CSUSM Part of iPad Program to Help Bridge Digital Divide
By Brian Hiro
Cal State San Marcos is doing its part to help bridge the digital divide that has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
CSUSM is one of eight campuses participating in a California State University initiative called CSUCCESS (California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success) that aims to enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities for the CSU community by providing industry-leading technology.
Under the program, all CSUSM first-year and transfer students can register to receive a new iPad bundle, which includes a 64-gigabyte iPad Air, an Apple Smart Keyboard Folio and an Apple Pencil, as well as technology support from Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS).
Students will not own the devices but will be allowed to use them for the duration of their undergraduate education at CSUSM. The iPads will be managed by CSUSM, which will preload them with certain campus applications, but the university will not be monitoring students’ day-to-day activities on them.
The devices will be distributed via a drive-up process at Craven Circle on Aug. 24-25. Students will be contacted to schedule a pick-up time. About 1,700 students have registered for an iPad bundle so far.
CSUCCESS represents the latest response by the CSU to the challenges of the pandemic, during which students have pointed to a lack of access to a computer or mobile device as an obstacle in the way of their achievement. Over the last year, for example, CSUSM has loaned 669 laptops, 191 mobile hotspots and 176 other pieces of equipment to students.
“The shift to virtual learning really highlighted the vast inequalities in home technology and connectivity,” said Kevin Morningstar, dean of IITS and CSUSM’s chief information officer. “While CSUSM continues to loan out equipment to any student who doesn’t have a device, the CSUCCESS program really builds beyond that, by ensuring that every incoming student has the opportunity to receive a high-quality and reliable personal computing device to support their academic achievement.”
All new first-year and transfer students entering CSUSM this fall are eligible for the iPad bundle, but students must submit a request form. They also must be enrolled in at least 12 units. There are no income-based eligibility requirements.
The program is focused on new students, who need more support as they begin their college careers, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 challenges. Future phases of CSUCCESS, however, could include returning students.
Dawn Formo, dean of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, said she has convened a group that will study the value of the CSUCCESS initiative as it pertains to new students’ academic progress. She said the group will support faculty of first-year students with pedagogical support for including iPads in their course design, which will include providing participating faculty with iPads as well.
“We are committed to finding meaningful ways to use the iPads to close equity gaps by helping students understand iPad tools that can help them thrive and deepen their learning experience,” Formo said.
Funding for CSUCCESS, which could serve up to 35,000 students across California, comes from federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund resources.
The other seven CSU campuses participating in the initiative are Bakersfield, Channel Islands, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy and Northridge.
“I am convinced that true and consistent student success depends on having a modern and, more importantly, reliable computing device in our students’ possession beginning on day one and continuing throughout their college experience," CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said. “We aspire to have additional phases of the initiative that will expand access in the future to more new and current students at other CSU campuses.”
For more information or to register for an iPad bundle, go to CSUSM’s CSUCCESS webpage.
Brian Hiro, Communications Specialist
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