Faculty at GVSU leverage Blackboard for Professional e-Portfolios

This post by Sherry Barricklow, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist, in eLearning and Emerging Technologies.

GVSU Faculty use Blackboard for their Professional Portfolio

Grand Valley State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is the largest of university’s colleges. This college supports more than 50 bachelor degrees (and a growing number of advanced degrees) in the natural and mathematical sciences, the fine arts and humanities, and the social sciences.

The CLAS Personnel Committee is now encouraging faculty seeking career advancement to use Blackboard for their supporting materials and for the unit materials. CLAS has been encouraging the use of this system over the last nine years.

Blackboard Organization Sites as ePortfolios

Each faculty going up for review is given a Blackboard organization with the following suggested categories and are asked to attach a PDF to each of the items:

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Personal Statement
  • Faculty Activity Reports, Faculty Activity Plans, and Salary Recommendations
  • Teaching – Supporting Materials
    • Faculty are asked to attach a single pdf file, per course taught, with all teaching supporting documents combined within the pdf.
  • Scholarly/Creative Activity – Supporting Materials
  • Service – Supporting Materials
  • End of Semester Student Evaluations


The faculty have six months to construct their portfolios. At the end of the six months, instructor rights are taken away and the department’s tenure track faculty are given read access to evaluate the candidate.

The Department has a folder for each candidate to add review materials that consists of the following:

  • Unit Recommendation Report
  • Departmental Personnel Standards
  • Unit Vote
  • Unit Meeting Agenda
  • Unit Meeting Minutes
  • Additional Unit Materials (optional)

Benefits of Blackboard Portfolios

The benefits have been immense!

  • Blackboard allows the faculty to gather their course materials for review.
  • Reviewers no longer have to sit with boxes of materials to evaluate a colleague.
  • With the suggested organization, it is easy to find the candidates’ materials.
  • Faculty may keep their portfolio for the next round of reviews.

Once the departmental process has been concluded, the department’s members are removed and the Deans views committee is added. Finally, another benefit is that department personnel do not have to transport boxes and boxes of materials to the Deans office!


Technology Showcase partners with @GVSU Art Gallery for an Immersive Experience


Artist Herbert Murrie’s daughter Karen used Google Tilt Brush to create this creative masterpiece using an HTC Vive for the grand opening of the GVSU Art Gallery’s “Ebb and Flow” exhibit!

In a unique partnership with the GVSU Art Gallery, the Atomic Object Technology Showcase provided a unique virtual reality experience at the opening reception which was held on January 15, from 5 – 7 PM. To celebrate the grand opening of “Ebb & Flow: Explorations in Painting” with art by artist Herbert Murrie, participants were able to create their own painting in a 3D virtual reality experience using Tilt Brush by Google.

Here are a few photos from the event. The video wall was generously provided by Pride Tech Solutions.


Learn more about this opening exhibit in the following Grand Valley Lanthorn article: “‘Ebb and Flow’ exhibit highlights artist’s creative journey, return to fine arts

Blackboard Achievements, Badges, and quick-and-easy Certificates

Blackboard’s Achievements tool allows instructors and course designers to develop criteria for issuing rewards to students in the form of both badges and certificates.  In short, faculty can use achievements to create opportunities for students to earn recognition for their work, while students can see which badges and certificates they have earned and what is required to receive additional recognition. achievement_flow

While the built-in achievements capability is helpful, Blackboard Building Blocks provide colleges and universities with the ability to extend the functionality of the system. With the aid of an opensource “Certificate of Completion” building block by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, instructors at GVSU now have the ability to create and distribute custom certificates that students can proudly post, print or display.

Colleen Cameron, a GVSU Blackboard Administrator, modified the opensource building block so that a blank template could easily be used to add content specific certification details, that when printed, included the students name and date of completion. These new custom certificates will allow students to better showcase the skills and knowledge they’ve achieved, while saving time for GVSU faculty and staff.


