GRCC at BbWorld12

Pictured left to right – Eric Kunnen (DLIT, Director), Cheryl Kautz (Computer Applications Department Adjunct Professor), Meegan Willi (DLIT, Instructional Designer/Technologist) at the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Luncheon

Cheryl Kautz (Computer Applications Professor), Meegan Willi (DLIT Instructional Designer/Technologist), and Eric Kunnen (Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies) had the opportunity to attend the 14th national BbWorld 2012 conference that was held at the convention center last week in New Orleans.

BbWorld’12 offered a wide array of over 175 client-led sessions and was the largest Blackboard conference to date with over 3,500 attendees from over 1000 institutions and over 280 Bb partners.

Here are a few photos and highlights from Grand Rapids Community College at the BbWorld12 national conference:

(Note: For an overview and summary of BbWorld’s keynotes and conference, please be sure to see: “BbWorld12 Conference Highlights and Summary” as well as the additional posts on this GRCC BbWorld Blog.)

On Social Media, Blogging, and Twitter

  • 25+ blog posts were written by Cheryl, Meegan, and Eric.  The posts capture the notes and key learning from the event.  All posts are available on this blog at:
  • In the past week there were over 11,000 Twitter mentions about BbW12 and BbWorld with over 100 tweets coming from Meegan and Eric.  Twitter messages from the conference are available via Twitter’s search feature here.
  • Meegan and Eric were highlighted as top influencers on Blackboard’s Hashcaster site.

    Blackboard’s Hashcaster Site

  • Meegan Willi and Eric Kunnen served as official BbWorld bloggers.

    Meegan Willi, DLIT Instructional Designer/Technologist – Official BbWorld Blogger

    Eric Kunnen, DLIT Director – Official BbWorld Blogger

About and Around the Conference

  • Eric spent time as an Ask Dr C (complete with lab coat 🙂 ) sharing best practices, answering questions, and connecting with peers from a wide array of institutions.

    Bb Ask Dr C, Eric Kunnen in the Upgrade Center and Digital Content Booth

    Pictured left to right: Eric Kunnen (GRCC), Henk van Rijssen (ROC Midden Nederland), Mike Zimmerman (University of Nebraska, Omaha)

  • Eric served on the program committee for the conference.
  • BIE Steering Committee and Bb Collaborate Product Advisory Council meetings were attended by Eric Kunnen.

On Presentations at the Conference

  • Eric presented as a panelist with Jacksonville State University, University of Maryland, and Montgomery County  in 2 sessions: “Blackboard Analytics for Learn – Panel Discussion” and “Mobility and Course Communications: Bb Connect

    GRCC DLIT Director Eric Kunnen – Presenting at a  Panel Session on Bb Analytics for Learn

  • Adjunct Computer Applications Professor, Cheryl Kautz, was highlighted for receiving the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award in a special award luncheon where Ray Henderson, CTO and President of Academic Platforms, presented Cheryl with her award.  Cheryl also gave a live demonstration of her award winning course on the first day of the conference in the Digital Content Booth.

    Cheryl Kautz receiving the Bb Exemplary Course Award from President of Academic Platforms and CTO, Ray Henderson

    Cheryl Kautz receiving the Bb Exemplary Course Award from President of Academic Platforms and CTO, Ray Henderson

  • Cheryl Kautz also presented with San Jacinto College, University of Miami, and Colorado State University on a panel at BbWorld entitled: “Beyond the Bells and Whistles – Exemplary Courses and Best Practices

    GRCC Computer Applications Adjunct Professor, Cheryl Kautz – Presenting at BbWorld


BbWorld12 Conference Highlights & Summary

Cheryl Kautz (Computer Applications Professor), Meegan Willi (DLIT Instructional Designer/Technologist), and Eric Kunnen (Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies) had the opportunity to attend the 14th national BbWorld 2012 conference that was held at the convention center last week in New Orleans. (See also the blog post and recap of “GRCC at BbWorld12” for the highlights and notes from Cheryl, Meegan, and Eric.)

BbWorld’12 offered a wide array of over 175 client-led sessions at this event that covered topics from teaching to the system administration of Blackboard.  The focus tracks this year included: digital content, social learning, analytics, and mobility.  Keynote sessions were delivered by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Sal Khan, creator of the Khan Academy.  There was also a Blackboard keynote by Michael Chasen, President and CEO and Ray Henderson, CTO and President of Academic Platforms.

