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June 22, 2011 / dlitgroup

Weekly Updates – June 17th and 24th

The following updates are from the DLIT Department for the week ending June 17th and 24th.


This area includes international, national, regional, state, and local activities.

  • ETOM Higgins Lake Retreat – Eric Kunnen attended an ETOM Board Meeting held during the conference.  Garry Brand and Eric Kunnen attended and presented at the ETOM conference on the topic of mobile learning. The Powerpoint is available here: The session details are as follows:  “State of the (Mobile) Union – Garret Brand & Eric Kunnen, Grand Rapids Community College

In theory, most learners are mobile. Many have a smart phone, tablet, netbook or laptop. Are they actually engaged in mobile learning? Are we providing content for the mobile environment? Come hear how one community college (GRCC) sees the “State of the (Mobile) Union!” Participants will get an opportunity to try new mobile apps and use the iPad, iPhone and other mobile technologies. They will also get to experience and share examples of mobile learning.”   Additional sessions at the conference included: “Hands-on Introduction to Web Accessibility” – Jonathan Whiting, WebAIM
    “Web Tech Freebies” – Claudia Howery & Jane Knochel, Delta College, and “Get your message across on your LMS home page” – Facilitator, Linda Davis.
  • Student Engagement and Social Networking Conference Call – A conference call was held with Ric Underhile, Cindy Martin, and Dr. Reynol Junco who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Academic Development and Counseling and a
    Director, Disability Services for Lock Haven University.  The focus of the call was to investigate a potential research project that leveraging technology in learning.  Specifically the focus would be on using Twitter in content area mastery with the goal of increasing student engagement through social networking.
  • Blackboard Bug Squad Award – Eric Kunnen received a Certificate of Achievement for participation in Blackboard Release 9.1 Bug Squad.
  • Blackboard Learn Analytics for Learn Product Development Partnership – GRCC is participating on a new partnership program with Blackboard that focuses on academic analytics.  The first Product Development Partnership meeting was held in support of the Blackboard Analytics for Learn product.  The discussion topics included:
    –  Introductions of Selected Colleges/Universities
    –  Discussion of current work and  interest in analytics based on LMS data.
    –   Who needs information at our institutions, what, and why?
    –  Quick summary of Blackboard’s product development efforts.
  • NBC Learn Brochure Quote – Eric Kunnen was quoted in a new NBC Learn Brochure.  See below for an excerpt: “NBC Learn provides our faculty and students with easy access to timely current events resources that are engaging, relevant, and dynamic.”
  • DL Breakfast Meeting – Eric Kunnen, Meegan Lillis, and Sherri Donovan from Davenport University held a meeting to discuss online learning, compare initiatives, share current issues, and discuss best practices.  This meeting was very engaging and there are plans to continue to meet to build collaboration and sharing among not only Davenport and GRCC, but perhaps Calvin College, GVSU, and Aquinas.
  • Blackboard Developers Conference Newsletter – Szymon Machajewski, Garry Brand, and Eric Kunnen were highlighted in an e-newsletter for work on providing reporting Building Blocks that are open source and freely available for other colleges to also use on their own campuses.  Here is an excerpt of the newsletter:Homegrown Innovators
    After being awarded Blackboard’s Greenhouse Grant in 2007, Santo Nucifora of Seneca College and Eric Kunnen of Grand Rapids Community College set out to create an advanced reporting Building Block that would allow institutions to create detailed reports on Learn usage in teaching and learning. Using technology very similar to that available with Open DB, they created Project ASTRO, a system that now helps institutions track Learn usage which helps provide accountability, aids in system planning and helps monitor return on investment.Szymon Machajewski of Grand Rapids Community College with Garret Brand and Eric Kunnen utilized Open DB to create the BbStats Building Block. BbStats provides its users with a dashboard to help monitor system activity. With a mobile app client for the iPhone and Android, Learn administrators can assess system performance from anywhere.See you at DevCon in July!


This area includes College work related to teams and committees.

School of Arts & Sciences, Student Affairs, Workforce Development, and Instructional Support & Interdisciplinary Studies.

This area includes participation in the above schools as a representative of DLIT.

College Action Projects

This area includes participation in any CAP work related to the college.

  • DL CAP – The DL CAP was selected as an ongoing Action Project in the 2011-14 College Strategic Plan. A meeting has been scheduled for Friday, July 8 at 11am to provide an overview of how the CAP will tie into the college’s strategic planning process.

Department Action Projects

This area includes accomplishments or milestones regarding Departmental Action Project(s).

