Temple University is letting students borrow laptops

Laptop Share Kiosks were added to Paley Library and the TECH Center last month.

Paley Library and the TECH Center now have kiosks for students to borrow laptops on Main Campus.

The Laptop Share pilot program, which was created by Information Technology Services, has loaned out laptops 252 times since its start on Dec. 6, 2018, said Larry Brandolph, the associate vice president of ITS. The program is useful for low-income students who may not have their own laptops for online-only assignments, Brandolph said.

There are two 12-laptop kiosks, next to the service desk at Paley Library and on the second floor of the TECH Center. Students can borrow laptops for up to four hours and return them to either location. 

The program cost approximately $25,000 for the kiosks, and all of the laptops were previously owned by the TECH Center, Brandolph said. 

“It’s definitely taking off,” said Stephanie Ismael, a tech support specialist and manager at the TECH Center. “It’s nice to have laptop availability in multiple places as well.”

Brandolph and Gene Mayro, the director of ITS, heard other universities began implementing the kiosk program in 2017 at Philadelphia’s Educause conference, a meeting for higher education IT professionals.

The laptops come equipped with many of the required software programs students need for each college at Temple University, including the engineering program ANSYS, JMP Pro for statistical analysis and Sage accounting software.

Access to laptops is important for students living in the 21st century, said Jennifer Johnson, a higher education professor. Johnson said she often worries about implementing technology into her curriculum because she has had students who lack access to a personal computer.

“Since I know not everyone has a laptop or brings [one] to class, I typically don’t do assignments that require individual laptop use,” Johnson said. “We need to have mechanisms where everyone has access to reliable technology, not just the phone, but the technology and the apps that go along with having a laptop.”

While Brandolph said that the Laptop Share program was not initially created to benefit low-income students, he recognized how helpful it could be for students in classrooms with online-only assignments. 

“We wanted to get the laptops out of just the TECH Center,” he said. “But, we also knew that we have students who are in need of a laptop for class and can’t buy it themselves.”

Gabrielle Munoz, a senior chemistry major, uses the Laptop Share kiosks frequently to work on assignments for her courses. 

“My personal laptop is broken, and I can’t afford a new one,” she said. “This makes easier to get to a computer, and I can go other places to use it comfortably.

Brandolph and Mayro said they intend to expand the program in the future and install kiosks in residence halls and classrooms. 

 “I can see 10 or 12 of these [kiosks] throughout campus in the near future,” Brandolph said. “But ultimately, if we could get them in every academic building, that would be great.”

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