Blackboard

BLACKBOARD STATS @GVSU – FALL 2018

This post features a few insights around Blackboard use at GVSU in the Fall 2018 semester. Highlights include:

  • Users Logged in in the past 30 Days
    • 1,463 Students
    • 18,949 Students
  • 10,655 Most Simultaneous Logged in Users
  • 3,592 Courses Available to Students
  • 42,020 Gradebook Columns Created
  • 169,090 Content Items Created

Infographic showing Blackboard usage that includes: 18,949 students and 1,463 faculty users having logged in in the past 30 days.

These data are gathered from the BbStats OpenSource Blackboard Building Block.

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Helping ALL STUDENTS be SUCCESSFUL #Accessibility

Working to ensure ALL STUDENTS are SUCCESSFUL is a Grand Valley State University (GVSU) commitment. In fact, GVSU’s vision demonstrates this commitment to providing an inclusive learning environment where all students can explore new directions, find their niches, and develop skills for life and productive careers.  

In addition, one of GVSU’s value statements is “Inclusiveness”, whereby:

Inclusiveness – Incorporating multiple voices and experiences by valuing identities, perspectives, and backgrounds.  Strengthening and expanding possibilities through technology to increase accessibility and remove barriers.

Accessibility is not new. In fact, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and an amendment to this act in 1998 (Section 508) provides basic rights for people with disabilities along with specific requirements for electronic communication and information technologies. Further, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990.  In the past 28 years, there have been many advancements in technology and education has largely become digitized. The rapid growth of online learning and greater use of digital materials by faculty creates a unique challenge in the support of the accessibility of electronic documents, software, and web-based services.

This challenge is further strengthened by 11% of college students reporting a disability, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Here at GVSU, over 1,600 students, faculty, and staff have registered with the DSR office for disability related needs as of 2017. 

A few important questions to ask are:

  1. Can all of my students access and review my course content?
  2. To what degree is my course content accessible?
  3. How can I improve the accessibility of my courses?

The importance of these questions is underscored by this video (“To Care & Comply Accessibility of Online Content”) from Portland Community College.

GVSU’s accessibility efforts are facilitated through a campus wide approach that includes a wide array of departments, faculty, and staff. The Division of Inclusion and Equity leads the university’s work in providing a campus wide framework for equity and inclusion. 

Focusing on teaching and learning, GVSU’s eLearning team, along with the Disability Support Resources (DSR) office provide accessibility awareness and training for faculty, and accommodation support for students. DSR focuses support on resources and accommodations that enhance the academic environment for persons with disabilities and to help educate the university community on disability issues. While DSR works more directly with students, GVSU’s eLearning team provides services to faculty, supporting their efforts to leverage technology in teaching, and to most effectively and efficiently use technology in an accessible way.

Specifically, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team supports the use of Panopto and Blackboard Ally to assist faculty in opening the door to education for all students by providing captioning and enhancing course content. In addition, the eLearning team has created a series of “Accessibility Tips for Faculty” to help support faculty.

  • Learn more about using Panopto to increase the accessibility of your videos with captioning.
  • Learn more about using Blackboard Ally to review your course content for accessibility, and to learn how to increase the compliance of  your files.

If you are a faculty member at GVSU, please know that we are here for you. eLearning and Emerging Technologies offers key support and services such as:

 

eLearning Team celebrates receiving the 2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Professional Development

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies (eLearning) team is honored to receive the 2018 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Professional Development!

GVSU’s eLearning team was recognized by President T. Haas at the July 13th Board of Trustees Meeting.

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Pictured Left to Right – GVSU President T. Haas with eLearning Team: Kim Kenward, Justin Melick, Glenna Decker, Sherry Barricklow, Colleen Cameron, Eric Kunnen, Hunter Bridwell, Katie Clark (Not pictured: Vince St. Germain and Matt Roberts) – Photo by Elizabeth Lienau

bbcatalystaward2018

See Also:
GVSU earns National Award for Blackboard Innovation

Blackboard Announces Winners of 2018 Catalyst Awards

Grand Valley State University’s Catalyst Award Story


Every year,  institutions are recognized for their innovative uses of Blackboard through a series of Catalyst Awards. This year, 32 recipients were selected out of 75 submissions across 7 categories. The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team (Eric Kunnen, Katie Clark, Colleen Cameron, Vince St.Germain, Sherry Barricklow, Kim Kenward, Glenna Decker, Matthew Roberts, Justin Melick, and Hunter Bridwell) will be honored alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2018, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held July 16-19 in Orlando.

