Students Respond to Ohio State’s Shutdown of iPad Distribution


As the digital flagship program evolves, the university announced on April 26 that it will no longer provide iPads to incoming students on April 26. Credit: Zachary Rilley | photo editor

After Executive Vice President and Vice President Melissa L. Gilliam announced in a university-wide email the end of Ohio State iPad distribution On April 26, current freshmen and prospective low-income students were left without guaranteed access to a personal device.

The Digital Flagship program, which included a collaboration between Ohio State and Apple was announced in 2017. It provided tech kits, including an iPad, case, keyboard, Apple Pencil, and AppleCare to incoming freshmen, beginning in the class of 2018 -2019.

iPads are most often used to monitor emails, complete lessons and view Carmen, the online portal for course materials and grades. A Student life 2020 A survey found that 96% of students agreed or strongly agreed that tablets “were useful for academic purposes”, and 90% of devices were active on a weekly basis. Ohio State also received national recognition for this program.

University president Kristina M. Johnson said in April Ohio State planned to scale the Digital Flagship program and could provide devices as needed. However, students have expressed concern over this change.

Julia Frost, a freshman in anthropology, said during her college visit to Ohio State that giving away free iPads was discussed, but canceling the program was not mentioned.

“I ended up buying a MacBook instead, however, I regret not having an iPad,” Frost said. “For a lot of my classes, it would help immensely if I had an iPad and a MacBook.”

In Januarydepartment heads and professors expressed concerns about teaching planning in the absence of technology, students working with older and less functional devices, and the impact of the potential end of the program on students at low income.

Avaya Bell, a third-year teacher of English to speakers of other languages, said throughout her time at Ohio State she used her iPad for most of her academic needs, which she said she couldn’t have had it without the program.

“I doubt I would have made the effort to buy an iPad,” Bell said. “Instead, I probably would have continued to use handwritten notes like I did in high school.”

Bell said she had at least one online class per semester, which made her iPad necessary because her laptop couldn’t access Zoom.

University spokesman Chris Booker pointed the lantern back to his April 26 article, which included statements from Ohio State, when asked to provide a statement. When the university announced the end of iPad distribution, Gilliam said the changes to the Digital Flagship program will allow the university to tailor the program to each student’s needs.

“This new approach will allow us to focus on providing access to technology and building skills for all students in a more sustainable way, and I look forward to seeing what you do with these new resources,” said Gilliam. .

The university has created an iPad loan program for eligible students for the 2022-23 year, according to the Digital Flagship Website. A supply of devices for semester loan or program duration will be available for students who do not have access to their own. According to the website, students can contact their academic advisors and the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation if they need to loan technology.

Ricky Pinkava, a freshman in mechanical engineering, said he was surprised that the university no longer provided iPads, but he was happy to have received an iPad on loan this year after his Physics class 1250 l made him eligible.

“I’m glad I qualified for a loaner iPad because I use it for all my classes and it became necessary for my college workload,” Pinkava said.

Myah Dworning, a sophomore in zoology, said the program is part of what sets Ohio State apart from other universities.

“The Digital Flagship program was very unique to other colleges,” Dworning said. “It played a significant role not only in her decision, but also in the decision of others to attend.”

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