DACC distributes iPads to students during spring semester

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Santana Ochoa

A volunteer at DACC distributes an iPad to students via drive thru on Feb. 21, 2021.

Dona Ana Community College is distributing 3,000 free iPads to new or returning students enrolled in at least 12 credit hours this semester due to the pandemic.

DACC’s Extraordinarily Creative Interactive Teaching Environment program, known as XCITE, pushes for tech in the classroom. The program acquired 3,000 iPads in July of 2020, paid for through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act.

Associate Professor at DACC and Apple Distinguished Educator Sarah Balizan said DACC’s administration immediately aimed to use the COVID Cares Act money for students.

“This was [administrations] first thought. They pulled me on board and said, hey, this [purchasing iPads] is what we’d like to do. They wrote up the legal process for it so that it could be legally purchased through Apple because we made a bulk purchase of 3,000 iPads, 3,000 cases, 3,000 Apple Pencils and 3,000 forms of the Apple care,” Balizan said.

Each qualifying student receives an iPad, Apple Pencil, case and Apple Care for their iPad.

Balizan believes this program speaks volumes about the heart of DACC and their support for their students, and said faculty have embraced the XCITE program as well.

Amy Garcia, Associate Professor and President of the Faculty Council, said the iPads have changed the way she and other faculty have taught their classes.

“It’s really contributed to a surge of creativity amongst faculty. Instead of doing PowerPoints, you know the usual presentations or videos that are just kind of generic. It’s kind of up the bar, and it’s made learning and teaching more fun,” Garcia said in regards to using mobile devices in the classroom.

However, students like Rose Lopez, a senior at DACC, said there is a caveat to the “free” iPads.

According to Lopez, students must complete the semester, where they received their iPad, in full without dropping out of college or failing any classes. A form must be signed at pick-up to ensure the iPads will be given back or bought by the students if they fail to meet these requirements.

“It was a little nerve-wracking because they don’t tell you that you have to pass all of your classes,” Lopez said. “But if it’s just passing my classes, then yes, it’s pretty much free.”

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