BbWorld12 was the largest Blackboard conference to date with over 3,500 attendees from over 1000 institutions and over 280 Bb partners.  This event was a huge success and provided the outstanding opportunity to:

  • Connect with other Blackboard users and colleges from around the world.
  • Network with peers who share in building, expanding, enhancing and improving the use of Bb in teaching and learning.
  • Discover best practices and emerging technologies and teaching techniques.
  • Explore and identify new products and services that can advance the services we provide at the college.
  • Engage and participate in informal discussions and panel sessions around key themes and topics impacting education.
  • Hear inspiring keynotes from thought leaders on the intersection of technology and education.
  • Learn from innovative speakers that approach the next generation of teaching and learning with technology.

The top highlights from the BbWorld conference included:

  • Keynote by Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County on “Innovation in Higher Education: Leadership and the Role of Technology

    The university’s president started out with a simple statement: “Education is becoming something you can get anytime/anywhere… Things are a changing…”.  President Hrabowski’s engaging keynote was inspiring and provided goals that all educators and institutions can aspire to.  We need to focus on “Academic Innovation” which allows education to becoming much better than we are currently.  Rather than focus on the notion of “access” – we need to focus on access AND success in the same sentence.  Online learning and hybrid courses can lead to better results than face to face courses and

    “We must believe that we can make a difference in the world.  America is great and can be greater than ever before.”

  • Keynote by Michael Chasen (President and CEO of Bb), Ray Henderson (CTO and President of Academic Platforms) on: “Blackboard Corporate Keynote

    This session opened with a thought provoking video of “The Voice of the Active Learner“.  Also highlighted was Blackboard’s innovative vision, a focus on the fundamentals, and several new services and a mobile showcase.

    Bb announced “Projectxp” which will bring several new innovations that include a new: discussion board, calendar, and an exciting new way to share learning content within the institution and beyond through “xpLor” which is a new learning object repository coming later this year.

    Support was also discussion with 89% of tickets resolved within 1 day and an 8X improvement in extensive product testing.  Client satisfaction is at an all time high and Bb is committed to quality at all levels of the platform.

    In addition to “xpLor” mentioned above, new features include: improved item analysis for assessments, new interface with easy global navigation, new enterprise survey tool included at no charge, improved text messaging support also included, enhanced 2 way SMS text messaging for Bb Connect, a brand new Analytics platform for reporting and student insights from courses, the live Bb Collaborate tool now has integration with the gradebook and mobile features, and finally, a brand new “Social Learning” system is coming the provides enhanced profiles, student social spaces, profiles, activity streams and more!  Blackboard also announced that students can now purchase Bb Mobile Learn on iOS and Android devices for $1.99 for a yearly subscription and $5.99 for unlimited use.

    Additional notes are available here: “Blackboard Corporate Keynote“.

  • Keynote by Sal Khan founder of Khan Academy on: “Rethinking Education

    Sal’s session was very inspiring and the mission of the Khan Academy is: “A free, world-class education for anyone anywhere”.

    He shared stories of how technology is benefiting students from around the world and how it can significantly increase student – to – teacher ratio time by shifting some of the lecture content from classroom time to homework aka “Flipped Classroom” model.  In this model (in use by several GRCC faculty) instructors can spend most of their time on interventions with students, working individually with them, group activities, and hands-on learning in the classroom.

  • Day 1 Recap Video
  • Day 2 Recap Video
  • Day 3 Recap Video
  • Voice of the Active Student Video
  • BbWorld12 Session Presentations are available (74 to date) on Blackboard’s Slideshare account.

Beyond the Bells and Whistles – Tips & Tricks from Blackboard Exemplary Course Award Winners

Deb Everhart, Exemplary Course Director

Course winners:

  • Tess Bader
  • Cheryl Kautz
  • Chris Duke
  • Lyndon Godsall

PanelThere are seven directors in the Exemplary Course Program, Deb Everhart being among them. The core of the program is the rubric which is a tool divided up into four main areas to help faculty in reviewing their courses.

  1. Course Design
  2. Interaction & Collaboration
  3. Assessment
  4. Learner Support

This rubric is also used entirely outside of the Exemplary Course Program. For more information visit .

2012 was the largest year for the Exemplary Course Program. There were 151 courses submitted, 265 reviewers who produced more than 650 reviews. In the end 40 courses were awarded. Of those courses, four were selected to share in this session.

