review. Finally, students can access content conveniently from their mobile devices, increasing access to instructional content and allowing learning to happen while on-the-go!

Focusing on the needs of faculty is key.  While professors look to create engaging student user experiences, Panopto provides a brand new set of capabilities. For example, faculty are able to create student video assignments that are easily collected and viewed through Blackboard. Video playback data and analytics also provide greater insight into how video content is being consumed by students. Further, video content is automatically closed captioning, reducing the burden that faculty can have with providing accessible video content.

“Accessibility is an institutional requirement for instructional video,” said Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer in eLearning and Emerging Technologies. “Panopto saves faculty time, and the automated captioning feature was significant in the decision making process. It helps get faculty-created content much closer to ADA compliance in practically 3 clicks. The player and recorder are keyboard navigable and works well with a screen reader.”

Panopto Benefits

  • Creates closed-captioned video for accessibility
  • Offers the ability to edit the beginning, middle and end of a video
  • Provides searching video, enabling students to quickly jump to specific areas or content
  • Enables students to record their own videos using Panopto’s recording software and mobile app
  • Offers the capability to create discussions and assessment questions (true/false, multiple choice, discussion) within video content

“In colleges and universities around the world, video is enabling teachers to engage their students more effectively and helping students personalize their learning experience,” said Sean Gorman, chief operating officer of Panopto. “It’s a privilege for Panopto to partner with GVSU on the implementation of a unified video platform, and we look forward to a successful rollout to faculty and students this summer.”

GVSU Strategic Connection

Panopto supports GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

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.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

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.

Learn more about Panopto and access more information about the Panopto implementation at GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Panopto for Faculty support page.

First ever hackGVSU ‘Hackathon’ brings innovative ideas to enhance Blackboard at GVSU

hackgvsubannerOn Saturday, April 14, 40+ students, faculty, and staff gathered together at GVSU’s first ever ‘hackathon’ event. hackGVSU was sponsored by Blackboard Inc. and supported by Matt Roberts, Eric Kunnen, Katie Clark, Colleen Cameron, and Hunter Bridwell from the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team along with Szymon Machajewski, CIS Affiliate Professor, in the School of Computing and Information Systems.

The ultimate goal of the hackGVSU event was to rethink education with the creation and coding of new ideas to enhance student success

This day long event provided attendees with hands-on learning, coding, and creation… all centered on the development of innovative technology to enhance teaching.

The focus for this year’s event was Blackboard’s learning management system and the ideas submitted for the hackathon provided opportunities for REST API integration as well as HTML coding for enhancing the Blackboard portal.

Participants attended training sessions lead by Szymon Machajewski and Scott Hurrey,  Blackboard Code Poet and Senior Technical Writer responsible for the Developer Community.


Matt Roberts, Instructional Designer, GVSU opening the first ever hackGVSU hackathon event.


Szymon Machajewski, Affiliate Professor, GVSU talking about custom HTML modules in the Blackboard portal.


Scott Hurrey, Blackboard Inc., providing training and information for hackGVSU participants about REST APIs.

Photo Gallery [View More Photos on GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Facebook Page]

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes were awarded for HTML and REST API categories and 14 teams worked together to create unique and innovative apps that integrate with the Blackboard learning management system. All entries for hackGVSU are available on Devpost. Projects were scored according to the following rubric:


Judges for the competition were:

  • Scott Hurrey, Blackboard Inc,
  • Matt Roberts, Instructional Designer, IDeL, eLearning and Emerging Technologies
  • Katie Clark, Systems Analyst, eLearning and Emerging Technologies
  • Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies

Congratulations to the winners of hackGVSU 2018!!!

HTML Category:

API Category:

Additional articles and information about hackGVSU:

GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank our event sponsor, Blackboard Inc. for their support for hackGVSU!




Laker Bot says: “Thank you for attending hackGVSU!”