  • Project 1 – Extend DL Program
    •  Enrollment Growth – Institutional Research released an enrollment update report for Fall 2011.  Available at:  This report included Online and Hybrid enrollments remaining strong with 2,434 unique students enrolled, almost 15% more than the 2,118 enrolled last year at this time.
    • OHCC Certifications – The summer Online and Hybrid Certification Course came to a close.  11 Faculty were certified with 3 additional faculty working to finalize their end of course presentation.  The following faculty were certified:
      Megan Coakley, Anthony Dykema-VanderArk, Daniel Gendler, Tanya Hecksel, Monica Leneway, Patricia Missad, John Rumery, Amethyst Schott, Melissa TerBurgh, Sheryl York, and Carmela Zapata.
    • Online Course Reviews – The DL Course Review Team (Lisa Gloege, Luann Keizer, Eric Kunnen, and Meegan Lillis) met to review the following courses according to the GRCC course review rubric: GH125, MA 108, and COM 135.  The completed rubric forms will be sent to Patti Trepkowski and Ric Underhile with the associated recommendation and comments from the team.
  • Project 2 – Enhance Classroom and Instructional Technologies
    • GRCC Digital Initiative – Softchalk pricing is being obtained.  This software provides a courseware development solution that is currently not available at the College.  The new instructional technologist/designer will be part of evaluating this software for use in course development.
  • Project 3 – Extend Blackboard Learn, Content, Community
    • No Show Students – The new automation was placed into production on Friday.  This automation provides the functionality that will disable a student in their associated Blackboard course that is marked as NS in Peoplesoft.
    • Bb Meeting – Eric Kunnen, Meegan Lillis, Szymon Machajewski, and Mark Nordblom met and discussed readiness and acceptance testing for SP5 and SP6.  These service packs are a priority as they resolve course copy issues currently reported by faculty.  Also, Oracle 11G upgrades are being discussed.
    • Help Desk Meeting – Fred Bauman, Eric Kunnen, Meegan Lillis, Szymon Machajewski, and Mark Nordblom met to discuss roles of best supporting faculty and Blackboard.
    • Wimba Pronto / Blackboard Instant Messaging Upgrade Work – A meeting will be held with Szymon Machajewski, Mark Nordblom, Eric Kunnen, and Meegan Lillis on Thursday with Blackboard to discuss upgrade plans for this summer as we work to upgrade to the latest version of Wimba Pronto.
    • bbStats updated to work on Zoom tablet – Szymon Machajewski updated the GRCC bbStats Building Block (developed by Szymon) to work on the Android based Motorola Zoom tablet. (This tablet was beneficial and was provided through the GRCC Digitial Initiative and funding provided during the last fiscal year.)  Here is a video overview of how the application works on the Xoom tablet:
    • Knowledgebase Articles for Blackboard – Thanks to Kelly Webber from the IT Help Desk, work has begun to convert many of the Blackboard files into KBA’s that can be promoted as self-help resources.  These KB articles can be found here:  (A tip for searching in the KB: change the last field to in: Subject & Body.) Each article will have its own URL and there are so many Bb KB’s already.
    • Blackboard Instructor & Student Survey Review – Meegan Lillis reviewed the student and instructor open ended comments for the Winter Blackboard survey.  Themes were identified around toolsets and the need for support at the Holland Campus.  As GRCC continues to spreadout geographically, supporting faculty at these remote campuses will become increasingly important.  There is potential for synchronous tools to be used in this work such as Wimba Pronto and perhaps more robust synchronous technologies such as Wimba Classroom or Elluminate (Blackboard Collaborate 11) to be used in realtime support work with faculty.  The top technologies mentioned in the survey included: Skype (Wimba Pronto can be used), Facebook pages, YouTube Mashups, SafeAssign, Adding Media to Blackboard, and other advanced topics.

Other Work within Your Department

This area includes accomplishments or milestones within the department.

  • Welcome to GRCC’s New Instructional Technologist/Designer – Meegan Lillis began at GRCC officially on June 20th.  This week was spent in orientation, lunch meetings, establishing a connection with the EOL faculty, and assorted logistics such as: office space, keys, computer, phone, etc.  Szymon Machajewski has been assigned as Meegan’s college mentor and Carmela Zapata as the Department Mentor.  Garry Brand will also be providing an orientation and mentor role.  Other topics covered included: an overview of the position, DLIT Action Projects, PDD Forms, and the HR Employee Checklist.

Learning Plans/Evaluation Plans

This area contains information related to Learning Plans or Evaluation Plans.


Additional noteworthy items.


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