Grand Valley State University has recently publicized plans for a new educational and professional space entitled the “Digital Learning Epicenter.”
According to an article by MiBiz, the Digital Learning Epicenter “will serve as an intersection of business and technology education for community members and students.”
This will include a variety of resources for STEM students who frequent GVSU’s Pew Campus in Grand Rapids, including updated lab spaces and meeting places for communication between local startups.
Vice President for University Relations, Matt McLogan, said he thinks the project will benefit the greater Grand Rapids area economically and intellectually.
“The proposed Digital Learning Epicenter is in the concept planning phase as we continue to examine ways in which Grand Valley can serve students and enhance regional economic development,” McLogan said. “The initial reaction is positive, with the Right Place Program placing it on a list of 12 projects it calls ‘essential infrastructure.’”
As companies, universities and other professional entities become more reliant on technology, it’s important for members of the workforce to be comfortable using digital applications.
However, recent data suggests that many employees lack necessary digital literacy, a discrepancy based on socio-economic factors, such as class, education level and age.
According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of U.S. adults are “relatively hesitant” in their digital readiness skills, with the majority of that designation including women ages 50 and older, lower-income households and people with lower levels of formal education.
In contrast, the top 17% of digitally ready adults consist of people currently in their 30s and 40s in higher-income households and with a higher level of education.
The goal of the Digital Learning Epicenter will be to bridge this gap and make education about digital literacy accessible to everyone.
“Today’s employers need well-educated team members who are familiar with digital applications that are now part of nearly every workplace,” McLogan said. “Members of existing workforces will need new skills and we anticipate that this kind of retraining can be a feature of the new epicenter.”
Junior and engineering major, Logan Weisner, said he agrees with McLogan and believes students across all branches of engineering could benefit from the resources at the Digital Learning Epicenter.
“Students need to be educated about technology, no matter the field of engineering you work in,” Weisner said. “You have to work with other disciplines and have a good understanding of what their software and technology does and how it relates to yours.”
Once funded, the services of the epicenter will be available to GVSU students and professionals in the area, making Grand Rapids a potential hotspot for digitally-ready adults and digitally-based companies.
Currently, GVSU is searching for funding from state and local donors to make the publicized plans of the epicenter a reality.
“The epicenter will be a public-private partnership, consistent with the way in which Grand Valley’s campuses have been expanded over the years,” McLogan said. “The university has typically not raised tuition tied to specific construction projects.”
Plans for the epicenter will be finalized once it’s properly funded.