Online Learning

Enrollments Grow in Online Learning while enhancing Teaching Effectiveness

Recently, an article in InsideHigher Ed “Online Enrollments Grow, but Pace Slows” featured new federal data that show that more than 1/3 of all 2018 college and university students took at least one online course, and online enrollments have grown.

In fact, 34.7% of students have taken at least one online course in 2018, making up 3,677,689 students. Further, there were 3,259,560 students enrolled in exclusively distance education courses.

In comparison, according to the federal data report, overall enrollment in higher education was down -1.1%.

Enrollment in online courses at GVSU continues to grow as do the national numbers.

At GVSU, 24.1% of students were enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course in the Fall 2019 semester. This is up from 20.4% in 2018. In addition, in the spring/summer semester, 57.8% of students were taking at least one distance education course in 2019, up from 49.7% in 2018.

Here is a chart of the number of the unduplicated count of students enrolled in at least one online or hybrid course from 2016 through 2019 at GVSU:


Related, in a recent “Faculty Attitudes on Technology Survey” administered by InsideHigher Ed, results indicate that professors’ are showing a steady acceptance of online learning.

In fact, professors also indicate that teaching online makes them better and more effective in their practice:

  • Three-quarters (77%) of instructors who have taught online say they have developed pedagogical skills and practices that have improved their teaching.

  • 75% think more critically about engaging students with content; 65% make better use of multimedia content; 63% more likely to experiment and make changes to try to improve the learning experience.

  • Two-thirds of instructors who had converted face-to-face course to an online or hybrid (blended) class said that they spent less time lecturing (65%) and incorporated more active learning techniques into the new course (69%).

Based on the Inside Higher Ed survey, now more than 46% of faculty members have taught an online course.

Further, for those faculty that have taught online, 61% agree that online courses can produce equivalent student outcomes.

As far as the adoption of using technology in teaching:

  • Nearly four in 10 instructors (39 percent) say they fully support the increased use of educational technologies, up from 32 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2017.

  • Professors who support educational technologies say they do so because “some students simply cannot attend a face-to-face class due to work or family obligations“ (64%) and “students learn better when I engage them with effective technology tools“ (57%).

  • Rated colleges positively on encouraging experimentation with new approaches to teaching (56% agree) and providing adequate technical support for creating and teaching online courses (52% agree for both).

About eLearning and Emerging Technologies


eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate digital learning at GVSU through supporting faculty in delivering high quality, innovative teaching.

We support faculty, contribute to teaching excellence, and enhance student success through:

6 Tips for Teaching Online at GVSU in 2020

Are you an online/hybrid faculty member at GVSU? If so, we have some news for you!


As you look ahead to teaching your online and hybrid courses in 2020, we have prepared the following resources designed to help support you and your students.

6 Tips for Teaching Online and Hybrid Classes in 2020

  1. Consider joining an Online and Hybrid Faculty Learning Community to explore best practices and learn from your peers! Learn more on the Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Community web page.

  2. Focus on student success and retention with Blackboard tools. Maximize student retention by proactively contacting inactive students, students with missing deadlines, or poor performance. The Blackboard Grade Center shows the date of last course access for students and gradebook colors can be set to trigger alerts for faculty based on student performance.

    The Retention Center, Performance Dashboard and Item Statistics provide faculty with information about student activity as well as the ability to monitor students at-risk. Use these tools to determine whether any students in your class are falling behind or neglecting to check Blackboard regularly. Intervene early on, so they get back on track quickly.

  3. Respondus Monitor and LockDown Browser academic integrity tools are available for online exam proctoring. Learn more on the Respondus web page or request access to LockDown Browser and Monitor.

  4. Register for Seminars offered by eLearning and Emerging Technologies on a variety of technologies that can be used in teaching an online/hybrid course. View a list of seminars and register in Sprout.