Tess Bader and her team of six developed English 130, Introduction to Literature. At CSU-Global each course has a template which is built in-house by a team. The three exemplary practices from this course were:

Consistency of Design Screenshot1. Interaction

  • Every course has six specific items in their course:
  • Faculty Information, including a picture, weekly office hours that are held through Blackboard IM, commitment and expectations that students can have of them throughout the course.
  • Discussions – Faculty are required to start a weekly discussion and all students must post their own response and reply to two others.
  • Live Classroom – The courses are all 100% online, so synchronous activities are not required. However, every course has a live classroom link in Wimba Classroom which CSU-Global will transitioning to Blackboard Collaborate. If faculty can commit to doing three live classroom sessions in a semester they receive a stipend.
  • Feedback & Grades – The best practice at the university is for faculty to mark up papers line-by-line with the commenting features in MS Word. Additionally, all assignments have rubrics to give students specific detail on how they will be graded.

2. Use of MediaScreenshot of Video & Podcasts

  • Each module has a written version of a lecture.
  • Video & Podcasts are included in the lectures. Podcasts from NPR and videos from appropriate sources to compliment the content of the lecture.
  • CSU-Global is currently working on a single-button translation for students to go from English to Spanish for any media in a course.
  • Accessibility: Every video or audio clip is transcribed and students can download, print, and use the written transcription.

3. Mastery Exercises

  • Check your understanding exercises are peppered throughout the course materials.
  • Mastery Exercises are for a grade and students may taken them an unlimited number of times. They are typically 10 questions in length and have no due date.

Cheryl Kautz, an adjunct faculty member at Grand Rapids Community College won an Exemplary Course Award for her Advanced Photoshop course.

1. ProjectsScreen Shot of Course Design: Projects

  • The heart of this course is in the projects.
  • A course link is provided to give students two ways to get to the projects – from the weeks and also directly from the navigation.
  • Inside a weekly folder, the set-up is consistent from week to week. The topics differ each week, but the layout is the exact same.
  • In some videos there are pop-up quiz questions which stop the videos and also ensure that students are paying attention.
  • For each project, there are screen captures of past student work to let students see examples without giving them the raw file.
  • In addition, there is a help link for each week which is a text file including all of the same information from the video in a different format  for students to use if they want or need the extra information.
  • Lastly is a learn more folder which gives students more activities and resources for students to use for fun.

2. RubricsScreenshot of Assessment Rubrics

  • Cheryl uses Blackboard’s Interactive Rubrics for her assessments.
  • The rubrics are provided for students as printable PDFs to give students a way to print out and be able to refer to the exact details of how their work will be graded.

Chris Duke uses the philosophy of ACA – developing courses that are active, collaborative, and authentic. This framework can be used to rework any course.

1. Announcements

  • Over the last few years, Chris has started to carry over his announcements from one semester to another. It increases efficiency, so the introductory announcement is already written each time.
  • This also helps carry over the lessons learned from one semester to the next.
  • Some of the announcements are scheduled to release. By having the announcement prepopulated, Chris can have the announcements be regular and consistent which increases his presence in the course without creating more work for Chris.

2. Module Structure

  • Everything is labeled either required, recommended, or optional.
  • Required items must be done as they will impact a student’s grade.
  • By having ever item in an module labeled, students are forced to be more active in the course and make their own decisions on what they need to do to be successful in the course.

3. Task List

  • Students get a checkable task list which is ordered sequentially thought the course which helps them manage their time and complete the necessary assignments and assessments.

4. Automated Notifications

  • If a student has not logged in over the last two days, they get an email template letting them know that they need to log in. The email is sent daily until the student logs in.
  • Students appreciate the emails. It make one student feel really guilty – but it evoked a response with the student which might be what you need to get them involved in the content.

5. Project Driven

  • Students make real life purchasing decisions, giving them active, collaborate, and authentic experiences.
  • Some students take all of their work and actually use it for purchasing a real computer at the end of the year.

Lyndon Godsall is an Instructional Designer at University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies and he won an award for the course Teaching and Learning Theory in Clinical Nursing Education.

1. Consistency

  • They used the learning modules in Blackboard and built everything into units.
  • A unit reflects a week and that reflects a course which can be copied into each semester as long as you don’t put a date in anything. 🙂
  • All units begin with an overview, objectives and a to do list which led to the consistent desired.
  • Learning objects were specifically developed for each unit.