GVSU selects Blackboard Ally to Support Inclusive Education

eLearning and Emerging Technologies at GVSU is pleased to announce the addition of a new enterprise accessibility software solution called Blackboard Ally to support the university’s work in providing inclusive education through accessibility. Ally will be available to all 1,800 faculty and 25,000 students at GVSU beginning at the start of the summer semester.

allyBlackboard Ally is an innovative and revolutionary solution that focuses on making digital course content more accessible. It enables faculty to effectively and efficiently deliver course content to students that adheres to Universal Design Principles as well as being more accessible.

Through integration with GVSU’s Blackboard learning management system, Ally automatically scans course content that has been uploaded by faculty. A report is provided to faculty as well as guidance to resolve common accessibility issues. In addition, Ally automatically creates alternative files types for students, including: Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub.

“GVSU is committed inclusive education, and I am focused on ensuring my courses are accessible” said Cheryl Kautz, Affiliate Instructor in the School of Computing and Information Systems and 1st Place Award Winner of the Most Inclusive Classrooms in the United States, “Blackboard Ally will help me ensure that my courses are as accessible as possible for my students, save me time, and most importantly help faculty at GVSU to focus on improving student success.”

Ally Benefits

  • Increases capacity to support faculty in building accessible content and correcting files already in their Blackboard courses.
  • Assists in the creation of high quality levels of accessibility through content in Blackboard through the real-time conversion of files (Enhanced Version, HTML Version, Audio Version, Electronic Braille, and ePub) uploaded into Blackboard without any faculty intervention or extra work.
  • Provides additional ADA Section 508 due diligence and good faith effort of evaluating content that has been uploaded by faculty into Blackboard.
  • Supports requests for an institutional dashboard view for the level of accessibility of all courses in Blackboard at GVSU.
  • Responds to student needs for accessible versions of content without the extra overhead of development time for our existing staff or faculty.
  • Builds capacity to respond to increased federal and legal requirements for accessibility at GVSU.

Grand Valley State University selected Blackboard Ally after evaluating the capabilities and reviewing the benefits to students and to faculty. In short, Ally increases accessibility of course content while saving faculty time, allowing more focus on connecting and communicating with students, rather than managing technology.

GVSU Strategic Connection

Blackboard Ally supports GVSU’s 2021 Strategic Plan in the following areas:

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.

Objective 4.D.1: Effective technologies are integrated into every function and structure across the institution.

Objective 3.B.1: All systems and policies ensure inclusiveness and accessibility.

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.

Learn more about Blackboard Ally at Blackboard Inc. and access more information about Ally at GVSU’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Blackboard Ally for Faculty support page.

eLearning Team attends #MACUL2018

maculThe 42nd MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer users in Learning) Conference brings together primarily K12 educators, but also a mix of highered attendees and presenters. It is the largest #edtech in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation with over 5,000 attendees.

The conference program [PDF] is full of keynote sessions, special interest group meetings, learning labs, panels, posters, and deeper dive sessions that include hands-on activities. You can also follow along and see the happenings live via social using the #macul18 hashtag.

A few of the universities in Michigan involved in the conference as presenters include: Grand Valley State University, Eastern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, University of Michigan and Michigan State University. Specifically, GVSU is represented at the conference through a variety of sessions offered by faculty and staff.

  • Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Integrating Location-Based AR Mobile Games in the Classroom
    Beomkyu Choi and Mohammed Saleem, Assistant Professors, Grand Valley State University
  • PearDeck: There Is Life After Death by PowerPoint
    Lissa Brunan, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University
  • Three Sure-Fire Ways to Communicate With Students, Staff, and Stakeholders
    Alissa Thelen, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University
  • Keep Track. Keep Organized. Keep Sane: It’s Time You Met Google Keep
    Lissa Brunan, Assessment Specialist, Grand Valley State University

One of the ways to see themes at a conference is to review the common words used in conference session titles. Here are the top 3 key words used from the MACUL conference program:

#1 – learning

#2 – classroom

#3 – students


eLearning Team Conference Notes & Highlights

Eric Kunnen, Associate Director of eLearning, captured the following notes from  keynote sessions and breakouts:

Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist collected the following notes from MACUL18:

  • SESSION – Putting You Back in YouTube
    YouTube, the most popular web tool in the world, is impossible to ignore, especially for its educational value. Learn how to leverage YouTube to enhance your instruction and engage and empower your learners. Together we’ll explore how you can create and share impactful digital video content and get our hands dirty putting it into action.

