Eric Kunnen\’s GRCC Blog

Faculty Learning Day 2012 – Keynote Notes
January 12, 2012, 10:16 am
Filed under: Conferences, Work Activities

Grand Rapids Community College has a faculty learning day every year with a keynote and several breakout sessions.

This year, the keynote was delivered by Constance Staley from the University of Colorado who spoke about the topic of “resilience” in faculty and students.

Here are a few of my notes from her presentation:

  • Resilience = Confidence / Character / Connections and it is also related to the themes of the conference which were: Challenge / Control / Commitment
  • When working with students we need to accentuate the positive.
  1. Praise Effort & Motivation – Focus on the effort placed by students.
  2. Emphasize Realistic Optimism – Not blind faith, but help students admit what needs to be changed.  It’s about the intentionality of learning and the students’ responsibility.
  3. Teach Student to Fail Forward – Use experience to gain and “failure is a process not an obstacle”.
  4. Help Students Understand how they contribute to their own learning and resilience.  Do students spend the time and energy required to be able to succeed.  Are they prepared? Do they monitor their own performance?
  5. Build & Model Emotional Intelligence – Are students discouraged? Do they have low motivation? Do they realize it?  Focus and build student intra-personal, inter-personal, stress management, adaptability, etc.
  • Multitasking = Task Switching
  • When students multitask they are breaking a connection and when they get to the next task they need to spend time to rebuild.
  • We need to “Help Students Learn how to Learn”!
  • Many students need help with anti-procrastination management, stress management, and we can do our part to engage multiple learning styles?
  • Fear management is an important part of resiliency and students have a tendency to: 1) Drop out, 2) Scale back, 3) Avoid assessment and assignments, and 4) Redefine what success/failure looks like.  These are indicators.
  • Important too is the student’s mindset – that is – what and how they think about their own intelligence. Here are 2 videos that were shared during the keynote:

In short faculty need to help students with building their resilience and the key areas that instructors can include in their lessons and instructional design include: CHALLENGE | REACTION | INSIGHT | ACTION

What are your thoughts about faculty or student resiliency?


Applying the Blackboard LMS to TPACK
February 3, 2011, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags: ,

I recently came across TPACK.

“Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to capture some of the essential qualities of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching, while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge. At the heart of the TPACK framework, is the complex interplay of three primary forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK).” – SOURCE:

What I like about TPACK is that it zeros in on the intersection and interplay of the domains of: Content, Pedagogy, and Technology  This model can be used to be reflective and yet intentional when viewed from the aspect of teaching practice and instructional technology deployment.  This can be useful for faculty, instructional designers, those involved in designing professional development activities, and instructional technologists.

Using the TPACK model, faculty and instructional designers can focus on relaying content that adhere to course outcomes in a way that is pedagogically effective through the application of appropriate technologies.  Taken together this truly has potential to transform teaching and learning.  This in turn, has direct implications for faculty professional development as well as instructional technologists that are charged with providing support for technology integration in teaching.

While the focus is on the TPACK “center”, the following intersections may be helpful to review to begin putting TPACK into practice and it is also where the “rubber-meets-the-road” so to speak.

Consider the following equation (TCK + PCK + TPK = TPACK):

TCK (Technological Content Knowledge)

  • This intersection is all about how technology can be applied to subject matter to represent it and formulate it in ways never before possible – with the goal to make it comprehensible for diverse populate learners and learning styles.
  • Blackboard can power unique applications and representations of content.  Powerful analogies through Wimba Voice Tools, illustrations through Slideshare and Flickr Mashups, examples and simulations or explanations through YouTube Mashups, and demonstrations or real world application of content with engaging video tools such as NBC Learn can be easily added to courses in Blackboard.


PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge)

  • This intersection relates to how subject matter can be organized, adapted, facilitated, and presented.
  • Blackboard enables faculty and instructional designers to create an effective sequence and structure in displaying course materials, assignments, and learning activities.  Learning Units, Lesson Plans, Course Links, and Tool Links can be used by faculty to bring about custom course designs in Blackboard.  In addition, Adaptive Release can be leveraged to create custom learner paths.


