CatalystAward

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

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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.

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