  • SESSION – Discovering and Creating Virtual Reality (Leslie Fisher,
    • Virtual Reality is a three-dimensional, computer generated environment which can be explored and possibly interacted with by an individual learner. The easiest way to experience VR is with some sort of headset / VR mobile device viewer. Some VR experiences are quite immersive and include gloves or a controller that allow you to interact with objects within the VR. These usually require a computer instead of a mobile device.
    • How does Virtual Reality work? A graphics system sends a flood of images ‒ often 60 or 90 of them into each eye per second ‒ to draw views that perfectly match your head movements. When all this is done well, your brain accepts what it sees as real.
    • Where is VR being used?
      Simulations: Arcade, Education, Therapy


    • What do you need to get started? Some sort of smart device. Any device that is handheld and can have apps installed on it should work,  and a VR Viewer which you will insert into the device.


    • Headsets: Google cardboard, DSCVR Headset, Homido Virtual Reality Headset, Merge Headset, Oculus Go


    • Software: Google Cardboard App – a clearing house for VR applications


    • Resources for configuring/setting up your own VR kit include:

      A test site for device compatibility:

      Pair headset with device:

      Apps to consider include:

      Google Expeditions – Guide mode

      (Google app to build your own expeditions)

      Google Arts and Culture

      VR experiences

      Google Spotlight Stories

      Google Street View

      Sites in VR


      Discovery VR

      Life VR

      Juant VR – cinematic virtual reality experiences

      YouTube – VR channel

      EON Experience AVR

      EON Experience

      DinoTrek VR


    • You can also create your own Virtual Reality experiences using the following apps and/or hardware: Google Street View, 360 Panorama –iOS, Ricoh Theta,      CoSpaces, Roundme, Scene VR


    • For more information on how to get started:


  • SESSION – Hosting your own Webinars: They work if you do it Right
    • Pam Shoemaker
    • FTF vs Virtual
      • There are no major differences in the lesson structure between a face-to-face seminar and a virtual seminar/webinar. Webinar content and delivery are the most important elements! The webinar platform is secondary. The hardest part is doing the first one!
    • Webinar Structure
      • Structure your webinar using the following guidelines.
      • Share topic and learning targets
      • Poll attendees to find out experience & knowledge about the topic
      • Short Presentation – new info
      • Interactive learning activities
      • Sharing/Check-in
      • Q & A
      • Summary
      • Reflection and Evaluation
    • Tips for Success
      • Keep it interactive
      • Communicate expectations at the start
      • Frequent visual changes, including webcam video
      • Practice
      • Speak slowly
      • Focus – turn off device notifications. No noisy dogs, children, or spouses
      • Use a headset microphone
      • Use two monitors (host)
      • Prepare a resource doc/handout
      • Multimedia is good
      • Promote/advertise in as many ways as possible
      • Check Windows updates, battery charge, close all applications you are not using
      • Attendee default browser can matter (depends on topic)
      • Allow time for Q & A
      • Develop a survey template. Include:
        • Learning targets/objectives – Did attendees meet them?
        • Find out how attendees plan to implement the new learning – short and long term goals
        • Determine follow-up support
        • Feedback for presenters
      • Collect quotes from attendees and use for marketing future webinars
    • Additional resources:

Kim Kenward, Instructional Designer, highlighted the following:

  • Engaging Online Students Michigan Virtual Org
    • Use Google forms for collecting information/bio cards, create personal videos and video trailers which highlight the course and the major assignments (kinda like a course/movie trailer), using Padlet for brainstorming, use in place of a discussion board occasionally, sharing “good” things…where are you going for spring break?  Using Polls to collect information, Explore for creating interactive activities that can be embedded in blackboard, flashcards, hotlinks with pics, Schedule “online meet and greets” using Bb collaborate Ultra.

