College facilitates remote learning with loans of computers, other equipment

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November 30, 2020

QUEENSBURY, New York (Nov. 24, 2020) — Nigeria Colvin stood at the end of her driveway late one spring night, using a tiny tablet to file an assignment before the midnight deadline.

She could see SUNY Adirondack’s Saratoga Center from her front yard, but lives just out of reach of its WiFi. Before COVID-19 closed the campus last March, the certified nursing assistant and mother of a 7-year-old boy walked there and used the computer lab.


Once the pandemic closed the building — it reopened in September, as did the rest of SUNY Adirondack’s campuses — Colvin was forced to get creative with her limited resources. 


“I have a little tablet and when campus was closed, I’d go stand outside or drive to the parking lot and use the WiFi,” said Colvin, a Liberal Arts Humanities & Social Sciences: Individual Studies major who hopes to be accepted into the college’s competitive Nursing program.


Because staff frequently saw Colvin at the Wilton campus, they notified her of SUNY Adirondack’s technology support. As part of the SUNY Adirondack Promise, the college offers technological assistance to students, staff and professors to ensure they’re able to complete their work virtually. 


Colvin borrowed a laptop computer and was provided with MiFi, so she can do her schoolwork on her schedule from her home. 


“I’m loving it,” she said, explaining how she no longer has to bring her son with her or wait until he’s in bed to work on her assignments. “I can just focus on school.”


That’s the goal of the program, said Jenny Postlethwaite, director of Student Success. “We hope the technology loan program will help relieve some stress for those who might not have access to a personal laptop, reliable internet or the other technology required for their courses.”


More than 360 pieces of equipment are on loan to students, faculty and staff. Forty-three students have laptops; 98 have Chromebooks; 11 desktop computers; and nine are being provided MiFi. Faculty and staff are being provided the tools they need to do their jobs in a virtual setting, too, with 64 using laptops; 25 Chromebooks; 86 webcams; and 14 microphones.


“Connecting students to the necessary equipment allows them to put 100 percent of their efforts into participating in their classes and completing their assignments,” Postlethwaite said.


Among those students is Nyah Stevens, an Individual Studies major from Saratoga who serves as a peer coach in SUNY Adirondack’s ADK Compass, a grant-funded program that works to ensure first-year students have the tools they need to be successful.


Stevens and her boyfriend were sharing a computer, which worked during the Spring 2020 semester when COVID drove them to online learning. This semester, though, the pair has virtual classes that are held at the same times and she also needs the computer for her Compass work. That forced one of them to try to participate in class from a smartphone, which she describes as “manageable, but definitely inconvenient.”


She borrowed a laptop from the college, simplifying their schedule.


“The computer makes it possible for me to participate in every obligation I have,” Stevens said. “We needed another computer to be able to manage our workloads efficiently.”


The process of borrowing is simple, Stevens and Colvin said. Students contact SUNY Adirondack’s Student Success office at They’re given a contract outlining what type of device, its condition, proper care and other such information. 


“We don't want the barrier of technology to put people off their higher education dreams,” said Robert Palmieri, vice president for Enrollment & Student Affairs. “SUNY Adirondack recognizes the many hardships people are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis, and we are committed to providing personal support, including meeting technology needs to help prospective students achieve success and reach their educational goals.“


The SUNY Adirondack Promise has a marked impact on the students who take advantage of the program.


“I’m more focused, I can get done what I need to do and I ended up getting all As and Bs,” Colvin said. “I definitely wouldn’t have been able to continue the way things were.”


Those considering attending SUNY Adirondack in the Spring 2021 semester who have technology concerns can complete this survey:


“We are here for you for the Spring 2021 semester and that is the SUNY Adirondack Promise,” Palmieri said.