Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

Learning on-the-GO with Blackboard!
March 30, 2009, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags: , , ,

GRCC was recently highlighted in a recent Blackboard Inc. Press Release entitled: “New Blackboard Learn(TM) for Apple(R) iPhone(TM) Application Lets Users Take Learning on the Go”.

In the press release, Nate Schumacher who is a student and a staff member in the Learning Academy was cited for his involvement in the Beta of the application.

iphoneapp“Building on its efforts to engage students and learners in a more personalized learning experience, Blackboard Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBB) today announced the release of a free application that lets users of the Apple(R) iPhone(TM) and iPod touch(R) take learning on the go by accessing course information wherever and whenever they prefer […]The application is great for quickly checking Blackboard on the go, and it helps me be more engaged and organized even if I’m from away campus,” said Nate Schumacher, a freshman at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan who participated in the Beta program for the application. “With Blackboard on my iPod touch, I’m checking more often for new grades and updates the same way I check my email. Because it’s so accessible, I can see my progress instantly and get feedback from professors on how I’m doing, so it helps make me a better student. This application has great potential. I would definitely recommend it to other students…

More information is available on the Blackboard Sync web site.


Technology in Teaching – The Final Frontier
March 11, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: Articles | Tags: , , ,

According to, the word “Frontier” means:

an undeveloped field of study; a topic inviting research and development; “he worked at the frontier of brain science”

Photo from Flickr by pbo31 under the Creative Commons license.

Photo from Flickr by pbo31 under the Creative Commons license.

This notion rang true recently for me after Gary Ebels, a professor at GRCC forwarded me an article from the Wired Campus entitled: “Randy Bass and Bret Eynon: We Need R&D for Teaching With Technology

In this article, Randy Bass, from Georgetown University, and Bret Eynon, from LaGuardia Community College posed the following statement and question:

“When it comes to innovations in teaching and learning, higher education seems like the last to know and the slowest to respond. In every other way, we push at the frontiers of knowledge, ask critical questions, take risks. In all other realms of research, practices of peer review, dialogue, accountability, and replication engender innovation. Why is it the opposite for teaching and learning?”

I thought this was an excellent way of posing the ongoing work and challenges facing education in this highly technical, fast moving, and interactive world in which we find ourselves. Why is it so difficult for educational institutions in adopting new technologies and methodologies? Why is it that we get stuck on theory and principle but can’t quite make it to methods and practices? How can institutions meet change head on and accept it, even though it may reduce control from the departments and individuals that are used to heeding control?

I think Mr. Bass and Mr. Eynon are correct in saying that one of the reasons is that we have little means to take an individual idea or technology from breakthrough to the mainstream.  One problem is that for many institutions, the institution’s policies, procedures, and operations exist for the purpose of simply maintaining the status-quo of an institution. And that is why I think it is important to underscore the suggestion in the article.  That is, “…we must create communities within institutions that truly engage experimentation in the context of inquiry and systematic improvement. Every campus should have its own R&D processes that nurture transformative practices. Every campus should be asking what it means to create such a space.  How can structures of accountability nurture creativity?”

All this being said, educational institutions are approaching a sort of “transformative tipping point” (if you will) where if they don’t change, they run the risk of becoming old and outdated in their desire to preserve the past, as others pass them by. We need to set aside our rigid formal policies and procedures that restrict innovation and creativity and proceed forward.  It is true that we can’t do everything, since trying to do everything results in not doing anything really really well.  Hence, as the article suggests, every college needs an “R&D department”.

Change happens quickly in our next generation world, and those that are successful will be fast to adopt new technologies and teaching methodologies.  It is no longer good enough to be the biggest-on-the-block, you also need to be able to adapt quickly while keeping momentum and the mission dynamic.  Put another way, it’s really about flattening the organization so that flexibility can breed enthusiasm which encourages creativity that leverages innovation.

Understandably, with growth and change comes uncertainty, disagreement, etc. but through working together collaboratively with flexibility, I believe this frontier can be explored and leveraged.