Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education (TLDE) News


We continue to be very excited that the areas formerly known as the CTE (Center for Teaching Excellence) and DLIT (Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies) are now joined as TLDE (Teaching, Learning, and Distance Education).  Over the next few months, you are going to see changes in some of our structures, including our website, in order to provide more enhanced and streamlined support to GRCC faculty.  The first of these changes is a new email address: tlde@grcc.edu.  You can now reach us at this email address and please stay tuned for future updates as we convert the CTE and DLIT websites into one TLDE site!

Application Open: 2023 Great Teachers Seminar!

“If properly tapped, the collective wisdom, experience, and creativity of any group of practicing educators far surpass that of any individual expert.”  — David Gottshall, National Great Teachers Movement Founder

The Great Teachers Seminar is a three-day retreat for GRCC teachers to exchange ideas around teaching and building community.  This year’s seminar will be held in Grand Rapids on August 1-3, 2023.  Please visit the Great Teachers website for more information and to apply.  This opportunity is open to all GRCC full-time and adjunct faculty members.  Applications are due May 5th.

Reminder: Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation
On Saturday, May 6th, between 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., GRCC IT will be updating Blackboard to incorporate the new Ultra Base Navigation. This new navigation has a sleek, modern look and feel, and will save you time with simpler workflows and easier access to important information.  Learn more on the Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation Transition Hub.  See below for upcoming training session information and visit the hub to view recordings of previous informational sessions.

Featured Upcoming Workshops/Events:

  1. Understanding Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation – Tuesday, March 21st, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Virtual
  2. LibreFest 2023 – Wednesday, March 22 and Thursday, March 23rd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. **Lunch will be provided on both days.
  3. Understanding Blackboard Ultra Base Navigation – Wednesday, March 22nd, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Virtual
  4. Faculty Showcase – Wednesday, April 13th, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. – HyFlex: ATC Theater and Virtual
  5. Winter Semester TLDE Faculty Liaison Office Hours, Virtually: Tuesdays 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. (email dvilmont@grcc.edu to request a virtual appointment).  
  6. Adjunct Faculty Support: Please reach out to Alyssa Spoolstra, Adjunct Faculty Liaison, via email to alyssaspoolstra@grcc.edu
  7. TLDE Office Information: The TLDE office location is RJF 373.  TLDE staff are available Mondays – Fridays from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. to assist you.  Please stop by the office, email tlde@grcc.edu, or call 616-234-3205 and we will be happy to help you!

Please visit CTE’s Calendar and Programming webpage for the current listing of all Winter 2023 Professional Development opportunities being offered by TLDE!

YWCA visit and information session March 22

When: March 22, 2-3 p.m.

Where: YWCA, 25 Sheldon Ave.

If you want to walk to the YWCA as a group, meet at our office at 1:30 pm.

Staff and students are welcome. Please let our students know about this.

Please RSVP

Students will drop off donations collected throughout the month and get a tour of the YWCA building. This will also be a time to learn more about the YWCA and how to volunteer with them.

Diversity Lecture Series: Graci Harkema – Finding Belonging in Intersectionality March 23

When: March 23 from 4-5 p.m.

Where: Applied Technology Center room 168

Graci Harkema is an international diversity, equity, & inclusion speaker and author, specializing in inclusive leadership and unconscious bias for Fortune 500, small businesses, and non-profit organizations. The Grand Rapids Business Journal has named her a 40 Under 40 Business Leader of West Michigan, one of the 50 Most Influential Women of West Michigan, and one of the 200 Most Powerful Business Leaders of West Michigan. A graduate in communications from Grand Valley State University, Graci is the author of her forthcoming memoir, Rising: From a Mud Hut to the Boardroom–and Back Again. For more, visit graciharkema.com.

Watch virtually

Here to Help: Kendra Bearss helps other GRCC student veterans navigate college

Kendra Bearss looking off into the distance.

Kendra Bearss joined the U.S. Air Force when she was 17 years old. Now she assists fellow veterans as they navigate college after serving in the armed forces. 

Bearss began at GRCC as a student pursuing an associate degree in Photography. She received assistance from the Michigan Reconnect program and the Futures for Frontliners program to make college affordable. 

Once classes started, she began to look for an opportunity to volunteer with veterans. One year ago she began working with the GRCC Veterans Center as a peer advisor. Now with graduation on the horizon, she is stepping into the role of veteran student navigator.

Bearss has experienced the transition from being an active-duty military member to a GRCC student. In her new role, she will be able to support others as they make the same transition. 

