In the background, President Mantella speaks at a podium, in the foreground there are presentation boards from the Reach Higher Showcase.

Reach Higher Showcase identifies innovations in learning, teaching

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President Philomena V. Mantella used the inaugural Reach Higher Showcase to announce two new initiatives designed to challenge preconceived notions about how classes are taught and how curriculum is developed.

The April 21 Showcase, held at the DeVos Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, was an interactive, multimedia exhibition that highlighted the innovative work of faculty and university departments propelling Grand Valley toward the commitments of the university’s Reach Higher 2025 strategic plan.  

The first initiative, Project Grand Path, is the region’s first and only student-led maker community creating learning opportunities between the physical and virtual world. This experiential model in XR (mixed reality) engages a multidisciplinary team of GVSU student coders and designers. Coached by faculty, staff and select industry partners, they will develop products and offerings that create high-impact immersive learning environments.

Project Grand Path is being developed by Julie Goldstein, assistant professor of film and video production, Jonathan Engelsma, professor of computer science and director of GVSU’s Applied Computing Institute, and Eric Kunnen, senior director of IT Innovation and Research.

Man speaks at a podium with the words 'Reach Higher Showcase'.

Robert Talbert, professor of mathematics, discusses Laker Learning Futures, which will support testing of new instructional approaches and evaluating how these approaches impact student success. (Kendra Stanley-Mills)

The second initiative, Laker Learning Futures, is designed to identify new opportunities for innovation in learning and teaching and then rapidly deploy and assess their viability with organized faculty groups.

Designed by Robert Talbert, professor of mathematics and presidential fellow for the advancement of learning, Laker Learning Futures will support the testing of new instructional approaches and rigorously evaluate how these approaches affect student success. The IT Innovation and Research Team, housed in the Information Technology Division, will partner with Talbert on this work.

“These initiatives, as well as many other creative, challenging and important works being shown today, are our community in action, delivering a radical impact and elevated value to our students, our community and our state,” Mantella said. “Innovations in higher education like these will help unlock the potential of our emerging leaders and set the course for Michigan’s future. I am grateful to the many faculty, staff, and student innovators leading the way.”

The two programs highlighted were among over 130 showcased. The day drew hundreds of visitors from West Michigan to learn about innovations emanating from GVSU.

The showcase highlighted the real-world ways GVSU is fulfilling its commitments to delivering an empowered educational experience, a culture of educational equity and a lifetime of learning.

Learn more about individual exhibits and other information on the Reach Higher Showcase website.

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