Ohio State University: Ohio State introduces new approach to helping students build technology skills

The Ohio State University launched Digital Flagship five years ago to embed equitable technology and digital skills into the undergraduate teaching and learning experience, preparing students to be a part of the modern digital workforce.

In the time since — driven in many ways by remote teaching and learning during the pandemic — technology adoption has accelerated more than anticipated, providing new opportunities to serve learners on and beyond Ohio State’s campuses. As a result, the university has made the decision to evolve the Digital Flagship program and transition to a new suite of services designed to be more impactful and sustainable, and better meet the changing needs of students.

As part of this change, Ohio State will expand Adobe Creative Cloud access to all students, providing them the ability to build valuable professional productivity, creativity and communication skills. The university will also implement virtual desktop services that allow students to access specialized, discipline-specific software they need on any device from any location without additional cost.

Ohio State will discontinue iPad distribution for incoming undergraduate students. Instead, the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation will continue its long-standing program to provide short- and long-term loaner devices to students who have outstanding technology needs. Additionally, devices will be available for those students who need them in their fall classes.

“To support instructors and ensure instructional continuity, we are working directly with academic units to determine needs for fall 2022,” Executive Vice President and Provost Melissa L. Gilliam said. “We are identifying courses that have integrated the tablets and cannot adjust to a device-agnostic approach by the start of the semester. To support these courses in the fall, we will allocate tablets directly to the colleges.”

Current students who have received iPads through Digital Flagship will continue to keep them in accordance with their Student Technology Agreement, and Gilliam is convening a team to facilitate the evolution of the Digital Flagship program. Gilliam said the university’s successful relationship with Apple will continue as we ensure instructional continuity.

“The team will identify student technology and skill-building needs, support instructors and work directly with faculty, staff and students to recommend new approaches for the program for spring 2023 and beyond,” she said.

Over the coming academic year, Ohio State will ensure students have access to the technology they need, Gilliam said.

“Further, we will pilot new approaches, including a technology readiness survey for incoming undergraduate students and a refurbishing program that will extend the life of our existing devices to support more students,” she said. “We will work collaboratively with colleges and instructors to ensure instructional continuity during the transition. “

The revised program offers numerous benefits for Ohio State students, faculty and departments, Gilliam said.

“This new approach will allow Ohio State students access to software and practical skill-building which will set them apart from other college graduates while significantly reducing costs,” she said. “Additionally, instructors will benefit from resources for academic innovation, professional development and common technology resources.”

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