GRCC currently has over 300 veteran students enrolled. The Veterans Center connects individuals with resources to assist with mental health, financial needs, housing, and more. Bearss also assists veterans with on-campus services such as signing up for classes, connecting with tutors, and anything else they may need. 

“It’s important to create a space for veterans to feel safe addressing specific issues and needs,” Bearss said. “A lot of veterans’ needs aren’t recognizable to the average person. The Veterans Center provides opportunities for veterans to be unashamed to ask for the help they need.”

Bearss says the most rewarding part of her job is building relationships. The military has always felt like a family for her. Her experiences have given her the ability to see what an individual truly needs. 

Bearss encourages students to ask questions. It can be scary and humbling to ask for help, but GRCC faculty and staff are always willing to assist.  

More information about the Veterans Center can be found at grcc.edu/veterans.

The Collegiate, GRCC’s student news publication, earns 12 awards in Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper contest

Reporter interview at GRCC GIANT 40 Awards Anniversary, February 25, 2023 at the Devon Place, Grand Rapids.

The Collegiate, Grand Rapids Community College’s student news publication, earned 12 awards in the college division of the 2022 Michigan Press Association Better Newspaper Contest, including four first-place honors.

The Collegiate competed in the competition’s Division 3 against other two-year college publications, with awards announced this week.

“It is more important than ever to recognize and encourage good, impactful journalism,” said Joanne Williams, associate professor of journalism and mass communication at Olivet College and MCPA president. “That is what our college newspapers are doing, and with support and recognition from contests and professionals in the field, that will continue. Our experienced faculty and advisors will see to it as well.”

GRCC’s honors are:

  • Best News-Only Photo – First Place. Elizabeth Halvorson, “Protests continue in GR after GRPD release the video of death of Patrick Lyoya.” Alena Visnovsky earned third place for her photo, “Why I Stopped Viewing Social Media Stories”
  • Column- Review or Blog- News – First Place. Elizabeth Halvorson, “My Walk Through a Mental Minefield.”
  • Column- Review or Blog- Sports – First Place. Jackson Heidon, “It’s Time for Change for the Betterment of the NFL.” Kaia Zimmerman earned third place for “The World is Putting Too Much Pressure on Athletes.”
  • Editorial – Second Place. Alena Visnovsky, “Inherent Classism Continues to Impinge Community Colleges and their Students who Choose to Invest in These Low-cost Educational Options”
  • Feature Photo – Third Place: Alena Visnovsky, “Why I Stopped Viewing Social Media Stories.”
  • Investigative Reporting – Third Place: Brendan Petruska, “Is it Time for GRCC to Re-evaluate Pronoun Policy?” Elizabeth Halvorson, Kaia Zimmerman, Joseph Poulos earned an honorable mention for, “President Leaving GRCC After Closed Search at FSU Coverage.”
  • Online Newspaper – Honorable Mention. The Collegiate
  • Original Cartoon-Editorial or Entertainment– First Place: Abby Haywood, for “Tough on Toys,’ ‘President Pink Pieces Out,” and “Fact Checking with Aaron Rodgers.”’
  • Sports News/Features – Third Place, Kaia Zimmerman: “GRCC announces New Softball Coach After Brian Skudre Resigns.”

The Collegiate’s faculty adviser is Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood.

Second GRCC team named a finalist in NASA competition, pitching a plan for edible packaging for astronauts

A second team of Grand Rapids Community College students was named a finalist in a NASA competition, and will pitch a plan to create edible packaging for astronauts.  

Abby Tichelaar and Cole Herring, from GRCC’s Launch U Middle College Engineering and Mechanical Design Program, will head to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to present their project in front of NASA researchers, engineers, and flight doctors on April 19. Launch U is a partnership with the Kent Intermediate School District.

They will join GRCC culinary students who earlier in the week were named finalists for a competition to send a meal to the space station.

Tichelaar and Herring’s project is part of the NASA HUNCH program in the Health and Biomedical Science category, focusing on the needs for NASA’s future exploration missions and are part of NASA’s Human Research Program.

They created an edible cargo transfer box that will hold nutrition bars, and at the end of its life cycle, the container can be upcycled into an edible solution, such as gummy bears, recycled, or downcycled into plastic components. The interdisciplinary project’s goal is eliminating waste on space missions, where space on aircraft is at a premium.

The project passed a preliminary design review in January and a critical design review in February. They were named finalists late Thursday.

Tichelaar and Herring will join culinary students Katie Bird and Devon Vanderwall, who are among 10 finalists competing to send a meal to the International Space Station, with a cookoff planned for April 20.

The Secchia Institute is partnering with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District’s Careerline Tech Center, with students Bird and Vanderwall preparing a recipe of Austrian style steak soup.

