PROFile - John Anchan

Associate dean and professor for the Faculty of Education

John Anchan does not believe in PowerPoint.

Photo by Alana Trachenko

When it comes to research, and life in general, John Anchan of the Faculty of Education prefers to have a little variety. The associate dean and professor has spent 18 years at +the University of Winnipeg (U of W) but in that time has taken on numerous roles and areas of research.

Anchan graduated from the University of Alberta and made the move to Winnipeg after being offered a job at the U of W.

“When I first got here and saw this place I thought, ‘five years and I’m out of here,’” Anchan says. “But it’s been 18 years for two reasons. One is the university is an amazing place to work, fantastic students, great staff and faculty …

“And the city itself. I still struggle with some issues like the traffic or the roads or infrastructure, but … it’s an old city. It has a lot of history.”

Since settling in, Anchan has had the chance to work in international intercultural education, sociology of education and immigration and settlement. Now, Anchan’s focus is on academic technologies.

“I have always been interested in technology, worked in technology, so I joke that I breathe technology,” Anchan says.

He’s been focusing on mobile technologies and, for the duration of his academic career, how technology affects humans.

“What are the issues that bind us and destroy us due to technology? What excites us and what creates problems?” Anchan puts forward. “These are the implications of technology that I’m looking at.”

He says budget is always a major consideration when looking at what universities can afford to access in terms of technology. But regardless of how many high-res screens are in the classroom, Anchan believes integrating technology into the curriculum is essential.

“If you can’t speak the language of the students, we already lost part of them,” he says.

He adds that the technology is so pervasive that the term ‘online’ will soon be obsolete.

“Technology has become so transparent in some sense, and so it has become integral,” he says. “I call it complement-integrating technology … it’s become a part of our life. We use it without thinking about it.”

Area of research: academic technologies.

Number of peer-reviewed articles: 10, as well as one book that I was the primary author of and nine book contributions.

Lowest grade in university: C+, and an F in Grade 12. I failed because I was playing chess with my brother all night before the exam.

What’s your superpower? The notion of multiple identities: born in one country, worked in another, travelled around the world, worked in a number of cities before settling down here.

What’s the best part about your job? Oh, I love it all. If I don’t like something, I’ll quit … it doesn’t matter what we do. If we have the passion and enthusiasm, we can really do wonders

What’s the latest book you read? Einstein: His Life and Universe. It shows how even a genius like Einstein had to fight the system.

What’s the most useless piece of technology? The worst thing that has every happened is PowerPoint … PowerPoint is powerless point.

Published in Volume 71, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 12, 2016)

Related Reads