Because the university rolled out its individual program before the onset of the pandemic, the infrastructure was already in place to move quickly to distance learning. Now that in-person learning has resumed, administrators want to expand the role of iPad devices, such as using a mobile app to manage student services and giving students options for digital textbooks.
Today, more than 85% of the university’s full-time faculty members are certified through the Apple Teacher program, and student engagement and learning outcomes are significantly higher.
Miller enjoyed seeing the commitment and enthusiasm increase throughout the process.
“I loved watching people go from naysayers to full adoption of the technology,” he says. “It really changed the way people do things. Instructors use active learning strategies, and student engagement and grades improve.
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Allow every student to access the Internet
Everett Community College, just north of Seattle, has launched its individual program to meet the needs of students.
For many years, students borrowed laptops from the library for as long as they needed them. When EvCC had to close its campuses in 2020, students quickly checked out all 100 devices, with requests for many more.
“We have a student body that may not have access to technology at home,” says Tim Rager, executive director of IT at the college. “And when everyone is at home, it’s even more difficult. They may need to use a cell phone as a hotspot or a shared device to complete their homework. “
To support distance learning for students, EvCC purchased 400 Chromebooks, which students removed from the library as they became available.
A second purchase of 900 Chromebooks filled the void for the remaining students. The pace of the crates, however, was much slower in the second round, so Rager reached out to the students to find out why.
“Students said they weren’t looking at Chromebooks because they didn’t have internet at home,” he says. “At this point, we’ve partnered with T-Mobile’s EmpowerED program. It’s usually for K-12 schools, but during the pandemic they expanded it to higher education. “
DIVE MORE DEEP: Bring connectivity to rural and tribal colleges.
T-Mobile provided EvCC with 350 access points, which the students immediately removed from the library.
“The hotspot program is popular,” says Rager. “I don’t hear students saying that they no longer have access to the Internet.
Over time, students started asking for access to apps that weren’t generally available on Chromebooks, such as Microsoft Word and AutoCAD. Rager solved this dilemma with Amazon Web Services and Amazon AppStream, which virtualize applications.
“Not only does this make Chromebooks more versatile, but the type of device itself is irrelevant,” he says. “It didn’t matter if someone was using a PC, Mac or whatever. It was a huge blessing for us.
Rager is certain that EvCC’s individual program will continue even when students return to campus. He does know, however, that the college will likely need to upgrade campus infrastructure and find funding to continue to release apps and purchase new devices as needed.
“The advantage of all of this is that it forced our institution to find ways to innovate digitally,” says Rager. “We learned a lot about how to lead the change. We are improving a lot in discovery and experimentation, all to better serve our community.