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BTC Launches Technology Loan Program to Support Students

August 3, 2020

Hundreds of laptops and hotspots are ready to be deployed to Blackhawk Technical College students this fall thanks to a cooperative effort between the College’s Library and Information Technology Services teams. The equipment loan program will allow students to check out laptops and hotspots at no additional charge to the student.

Funding is provided for the program through Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding. The Department of Education Secretary’s letter to colleges encouraged using a portion of the institutional grant “to expand remote learning programs, build IT capacity to support such programs, and train faculty and staff to operate effectively in a remote learning environment.”

Two IT employees work on formatting laptops for deployment
“The primary purpose of the laptop loan program is to accommodate students who prefer to take online or MyEdChoice classes during this time of a global pandemic, but may not possess the necessary technology or internet access to do so,” said Carrie Arnold, Manager of Information Technology Services. While the College is planning for in-person classes this fall, in the event of another “safer-at-home” order, this program will provide technology to students so they can stay on track with their educational goals. (Pictured: ITS Staff Kevin Bold and Andy Nouansacksy prep laptops)

On March 18, when COVID-19 forced the College to move instruction online, many students came forward requesting assistance with technology and broadband access. At that time, Blackhawk’s IT team got creative by repurposing existing college laptops and computers for students and expanding the reach of WiFi so students could access the internet in college parking lots. The availability of mobile hotspots will help bring internet access to the student so no travel is necessary.

Blackhawk students can place a hold on a laptop or hotspot now for use during the Fall semester.  There are several ways to reserve a laptop or hotspot:

Pick-ups for the devices will start the week of Aug. 10. “Both the laptops and hotspots will be checked out from the Library in Student Success Center, much like one would check out any other material.  They can be checked out for weekly or semester-long intervals, or after the semester starts can be checked out for daily on-site use in MyEdChoice classes,” said Blackhawk Librarian Madeleine Pitsch. 

MyEdChoice is a class format offered at BTC that allows students to decide how they engage in class (in-person or online at any point within the semester and for any class period). Students at BTC for in-person MyEdChoice attendance can check out a laptop for daily use if their scheduled room is at capacity due to social distancing guidelines. To help the students focus, earbuds that they can keep will be made available to minimize on-campus distractions.

Laptops and hotspots are available to registered Blackhawk students at all BTC campuses. For more information on the loan program call (608) 757-7705 or email library@blackhawk.edu.

Registration for the fall semester is still open. Visit www.blackhawk.edu/get-connected to get started at Blackhawk today.

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