Active Learning at GVSU – Collaboration from the Ground Up


GVSU was recently featured in EdTech Magazine in an article entitled: “Active-Learning Buildings Showcase New Teaching Philosophies“. The article highlights the importance of active learning spaces on campuses that: encourage collaboration and exploration by design; infuse technology deliberately; and ultimately facilitate student success.

“That active-learning classrooms are catching on in higher ed really isn’t a surprise,” says Eric Kunnen, associate director of e-learning and emerging technologies at Michigan’s Grand Valley State University.

“To me, though, the next step is going to be when universities start designing buildings to be collaborative from the ground up.” He believes that, eventually, these environments will be critical not only to attracting students, but also to facilitating students’ success.

“When you build a space devoted to active learning that infuses technology and deliberately encourages collaboration and exploration, you’re creating a kind of academic beacon on a hill,” Kunnen says. “You’re telling students and faculty to think differently about what’s possible, and that this physical facility is there to support them.”

At GVSU, there are currently a variety of “Technology Enhanced and Active Learning Classrooms“, with more in planning as renovation and new building construction is envisioned.

In brief, active learning classrooms provide a unique faculty and student experience as the spaces include flexible and movable furniture and technology to support:

  1. a student-centered design
  2. enhanced collaboration
  3. increased faculty/student engagement
  4. improved interaction through dynamic group work and classroom communication

Introducing the Active Learning Building at GVSU – Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons


Photos retrieved from steelcase.com “A Student’s Story on Active Learning

Finally, the one of the best examples of an active learning building is the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons. Steelcase featured a story “A Student’s Story on Active Learning” that illustrates the value of an “ecosystem of spaces” supporting diverse learning settings.

Emerging Technologies in the Atomic Object Technology Showcase

In addition, the eLearning team is focusing on the intersection between education, technology, and innovation through the Atomic Object Technology Showcase which is located on the Atrium level of the Mary Idema Pew Library.


New #EDTECH Summer Teaching Institute centered on Supporting Student Success through Effective Teaching

This summer, eLearning and Emerging Technologies was pleased to introduce the brand new…

 This event was held on Wednesday, August 16 and Thursday, August 17 for a 2 day series of hands-on workshops, discussions, and shared reflections all centered on the use of emerging teaching practices and technologies to support effective teaching.

The institute was structured for faculty to attend workshops, exchange ideas, and to spend time to get their courses ready for the Fall semester through support from the eLearning team.

The event theme was:

“Learn something new, get your course ready for Fall!”


There were 7 breakout sessions that were offered during the institute:

  • Individual Work Time with eLearning Team Support
  • #1 – Planning and Re-organizing your Online/Hybrid Course
  • #2 – Instructor Presence and Building Community
  • #3 – Library Resources and OER (Open Educational Resources)
  • #4 – Video and Digital Media Creation Tools
  • #5 – Assessing Student Learning and Engagement
  • #6 – Implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles in the Classroom to Support All Learners


This was an outstanding first time event! The institute offered nearly 60 faculty and staff the opportunity to learn from each other and to spend time working on prepping courses for Fall.

Here are a few social media highlights via Storify:


This event was organized in partnership and in collaboration with the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center.

eLearning and Emerging Technologies would like to thank all of the presenters, attendees, and the FTLC for their support to make this event possible!

Learn more about the #EDTECH Summer Teaching Institute