KCTCS schools work to close digital divide across the state
Schools in the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) have worked relentlessly since March 2020 to help close the digital divide for students on campuses across the Commonwealth.
At Bluegrass Community & Technical College, faculty and staff members called all 7,000-9,000 students four times throughout the year. Through these campaigns, the school identified over 1,200 students who had roadblocks to online success, such as lack of computer or internet access or needed to build technology skills. The school then worked with the students to address those needs personally. The schools also increased wi-fi capability/hot spots on all campuses and allowed computer labs to remain open for all who needed access.
Jefferson Community and Technical College’s IT Department also worked to help students affected by the pandemic. To date, nearly 450 computers (more than $400,000 worth of recently retired equipment) has been distributed to students in need of technology.
“Our entire department has been involved in some way shape or form,” Thomas Rogers, Chief Information Technology Officer, said. “We saw the need and we had a resource we knew could help. Our students have been so grateful, and we were fortunate enough to support them when they needed it most.”
JCTC also acquired a $100,000 COVID-related Student Technology Needs grant, awarded by the C. E. and S. Foundation, Inc. for purchasing 130 additional laptops for students to check out for the fall semester.
“Without it, it was almost sure I would have to withdraw due to being unable to do the work for school,” wrote a student. “It helped me tremendously. As the pandemic hit, I was doing classes on my phone. For the staff to help me in this way was big!”
Owensboro Community & Technical College partnered with Big Rivers and Kenergy electric cooperatives to provide solar device charging in exterior locations on the main campus. The $20,000 project investment provided two solar charging stations, placed in the outdoor mall area on the main campus. Each station is ADA compliant, self-sufficient and will provide charging connectivity for multiple devices.
Hazard Community & Technical College worked to put wi-fi hotspots in counties where the school doesn’t have a campus but had students. In Wolfe County, the school also worked Campton Baptist Church to set up a hotspot complete with available laptops and a printer for use by students.
The Robert E. Frazier Foundation awarded Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College nearly $30,000 to establish a Laptop Lending Program for students on their Cumberland Campus. The program allows students without access to borrow laptops and scientific calculators,
According to Academic Support Center Director Kathy Ditty, the project puts the college one step closer to offering a comprehensive support services program for its students.