Top 30

Jay Rozgonyi

The term "technology" used to be synonymous with “complicated.” Recognizing this, Rozgonyi set out to develop an academic technology plan that stripped classrooms of outdated, overly complicated tools and replaced them with intuitive technology. He also knew the demographics of the university would be changing soon. As students are introduced to technology in the classroom at younger ages, they have a new set of expectations for the college experience. “One of the other things I do besides direct academic computing is teach in the Educational Technology Program in our School of Education, and it became clear to me as I was working on my class preparation that the K-12 students were getting a very different kind of experience and would be coming along with a different set of expectations,” says Rozgonyi. “I tried to tailor the technology plan toward getting away from the ‘way we’ve always done it’ view.” Rozgonyi’s comprehensive plan moved away from the traditional model of centralized IT, computer labs and classrooms filled with computers and equipment. His goal was to ensure faculty saw technology as a tool to help with the teaching process, not hinder it. “Professors would walk in and see this rack of equipment with flashing lights and it looked like the controls on Star Trek’s Enterprise. They’d think, ‘I don’t know what to do with this, forget it. I just won’t use technology,’” says Rozgonyi.

Rozgonyi’s academic technology plan started with refreshing classrooms. He removed existing equipment and encouraged faculty to bring their own laptops to class, eliminating the need for instructors to become familiar with a variety of devices in multiple classrooms. He also provided every full-time faculty member with a tablet, and created a pool of loaner devices for part-time or temporary instructors who didn’t own a mobile device. Rozgonyi has streamlined technology in two-thirds of the college’s classrooms, and he’s outfitted 37 classrooms with wireless projection. He is aiming to have all of the classrooms converted by the end of summer 2016.

In 2014, Rozgonyi, along with colleagues from academic affairs and campus facilities, also established the university’s first innovative classroom — a totally immersive and responsive learning environment. The university received a grant to build another innovative classroom, which opened at the start of the 2015 school year. The innovative classrooms are composed of mobile furniture, wireless projection, multiple 80-inch LCD screens, whiteboard-painted walls, portable whiteboards and a case of tablets that can be mounted to the wall. “Just one week into classes I’ve already received so many comments from faculty who taught their first class in there and absolutely loved it, saying, ‘This is making me think totally different about teaching,’ or, ‘This has created an energy in my class that I never saw before,’” he says.

Rozgonyi is leveraging technology to help provide students with access to costly software and apps. For example, some courses require an expensive statistical app, but Rozgonyi doesn’t expect students to purchase it. Instead, he’s deployed a cloud-based virtual desktop to deliver individual apps to students and faculty as appropriate.

Rozgonyi says the key to a successful technology implementation is collaboration. He has worked with IT staff, university colleagues, students and vendors to implement his vision. “A lot of these ideas may have generated in my head, but none of them could have happened without the support and cooperation of others,” he says.