Suanna Parker – Collegiate Staff
Free laptop rental is coming to Grand Rapids Community College, with students being able to check out machines.
The initiative, has been roughly three years in the making, and was brought forth by David Anderson and Kurt Meinders.
In the earliest stages of the development process, a conversation occurred with the counseling and advising department, and it was recommended to do “something with laptops,” said David Anderson, chief information officer at GRCC. “We have students that can’t afford a laptop, and going to a lab on campus doesn’t work for their schedule. This is going to be perfect for those students.”
Similar sentiments were shared by GRCC student Mackenzie Pfundt. She said, “I think that the rental program is a great resource for students who don’t have access to a laptop, and for those who may not be able to use the computer in the library due to the limited hours that it’s open.”
Funding and lack of a supplier for the laptops caused a bit of a snag in earlier development of the program, but it wasn’t long before the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) offered to fund the 35,000$ needed for the first machine while Laptops Anytime (based in Dallas, Texas) met supply needs. Former GRCC President Steven Ender approved the advancement of the initiative.
There is one rental location to kick off the initiative.
The rental system is located on the third floor of the Student Center, near student counseling, and a laptop can be checked out with a RaiderCard. The rental process is very straight forward. Just swipe your card and follow the detailed prompts. Laptops are available for rent daily while the student center building is open.
There will be 12 Dell laptops available to start, a laptop may be rented out for up to four hours, and must not leave the building. If you do happen to exceed the four-hour rental period a fee of $5 per hour will be applied to your GRCC library account.
Upon return of a laptop the system is wiped clean, and the laptop will charge inside the kiosk to prepare itself for additional use. Recharging time for a laptop will vary depending on how long it was taken out prior and when it was returned. If a laptop is being charged it will be indicated on the rental screen before a laptop is selected.
The rental system offers many growth opportunities as well.
“We actually have the ability to expand this station to add additional systems to it, and we have the option of adding different types of systems,” said Kurt Meinders, Director of IT Customer Support. “That will be something we talk to students about to see what their needs are, and figure out what they really want and need the most.”
If the initiative turns out as planned with positive feedback from students the odds of getting more rental machines and different kinds of systems is likely.
“Right now, we’re just doing dell laptops and eventually we may change that to iPads or Chromebooks or whatever makes sense,” says Anderson. “If in six months or so we run our reports and we see that they are being used on a really consistent basis then we’re going to approach the GRCC foundation, and see if we can find a donor to donate some money to expand this to other locations. We would like to get at least three or four other locations eventually.”