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GCC gets grant to start tech lending library

GREENFIELD — A new grant from the state will allow some of the low-income Greenfield Community College students to borrow laptops and other Internet access devices for use at home.

The state awarded GCC about $70,000 for a program that will essentially act like a technology-lending library. The funds will be used to buy laptops, iPads, Kindles and mobile hotspot drives, which students who meet certain criteria will be able to use to facilitate their class work, which is increasingly computer- and internet-dependent.

“The real intention here and the deeper concern is it’s hard for students to complete what they start in their journey into higher education without that basic technology,” GCC President Bob Pura said.

What it will buy

The grant will buy a host of technology that can be borrowed: 10 HP laptops, 10 Macbook Pro laptops, 10 iPad Minis, 10 Kindle e-readers, 10 mobile hotspot drives, a one-year license for unlimited mobile hotspot data, four licenses for Adobe Acrobat Pro, five Texas Instrument graphing calculators, and five Olympus digital recorders, Pura said.

“Getting students access to the technology is equivalent to having any of the resources needed to succeed, including books,” Pura said.

On Monday, in what was described as a “digital learning initiatives push,” the state awarded a total of $1.2 million in grant money to 16 Massachusetts public colleges and universities — including the $69,958 to GCC.

“New approaches are needed to expand higher education opportunities for all Massachusetts residents, particularly for those who need flexibility and are not able to take traditional classes on a college campus,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a press release.

The money provided to GCC will help to build what is being called a “Technology Lending Library,” accessible to up to 725 low-income students who might need help acquiring computers and internet access at home. About one-third of students do not have full access to technology…

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