2. Communication

  • They wanted to be in constant communication with the students.
  • Wikis, blogs, collaborate, and discussion boards were all used to provide regular communication with the students.
  • One of the strongest learning points in the course – in many of the online courses at this institution – have discussion boards to allow peer to peer and peer to teacher communications.
  • We created a class photo website. The gallery of pictures garnered a feeling of community amongst the group. The team asked students to provide a picture for the website – this really made the students feel like part of the classroom even though they would never be on campus together for the course.
  • Blackboard Collaborate was very important to regularly communicate with students. Each week there was a seminar to communicate with students and give them a way to communicate back with the team.

3. Appropriateness

  • Different types of multimedia was used throughout the course, but always appropriate media that adds meaning.
  • Video is shot in-house in a simulation lab in the school to allow them to shoot various scenarios.
  • 5 of the units contain embedded video via Vimeo.

Beyond the Bells and Whistles – Exemplary Courses and Best Practices

Professor Cheryl Kautz talking about course design strategies that she used in her Exemplary Course.

Tess Bader
Instructional Technology Coordinator, Colorado State University Global Campus

Chris Duke
Director of Curriculum and Assessment, San Jacinto College, Adjunct Faculty, Lone Star College Cy-Fair

Deborah Everhart
Chief Architect, Blackboard Learn

Lyndon Godsal
Instructional Designer, University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies

Cheryl Kautz
Adjunct Professor, Grand Rapids Community College

Session Description
Join the Directors, reviewers, and winners of Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program (ECP) as we focus on the importance of pedagogical best practices. We will discuss the design and teaching principles behind the ECP rubric; the impact of exemplary courses on the student experience; and how the ECP and its rubric can be used for individual course improvement, faculty training, and professional development. Several of this year’s ECP winners will demonstrate best practices in their winning courses.


  • Over 150 courses were submitted this year in the Exemplary Course Award Program
  • The program uses a rubric on course design, interaction, assessment, and learner support.
  • Colorado State
    • Uses Bb Collaborate for live sessions and sessions are archived.
    • Students are given feedback on their work through
    • Uses a module approach that includes media for lectures (written narrative, podcasts, videos embedded).  The videos have a transcript.
    • Check your understanding (ungraded) and mastery exercises (Bb quizzes of 10 questions) are used for formative assessment.  StudyMate is used for quick quizzes for ungraded assessment.
  • GRCC – Cheryl Kautz
    • Projects – Weekly folders include lecture and homework projects and resources.  Links are also included to previous student work as examples and to set expectations.  Manageable segments are consistent and variety of media. Camtasia is used for the video.  Each week has a help link that provides tutorial resources for learning the skills.  There are detailed instructions and screen shots that give extra support.  FAQs are also available and have been acquired over a number of years.
    • Interactive Rubrics – These are available in several places in the course.  Students can print the rubric that is required/used for project reviews.   The interactive rubrics are used from the grade center and are used to assess work and the score is saved automatically included in the gradebook.  This has been a huge time saver.
    • Rubric resources are available here: user/pass: bbw77
    • Tour available here.
  • San Jacinto College – Chris Duke
    • “ACAdemic” = Active / Collaborative / Authentic is a design philosophy for the course.
    • Uses dashboard announcements – used for curated content as much as the rest of the course.  Announcements are copied and reused each semester.
    • Chris uses a required and recommended approach for some of the content.  This gives them a filter and manage their time without being overwhelmed.
    • Modules > Objectives and content is sequential and varied.
    • Task list in Angel is used and helps students and guides them through due dates.
    • Automatic notifications help broadcast his presence in the course.  If students are not logging in, the students will get an email.
    • Links to “real world” websites such as HP, Microsoft, etc.
  • University of Miami – Lyndon Godsall
    • Consistency, communication, and appropriateness is key.
    • Units and learning modules were used in the design.  A unit reflects a week.
    • Communication was important too.  Collaborate, discussion boards, wikis, and blogs were used.
    • Multimedia was used with a focus on appropriateness – a purpose of use.
    • Learning modules were used for consistency.  Includes objectives, to do lists, reading, discussion board, seminar, additional resources, video, summary, powerpoint, and archived seminar from Bb Collaborate.
    • Video was custom and edited in house and uploaded to Vimeo.
    • Discussion boards were used in every unit to enable communication for peer to peer and teacher to student communication.
    • Wikis were used and students enjoyed contributing to the group wikis which was an additional mode of communication and vehicle for sharing ideas.
    • A class photo roster was beneficial since the students were never going to meet since it was an online class.  Created a feeling of connection among other students.
    • Bb Collaborate provided a way to hold online seminars to enhance student communication and allow them to communicate back in real time.  These sessions were archived.  The instructors used the polling function to keep the seminar interesting.

