Tech showcase enhances student connection

GVL / Emily Frye
Senior Jose Rodriguez

GVL / Emily Frye Senior Jose Rodriguez

Colleen Schonfield

Nearly 10,000 students have walked past it, but only a handful has walked through its doors. What lies behind those doors is Grand Valley State University’s Technology Showcase, a room that not only features the latest and most innovative pieces of technology, but also serves as a resource for students to learn how that technology can be incorporated within education.

IT Emerging Technologies Coordinator Eric Kunnen has worked within the Technology Showcase since the Mary Idema Pew Library’s grand opening in the late summer of 2013. Through much collaboration with other organizations, Kunnen has developed a new vision and perspective of how technology is viewed in and outside of the classroom.

“I’ve always been passionate about teaching, learning and technology, especially in ways where technology can make a difference in the classroom,” Kunnen said.

At its start, having a space that was purposeful, interactive and dedicated to serendipitous learning became the overall vision for the Technology Showcase, with a heavy emphasis on envisioning the future of technology.

The showcase focuses on identifying emerging and innovative technologies that can be applied and incorporated in areas all across campus. It allows students, faculty and staff the opportunity to interact with these products and learn how they can serve as a benefit in both the academic and professional world.

“One of the goals of the showcase is to expose students to different technologies,” he said. “It’s about discovering technology that can transform the teaching and learning experience.”

With the rising trend of technological incorporations within the workplace, the Technology Showcase has evolved into a visiting site for technological interaction among businesses, K-12 schools and both national and local colleges. Students and faculty from schools such as Ball State University, Notre Dame, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kansas Medical Center have paid visits to the showcase to learn how products such as 3D printers, GoogleGlass and Swivl can be used to enhance overall learning and teaching experiences.

“When students stop by the showcase, we show them how the technology works, why it exists and how its application can be practical in the real world,” Kunnen said. “For example, we’ve had art students come by and use the 3D printer for projects, and we’ve had student teachers from EDR 321 come in to learn how technology can be used in different ways within the classroom.”

In terms of branching out across the GVSU campus, the Technology Showcase has partnered with a new student organization called Tech Talks to bring to light the benefits of technology. According to its website, the group aims to foster discussions, ideas and collaboration at the intersection of innovation, technology, teaching and learning.

Brook Staley, an emerging technology specialist at the Tech Showcase, believes that enhancing awareness of the showcase can draw more students in to find out the latest available technologies.

“My goal is to have regular meetings to incorporate more members of the campus and to discuss upcoming technologies that are available,” she said.

With a goal of boosting awareness of technology’s potential to transform education, the showcase will interchangeably feature a wide variety of technologies, as well as host special events and guest speakers throughout the year.

Recently, the Technology Showcase participated in Science Saturday and is currently preparing for its upcoming anniversary celebration, which will take place Feb. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It will be an open house with prize giveaways and free food, but more importantly, it will serve as recognition for the support of everyone who has contributed to turning the showcase into a learning and interactive hub.

The Technology Showcase is located in Room 012 in the Mary Idema Pew Library Atrium and is open during week days for anyone interested in learning and engaging with technology.

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