By Pete Brumbaugh

Technology has transformed the world. MNU has started its own digital "makeover" to transform how we work and teach, and the investment is paying dividends.

Transforming the Classroom

“Technology is taking education outside the walls of the classroom,” says Steve Pillow, assistant professor of education technology. “It’s making the world a lot smaller and more accessible.”

“I once brought in a principal from a local school to talk about interview techniques,” Pillow says. “He couldn’t leave his school building, so we connected via FaceTime—the principal on his iPhone and our class on an iPad. He could see us and we could see him. It was a really valuable experience that would not have been possible without the use of technology.”


Virtual Patient Center

The digital revolution is also taking place in other parts of the university. For example, the archives at Mabee Library are now completely digitized so resources can be accessed online. The School of Nursing and Health Science uses patient simulators so students have a lifelike experience as they learn patient care and management. 


Bryan Porter

Alumni like Bryan Porter (’96) are leading the way with digital solutions for businesses and individuals. Porter’s Arsalon Technologies offers data storage, managed services and cloud computing for H&R Block and AMC Theatres.

Dr. Nancy Damron (’95), chair of teacher education, says technology is also changing the way we teach. She points to a simulation program called TeachLive. Developed by researchers at the University of Florida, the program takes student teachers through a series of classroom-management challenges. The student stands in front of large computer monitor teaching a lesson to a class of “avatars” (simulated students). These avatars react in different ways that help student teachers to apply lessons on managing classroom behavior.

“At one stage, an avatar hurls a chair across the room,” Dr. Damron says. “I’m always intrigued to see how our students respond to these challenges, because they may face such issues in the future. The technology is producing better-prepared students.”

Transforming the Student and Alumni Experience

The face of MNU’s student media is also making the jump across the digital divide. “theBox” website now bundles the campus newspaper, magazine, yearbook, TV station, and radio station in one neat package. Check it out at

“We are trying to help students become trans-media storytellers,” says Heather Attig (’00), director of multimedia. “Students learn to develop content for different types of news consumers—whether it’s online news stories, photos, video or audio.” 

Attig manages “theBox,” but students develop all of the content and are responsible for publishing it. 

“We want students to take ownership of the entire creative process,” she says, “The face of media is changing rapidly and our students need to be ready for these changes when they graduate.”

Even Accent is going digital. This winter MNU launched an online newsroom to feed stories to alumni and supporters on a regular basis. Access the online newsroom at:

How Alumni Are Transforming Technology

Many MNU alumni are not only digital consumers, but also technology innovators, including Cliff Pemble (’86), CEO of Garmin International, Dale Gray (’89), owner of The Purple Guys, and Bryan Porter (’96), president and founding partner of Arsalon Technologies. 

Porter’s Lenexa, Kan., company is a local leader in the data-center business with three locations in the Kansas City region. The company offers data storage, including co-location, managed services and cloud computing. Clients include AMC Theatres, H&R Block, Ferrelgas and many others. 

Porter says Arsalon is trying to stay one step ahead of the advances in technology. 

“Twenty years ago, we didn’t have the Internet for commercial use or even as a communications platform,” he says. “Cloud computing was in its very early stages of development. Servers were these big monstrous computers. Now, everything is stored on blades that run massive amounts of data through them.”

Porter says he learned the fundamentals of how to run a company during his years at MNU. “Technology changes so fast,” he says, “but timeless things like computing theory, physics, math and ethics in business relationships have never changed with me. If anything, they’ve been refined and reinforced over the years.”

He likens himself to an opportunist. “But being an opportunist has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with hard work and preparation,” he says. That Pioneer attitude is helping him drive the digital revolution at Arsalon.