  5. Encourage students to complete the Online/Hybrid Orientation in Blackboard. All students enrolled in an online or hybrid class are automatically added into a CourseSite in Blackboard entitled: “Online/Hybrid Orientation”. A link to this site is available to students in the “My Courses” module after logging into Blackboard. Students that perform all of the required activities in the orientation are provided with a “Certificate of Completion”.
  6. Have a question or need assistance? Contact an Instructional Designer on the eLearning team:Glenna Decker – Instructional Designer
    4453 Kindschi Hall of Science (KHS) | 616-331-2598

    Matt Roberts – Instructional Designer
    4452 Kindschi Hall of Science (KHS) | 616-331-9085

    Kim Kenward – Instructional Designer
    268C Richard M. DeVos Center (DEV) | 616-331-2131

Best wishes for a wonderful and relaxing break and a successful start to your 2020 semester!

If we can be of further support as you teach your online and hybrid courses, please reach out to the following units at GVSU:

  • eLearning and Emerging Technologies, Online Education Council, University Libraries, the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost.
Stay Updated with the Latest Info and News from eLearning

eLearning Supports Faculty Teaching Online/Hybrid Courses at GVSU

This post is brought to you by the Online Education Council, eLearning and Emerging Technologies, University Libraries, the Pew Faculty Teaching & Learning Center, and the Office of the Provost.

Welcome back faculty! Teaching an online or hybrid course this semester? We have you covered… check out the following resources available at GVSU!

Online/Hybrid Orientation Available to Students

Faculty teaching online and hybrid courses, along with their students, have been automatically be enrolled in an “Online/Hybrid Orientation” via Blackboard. This resource, which takes 20-30 minutes to complete, features activities and videos to help students get in the mindset to succeed in a distance education course.

orientcertificateUpon completing the orientation, students take a brief quiz and are issued a Certificate of Completion; thus, there is a built-in way for you to confirm students completed the orientation, if you’d like to require it as an assignment early in the term.

As a faculty member, to locate the orientation in your My Courses list in Blackboard, scroll down to the bottom.

Online Proctoring Solution Available for Online/Hybrid Courses

Over the summer, faculty teaching online courses piloted Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor, that enable online proctoring of exams. We determined the software was a good tool and have purchased a site license!

Our official roll-out of the software campus-wide will happen this winter, but if you think the technology is needed in your class this fall, let the eLearning and Emerging Technologies team know by filling out the Respondus LockDown/Monitor participation form.

Please be aware that using the technology will require you to participate in an orientation, both so that you can navigate the technology effectively and learn some best practices faculty discovered during the pilot. You can read more about Respondus Lockdown Browser and Respondus Monitor here:

Collaborative Learning in an Online Environment

Are you planning to have students work in teams this semester? Will there be smaller collaborative assignments or larger projects? In either case, setting students up for success in working with their peers involves solid assignment design, support for developing collaboration skills, and employment/deployment of technologies to facilitate collaborative work. Here is a sampling of scholarship of teaching and learning on the subject from the past year or so:

For additional resources, please review Pew FTLC’s Collaborative Learning Teaching Resources, eLearning and Emerging Technologies IDeL Tips and Best Practice Handouts,  Blackboard Collaborate for Groups, Using Blackboard Collaborate for Online Group Work, Building Community in Online Courses video, and the Google G Suite web page.

Want More Info? Need Help? Try These Resources!

  • Consult with the instructional designers from the IDeL group in eLearning and Emerging Technologies for online/hybrid course design support, streamlining your course menu/navigation, and to learn how to increase your teaching, social, cognitive presence through the Community of Inquiry.
  • Access tips, tutorials, and information for effectively using Blackboard and creating accessible content with Ally.
  • Attend an eLearning and Emerging Technologies Fall Seminar to learn more about teaching with technology.
  • Join an Online/Hybrid Faculty Learning Community to connect with peers teaching at a distance.
  • Contact the Digital Studio for assistance in creating a welcome video, course tour, or leveraging interactive media in your courses with Panopto.
  • Review the one-stop Faculty Resources for Online Education.
  • Review University Library resources for distance learning.