Rethinking Education


Sal Khan

Founder, Khan Academy

Session Description

With over 3,700,000 users per month, Khan Academy is transforming learning. Founder Salman Khan will provide insight into its history and evolution, and how we can rethink education.


      • Opening sample video from the Khan Academy [See: Khan Academy on YouTube or the Khan Academy website for sample videos.]
      • Khan Academy – “A free, world-class education for anyone anywhere”
        • 140 million+ lessons delivered
        • 500 million+ excerises done
        • 6+ million unique users (10 times all Harvard graduates since 1636)
      • Sal’s story started in 2004 working with his family on math problems for fun and for helping and tutoring his cousin. It started with phone calls and Yahoo IM. Long story short he started Khan Academy in tutoring and it grew from there. He began writing software that would generate problems for his cousins. Sal then had trouble scaling up his lessons and then started putting up his videos on YouTube. This worked because it shifted the time and gave them the opportunity to review… it then also made their live sessions more valuable. The videos started to be more popular on YouTube. Sal eventually quit is day job and started the academy as a non-profit.
      • The videos and content on Khan Academy sites are part of the picture with a sequence and content and the underlying software adds richness and guidance for learners.
      • Assessments are included which help identify gaps and builds and adapts in an individual way so that students are forced to build upon their “gaps” in knowledge.
      • Instead of holding fixed to a time to process through learning.  The variable is how long it takes and what is fixed – that everyone learns the topic.
      • You can do things with videos and tutorials that you can’t do with a text book.  (e.g. Hints, check answers, instant feedback, on demand interactive help, on demand tutorial and review content, etc.)
      • Faculty can spend most of their time on interventions with students, working individually with students, group work, etc. while students process content via the video and software.
      • The Khan Academy also includes a progress and analytics tracking mechanism to see where students are succeeding, where they are having trouble, and how far they are in progressing through the content.  If students are not performing, interventions can occur by peer students and/or the instructor.
      • Students are working at their preferred pace through differentiated instruction that is personalized and outcomes based.
      • Whenever you think of technology in the classroom you sometimes think of it as dehumanizing, but in fact it can increase the student – to – teacher ratio time is significantly increased via video.
      • NBC Video on Khan Academy
      • A couple of videos were played during the keynote on how the Khan videos are changing lives of real people around the world (orphans in Mongolia who is now a translator for Khan Academy videos!).
      • Use time in the classroom for other things and the videos can be watched offline. “Flipped Classroom” model.

Khan Academy – “A free, world-class education for anyone anywhere”

Blackboard Analytics for Learn – Panel Discussion

Blackboard Analytics for Blackboard Learn Customer Limited Field Trial Panel: Early Findings and Insights 

Eric Kunnen, Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies, Grand Rapids Community College
John Fritz, Assistant VP, Instructional Technology and New Media, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Celeste Schwartz, Vice President for Information Technology, Montgomery County Community College

There are three pillars behind Blackboard Analytics for Learn:

  1. Improve Student Success
  2. Optimize Blended & Online Instruction
  3. Leverage LMS Investments

In a nutshell, data is being taken from where Blackboard Learn and Student Information Systems and put into a transformation layer. Then it is stored in a data warehouse and finally end users can get information from the system using dashboards, reports, and dynamic analysis.

UMBC Background

  • Founded in 1966
  • A research extensive university based on Carnegie classifications
  • Fall 2011 – 13,199 students (10,573 undergrad, 2,626 grad) and 1,186 staff
  • Selected brags: #1 “Up and Coming National Unversity” U.S. News American’s Best Collegs, three years running, 2011, 2010, 2009, 1st in Undergrad Chemistry Degrees awarded to African Americans, One of 50 Best Colleges for Women, 7-time National College Chess Champions
  • Began using Bb in Spring 2000
  • Currently on Bb 9.1 SP 6 with plans to upgrade in the Winter to the latest version

Adoption stats

  • 95% of all students
  • 75% of all instructors
  • 65% of all courses
  • 350 communities

Analytics Initiatives

  • 2007 – Started publishing Public Reports
  • 2008 – Check my Activity for Students
  • 2009 – Code release at BbWorld 2009
  • 2010 – Adopted iStrategy for analysis of all Bb courses
  • 2011 – BbA4L Limited Field Trial

Support Staff

  • 2 FTE (Administrator and Support)
  • 1 Server Admin
  • When they started in 2000 they had the same number of support staff that they do today.