Both teams are coached by Dr. Werner Absenger, Secchia Institute’s program director, and Chef Jennifer Struik, an instructor in the program.

The team has been working since early September, using nutritional guidelines from NASA and a research project looking at how foods affect astronauts in low gravity.

Mental Health First Aid is back

Head with a heart bubble that has a yellow plus sign in it.

Mental Health First Aid is an 8-hour course (divided up over two days) that teaches you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance use disorders in adults (ages 18 and older). The training gives you the skills you need to reach out and provide initial help and support to someone who may be developing a mental health or substance use problem or is experiencing a crisis.

The next chance to participate in this learning experience is March 21 & 22.

Participants in past MHFA trainings had this to say about their experience:

“This training required the participants to step out of their comfort zone and have somewhat uncomfortable but necessary conversations regarding mental health. Conversation and sharing helped me realize that my own experiences were not that different than those of others in the group.” 

“I took this workshop to be sure I was using the correct verbage and steps necessary to assist a student appropriately in a crisis situation.  I had always wondered if I was saying the right things to them and was I taking the right steps to assist a student in a crisis. I was glad to find out that I was saying the right things and taking correct actions and I was also able to practice a discussion with a pretend student in a suicide crisis. Which I found it was not easy for me, but now I know what I must say and take action.”

“The Mental Health First Aid training is a valuable opportunity for all employees at GRCC. The training is beneficial for the work we do at the College as well as within our personal lives.”

“I’m glad to see training provided on another facet of first aid. If training exists for first responders to physical crisis, it makes sense that we are trained for those in mental/psychological crisis.”

Lunch will be served on both days.

Register for this opportunity via your Online Center account.

IT Knowledge Base survey for faculty and staff

In efforts to better serve the needs of our campus community, the GRCC Information Technology Department would like you to take a few minutes to complete this short survey regarding our online Knowledge Base system.

Your feedback will assist us in planning future improvements to the system to ensure that we are providing relevant information for you 24/7.

This survey will be available until Friday, March 31, 2023.

Please reference the Knowledge Base Website while answering questions.

Click on the link to access the survey: GRCC IT Knowledge Base Faculty/Staff Survey

Versiti Blood Drive is right around the corner

Last year, we worked together to collect over 30 units of blood. It is heartening to know that together we have accomplished so much good.

Our goal is to have 25 donors at our blood drive on March 22, 2023. We are currently a third of the way there!

Please consider one of three ways to support the community: roll up your sleeve and donate blood, support those who donate by volunteering at the blood drive, or pledge to support our efforts by posting to your social networks about this great community initiative.

Attached below is a poster you can share with your colleagues and students. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Rebecca at rebeccalubbers1@grcc.edu about joining the blood drive team, or reach out with any questions you may have.

Thank you again for your assistance and for making our blood drives a huge success. Let’s make an even bigger impact on March 22 by reaching our goal!

Drop-ins are always welcome, and you can reach out to Rebecca if a time slot that works for you isn’t available!


The Versiti Team

Community College Survey of Student Engagement: March 13 through March 31

Every two years, students at GRCC take part in the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE). For the 2023 iteration, this survey will be open to students Monday, March 13 through March 31, 2023.

They will receive an email to their GRCC student email with a link to the survey and their unique access code.

Please encourage your students to complete this survey, as it provides us with the student perspective that is crucial to our work!

Student responses are anonymous and will be aggregated when analyzed.

At that same time, the faculty version of this survey will be administered and will be sent directly from CCSSE. We appreciate all feedback in order to make meaningful and impactful decisions.

If you have any additional questions, please contact institutional research at IR@grcc.edu.

25th Annual Salute to Women Awards on March 29: Vimeo link available

25th Annual Salute to Women logo in blue script.

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) wants to invite you to the Salute to Women Awards .

The awards recognition ceremony will take place Wednesday, March 29 from Noon to 1 p.m. in Sneden 108.

The award celebrates the accomplishments of women and gender equity advocates who impact the GRCC community, and is open to all GRCC stakeholders regardless of gender or gender identity.

RSVP at https://tinyurl.com/2023STW

Vimeo Link: Salute to Women 2023

English Department ‘Spring Reading’ March 23

Please pass this along to our students.

Thursday, March 23 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM

In the GRCC Library and Learning Commons, 2nd Floor

7 PM – Poetry & Prose Readings by GRCC English Department faculty

  • Susan Davis
  • Katie Kalisz
  • Mursalata Muhammad
  • Nora Neill

7:45PM – Q & A: On Writing and A Writer’s Education

Event Details: Reader Bios & additional information on the English Department Spring Reading webpage.