Best wishes for a successful semester!

Tips for Teaching Online at GVSU

Are you teaching online this semester? If so, check out this checklist to help you prepare and build your course, zero in on student engagement and instructor presence, and overall focus on student success and retention.


  • Complete a self peer review.
    Use the Online Education Council peer review rubric or the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award rubric to review your course. See the “Good Practice Teaching Standards” on the IDeL website.
  • Make course improvements.
    Using the information gleaned from the peer review rubric above, reflect back and ask yourself: what worked last semester, what didn’t, were students confused, are more directions or explanation needed, can you add in more interactivity or active learning through instructional design, do you need some help from the digital studio in bringing in more video with Panopto?
  • Communicate and open your course to students in Blackboard.
    In order to best help your student prepare for the upcoming semester, be sure to communicate with your students before the semester starts and open up your course availability to students.
  • Encourage students to complete readiness checker.
    Take a moment to encourage your students to complete the self-assessment: “Are your ready for online learning?


  • Welcome your students.
    Post an announcement and email your students to welcome them. Let them know who you are, where to begin, etc.
  • Provide a course orientation.
    Some students may be new to online learning, and all of them will be new to your course. Give them some guidance around how your course is designed, create a course overview video, provide tips for success, etc.
  • Connect with your students.
    Provide a way for students to introduce themselves with a FlipGrid video, a discussion board post, a blog post, or other.
  • Monitor your student logins.
    Review the Blackboard Performance Dashboard and check in to make sure that your students are logging into your course! If not, send a personal email and reach out to them.


  • Establish your online presence.
    Be sure that you are visible in your online course. Take note of the times where you send out communication, respond to student’s discussion board posts, etc. Take advantage of the Blackboard Retention Center to review your engagement.



  • Monitor your students.
    Check in and monitor your students using the Blackboard Performance Dashboard, Grade Center, and Retention Center.
  • Maintain instructor presence and communicate regularly.
    Be sure you are continuing to engage in the course to ensure you are electronically “visible” to students. Use discussion board, email, announcements, etc. to keep communication flowing.
  • Offer online office hours.
    Use Blackboard Collaborate to offer students to meet with you live for online office hours. This can help break down the barriers and increase engagement with students.
  • Mid-semester course correction.
    Provide an opportunity for students to give you feedback in mid-semester as to how things are going. Use a Blackboard survey to get feedback from students that may provide you with insights for improvement.
  • Grade and provide feedback.
    Be sure you are providing timely feedback on learning activities, assignments, quizzes, and tests. Students will often submit their assignment and desire immediate feedback. Use the Blackboard Grade Center to provide student feedback, the Blackboard inline grading feature for assignments, etc.



IDeL in eLearning offers a variety of additional tips for teaching online:

Are you teaching online? Please leave a comment with your tips for success!

eLearning Team Supports Online Learning Growth at GVSU

Online and hybrid learning is growing rapidly at GVSU – and the eLearning team is here to support and equip faculty with instructional design, instructional technology, and digital media development assistance.

See also:

  • “Online Education Ascends” – Number and proportion of college and university students taking classes online grew +6.4% in 2017, as overall enrollments fell by -.4%. A third of all students now take at least one online course. 

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team provides support to faculty at GVSU. Pictured left to right: Vince St. Germain, Matt Roberts, Justin Melick, Colleen Cameron, Sherry Barricklow, Kim Kenward, Katie Clark, Glenna Decker, and Eric Kunnen. (Not pictured: Hunter Bridwell)

As part of the Information Technology Department, eLearning and Emerging Technologies provides a wide array of services and resources designed to facilitate the support of faculty teaching hybrid and online classes as well as to assist faculty in delivering innovative classroom based instruction.

