IT ready for Winona State needs

IT ready for Winona State needs

Mitchell Breuer, Editor-In-Chief

The decision to move classes to online and alternative learning methods in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has been one that everyone at Winona State University has had to adjust to.

This includes Winona State’s information technology services department (IT), who was made aware of the decision at the same time as the rest of campus according to Robin Honken, director for user services.

“We understood the need to do this and feel that because we have the eWarrior program we had a great advantage over other universities facing the same situation,” Honken said.

Honken said that IT has had three distinct areas that have been working around the clock to ensure the university is ready for these changes.

Teaching, Learning and Technology Services (TLT) has been working with faculty to make sure they are prepared with D2L Brightspace, Zoom, and Respondus Monitor.

TLT has also had a Zoom room open daily, including weekends, from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. to assist with faculty needs, according to Ken Graetz, the director of TLT.

“Since then, we have worked with over 200 instructors directly and that work will continue this week and on into next week,” Graetz said.

Infrastructure services and data security have installed a new employee virtual private network (VPN).

“We have spent days now tweaking settings and testing and it is working amazingly well,” Honken said. “This new network greatly increases the number of concurrent users allowed on the network, as well as enhances performance when attached to the VPN. Many of the staff are now working from home and need to connect to this new VPN due to access to elevated resources. Infrastructure Services also manages our phone system and has worked hard to set up a call center for the Warrior Hub and instruct employees how to forward their work phones to their cell phones.”

The third area, the technical support center, has been busy as well. According to Honken, the center has provided 60 laptops to university staff who are now working from home and previously did not have one.

“In addition, we are setting up VPN on each of these laptops and instructing staff how to use VPN,” Honken said. “We are also facilitating providing monitors when needed, as well as ordering such items as headsets, keyboards, and mice for those working from home. Tech Support staff spent much of last week walking around to various administrative offices to ensure those staff who had VPN set up knew how to log in. It was also an extremely busy week for phone, email, and chat support, and walk-in. Walk-in support is now officially closed, but we did add a zoom room for support as well, and spent the week getting that set up and us all trained in the use of zoom.”

Honken believes Winona State is very well prepared in part due to the availability and use of technology on campus.

“Our full-time Winona students all have laptops, access to software, and most use D2L for classes,” Honken said. “Because of the availability of laptops, we were able to get laptops to the staff who needed them in short order. We also have the ability to get one in the hands of a student who may not have access to a computer.”

Honken also noted that because of this, Winona State was able to loan 40 laptops to Rochester Community and Technical College for their staff usage.

As the campus begins this transition, Honken also said that there are multiple ways to reach any of the previously stated department for any potential questions or concerns that students and staff may have during this time.


The opinions expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of Winona State University, the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, or the Winona State University student body.