Blue Hen Strong Fund Supports Virtual Learning Needs
When the coronavirus pandemic disrupted traditional campus learning earlier this spring, University of Delaware classes and coursework transitioned online. For most students, only a keystroke separates them from academics, research and connections, ensuring the health and safety of the Blue Hen community in a socially distanced world.
But what happens when that connection is disrupted? The lack of a laptop or the right software can create barriers for students in need and who can’t afford repairs or a replacement. A joint initiative from the Office of the Dean of Students and IT Client Support & Services is ensuring all students have access to the technology they need for success.
Thanks to donor generosity through the Blue Hen Strong Fund—which was established this spring to provide direct help to students through tuition assistance, advanced technology and enhanced online learning and career readiness resources—loaner laptops and technology support are readily available for students with the greatest needs. With this funding, the IT Client Support & Services has been able to invest in laptops that students can borrow, as well as resources to assist in repairs, while the Office of the Dean of Students helps the students in need connect with the right technology solution.
“The students that we've been able to assist with this new program, it's been a huge sigh of relief for them,” Associate Dean of Students Katie Rizzo said. “We know that COVID-19 has really made some significant financial impacts on students and their families. In the past, students may have had an issue with their laptops that was stressful, but they had the financial means to repair or replace. Now, it's completely different.”
Whether on campus or off, students in need can access the Laptop Loaner program. IT specialists are available to walk students through remote repairs or connect them with a short-term or long-term loaner laptop. Students typically seek to borrow a laptop for a short period, because their computer is in need of a repair, while others need to borrow a laptop for longer, because they may not be able to afford to fix a broken computer, they do not have a home computer or the right software for certain courses.
As of the program’s launch, IT has received more than 40 requests for loaner computers. Students that need a laptop for the semester can work with the Office of the Dean of Students to access the Laptop Loaner program. Rizzo added that faculty and staff have also helped connect students with necessary technology support.
“We're thrilled that we were able to receive donor support for this cause, and I'm hopeful to see how the support grows from here because we really have gained traction to meet this need for students,” Rizzo said.
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