The eLearning and Emerging Technologies team is dedicated to supporting facultycontributing to teaching excellence, and enhancing student success through:


A Growing Demand in Online Learning

In the Fall 2018 semester, student enrollment in online/hybrid courses has risen to 5,318 which represents a 15% growth since Fall 2017.  Looking back to the Fall 2017 semester, GVSU offered over 300 online/hybrid courses, (177 unduplicated), representing a one-year increase of 17%  (from Fall 2016), and significantly, a 78% increase in online enrollment since 2013. In fact, as of the Fall 2018 semester, 17% of all students at GVSU are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course, with 12% of all classes now being offered via distance education.

17% of all students at GVSU (5,318 enrollments) are taking at least 1 online or hybrid course.

Additionally, in the summer 2018 semester, online/hybrid courses contributed to a 4% growth in overall enrollment, with 42% of all enrollment offered as distance education. During the summer, there were nearly 4,000 students in total enrollment, which represented a 10% increase in online/hybrid enrollment since the summer 2017 semester.

High Touch and High Tech

On Friday, August 24, 2018, GVSU President Haas provided the campus with an inspiring lecture for the opening semester faculty/staff address. Focusing on the topics of stewardship, leadership, and innovation, the address also highlighted flexible learning options that meet students’ needs, including online learning while also mentioning the importance of high touch practices through high tech methods.

“We must be responsible to the changing needs of our students… on how we deliver education. Online learning and that becomes more vital to our students… we will not lose our high touch practices as we smartly utilize high tech methods.” – President Haas

GVSU 2021 Strategic Connection

Distance education is connected to the following GVSU strategies with special focus on Objectives 3.D.2 and 3.D.3:

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. Baseline: 89% of faculty indicated either daily or weekly use of Blackboard in their teaching according to a GVSU faculty survey conducted winter 2016.

Objective 1.D.3: At least 60% of faculty members use state-of-the art instructional methods in their teaching. Baseline: 47% of faculty members use state-of-the-art instructional methods in their teaching according to a GVSU faculty survey conducted winter 2016. Additional Information Source: Education Center for Analysis and Research preliminary data is being collected for 2014-15, available June 2015.


  • The eLearning team provides support for innovative teaching methods, including the advancement and use of Blackboard.


Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Institutional outcome E: Grand Valley strategically allocates its fiscal, human, and other institutional resources.

Objective 2.E.1: At least 75% of faculty and 75% of staff participate in professional development to expand, enhance or extend their competencies and capabilities within the context of the responsibilities of their positions. Baseline for faculty will be determined via Digital Measures in summer 2015. Baseline for Fall 2014 for staff is 50-55%.


  • The eLearning Team provides the facilitation and training of faculty through a variety of seminars, including the Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development and Delivery course.


Strategic Priority 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Institutional outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 3.D.2: At least 30% of undergraduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and formats, such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for undergraduate courses for Fall 2014 is 6%.

Objective 3.D.3: At least 30% of graduate courses are offered in innovative approaches and such as hybrid, online and competency-oriented. Baseline for graduate courses for Fall 2014 is 25%.


  • Key to the advancement of online and hybrid courses, instructional designers in eLearning provide the point of contact for faculty in their work to design distance education courses as well as to facilitate a quality learning experience for students.


The eLearning Team is Here to Help!

If you are new to online learning or a seasoned veteran, the eLearning team is here to help! We provide consultations, faculty learning communities, coaching, and guidance to faculty. Please reach out and connect with us today!


Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

At GVSU, the eLearning team is on mission to support faculty in their work to create high quality online and hybrid courses. Through the work of the instructional designers on IDeL team, as well as the support from the entire eLearning team, faculty have access to a wealth of resources including the required “Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Design Development” course, Faculty Learning Communities, digital media development, and more.

Visit the IDeL web site to learn more about teaching online and to connect with an instructional designer.