In short, GVSU’s eLearning team was recognized for their creative suite of innovative professional development support and resources at Grand Valley State University. 

“The eLearning team’s focus is centered on innovation in new pedagogies and the creative use of technologies at the intersection of teaching and learning. By leveraging Blackboard, the eLearning team provides high quality professional development through empowering faculty and students in the creation of the next generation of education.”

As higher education continues on the path of the digital transformation of teaching and learning, the eLearning team collaborates with faculty to apply technology to reflect innovations in pedagogy.  In fact, the eLearning team’s slogan is: “Supporting faculty pursuing innovation in teaching and learning.”

At the core of the faculty professional development provided by the eLearning team is a specific focus on student success through the GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan, with direct alignment in the areas of inclusive learning and innovative teaching. The eLearning team aligns to the university’s institutional outcome whereby GVSU supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Further, the eLearning team provides the key institutional strategic support for GVSU 2021 Strategic Plan Objective 1.D.2 which states: At least 93% of faculty members regularly use electronic course management tools, such as Blackboard, in their teaching.

As part of the Information Technology Department at Grand Valley State University (GVSU),  eLearning and Emerging Technologies http://gvsu.edu/elearn is on mission and is dedicated to supporting faculty, contributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through a unique synergy between the following professional development facets:

This combination of professional development and support resources provides great breadth and depth in the support of faculty and students at GVSU. The work of the eLearning team is further extended through institution-wide partnerships and collaboration, including: the Office of the Provost, Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center, Disability Support Resources, and University Libraries.

In summary, the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is highly accomplished, providing a unique blend of innovative professional development programming at GVSU that contributes to teaching excellence and student success.


eLearning provides innovative training methods to create a rich and well organized set of resources for professional development and faculty support. These resources go above and beyond the common help desk support that is typically offered. The ultimate goal is to widely share best practices and innovative pedagogies to inform and to transform teaching at GVSU. The following list is an example of the wide array of support that is provided to faculty at the university:

  • Website Resources – The resources available on http://gvsu.edu/elearn provide a rich and robust set of best practices and support resources for faculty. Included in these resources are instructional design theories and research that leads to effective practice such as: Applying the TPACK model to Blackboard, and Applying Blackboard to Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles of Good Practice.
  • eLearning and Emerging Technologies Blog – Highlighting timely events, noteworthy teaching practices, and shining a spotlight on resources is the focus of the eLearning blog.
  • Email and Social Media – Monthly campus wide eLearning Newsletters are leveraged to increase communication with faculty. Twitter and Facebook provide community wide sharing of eLearning trends and the latest updates from the eLearning team.
  • Print – The eLearning team leverages postcards, seminar handouts, and a variety of print materials to further communicate strategies to advance education through technology.
  • TECH BYTES Video – Recently added to the eLearning YouTube channel (and also uniquely available on Fire TV via an Amazon App), video is used to widely share best practices in leveraging Blackboard as well as a variety of instructional technologies to enhance teaching. In fact, eLearning offers 14 “TECH BYTES” videos as well as 10 videos that highlight good practice in teaching online or hybrid courses.
  • eLearning Open Office Hours – GVSU has a geographically spread out campus with the main campus about 20 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids. To provide presence to faculty and to support them where they are located, eLearning offers drop-in assistance at a variety of locations and times. Assistance is available for Blackboard, instructional design, digital media, online/hybrid course development, and instructional technology support.
  • Open Badges – eLearning facilitated the implementation of open badges for faculty professional development. In fact, the first badge awarded at GVSU was eLearning’s “#EdTech Summer Teaching Institute” badge. Further, 7 badges are currently offered by eLearning, including 4 Blackboard badges, a digital media badge, an #EdTech Summer Teaching Institute badge, and a badge for the successful completion of Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery.
  • Department Engagement – Through the eLearning team’s staff of instructional designers, digital media developers, and eLearning and instructional technology specialists, a variety of departments are provided with ongoing support. 
  • Faculty Learning Communities – With over 150 faculty enrolled in a Blackboard Organization Site, instructors teaching online or hybrid classes are provided with a wealth of resources, access to meeting minutes, and opportunities to learn about new pedagogies in distance education. The Blackboard Organization has become a growing repository of tips and best practices associated with online instruction and course development.  The Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Communities are offered in partnership with GVSU’s Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.
  • Academic Advising Blackboard Sites – Through automation, eLearning offers a series of advising organization sites in Blackboard. These efficiently connect faculty advisors and students while providing a home base for helpful resources and opportunities for increased communication for advisors.
  • Certificate of Completion –  With the aid of an opensource “Certificate of Completion” building block by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, instructors at GVSU have the ability to create and distribute custom certificates that students can proudly post, print or display. This tool has allowed nursing faculty and staff to be more efficient and effective in providing students with achievement verifications.
  • ePortfolios for Faculty – GVSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) is the largest of the university’s colleges. The benefits of using Blackboard for ePortfolio work provides additional opportunities for faculty while encouraging greater adoption of the system for teaching.
  • Class Photo Roster – Based on a project request from faculty involved in the GVSU Faculty Teaching and Learning Center’s “Strong Start Initiative”, a class photo roster feature was implemented in Blackboard to enhance personal connections between faculty and students. The Strong Start Initiative focuses faculty attention on best practices for engaging students in first-year undergraduate courses and important aspects of the college experience vital to student success. Blackboard’s Class Photo Roster at GVSU assists faculty in learning students’ names, which contributes to improving student success, along with being more approachable as a faculty member.  (Note: This photo roster tool is an opensource Blackboard Building Block by Szymon Machajewski, an affilate faculty member at GVSU.)
  • Special Events – eLearning at GVSU assists in a wide array of campus events including: New Faculty Orientation, establishing a new 2 day #EdTech Summer Teaching Institute, and facilitating the Teaching with Technology Symposium which has been offered for more than 16 years. This yearly event brings together faculty and staff to focus on enhancing teaching and learning through technology. 
  • Rich Faculty Digital Media Support  Sharing and creating content for faculty across the curriculum leads to student success and faculty effectiveness.  At GVSU, faculty do not have to spend time worrying about the technical details, as the Digital Studio comes along side professors to support digital media creation. Faculty focus on their content and the delivery, and the Digital Studio handles the rest. Here is a comprehensive list of a creative set of Digital Studio projects that eLearning has provided as a resource to faculty at GVSU.
  • Leveraging Blackboard Collaborate Ultra for Global Reach at GVSU – Blackboard Collaborate Ultra provides live web conferencing, virtual office hours, guest speakers and more at GVSU. The following examples highlight a few of the unique ways that the university is leveraging the use of LIVE videoconferencing applications that are integrated into Blackboard:
    • Physical Therapy LIVE from Iraq
    • Lunch and Learn Brown Bag Series LIVE from Palestine
    • United Nation’s Youth Virtual Conference LIVE from Africa and Europe
  • Emerging Technologies and the Technology Showcase – As part of the eLearning team’s work, the latest emerging technologies are a focus of the Atomic Object Technology Showcase. The mission of the showcase is to provide faculty, staff, and students with an immersive and engaging environment to: interact, discover, learn, and share how innovative emerging technologies can enhance teaching and improve student learning at GVSU.
  • ‘hackGVSU’ hackGVSU was the first hackathon event to be hosted at Grand Valley State University in partnership with Blackboard Inc.

Culminating together, the achievements and support offered through eLearning at GVSU illustrate a rich and structured professional development program that:

  1. focuses on course quality
  2. shares best practices
  3. generates economies of scale
  4. coordinates resources
  5. evaluates to focus on continuous quality improvement

“Blackboard enables GVSU to transform education by empowering faculty to be more effective in their teaching – and students more efficient in their learning.”

