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September 15, 2011 / dlitgroup

Weekly Updates – September 16

The following updates are from the DLIT Department for the week ending September 16th.


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

  • GRCC Participated in Davenport University Online Conference – Several GRCC faculty participated in Davenport University’s 2011 Online Teaching Conference.   The theme was: “One size does not fit all: Adaptable teaching methods for a variety of online learners and instructors.”  Some of the faculty from GRCC that participated included: Kenneth Smith, Lisa Palczewski, Ann Alexander, Gary Ebels, Garry Brand, Grace Schwanda, Mursalata Muhammad, Winona Hartney. See blog post here for additional information:
  • Recognition – Eric Kunnen was quoted in “the SOURCE on Community College Issues, Trends & Strategies” by George Lorenzo in a publication written and available online on August 7, 2011.  See:  and  The quotes highlight GRCC’s use of Blackboard IM and Starfish Early Alert.

    Retention Software Helping GRCC
    Another good example of how a community college is implementing best practices and strategies geared toward helping their online students stay on board and succeed can be found at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Michigan.  Eric Kunnen, GRCC’s director, Distance Learning & Instructional Technologies, explains how his department has been using retention-oriented software that “allows us to set up rules in the system that specifically targets online courses and lets us know if a student has not logged into a course in 48 hours, or 24 hours, or whatever threshold we decide to set,” he says.  “Then we can communicate with those students who are not starting out well and notify an advisor, a counselor, a retention specialist, the instructor and/or the student.  The flags are automatically set up based on the rules and thresholds we define.”  Additionally, the system can be integrated with an instructor’s grade book.  “We can show which students have missed their assignments or are not performing well based on a midterm grade [or other course-related flags.].”

    Adding to the Mix
    GRCC also utilizes synchronous technologies for communication between faculty and students, such as instant messaging and video conferencing.  More instructors are using such tools for online office hours, Kunnen explains. “It allows for a variety of synchronous communications [during times that are more convenient, in particular, for adjunct faculty members an busy working adults who don’t spend a lot of time on campus] so they can chat, launch an audio session, or even a whiteboard session, which works especially well for math courses,” he adds. 

  • ETOM Board Meeting – Eric Kunnen participated in a board meeting for ETOM.  The entire meeting focused on planning for Fall conference that will be hosted at GRCC on October 14th.  Encouraging GRCC faculty to attend and participate is requested.
  • Blackboard Bug Squad – Eric Kunnen and Meegan Lillis partipated in the Blackboard Bug Squad.  This community engagement program provides GRCC with the ability to vote and ensure our desired fixes are included in future releases of the software.
  • Blackboard Learn Product Roadmap 2011, 2012, & Beyond – DLIT participated in a webinar that highlighted new capabilities and innovations coming in the next year.

Department Action Projects

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

  • Project 1 – Extend DL Program
    • BOT Access End – Eric Kunnen attended and participated in 2 meetings with John Cowles, Cindy Martin, and Diane Patrick on the Access End report for the Board of Trustees.
    • Fall Enrollment Data for Distance Learning:

      Fall 2011
      – Enrollment 4,779 (19.7% increase)
      – Unique Students 3,290 (17.6% increase)
      – 9% of all credits (2.4% increase)Fall 2010
      – Enrollment 3,992
      – Unique Students 2,797
      – 6.6% of all credits

  • Project 2 – Enhance Classroom and Instructional Technologies
    • n/a
  • Project 3 – Extend Blackboard Learn, Content, Community

Other Work within Your Department

This area includes accomplishments, milestones, or comments from within the department.

  • Adjunct Faculty Learning Day – Meegan Lillis, and EOL faculty Tim Koets, and Luann Keizer will help support the facilitation of this event on Saturday.
  • Bb Session Gradebook – Tim Koets facilitated a session on using the gradebook in Blackboard through the CTE.  3 faculty were enrolled and 1 person was enrolled.  More marketing and promotion appears to be needed for sessions.
  • DLIT Web Updates – The following web pages were created and updated: – updated courses and certified instructors with a known issue for groups.

  • New Faculty Blog Post – Meegan Lillis assisted in placing a new blog post online.  The post: “Twitter in the Classroom”, is a post by Szymon Machajewski.  This was highlighted on the DLIT blog:  this is also posted on the “Faculty Voices” site at:
  • ISIS Project Meeting – Penni, Mike, Meegan, Jose, Nate, and Eric met to discuss work for the week and also to discuss trainings, sessions, promotion, and tracking workflows through the CTE.
  • English Department Meeting – Meegan Lillis is meeting with the English Department on Friday to discuss connecting Blackboard to a pilot program that the department is researching.
  • AGC Meeting – Eric Kunnen was assigned to continue participation on AGC as a non-voting member.  The highlight from the AGC meeting this week included new issues to be considered for adoption such as: course waiting list, standardization of clickers, course waiting lists, and several other suggestions.  Of special note for our area includes the following brainstorming ideas:

    – student clicker technology (student response systems),
    – mandatory orientation for students
    – records vs grades (Blackboard connection with final grades)
    – program review (Blackboard rubrics, standards, outcomes, and analytics features)
    – course templates for online courses (college owned per faculty contract),
    – course quality, mandatory student orientation (tech pre-reqs) and improving retention online (mentor program),
    – ada and copyright concerns for online
    – need a faculty help desk for teaching
    – faculty professional development (when to offer, increasing attendance, what is our model?)
    – effective utilization of classrooms and campus spaces


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