GRCC Background

  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Enrollment of 17,000+
  • 200-300 Full Time Faculty and 600-800 Adjunct Faculty

Analytics Projects:

  • New Data Warehousing Initiative
  • BbStats & Project ASTRO Building Blocks
  • Bb Analytics & Analytics for Learn Limited Field Trial Implementation

Blackboard Environment

  • Bb 9.1 SP 6 with plan to implement SP 9 in August
  • Currently in a Summer Pilot with SP 8
  • Bb Learn, Community, Content, Connect, Collaborate (Bb IM, Voice Tools), Transact, NBC Learn, and Starfish Early Alert
  • PeopleSoft is the Student Information System

MCCC Background

  • More than 34,000 annual unduplicated credit and non-credit students
  • Over 15,000 fall 2012 students expected, slightly under 15,000 in fall 2011


  • Blue Bell (an affluent area) and Pottstown (a “river town”, industrial area)
  • Online
  • Culinary School (2013)
  • Suburban Philadelphia location in County with 800,000 residents
  • Highly competitive higher education marketplace – there are over 8,000 universities within one hour drive from the Blue Bell campus

Technology Environment

  • Bb Analytics for Learning Limited Field Trial, pilot group has recommended to move forward and purchase BbA4L
  • Bb Analytics Student Module
  • Blackboard 9.1 SP 7
  • College ERP: Ellucian Colleague

Audience Questions

What were your key findings in the field trial? Successes, new information, and areas you are hoping for improvement in?

EK: One of the most amazing thing we found being part of the field trial was seeing the data that is available. The SIS data combined with the Learn data gives  you much more insight. Demographical data about your students using the tools in the system and being able to slice that among different departments and instructors gives you a great amount of potential to view trends in data. One of the biggest challenges with access to this wealth of data, it becomes overwhelming very quickly. The dashboards were one of the most important pieces, the ability to go into the system to get an at a glace view of the pulse of the system is very beneficial. Plus, by viewing this information on a dashboard you can quickly copy and paste the information or let academic leaders know that they can view the dashboard at anytime to gather this data.

CS: The thing that was most powerful for Celeste was what the students can see. When you get down to data that you can give to students at the student level, access statistics and grades with side-by-side comparisons of how other students in the same course are working. How much time are A, B, C, and D level students spending in the course as compared to “me”. This may help faculty identify content that is not working, and areas that should be reworked. It is a huge driver for student success and retention.

JF: Trying to come to agreements on terminology like what is a course. The data you can get helps you get to the culture questions quicker. You can get the data very quickly, but once you have that data, what do you do with it? You have to look at the same data with at least one other person because it is amazing how differently you view the data and the variety of nuances that arise. One of the biggest perspectives available is the ability to view how much content is in the courses and how many students are actually accessing that content. There is great potential for faculty development, course design, and student success.

With the awareness of all the data and the power of it, what are some of the other questions you are now able to ask and answer that you were not able to previously. 

JF: I am a big believer in the hidden tool of adaptive release. When we tried to do some analytics on our own, I was starting to hear more faculty using adaptive release. Mark put together a report that shows all of the courses that use adaptive release versus those who do not and there is a 10-15% increase in students accessing content in courses that use adaptive release. This was data that would have been impossible to find before using A4L.

If faculty could just see that they are spending a lot of time on a course that students are not using. If you faculty can see that their colleagues are spending less time on developing their courses and having their students access their materials more, than why wouldn’t they rethink how they are designing their course and go talk to those colleagues who are spending less time on development.

EK: At GRCC, we are at the cusp of being able to ask questions surrounding instructor presence in courses and how important that is to students. How do we better train our faculty? Who are our faculty who are using the various tools? There is an amazing amount of potential combining the data that is currently in the student information system with the data in Learn.

Global level outcome reports for general learner outcomes was painful before, and with this tool will be much easier for us. You can use your time to ask questions, process the data, look at trending instead of using all your time gathering the data.

