Six colleges and universities launch national alliance with students designing education’s future


FILE – In this April 15, 2019, file photo, instructors from Raphael House lead a classroom discussion about consent and healthy relationships with a class of sophomores at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Most young Americans believe in the value of higher education, but many also believe that a high school diploma alone is enough for success, and they view job training as better preparation than any type of college degree, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (KAMR/KCIT) — A national alliance of six colleges and universities, together with hundreds of high school and community partners, announced the launch of REP4, an initiative to change the future of education. Unique to the alliance, students will take the lead conducting “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address the urgent challenges of access and completion to fully deliver on higher education’s promise of social and economic mobility. 

The six founding colleges and universities in the alliance collectively serve more than 100,000 students. Grand Valley State University is the organizer and convener of the REP4 alliance. The five other founding partners are: Amarillo College in Texas; Boise State University in Idaho; Fort Valley State University, an HBCU in Georgia; San José State University in California; and Shippensburg University, part of the state system in Pennsylvania. 

The REP4 name underscores how student-led, Rapid Education Prototyping, will engage the voices of learners in designing innovative, actionable solutions for pressing challenges. Learners will co-design education prototypes, and the best ideas will be scaled nationwide through the alliance to maximize impact.

American Council on Education (ACE) President Ted Mitchell called the alliance’s approach unique and exciting. “Flipping the model from learners simply giving feedback to learners being designers of education is a truly innovative idea,” Mitchell said. “It’s unprecedented to engage learners directly in the designing experience, and REP4 can serve as a model for higher education nationwide.” 

Microsoft will participate in the REP4 summit to support the alliance in reimagining student-centered experiences, consistent with its recent whitepaper on student-centered learning in higher education. Microsoft will help shape how technology, particularly data and AI, can empower personalized and inclusive learning experiences.

The REP4 alliance formed as a response to a growing number of challenges facing higher education: low completion rates, lack of access and racial gaps. 

Grand Valley’s six-week Learner Engagement Challenge held last summer  brought together 25 area high school students, along with GVSU students, to reimagine the future of learning to meet the changing needs of the 21st century.

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