TPK (Technological Pedagogical Knowledge)

  • This intersection is about the knowledge of the existence of technologies and ability to apply them to change teaching and learning.
  • Blackboard has a wide array of tools for teaching.  These tools can be broken down into Content Delivery, Communication, and Assessment categories.  There are also features that provide the ability to manage and maintain class records.  A few of the features in Blackboard include: Grade Center, Discussion Boards, Wikis, Blogs, Journals, Assignments, SafeAssignments, content Mashups (Slideshare, Flickr, YouTube, Camtasia Relay, NBC video content, Voice Authoring), Email, Wimba Pronto Instant Messaging, Wimba Voice Boards, Wimba Voice Email, Wimba Voice Announcements, Self and Peer Assessment, Surveys, Tests, group tools, announcements, etc.



  • and the potential of transforming teaching and learning with technology…

Some closing questions.  As you assess this model:

  1. Which domain do you naturally fall into?
  2. What domain do you need to spend some more time on and learn about?
  3. What steps can you take to approach “the center”?

Fall 2009 Student & Faculty Blackboard Survey Results
December 4, 2009, 4:17 pm
Filed under: Work Activities

Each semester we conduct a survey of students and faculty regarding their use with Blackboard here at GRCC.  The survey is not part of a research based initiative and is posted as a link inside of the Blackboard portal.  This semester, over 850 students and 130 faculty responded to the survey.

Here are the top 7 highlights from this semester’s survey:

1. Students and Faculty would like to see More Blackboard Use in Teaching and Learning

Overall, both faculty (88%) and students (94%) believe that it would improve the learning experience if more instructors used Blackboard.

Student Response
Faculty Response

GRCC’s use of Blackboard (based on the CCSSE report and highlighted in an earlier GRCC Today post “Results of Community College Survey of Student Engagement: Using Technology to Engage Students“) was also higher compared to the national benchmark as seen in the graph below:

Finally, the high use of course management systems is also reflected in the recent ECAR report as shown in the following chart:

What’s more, according to GRCC’s participation in the recent ECAR report, GRCC students surveyed indicated a desire for mobile access to  Blackboard as seen in the following chart:

2. More Online Courses in English, Computers, Business, and Science

When asked what disciplines that students would like to see in the online or hybrid format, in order of preference, they indicated: English, Computer Apps, Business, and Science.  According to a recent CCSSE report, more than 28% of students take online courses with an expectation in the growth of online courses based on a recent Ambient Insight report highlighted in an article by Campus Technology Magazine.

3. Describe Blackboard in One Word

When asked to describe Blackboard in 1 word, most students said: “Helpful”, “Convenient”, and “Useful”

4. Advice for Faculty

When asked to provide advice for faculty, most students used the following words in their open ended responses: “use, grades, blackboard, students,post, class, assignments”.

5. The Gradebook is the Most Used Tool by Students and Faculty

When asked which tools students used most frequently, they indicated:

  1. gradebook
  2. email
  3. announcements
  4. online quizzes
  5. discussion board
  6. content

When posed with the same question, faculty indicated:

  1. gradebook
  2. announcements
  3. email
  4. content
  5. discussion board
  6. online quizzes

6. Students would like more Lecture Capture

When students were asked: “Which technology capability would be most useful to you or what you would want MORE of in your studies and in your coursework here at GRCC?”, students indicated: Lecture Capture and Podcasting, Text Messaging, Live Online Lectures, and Instant Messaging.  For comparison, when faculty were asked the same question regarding technologies in teaching, they responded with: Lecture Capture and Podcasting (35%), Live Online Lectures (17%), Blogs and Wikis (12%), and Text Messaging (10%).

7. Wimba Pronto is the Most Popular Building Block with Faculty & CourseFeed for Facebook is the Most Popular with Students

Nearly 70% of faculty that responded to the survey indicated signing up and using Wimba Pronto for instant messaging, office hours, and enhancing communication with each other and with students.  Additional Building Block integrations used by faculty this semester were:  NBC Content, Facebook CourseFeed, and Rave Wireless.  For comparison, students responding to the survey indicated that they used: Facebook courseFeed (49%), Wimba Pronto (42%), and Rave Wireless (23%). Social networking tools such as Facebook are used by roughly 95% of “traditional age students” and 78% of “non-traditional age” students according to a recent CCSSE report.  In addition, based on this report 73% and 51% respectively have used social networking sites to discuss coursework.

8. 10,000 Users Accessed the Bb Content System

Well over 10,000 unique users clicked on the “My Content” tab in the last three (3) months. A breakdown by type of user is listed in the chart below.

9. Over 600 Users Added Content to the Bb Content System

635 unique users added content to the Content System. As indicated in the chart below, 67% of those additions were made by students.

