UW program accommodates technology needs as students study remotely amid coronavirus | News

UW program accommodates technology needs as students study remotely amid coronavirus | News

The UW Student Technology Loan Program is increasing its stock of laptops and tablets to allow students otherwise without computer access to borrow for the remote spring quarter.

With spring quarter classes being entirely online, the UW Student Technology Loan Program (STLP) is centralizing its inventory in Kane Hall and prioritizing student demand for laptops and tablets by changing the loan periods for these items to last the whole quarter.

Since the start of its operations in 2002, STLP has been increasing student access to technology for academic and personal uses. Last year, the program had a total of 4,168 bookings from 2,707 customers.

The $38 Student Technology Fee (STF) and $141 Services and Activities Fee (SAF), included in students’ quarterly tuition, are used by STLP to purchase a wide variety of technology items, ranging from laptops to projectors. All currently enrolled UW Seattle students are eligible to check out these items for free. 

In the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak and the announcement that students will be studying remotely in spring quarter, STLP, which is operated by the university’s academic technologies department, had to reevaluate its quarterly operations.

“Certain tasks that we do such as responding to customer inquiries, maintaining social media presence, website updates, and reservation administration are already location agnostic,” Ryan Hursh, the manager of program operations in academic technologies, said. “But as the rest of the work centers around tangible items, we’ve had to change the bulk of what we do to align with current guidelines.”

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One of these changes has to do with the program’s office locations, which were originally spread across campus in Kane Hall, the Health Sciences Building, and the HUB. This quarter, the latter two locations will remain closed, and equipment check out and return will be entirely based in the first floor lobby of Kane Hall. 

STLP has also expanded its inventory through the utilization of the program’s annual block funding from the STF Committee. 

Effective immediately, STLP is making available 60 Apple 13-inch MacBook Pros with Touch Bar, and 60 Apple 11-inch iPad Pros with Bluetooth keyboard cases and Apple pencils. The program is also expected to receive 60 Apple 13-inch MacBook Airs and additional Dell laptops in mid-April. All of the equipment has been thoroughly sanitized with bleach wipes and spray cleaner.

Hursh said the program will continue to assess the situation throughout the quarter and make changes as necessary.

“The STLP staff is absolutely dedicated to maintaining student access to technology and their actions taken this quarter are a testament to that dedication,” Hursh said.

Starting March 30, laptops and tablets will be available for pickup in Kane Hall. To make reservations for these items, students need to log in with their UW email on the program’s website. Reservations for other items, such as audio components and cameras, can be done through a separate request process.

Some 64 laptops and tablets were also shipped free of charge to students as many left campus after learning that instruction this quarter would be remote, according to a university press release.

To stay up to date, students are encouraged to check out the program’s Facebook page where new announcements will continue to be posted.

Other resources students can explore include the learning technologies workshops, which teach students how to use digital productivity and creativity tools for free throughout the quarter. Adobe has also granted students free temporary at-home access to Creative Cloud until May 31. 

Reach reporter Shannon Hong at news@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @shannonjhhong

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