Ohio State’s Tech Loan Program Replaces Universal Device Program, Provides Access to More Than Half of Eligible Students


Instead of handing out iPads to all Ohio State freshmen, the university has created a solitary iPad program in place for the 2022-23 school year. Credit: Jake Rahe | Lantern Photo FileDespite concerns from students and faculty about stopping iPad distribution, Ohio State is delivering tablets in a new way.

Despite student and faculty concerns about stopping universal iPad distribution in the state of Ohio, the university is offering tablets in a new way.

After ending the popular Digital Flagship program that provided iPads to incoming first years, Ohio State has created a technology loan program for thousands of eligible students for the 2022-23 academic year, according to the Digital Flagship Website.

Katharine Keune, communications manager for the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation, said in an email that the Ohio State Student Technology Loan Program makes available to students who need iPad and Surface Go kits, including Pencil and Keyboard. Six thousand students have qualified for the loan program for the fall semester, Keune said.

“Of the six thousand students eligible for the loan, nearly half picked up a loaner device,” Keune said.

Keune said there are two eligibility channels for a lender: enrollment in a course marked as “iPad required” and referral to the loan program by an academic advisor or student advocate, such as school administrators. program for student support programs and learning communities.

The technology loan program is needed to fill the void left by the previous Digital Flagship program, Keune said.

The Digital Flagship Program, which included a collaboration between Ohio State and Apple was announced in 2017. It provided technology kits, including an iPad, case, keyboard, Apple Pencil and Apple Care to incoming freshmen, starting in class 2018-2019.

iPads are most often used to monitor emails, complete lessons and view Carmen, the online portal for course materials and grades. A Student life 2020 A survey found that 96% of students agreed or strongly agreed that tablets “were useful for academic purposes”, and 90% of devices were active on a weekly basis. Ohio State also received national recognition for this program.

In January, department heads and professors expressed concerns about teaching planning in the absence of technology, students working with older and less functional devices, and the impact of the potential end of the program on students at low income.

Executive Vice President and Vice President Melissa L. Gilliam said in a university-wide email April 26 that Ohio State will no longer provide iPads to incoming students in the as part of its Digital Flagship program. April 26.

Keune said students can lend a tablet for one semester but can sign up to keep their devices for the whole year if they’re enrolled in another course that requires an iPad. The devices purchased to create the loan program pool cost about $4 million and will be available to eligible students over the next four years, she said.

Sophomores received fourth-generation iPad Airs in the final year of the program. According to the prices of walmart, Apple and best buy for the device, Apple Pencil, AppleCare, and Magic Keyboard, each Digital Flagship kit is currently valued at around $1,000.

The new loaner program also gives away Microsoft Surface Gos, with the Surface Go 2 currently priced at over $300, according to prices from walmartApple and Best Buy.

Ryan Debolt, a physics administration teaching assistant and 2022 physics grad, said in an email that the then-flagship Ohio State Department of Physics embraced iPads. and created programs based on the assumption that students owned them. He said it made “things” easier for teachers and students as a whole.

“The work could be submitted at any time electronically. Classes have become paperless. Notability comes in handy for creating diagrams and writing physics problems quickly,” Debolt said.

Debolt said the physics program doesn’t require an iPad, and he hasn’t commented on the loaner program yet.

Keune said remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated changing student needs and shed light on digital inequalities between students and communities across the state of Ohio. . As a result, the university developed Digital Flagship, moving away from the one-size-fits-all undergraduate device program and expanding the initiative’s focus on digital equity, skills building, and skills development. workforce, she said.

“Looking forward, we need to think about how to sustainably meet the new and unique needs of our students while remaining committed to digital access and educational support,” Keune said.

This new approach includes expanding access to Adobe Creative Cloud, providing students with degree-specific software, and the ability to earn certification in critical technology areas, Keune said.

“The new approach positions Ohio State to drive innovation and change through low-cost access and programming to uplift the entire college community, build needed digital skills, and provide access to future Ohio State learners with non-credit pathways to industry-recognized certifications,” Keune said.

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