  • Learning First, Technology Second (Lisa Kolb)
  • Tech Tools for Upping your Learning Game (Michigan Virtual)
  • Student Center Classrooms for Today’s Student:  Engaging All Learners Through Choice, Technology and Innovative Practices (Maria Gonzalez)
    • Several resources and new web-based/apps technologies that support science, collaboration and assessments were explored.  Links to these resources are included in her Google slides.
  • Success in the Online for Students with Special Academic Needs (Michigan Virtual)
    • List of Accommodations to consider:
    • Alternate test options
    • Extended time on tests
    • Assessments read aloud
    • Student informed in advance of upcoming assignments/tests
    • Students can take assessments over x number of class periods
    • Students should receive frequent feedback on assignments
    • Reduction of length of applicable writing assignments/math problems
    • Student can use notes on tests
    • Student can submit assignments after reading instructor’s feedback
    • Frequent prompts and checks for understanding
    • Chunking of information into smaller segments with specific due dates
    • Advance notice of large assignments and tests
    • Ask students to reflect, set goals, explain their process to reach goals on major assignments, establish routines, suggest learning supports, encourage students to communicate with others, add links to support services, writing center, library liaison within Blackboard

      Tips for making your presentations accessible:
    • Minimize the amount of text on slides to keep the focus on what you are saying.
    • Pause to allow individuals a chance to read the slide and read it aloud so individuals who cannot see the presentation know what is on the slide.
    • Minimize the number of visuals on slides. Describe images, graphs, and charts for individuals who are visually impaired.
    • Use high contrast and take care with colors.
    • Avoid or control the speed of animations so they can be described fully.
    • Make sure that videos are captioned and audio described. Give a brief description of the video before it starts to help give context.
    • Parent Guide to Online Learning by Michigan Virtual and Planning Guide
    • Basic Checklist of Online Content Accessibility created by Michigan State University
  • 7 Digital Learning Theories you Should Know About
  • Awesome Online Teaching (Michigan Virtual)

    Proactive Communication

    Announcements, welcome letters, emails, texts, extra tips
    “Jazz” up those announcements with videos, pictures and fun “facts”
    Fun inviting way to relay important information to students
    Weekly pacing guides to help keep students on pace
    Instructor contact information clearly stated
    Fun ‘extra’ to help support student learning

    Welcome Letters
    Welcome students to the course, outline student expectations, set up guidelines for students, relay important information to students…”I expect this of you, but you can expect this of me”..etc.

    Open communication line for students and instructors, instructor availability more open for student help, all emails answered within 24 hours, use of “remind” to help spread the word about important issues/dates via text.  

    Extra Tips
    Proactively supporting students needs with extra tips added to the course. Adding extra videos and quizzes to help support student understanding. FAQs, Commonly Asked Questions..etc.  

    Research-based Feedback
    When providing feedback to students, always address students by their first name, start with a positive tone before suggestions for improvements, be timely in responses, be specific, grade assignments within 72 hours, ask questions to promote thinking…

    Where am I going?  What are my goals?
    How am I going?  What progress is being made toward the goals?
    Where to next?  What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?

    Relationships and Building a Sense of Community
    Instructors share about themselves with videos, in weekly announcements and in feedback
    Students are encouraged to share their background and interests and to talk with each other
    Fun Fact each Week.
    Share things that make you human
    Encourage students to share
    Use of polls and Padlet for community building, thanking students who do take the time to email the instructor

Hunter Bridwell, Digital Media Developer in eLearning captured the following highlights:

Things to keep in mind when getting started in VR

  • Lenses matter
  • Lower end android devices don’t have an accelerometer
    • Tests mobile devices
  • Preload devices

Different Headsets

  • View-Master VR starter pack $20
  • Dodo case
  • DSCVR headset $8
  • MERGE headset $50 soft headset
  • Oculus Go new product yet to be released

Steps for Getting started….

