A Constantly Changing World


Currents asks Ken Janz about the state of technology at Winona State

Ken Janz joined Winona State in 2008 to lead the university’s academic and administrative technology activities as associate vice president for academic affairs and chief information officer. This fall, Winona State will be the first public university to issue both a tablet device and laptop to its students and faculty. Currents saw that as a good opportunity to interview Janz about the use of technology at WSU, now and in the future.

1. WSU is considered a technology leader among public institutions. How have we built this reputation?

The university has been exploring one-to-one computing, or one device to one user, since 1997 with its e-Warrior:  Digital Life and Learning program. Now technology is woven into the fabric of the institution. The entire campus is a learning space with access to worldwide information resources. That’s spurred innovative teaching and learning along with active interest and research into new technologies, such as tablet devices and e-books.

2. Why is it important that Winona State is integrating technology into every facet of campus life?

It’s the world that students are entering after they graduate. They and their families expect that technology will be part of their academic and social experience at WSU. We’re seeing that we have the right strategy given the very good data from alumni and employers about the technology skills of our graduates.

3. What does the future of technology look like at WSU?

The world is continually changing. Apple released the iPhone in 2007 and look at the impact it has had on smartphone technology. Tablets are becoming the tool to consume media and e-books. Social media is becoming students’ primary news source. As an institution, we need to continually look at how we meet the needs of students in a constantly evolving technology landscape.

4. What implications will this have for WSU and institutions like it?

We are entering a three-device world:  a smartphone for anytime, anywhere access; a tablet for media consumption; and laptop for content creation. How we integrate all these devices into teaching and learning will be a challenge, but a necessary one if the university believes we should develop students who are well rounded when they graduate.

5. How does technology at WSU go beyond the laptops and tablets we see on the surface?

If technology doesn’t work the first few times, people will usually give up and not try again. So it’s important to have a strong support structure for student and faculty. Teaching, Learning, and Technology, which was created in 2009, is a good example. It’s a one-stop-shop to assist faculty with the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Technology is also building a powerful platform for collaboration and for learning outside the classroom. You can see examples of this all over campus.

6. What do you think technology will look like at WSU in five or ten years?

We do technology master planning only three years out because it changes so rapidly. I do think that technology will become even more personalized than it is today. As an institution, we need to be ready to adapt to whatever comes down the road.

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About Winona State University

Founded in 1858, Winona State University is a comprehensive public university with more than 8,500 students. The oldest member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, Winona State offers 80 undergraduate, pre-professional, licensure, graduate, and doctorate programs on its three campuses: the original Main Campus in Winona, the West Campus in Winona, and Winona State University-Rochester.

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