10. 22% of Faculty Added Content to the Bb Content System

Finally, here’s a breakdown of faculty usage of the “My Content” tab. 181 faculty members have already added content during the first semester.

Lecture Capture in 3 Easy Steps = Open, Record, and Submit
June 24, 2009, 11:19 am
Filed under: Work Activities | Tags: , , ,

One of the best parts about working in instructional technology is the ability to work with faculty to identify a need and then working with the infrastructure team to target and find solutions to meet that need.  The ultimate goal at the end of the day is the students’ and their learning.

Enter in the need for easily and effectively capturing a lecture and delivering that lecture (audio and video) to students.  Presented with this idea, back in 2006 we met with the team at Techsmith Inc. in Okemos, MI.  Many of our faculty were already users of their Camtasia Studio product, but we realized that we needed an ultra-easy recorder that would allow nearly any faculty member to capture their lecture and their screen on-the-fly without needing to worry about codecs, frame rates, timelines, trimming, output formats, ftp, and all sorts of other technical jargon.  After this meeting with Techsmith, we entered into a pilot, beta, and case study on using a new product called Camtasia Relay.

Throughout this pilot it became clear that one of the most important factors in selecting a lecture capture tool for the campus was not only the cost of the software, but more crucial was the ease of use.  In other words, the big idea here was to search for and acquire a tool that had the potential to be transformative to our campus in that the tool would be effortless to operate for a wide array of faculty.

Enter Camtasia Relay.  From the screen shot below, you can see that the client recorder is exceptionally easy to use.  Faculty need only to open the Relay client, click the “big red” record button, and finally when finished, they click the submit button.  Everything else is done for them.  The recording is sent to the Relay server where it is encoded based on a predefined profile, and then published to a server.  No FTP for faculty to worry about.  No selections for output options, codecs, frame rates, etc. for faculty to be confused with.  Once the recording is published the faculty member receives an email with a link to the recording.  From there, the faculty member can insert the link into an email, add it to Blackboard, or place it on their personal website.  (Additionally, Relay can output to Blackboard automatically via a Blackboard Building Block, and also to iTunes U.)


So as the Fall semester approaches, we will be working to fully deploy Camtasia Relay to our faculty.  This tool will undoubtedly be an effective way to:

  • better reach our distance learning students,
  • provide an easy way for faculty to create video lectures,
  • enable students to review a classroom lecture again while studying,
  • expand the student’s learning experience.

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.

Scanning the Horizon – A Review of the 2009 Horizon Report
February 23, 2009, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags: , , , , , , ,

One of the reports that I always look forward to reading is the Horizon Report [PDF] from the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.  This report is always interesting to read and thought provoking.  It contains important trends and topics that are an important read for anyone working in education.  Whether or not you are a techie with a pocket protector, or a technophobe, or someone that lies somewhere in the middle, this report is well worth reading.

In short, the Horizon Report focuses on the following six areas that will have an impact on teaching and learning within the next 5 years:

  1. Mobiles
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Geo-everything
  4. The Personal Web
  5. Semantec-aware Applications
  6. Smart Objects

MOBILES – While the debate continues on whether or not to allow cell phones in the classrooms (see School Cell Phone Ban article)… not to mention laptops, one this is clear, mobile technologies will continue to play an ever more important role in our personal lives and also from a productivity standpoint.  Take a look at the Apple iPhone ad as a perfect illustration for this.  Need a better educational example you ask? Well, ok… check out this iStanford iPhone app video.

In addition to crisis message alerts from GRCC’s Rave Wireless system, the college is currently working to include the ability for students to subscribe to course related information (announcements, calendar items, assignments, and grades) in the college’s Blackboard system.  More information is located on GRCC’s mobile web site.

In addition, the college is working on expanding the use of the iPod Touch for podcasting lectures that are captured with Camtasia Relay to support the work of the AT&T grant that was awarded to the college back in February 2008.

Following along on this mobile theme, GRCC is also looking forward to Blackboard’s iPhone app to provide even better integration for students and their access to course information with an iPhone or iPod Touch.

CLOUD COMPUTING – What is becoming an more common place buzz word in education, this notion will likely be shaping how students and faculty communicate and exchange information.  Much of the course information is already available via the web, through GRCC’s Blackboard system as well as publisher web sites.  Also, GRCC currently uses Gmail for student email and the Google Apps are a possibility in the future.

