GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University announced two new initiatives Friday to expand the use of technology in the school’s classrooms.

GVSU President Philomena Mantella made the announcement on the university’s Grand Rapids campus at the inaugural Reach Higher Showcase, which featured 130 displays.

“It’s coming. It’s all coming. Let’s consider how we harness that power,” Mantella said.

The two initiatives are called Project Grand Path and Laker Learning Futures. Project Grand Path will expand mixed reality technology and Laker Learning Futures will help identify and implement new technologies quickly.

“We can do more in experience and learning and making the classroom incredibly active,” Mantella said. “It supports them to do that inquiry together but it also evaluates the project for their potential to scale.”

A speaker at the GVSU Reach Higher Showcase talks to the crowd. (April 21, 2023)
GVSU President Philomena Mantella talks to the crowd at the GVSU Reach Higher Showcase. (April 21, 2023)

A number of virtual and augmented reality technologies were on display at the showcase.

“The great thing about this technology is every discipline can use it, so it’s great that everyone will get the training because it’s going to be an industry standard in the future,” said Jeff Staub, a GVSU film and video production student.

The university said the applications of technology in the classroom are endless.

“If you have a complex piece of machinery, instead of a manual that somebody would read with pictures in it, we could actually have the user point the camera at this complex piece of equipment, then we would add digital annotations that will help them operate that piece of equipment,” Jonathan Engelsma, the director of the Applied Computing Institute at GVSU, said.

Attendees talking at the GVSU Reach Higher Showcase. (April 21, 2023)
Attendees talking at the GVSU Reach Higher Showcase. (April 21, 2023)

Collin Turkelson, a senior studying computer science, was part of a group of three that developed an augmented reality application over a 10-week period.

“This one was described as bringing augmented reality into the classroom and that had really gotten my attention,” he said. “Having that be able to apply to almost any major is so beneficial — for me to be able to develop it, which is nice, but also for the school and all these different areas that it’s applicable to.”

Other options can be used to simulate scenarios for nursing students or make art come alive through augmented reality.

“I was thrilled when the president brought visual and media arts to the forefront for this project, so I’m just really thrilled to be a part of it and to have the opportunity to collaborate,” said Julie Goldstein, an assistant professor of film and video production.