  • Assemble viewer
  • Run a VR App
  • Stick mobile in viewer
  • Viewer on face

Helpful Resources

  • Hypergrid business has qr code of headset devices
  • Yellkey (not related to VR)


  • Google expeditions – teacher lead
    • Wifi drainer
    • Soon to Make your own expeditions
    • In AR as well
  • Google spotlight stories
  • Sites in VR
  • Discovery VR
  • Lifevr
  • Jaunt VR
  • Youtube VR
  • EON Experience AVR
    • Gamified AR/VR lessons
  • Vtime
  • Poly, user created content
  • iOS

Creating Content

  • Theta camera, Co-Spaces, Roundme, SceneVR
  • 4 video projects
    • Check out
    • Students will celebrate each other’s work
    • They see video as cool isn’t insignificant
    • When students know others will see it they want it to be good. When it’s just the professor they want it to be good enough
    • Any good video is good because it was planned well
    • Proper attribution is essential: Creative commons, using flicker for CC images, Use citation in file name
    • Time- give limited amount of editing time in class focus on using that outside the shot
    • Freedom of choice for final project
  • Creating Strong EDU Videos
    • Watch what others have done
    • Get scripts approved before they make videos
    • Create a plan –  get feedback
    • Draft a video – get feedback
    • Articulate reasons for following advice or not following advice
    • Revise and publish
    • Submit to next vista – get feedback
  • Integrating the Arts
    • Activate UDL to build projects that create something and apply context to lessons
    • Remember: Art scares people who aren’t in the arts
    • Art isn’t on standardized tests but the arts reinforce lessons and allow memorization and real knowledge absorption
    • Kandinsky paintings in math
    • Watercolors for microscopic images
    • Discussing the similarity of how musicians and writers use lines
    • Abstract drawings using leaves and classification in science
    • Dramatic renditions of historical events
    • Role play medical issues in spanish

Goal oriented: targets specific types of thinking

Used repeatedly over time

Few steps

Easy to learn and teach

Easy to support when students are engaged in the routine

Applicable across contexts

Group or individual use

  • Future ready classes
    • Think about envisioning teaching and learning in our school 5 years from now?
    • More buy-in and choice in learning
    • Pedagogy must shift with technology
    • Is the tech going to do anything? Not unless the curriculum adapts to it
    • Interactive learning – how much is the student interacting with learning
    • Use of tech to explore, design, and create
    • Digital drill and kill – throwing a worksheet on a chromebook is still just a worksheet
    • Digital use divide
    • Active use – creating, designing, exploring, coding, etc
    • Passive use – watch a video, look at a website
    • Digital Worksheet Storage Hub vs. Pathway to unleash genius
    • DIY Girls
  • Teaching the On-Demand Generation
    • Ryan Horne
    • Admitting what we’ve got to work with and accepting those terms
    • Brains are evolving from current tech revolution
    • 80+ hours a week on multiple devices
    • Brains are wired from chronic digital exposure thus wired differently
    • Finding and striking balance of tech vs no-tech
    • Strike out “They can’t, they won’t, they don’t”
    • Check yourself if you’re catch yourself using those lines
    • 33% of teens in 2012 said internet was more important than food, shelter, water
    • China and Brazil 60% of teens
    • Being bored is good, we need empty spaces for the brain to receive ideas
    • We may disagree with our audience but we have to meet our audience
    • Ask yourself
      • What is the higher Level of thinking?
      • Is this Creating or consuming media?
      • What are the unintended consequences?
    • Multimedia world
    • Connectedness/collaborations
    • Immediate gratification
    • Choice
    • 5 Components
      • Anytime anywhere access
        • Make content open to access at any given time
        • Give students a specific task don’t just give them resources
        • It’s not enough to just give resources, tell them what to do with it.
        • Anytime, Anywhere Access – optional projects
      • Choice
        • the choice of what to consume, the choice of creating
        • Paradox of choice – 3 or less
        • This or that
        • List of vetted resources
        • Listenwise, youtube, newsELA
    • Multimedia world
      • Anything that’s not text is preferred with students
      • Will they Consume or create this media?
    • Connectedness and collaboration
      • Prefer some level of connection or collaboration
      • Google docs collaborative features
      • Don’t want to promote the bads parts of social media (likes, etc.)
    • How can we give quick feedback and teach delayed gratification?
      • Don’t tie feedback to a grade
      • Chunk up project
      • Add checkpoints to create a drawn out project
      • Item specific deadlines