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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

“From the depths of my heart, thank you” — UC Davis laptop loan program helps students during virtual instruction

Laptops are still available for distribution during the first weeks of Spring Quarter

In response to UC Davis’ transition to online instruction platforms, efforts by the Information and Education Technology (IET) department and the UC Davis Library addressed concerns regarding equal access to technology.

Anita Nichols, the director of client success for UC Davis Information and Educational Technology, said frequently occupied campus computer labs served as inspiration for a student laptop checkout program prior to the campus’ implementation of suspended operation.

“Understanding that a certain percentage of students at UC Davis do not have laptops, and instead rely on the computer labs, IET and Undergraduate Education have been working closely to establish this program,” Nichols said.

The laptop lending program kick-started on March 16 and will continue to service students during Spring Quarter. Nichols said that 100 laptops have been distributed, and that the program receives nearly 25 requests per day. The funding for the devices originated from donations.

“Assistance came from numerous other campus departments and units, like Development and Alumni Relations, which heard about the effort and offered to cover the cost of the laptops from the Annual Fund, which is funded by donors,” Nichols said.

Nichols outlined the process for future students who wish to borrow a laptop. 

First, Nichols said the student submits a request for a laptop via the Service Hub at servicehub.ucdavis.edu. 

“They need to search for ‘Laptop Checkout’ or this link,” Nichols said. “The form includes a link to apply or submit a request online, including the best date and time to pick up, and reason for need. Upon approval, the student receives confirmation and location to pick up the laptop. After pick up, the student receives instructions on complete setup of the laptop and contact information to call for help, if needed.”

Hawanya Smith, a graduate student in math education, said she reached out to her professor because her laptop failed to relay audio during Zoom meetings. Her professor sent Smith the information about the IET and the library’s laptop loaning program.

Smith described the experience loaning the brand new Dell laptop as “very fluid and easy.” 

“When I went to the pick up location, there were instructions on the door,” Smith said.“I showed my ID through the window [and] social distancing protocol [was implemented], such as standing six feet away.”

This laptop checkout program may not continue for future Aggies. 

Nichols said the student laptop checkout program was implemented as an emergency resource during an “unprecedented event,” but UC Davis plans to evaluate the program’s success to determine its role in future operations. 

MacKenzie Smith, a university librarian and vice provost of digital scholarship, said the library has made significant efforts in recent years to increase online and digital services.

“The library’s vision is to be the academic hub of UC Davis, advancing research, education and innovation in a networked world,” Smith said. “We are committed to helping everyone at UC Davis get access to the information they need, from anywhere, any time. Laptops and networks are essential to that goal, particularly in a remote learning environment — including to use online library resources and expertise — so of course we want to make sure that no students are left out.”

Hawanya Smith said she hopes to see virtual learning become a future educational option at UC Davis for students with less schedule flexibility. 

“It does speak to the fact that UC Davis and other universities should consider distance learning as an option for students with hardships moving forward,” she said.

Hawanya Smith thanked the program organizers for providing the necessary resources for her continued academic success in the new quarter.

“It allows me to learn,” she said. “I can get on [my new laptop] and feel confident about learning. I want to thank those who were responsible for providing these laptops. I really want to tell them from the depths of my heart, thank you.”

Written by: Hannah Blome — campus@theaggie.org


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