An economic divide might keep students from accessing technology to complete schoolwork, but a new program helps get rid of those barriers.
The Library / Learning Crossroads is extending its electronic device checkout to all students after a successful pilot program last semester through EOP&S and Distance Education.
Students can check out Surface Pro tablets for two days or the entire semester. They need a valid Pierce ID and will need to sign a contract to be loaned the device.
Director of EOP&S Kalynda Mclean said that priority for the program is given to individuals who are enrolled in distance education, online or hybrid classes.
“It allows students access to electronic equipment that they normally would not have access to for the completion of coursework,” Mclean said. “For students who are educationally and economically disadvantaged, this program is of particular help to that student population.”
Clay Gediman, the technology library, oversees the program and said it was created to help low-income students who can’t afford to buy equipment or don’t have time to visit the library.
“Laptops are expensive,” Gediman said. “A lot more classes are online, and though the library has pretty good hours, not everybody can make it in.”
Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass said that the Surface Pros tablets were chosen because they are lightweight and easily portable, in addition to other features.
“We found that the younger generation likes to touch things,” Bass said. “We went with smaller computers, and we found that it was a generational thing. Younger people do work on phones. I can’t stand it. It’s too small. But the tablets are nice size, light and versatile.”
The tablets have Deep Freeze installed to facilitate distribution. Students are encouraged to save files on external and online drives because content is erased once the device shuts down, Bass said.
“This would prevent anybody loading any viruses on them,” Bass said. “If the students aren’t saving things on them, they won’t worry about losing them.”
Bass said that she and Gediman worked closely together to bring the program to fruition. Gediman tested the tablets by taking one of Bass’ test, failing it, but demonstrating that the devices support Canvas and Proctorio.
“He was instrumental in having us check them out of the library,” Bass said. “He’s been hands on to make sure that this program will work and that students will succeed.”
There are 15 tablets available for two-day checkout and 70 to be loaned for the duration of the semester, Gediman said.
The tablets have Microsoft Office and web browsers. Though they don’t have the processing power to run Adobe softwares, Gediman suggests that students visit the Library / Learning Crossroads for those projects.
Gediman said they are letting students know that anyone is eligible to check out the devices.
“They have been getting checked out, we’d just like more students to know about the program,” Gediman said. “In the future, we’d also like to purchase more as others become worn out.”