Students at the university take a blend of face to face and online/hybrid classes with some students residing in other states and even overseas. Learning online is growing nationally as well, with over 5.8 million students taking at least 1 online course (which amounts to more than 1 in 4 students) according to the Babson Survey Research Group.

Here are a few stats about online learning at GVSU:

  • Online and hybrid enrollment expanded this year by 17% (from 2016) to include over 5,318 enrollments in online and hybrid classes at GVSU.
  • Enrollment in online and hybrid courses has grown by 78% since 2013.
  • In addition, 17% of all students at the university are enrolled in at least 1 online or hybrid class.
  • The online/hybrid courses were taught by 173 faculty in 177 unique courses, representing 12% of the classes at the university.

Learn, Prepare, and Teach an Online/Hybrid Course at GVSU!

If you are new to online learning, we recommend the following course development timeline.

Best practice for developing an online or hybrid course is to allow at least 6 months from start to finish. Although even more time is better, especially if you want to be able to add learning objects or other media that you will create, we also recognize how difficult it is to carve out that much time. Therefore, IDeL recommends a minimum of one full semester for course design. IDeL recommends the same, one full semester of course prep if you are teaching an online course that someone else developed.

For an online / hybrid course offered Spring/Summer, faculty should take Foundations in the previous Fall semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Spring/Summer 2019; take Foundations no later than Fall 2018

For an online / hybrid course offered Fall semester, faculty should take Foundations the previous Winter semester.

  • For example, you are scheduled to teach an online course Fall 2019 take Foundations no later than Winter 2019

Course Development Sequence

To teach a hybrid or online course at Grand Valley, faculty must complete a two-part certification process. In part one, faculty demonstrate that they can successfully use the Blackboard learning management system. In part two (the Foundations workshop), faculty learn eLearning pedagogy and learn strategies for delivering courses online.

2018-19 Foundations of Online and Hybrid Course Development Offerings


Ready to Start YOUR Online Teaching Journey?

Register for Foundations of Online & Hybrid Course Development in Sprout.

Here is a list of upcoming sessions:

Early Fall – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 9/21/18
9/28/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
10/5/18 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
10/12/18 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Mid Fall – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 10/17/18
Week One 10/22/18
Week Two 10/29/18
Week Three 11/5/18
Week Four 11/12/18

Early Winter – Online (4 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 1/16/19
Week One 1/21/19
Week Two 1/28/19
Week Three 2/4/2019
Week Four 2/11/2019

Late Winter – Hybrid (3 week format with 2 required meetings)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 3/8/19
3/15/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)
3/22/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 1pm – 4pm EC513
3/29/19 face to face 1pm – 4pm (DEV classroom TBA)

Spring – Hybrid (3 week format)

*Blackboard competencies need to be met by 5/1/19
5/6/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)
5/13/19 (online, optional drop-in appts available) 9am – 12pm EC513
5/20/19 face to face 9-12 (EC513)

Visit the IDeL Foundations web page for more information about Foundations and Blackboard Competencies.

The Potential of Global Learning @GVSU

Online learning continues to expand at Grand Valley State University with over 170 instructors teaching in 174 different online/hybrid courses with a student enrollment of 4881 (3,870 headcount) in the Winter 2018 semester. This represents a +25.8% enrollment growth since last year. Additionally, roughly 17% of our students are taking at least 1 online/hybrid course.

To assist in preparing students, GVSU provides an “Are you Ready for Online Learning?” assessment for students interested in enrolling in online courses.

The survey offers an opportunity for potential or existing students to review their: 1) time management skills, 2) independent learning skills, 3) learning environment, 4) technology skills, and 5) computer requirements as to a variety of factors that can contribute to success in distance learning.

At the end of the survey, students are also asked to enter their current living location and zip code. The following maps indicate responses by students with an interest in online learning at GVSU.  Through online courses, the university has great potential to extend learning globally.