CS: We have very few tools in our tool kit that allow us to merge student information from an SIS with the LMS data. This tool has allowed us to co-mingle those things and be able to look at the data in a very different way. The real power is going to be at that individual faculty and student level.

What documentation is available that will help sell this tool to faculty? Both for those that are interested in using learning analytics, but also those who are resistant?

All reports have a link to the documentation within the tool. Outside of the tool, Blackboard has a series of other documents for different roles. Some institutions have also begun to create their own more custom documentation.

JF: This is a powerful tool which will take some time. You have to use it a little bit every day. As you begin to operationalize and use it on a daily basis, you will get much better using the tool. Although right now I spend 30-40% of my time using this tool right now, however, I do not have to use anyone else’s time to get the data.

EK: The time investment depends on your role. There are reports prepared specifically for deans. Your institution’s set-up will also determine how much time you will spend on the tool. It takes a commitment that involves the entire campus, not just one particular office. It is a collective campus need that requires inclusion from all parties.

For more information on Blackboard Analytics for Learning visit:

Digital Content: This Changes Everything

Tom Caswell
WA State Board for Community & Technical Colleges

Slides available here:

The Dream

In Washinton State, they have created digital materials that live in the cloud and anyone can access. It allows the faculty in Washington to have a place to begin when then enter the school system.

The Need

We need to find a better way to educate the millions of students we have – in another 15 years we will have another million students in the world to educate. How can we accomodate these students? We would have to open 4 new universities every week for the next 15 years. This is not possible – we have to find a different way.

Education is Sharing

  • Teachers share with students
  • Students share with teachers
  • If there is no sharing, than perhaps there is no education.
  • The most successful educators share the most completely with students.

Knowledge is Magical

  • You can give away knowledge with out losing it – you can teach someone to take great photographs and retain the skill yourself.
  • A physical expression – such as a book – you actually lose when you share. You lend a book and then you have to wait to get it back to use it again.
  • Digital expressions on the other hand allow everyone to access the same item at the same time.

Cost of “Copy”

For one 250 page book:

  • Copy by hand – $1000
  • Copy by print on demand – $4.50
  • Copy by computer – copy the file – $0.00084

Cost of “Distribute”

For one 250 page book:

  • By mail – $5.20
  • By computer – $0.00072

So copying and distributing is essentially free – except we have copyrights. What the internet enables, copyriht forbids and this presents a real challenge to educators. The solution, creative commons, “a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to your creative work.”

There is a two step process to using Creative Commons:

  1. Choose the License Conditions
  2. Receive License

Digital plus open licensing gives us diagnostic, adaptive, interactive, free, full local control. Its like peanut butter and chocolate! (Insert Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup image here :] )


There is a continuum for open resources. They can be as simple as individual images, like pictures on flickr. On the other end of the continuum are entire courses and certifications.

Open Content Continuum

From the faculty perspective, whats in it for them? Are faculty being replaced?

NO!Brett Shelton

Consider the example of Dr. Shelton. His instructional games, are on the first page of google. If you can end up on the front page of a google search – how much further can you go? The audience from this gives individuals unique opportunities to network with others.

Strategic Technology Plan at Washinton State Board for Community & Technical Colleges:

Open Course Library

A collection of openly licensed (CC BY) educational materials for 81 high-enrollment college courses in Washington. The goals fo the project were:

  1. Lower textbook costs for students
  2. Improve course completion rates
  3. Provide new resources for faculty

42 courses were released in October 2011. Since then, there have been over 35,000 visits from over 125 countries. Plus, over 80 media messages.

In the first year, students will save $1.1 million in textbook costs – the students’ textbook savings was greater than the cost of the entire project!

What happened to those materials? (Remember, its only been 9 months since these courses were released.) The Saylor Foundation took the 11 entirely free courses and made them better. They caught typos and had graphic designers on staff who made the courses look even nicer. A couple months ago, the Saylor Foundation moved their courses to iTunesU including these original course materials from the Open Course Library.

The best way to do your job is to do your best and give it away.

A few great models that are up and coming:

  • P2PU – Peer to Peer University
  • OpenBadges
  • UoPeople
  • Straighterline
  • Western Governors University

Some students need an educational version of a personal trainer, and these options may be a good fit for them. At the core of all these new models is the idea of digital content which allows us to meet a greater need.

The two big takeaways:

  1. Digital + Open
  2. Lifelong Learning