Congratulations to the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team!


About Blackboard

Our mission is to partner with the global education community to enable learner and institutional success, leveraging innovative technologies and services. With an unmatched understanding of the world of the learner, the most comprehensive student-success solutions, and the greatest capacity for innovation, Blackboard is education’s partner in change.

About the Blackboard Catalyst Awards

For over a decade, the Blackboard Catalyst Awards have annually recognized and honored innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of teachers and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology.

Blackboard is focused on highlighting client successes and raising awareness throughout the educational industry by celebrating client achievements and milestones. Our community centers on educators and administrators who are passionate about using technology in education and collaborating on best practices. The Blackboard Catalyst Awards are an opportunity to celebrate these accomplishments and help raise standard for the entire community.

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards include 8 categories this year:

  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Leading Change
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Community Engagement
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Teaching & Learning
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Inclusive Education
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Optimizing Student Experience
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Training & Professional Development
  • Blackboard Catalyst Award for Student Success

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, please visit the client awards website.

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.

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.

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.

Faculty and Student Blackboard Survey Highlights – Fall 2017

Last year, as part of a Statistics 319 class with Professor Gabrosek, 2 students worked with the eLearning team to gather feedback and suggestions from faculty and students about how the Blackboard environment can be enhanced at Grand Valley State University. This work resulted in a survey that was created and administered in the Winter 2016 semester.

This year, another survey was administered in the Fall 2017 semester and the number of students and faculty that completed the survey in a 2 week time period were 3,243 and 341 respectively.

This post highlights the results from the survey:

facultydaysperweek

As shown above, 44% of faculty that responded to the survey indicated that they use Blackboard every day with 78% using the system at least 5 days per week.

Based on GVSU’s participation in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, this number was also reflective with 47% of GVSU respondents indicating a daily use of Blackboard.

studentdaysaccessbb

90% of students surveyed indicate that they access Blackboard more than 5 days per week. For comparison, in the 2015 EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) Study of Faculty and Students and Information Technology report, 94% of GVSU students indicated that they used Blackboard in at least 1 course with 54% responding that Blackboard was used in all of their courses.

facultyyearsofuse

71% of the faculty surveyed indicate that they have used Blackboard for more than 5 years with 8% indicating that they have used the system less than a year.

facultyrateeasy

When asked about ease-of-use for uploading a syllabus and adding faculty contact information, 83% of faculty indicate that using the system is easy or very easy to use.

facultybbusefeatures.png

When asked what features are used most frequently, 94% of faculty indicate using announcements and content, followed by 88% using the grade center and 87% using email.

These data also are reflected in the “Baseline Faculty Survey” as part of the 2021 GVSU Strategic Plan where: Announcements were mentioned being used at 85%, content at 82%, and the gradebook as well as email was used at 78% as the top tools used in Blackboard.

As indicated in the following chart, students echo the largest use of tools by faculty, including: announcements, content, grades, and assignments.

studentfeatureuse

When asked about what features or tools that students wish their instructors would make more use of, 55% indicated more use of grades as the highest response.

studentmakemoreuse

When faculty where asking about emerging or new technologies that would be most helpful, eTextbooks, interactive video, OER, games, and simulations were the in the top 5.

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Students were asked about what emerging or new technologies that they would like to see adopted. Online office hours, lecture capture, eTextbooks, live lectures and interactive video were in the top 5.

studentslikemoreuse.png

92% of students indicated that it would improve their learning experience if more instructors used Bb to deliver course materials, grades, and announcements. With 95% of students indicated that using Blackboard provided a better learning experience.

studentlearningexperience

studentusebbbetter

The eLearning team will continue to evaluate the student and faculty responses to the surveys throughout the year, with a special focus on open-ended feedback that has been provided – with the goal to enhance the Blackboard environment at GVSU to best meet the needs of students and faculty and to support student success.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team would like to thank Professor Gabrosek and the STA 319 students for their work with our team in helping to develop the Blackboard faculty and student surveys.