In addition to being the biggest factor in societal advancement, technology can simultaneously serve as a great divide to populations without access. Through Project Indigo, Capital has worked to close the gap and provide equal access to education in the modern world.
“We knew, to some extent, that there were incredible inequities in terms of student access to technology,” said Jody Fournier, Ph.D., provost and vice president of learning. “We know that there are food and housing security issues, and not every student can afford textbooks, so of course, the students are not going to have equal access to the technology necessary to do well in higher education.”
Launched in March 2021, Project Indigo aims to connect the campus in a new way. First-year and returning undergraduate students, staff, and faculty received an eighth generation Apple iPad and a first-generation Apple pencil. Uploaded with a library of apps designed for use both in and outside of the classroom, the provided technology is just one step in Capital’s commitment to student success.
“Once we started giving out devices, not only to students but also to staff and faculty from all walks of university life, we began to see very clearly that access to technology changed the way we operate as an institution,” said Fournier.
Using their iPad, students are able to quickly connect to on-campus support and resources.
“Last semester, we hit an undergraduate institutional record for first-to-second year retention, and we hit a four-year graduation rate record for the institution,” said Fournier. “We still have room for improvement, but that’s how we’ll measure success moving forward, and it’s starting to work.”
iPad recipients have access to a carefully curated selection of apps and links preloaded on each device.
“We didn’t want to put a thousand things on the iPads, but we thought the selected apps were very specific to how a student manages their life at Capital,” said Deanna Wagner, M.Ed., dean of engagement and success.
In addition to the preloaded resources, iPad users are encouraged to explore additional apps that will help them succeed at Capital.
“Anybody can get any app from the Apple App store,” said Wagner. “Faculty can request app purchases by emailing IT. Maybe it’s a $12 app that students need during their time in the course. Once approved, we put it on the student’s devices, and they don’t have to pay for it. If students want to buy the assigned app at the end of the course, they can purchase it for 50 percent off.”
With student success as the main goal behind the Project Indigo initiative, it was important to Capital leadership that students, faculty, and staff were trained on how to use their new devices.
“It’s not like everyone is just going to pick up their iPad and know how to use it,” said Wagner. “A lot of students have had an Apple device their whole life but as a consumption tool. They’re familiar with watching YouTube or texting, but not creating an artifact for a class or producing a podcast to turn in for a grade. It’s a very different way of using it.”
Resources such as the asynchronous training videos on iLearn, CELT sessions, and in-person trainings have helped reduce the learning curve for all Project Indigo users.
“It’s really about student success and leveling the playing field in terms of access to technology,” said Fournier. “We’ve invested a lot in training and showing people the possibilities of the device. It’s been so gratifying to see people just run with it and develop new ways of doing their jobs and being a member of our community.”
To read more about Project Indigo, go to https://apps.capital.edu/indigo/.