Within the last several weeks, Ogeechee Technical College, in partnership with the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the TCSG Foundation, have given away or loaned out dozens of pieces of technological equipment to students to complete their online coursework during the pandemic.
With an increase in online curriculum, some students have found themselves searching for alternative methods to complete their coursework away from campus. Kadijah Mack, a student in OTC’s Medical Assisting program, is a recent recipient of one of the laptop giveaways. “It wasn’t as simple as logging on and getting my schoolwork done,” said Mack. “There are five people that live in my house that all share the same laptop, including my brother who is also a student at OTC. To now have my own laptop to complete my coursework makes a world of difference.”
So far Ogeechee Tech has given away six laptops and loaned out two more. In addition to the laptops, the college has given out 17 PC sticks bundles which include a PC stick, wireless keyboard, and wireless mouse. The PC Sticks enable students who have home Wi-Fi to plug the stick into any TV or monitor with an HDMI port, and use that screen as if it were a home computer.
The six students that have received laptops thus far were drawn at random from a pool of students who completed a survey conducted by OTC’s Disability and Special Populations Coordinator, Sabrina Burns. “The pandemic has pushed a lot of curriculum online and completing coursework became difficult for many of our students who didn’t have access to computers at home,” stated Burns.
Jacqueline Drinks, an OTC student, was struggling a find a way to complete her coursework at home until her name was drawn. “A few days before I found out I had won the laptop, I was trying to come up with the money to purchase one myself. This laptop has helped me in so many ways because it has everything I need on it to be successful at Ogeechee Tech.”
OTC has taken several other measures to increase access to online coursework for students. “Not everyone has wi-fi at home, so we have boosted our external Wi-Fi at the main campus so that students can drive up to campus and complete coursework online from the safety of their vehicles,” said Jeff Davis, VP for Technology and Institutional Support.
Not only do the students have technological needs during the pandemic, but many instructors and staff have also moved coursework or services online and needed equipment to effectively complete work away from the office.
“We have provided phones, hot spots, laptops, full-size PC’s, monitors, dual monitors, tablet computers, touch-sensitive tablets, among other things,” said Davis. “Our goal is to make sure that all faculty and staff have what they need to continue to deliver quality technical education and support services to our students and community.”