GEO-EVERYTHING – While you may lump this into the MOBILES section, there is tremendous potential here for disciplines like geography, history, and science whereby location, combined with imagary provide a wealth of contextual information that provides a more thorough understanding of the materials.

THE PERSONAL WEB – Combining with the students ability to access course content anytime/anywhere is the ability for students to easily share, connect, and collaborate online.  Not only can students access information, but they can interact with it, comment on it, engage with it.  Services like Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr provide end user generated content that when combined with online community creates a potentially powerful learning environment.  GRCC’s YouTube site is already providing a wealth of information that is freely available to not only the students here at GRCC but the community beyond.  Combined with that is GRCC’s Facebook page that provides yet another way for individuals to interact collectively…   Students are also beginning to use blogs, wikis, and portfolios that are integrated into Blackboard through a Building Block from Learning Objects Inc.

Finally, students can take advantage of Classtop CourseFeed or Blackboard Sync to integrate their personal web space and academic web spaces together.

SEMANTIC-AWARE APPLICATIONS – No where but the web could such a thing be possible.  That is, the ability to create connections between items that are seemingly unrelated to generate new meaning.   While just scratching the surfance, Scholar by Blackboard is one service that already contains rich resources that point to knowledge contruction.  However, what’s missing is the intelligence behind connecting all of these seemingly unrelated resources.  Albeit, Scholar is still an effective tool that provides social bookmarking and sharing from a personal/productivity tool, at the course level, and toward a knowledge sharing and construction perspective.

SMART OBJECTS – Items that are self aware have potential in education beyond the typical situations where you may find things like RFID tags and the like.   Think in terms of signing out reference materials in the Library by merely walking out with them.  Or perhaps paying for your food in the cafeteria by simply walking out of the lunchroom.  Technologies that work for people, rather than the other way around could help for something as simple as reducing much of the time spent standing in lines.  Blackboard and Sony FeliCa announced a partnership in this direction about a year ago.

Switching gears, but yet related to this 2009 Horizon Report are the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative’s Top Teaching and Learning Challenges for 2009:

  1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation.
  2. Developing 21st-century literacies among students and faculty (information, digital, and visual).
  3. Reaching and engaging today’s learner.
  4. Encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with IT.
  5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning (with technology) in an era of budget cuts.

Combining and comparing the 2 reports, there is a common theme around reaching and engaging today’s learners using technologies that promote active learning, collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing.  The importance of encouraging faculty adoption and supporting innovation in teaching and learning is becoming exceedingly clear.

Engaging Students through Social Networking
February 23, 2009, 12:32 pm
Filed under: Articles, Work Activities | Tags:

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar session by Inigral Inc. which is a company that specializes in bringing social networking to education.  The session I attended was called: “Lifecycle Engagement: Using Social Networking to Engage Prospects, Students”.  What follows are some of my thoughts and notes from the session:

I enjoyed the session because I believe that social networking in and around education is becoming a requirement for educational institutions.  My focus is on using social media in the classroom, but just as important are those students that are not yet part of the institution or those that have recently graduated.  Taken from this perspective is a view that social networking can be used for the entire lifecycle of a student’s engagment with an institution. That is, the “wrap around” services that an institution provides (in addition to the direct classroom instruction) are as important as it shapes an overall student experience.  Therefore, even those areas of a campus that are often considered as “extra curricular” activities such as student groups or organizations are important to the complete “education experience”.

Anyway, I picked up several good ideas and thought provoking suggestions from this session as Michael Staton did a great job of providing some background around social media and networking before jumping into some solutions that Inigral provides.

It was a good refresher that helped to underscore the importance of: images and video, mini-feeds of information, relevant and timely content, user generated content, interactive commenting, showcasing and marketing for awareness, and overall the building of online interactions and community through extending the campus into the virtual world.  I thought it important also to do what Michael suggested in searching for what is already out there about your campus.  If anything, it will give you a good indication of what the perceptions are of your campus, and what is important to students.

I thought that this slide was particularly helpful in how it breaks down the components of the life cycle into prospective students, enrolled students, and alumni.


Inigral’s Schools on Facebook solution seems to be headed in the right direction.  If you are interested in learning more, Inigral is hosting another session (on March 4th) entitled “The Facebook Dilemma“.

While social networking and it’s use in education continues to grow and expand, check out GRCC on Facebook or as a student, get plugged in with Blackboard Sync and CourseFeed which are available now from GRCC’s Blackboard system.