History of the Program
Over the last eight years, Winona State has established itself as a nationally recognized Laptop University, providing all students with a fully configured and supported laptop computer. Currently over 7800 computers are deployed to the Students, Faculty and selected Staff; positioning Winona State as one of the largest university provided, dual-platform laptop programs in the nation.
Winona State is unique with our laptop program as we support a dual-platform, offering students and faculty the choice of Macintosh or PC laptops. Our goal is to be a premiere laptop university, providing superior support and service to our students, faculty and staff.
In the summer of 2002, we started to distribute laptops to students several months prior to the start of school. Giving the laptops to the students in June and then on Fridays throughout the summer gave the students time to become familiar with their laptops before school started. It also spread out the distributions for us so that we did not have so many at one time. With the summer distributions almost all of the Freshmen and Transfer students had their laptops before fall semester started.
Winona State’s eLearning Center was established in August 2002 as a division of Academic Affairs. ELearning collaborates with The Krueger Library, Information Technology services, and other members of the university community to provide learning opportunities and project support to faculty and staff members on the Winona and Rochester campuses. Faculty now had a resource to assist in the implementation of technology for their classes.
Students at WSU requested a better laptop buyout program for Graduating Seniors. WSU responded by offering a tiered buyout program for graduates with lowest buyout prices offered to students that participated in the program for 4 years or more.
WSU switched from Lotus Notes to the Exchange Server for email. The Exchange Server integrated with our active directory services provided a smoother interface and gave users more flexibility. Wireless networking was also implemented on the WSU campus in fall of 2003 with all laptop computers having wireless capabilities.
The Laptop Learning Lab was introduced to enhance the Laptop Program in the fall of 2003. This program offered software and technology training to all WSU students. The training is done by other WSU students in the STARS (Student Technology and Resource Specialists) program. The training is done “By Students for Students” and has been very successful.
The laptop buyout program was changed to provide WSU graduating seniors with the opportunity to purchase their laptop at a very low cost, with some students purchasing laptops for as little as $25. This added considerable value in the laptop program as students now could continue their use of technology as they begin their careers.
The laptop program now was at full implementation for all full time undergraduate students. This implementation allowed the campus the opportunity to decrease the number of desktop labs on campus, reclaiming valuable classroom space and allowing technology resources to be diverted to software and supportive technology initiatives.
The STARS program expanded, offering valuable part time work experiences for over 100 students. Technology training opportunities for students increased with the introduction of 1:1 tutorial training offerings at the Laptop Learning Lab. Our technology leasing partner Merrimak capital provided $20,000 in scholarships to WSU students; the second consecutive year for this scholarship program. Apple computers continued sponsorship and promotion of digital video capabilities.
The use of technology continued to increase within the educational environment using course management tools, web based classes, Keyserver, and tablet technology.
Because the Walkin Team offers in-house laptop technical support, WSU remodeled the Front Desk and Walk-in areas during the summer of 2006. The area was enlarged and designed to create a resourceful working area for the employees and a comfortable area for students, staff and faculty when they come in to have their laptops serviced.
This year also brought new technology to the campus with the MacBook introducing the Mac Intel Chips, remotes and a built in camera. Wider screens on the Macintosh and Gateway laptops brought changes to laptop video capabilities inside and outside of the classroom environment.
Winona State University is proud to offer students a quality technology experience. We are committed to provide up-to-date technology so that the latest software and computing experiences can be offered. This experience offers all of our students the ability to develop skills in the daily use of technology, giving them a competitive advantage in the workforce.
Our laptop program is self-sustaining with all fees collected for the program used entirely for the technology experience. The laptop program at WSU also provides partnerships with vendors and community resources that connect the technology experience to the real world.
In preparation for a Laptop RFP, students, faculty, and staff were surveyed to gather information about the type of laptop computer that best meets the needs of our population. Light weight laptops, battery life, and power were important features desired. This survey also reported a high interest in continuation with the tablet technology. This feedback from our student and faculty population (along with input from ITS and E-Learning) led the RFP team (which consisted of student and faculty senate appointees as well as reps from the from Finance & Facilities, ITS & E-Learning) to select the Toshiba Portege M700 convertible PC, which met all of the desired factors. Student and faculty involvement in the laptop selection process is important for a quality technology experience at Winona State University.