Colleges are providing technology to students to reduce the digital divide

When colleges in the California State University system sent students home from campus in the spring of 2020, it quickly became clear that some students did not have reliable access to the Internet or computers to attend emergency courses during their peer-to-peer period.

Mike Uhlenkamp, ​​the system’s senior director of public affairs, says organizations have done everything they can to help at the moment, using “band-aid measures” such as lending laptops or expanding Wi-Fi services in parking lots.

But the administrators noticed that the problem they were trying to treat — the digital divide होती was like a mild cut, like a low and deep wound. And a more concrete solution than band-aid may be needed to patch the gas between having and not having technology.

So this fall, eight institutions in the California State University system are lending to all newcomers, including iPads and tech accessories, with stylus and smart keyboards, and transferring them to the students they want, regardless of financial needs. Tablets are to be kept for their entire undergraduate career.

“You’re going to the bookstore, picking it up on the first day of class, and returning it while collecting your hat and gown,” says Uhlencamp.

We are publishing a series on how epidemic-age practices are shaping higher education. See related article, “The epidemic pushed colleges to record lectures. Practice May Be Here to Stay. ”

Occasional laptop lending is not a new practice in higher education, but it may be to provide it collectively. So far, participating Cal State colleges have distributed more than 22,700 tablets – the amount of distribution that Uhlenkamp says may be unmatched. This is also happening elsewhere, such as at Virginia Union University, HBCU which donated about 400 new iPads for this fall. Norfolk State University Giving Apple Tech to all incoming and outgoing students– More professors.

The new efforts are a sign that the light of the epidemic’s digital divide can move away from higher education technology strategies BYOD आण bring your own devices — and towards providing students with technical tools, to ensure that no one or even one is left behind. Slow computer or cellphone. Tech companies have teamed up with some organizations to better support minority students.

California program – officially known as California State University Connectivity contributes to equity and student success-There are many goals, called Uhlenkamp. One is to prepare students for additional online courses that the system seeks to offer even after the epidemic, to meet student demand for remote options. Another is to try to improve graduation rates among low-income students; About half of all graduates of the system receive Pell grants.

“We’re looking under every rock for help, monitoring every process,” says Uhlencamp. “Providing tools to students early in their careers is integral to achieving these goals. This is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to graduate. “

The program is free for students but costs institutional dollars; Cal State bought iPads at a discounted price. If it succeeds, with public or private support, the system hopes to expand it.

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