Columbus State narrows equity gaps with purchase of 600 Chromebooks for students
Campus News | Tuesday, April 7, 2020
When Columbus State Community College transitioned Spring Semester to virtual learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, a key concern upon students’ return on March 23 was the ability for all to access the technology needed to continue their college education.
“As an open-access college, we have a larger population of low-income students than most institutions,” said Allen Kraus, vice president of Enrollment Services and Marketing and Communications. “We need to make sure our most vulnerable students aren’t lost to a digital divide.”
The College immediately purchased 600 Chromebooks from a distributor to get them into the hands of students who did not have direct access to personal computers in their homes.
“That was just the start,” said Desiree Polk-Bland, executive dean of Advising & Student Support. “For many of those students, they also did not have high-speed Internet access. Working with our IT team, we helped them connect to Internet providers in their homes.”
Current Columbus State student Andrew Harris, a business management major, said he is grateful for the College’s investment to loan out technology to students like him who need it to succeed.
“I had an older computer that wasn’t working well with my online classes,” Harris said. Even though he had taken advantage of Spectrum’s free Internet access offer for student households to get connected, his technology wasn’t keeping up with online instruction demands. After outreach from the College, Harris found he was eligible to receive a loaned Chromebook to support his studies.
“Columbus State really cares about their students,” Harris said. “I always respected the College, but now I have even more respect for what they do to make sure that students are okay and can still prevail in life with this pandemic going on.”
Columbus State also purchased 200 older iPhone models to be used as mobile Internet hot spots, allowing students without reliable home Internet service to connect Chromebooks to access online lessons and assignments. The College has pre-paid for access to data and hotspot functionality on each phone.
“While this circumstance has been challenging for faculty and staff, we’ve been determined to find creative solutions that will allow students to continue progressing toward college completion while also managing work, family, and more. We want to provide them with the tools they need to succeed,” said Kraus.