If you are interested in learning more about Blackboard Achievements tool and the “Certificate of Completion” capability, check out these instructions, or contact the eLearning team!

Blog post authored by: Vince St. Germain, eLearning and Instructional Technology Specialist


Improve Student Success and Save Time with @Blackboard Rubrics

Rubrics are extremely valuable in helping to align faculty assignment expectations with student performance. In other words, rubrics help to communicate faculty expectations for an assignment and help make grading much more clear to students.

Blackboard provides a robust, effective, and easy to use rubric tool that is built-in. Once created, students can view the assignment criteria and faculty can quickly and efficiently, click-to-score their students’ assignments. Further, faculty can provide personal feedback for each student using the rubric tool.

To learn more about creating rubrics in Blackboard, head on over to the GVSU eLearning Help page.

Supporting Students with Blackboard Advisor Organization Sites

65e77138-ea28-fab9-7f607ba367045016At GVSU, both academic advisors and faculty student advisors are provided with Blackboard organization sites that support student success through a variety of communication and content capabilities.

Advisor sites are automated from Banner, providing ease of use for faculty and staff. Students enrollments are kept up to date so that the information is timely and is sent to those students in need.

Blackboard Collaborate is also valuable as it provides screen sharing and allows advisors to work with students remotely, providing just-in-time guidance.

The most popular organization sites include the following information:

  • Program Information / Helpful Documents
    • Degree and Curriculum Guides
    • Internship Information
    • Bachelor and Masters Materials
    • Graduate Certification
    • Graduation Requirements
  • Advisor Information
    • Faculty/Staff Bio
    • Office Hours
    • Link to Collaborate Ultra for Live Office Hours
  • Discussion Board
    • Posts with Questions and Answers from Students
      • Advisors can “subscribe” to posts to receive timely email questions from students. Further, with public posts, this forum provides a FAQ services.
  • Website Resources
    • Department/Division Web Site
    • GVSU Library Databases
    • GRE Information
    • Employment Opportunities

To learn more about using Blackboard for student advising, contact bbadmin@gvsu.edu.

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.  

Blackboard > Update to Inline Grading for Assignments

The Inline Grading view for Blackboard Assignments has been a convenient way to grade student submissions directly in the browser. Behind the scenes, that has used an online solution from a system called “Crocodoc” to display the submission within the browser. Unfortunately, Box.com acquired Crocodoc in 2013, and is now discontinuing the service as of January 15, 2018.

Fortunately, Blackboard has updated the inline grading service to leverage the New Box View API. It offers several improvements over Crocodoc, including improved rendering fidelity and expanded support for new file types. While there are a few differences between the two services, the new Box View will still provide a simple and convenient way to view and annotate on student Assignment submissions. In addition, existing student work in Crocodoc will be migrated to the new Box View, and will continue to be available.

comparison of crocodoc with new box view

New Features

The new Box View supports a wider variety of file types, including image, video, and audio files, which can be viewed or played in the browser, instead of downloading them. It also includes the ability to print student submissions from the browser.

Features Lost

Unfortunately, some features are not available in the New Box View, because Box has not included them in their API.

  • Annotation Types: Box View only includes point-based or highlighting-based comments. You cannot add drawing annotations or strike-through text, as you could in Crocodoc.
  • Download AnnotationsYou can download the student’s original file, but there is no way to download the file with the annotations included.

Blackboard has been working with Box to request that these features be added, and Box has been receptive to the feedback. You can view the suggestions and vote on their priority on the Blackboard Idea Exchange.

How Does the New Box View Work?

The New Box View is very similar to Crocodoc. To add a point-based comment, click on the text bubble in the toolbar.

click the text bubble in the toolbar and type your comment, then click post

To highlight text and add a comment, click and drag to select the text, then click either the highlight or comment icon.

select the text and then click the text bubble to add a comment

eLearning Help

To learn more about using the new Box view of inline grading, please visit the “New Box View Grading” tip sheet.

The content of this post was shared with permission from Northern Illinois University, Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.