Surface Go tablet program shows Iowa Central’s commitment to equity

Getting the devices is about more than technology

Generations of Iowa Central Community College students have crossed the campus lugging hefty textbooks.

Now, many of them head to class with fewer books and a slim electronic device that enables them to access virtually unlimted information, write papers and take exams.

This semester, for the first time, the college has enabled students to check out Surface Go tablets from Microsoft. The college bought 3,000 of the devices for $1.3 million.

The tablets remain the property of the college. Students must return them at the end of the school year, or at the end of a semester if they won’t be returning the next semester. And the students are held responsible if the device is damaged.

About 2,300 of them have been signed out.

The tablets were purchased after college officials noticed that some of their students didn’t have a tablet or a laptop computer. So they acquired the Surface Go devices to level the playing field, giving all students equal access to the kinds of computers that are now a key part of college learning.

”It’s all about accessibility and equity, making sure that everybody has the same opportunity,” said Stacy Mentzer, the college’s vice president of instruction.

Creating the opportunity for Iowa Central students to have the latest educational technology at their fingertips is good.

But the college’s commitment to accessibility and equity is what makes this initiative truly commendable. By getting the Surface Go tablets, Iowa Central leaders have made it possible for students who can’t afford such a device to keep up with their classmates who can. That is $1.3 million that is well-spent, in our opinion.

We salute the faculty, administration and Board of Trustees of Iowa Central for making this investment.