Sept. 5, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is expanding the number of campus laptop vending machines, making the free technology resource available to more students.
In a pilot program last year, GRCC installed a machine that dispenses laptops for up to four hours of use without charge in the Student Community Center's counseling area. More than 500 students checked out laptops, logging about 660 hours of use.
A vending machine remains in the counseling area. Two machines have been added to high-traffic areas: one on level G2 of the Main Building and the other at Leslie E. Tassell M-TEC.
According to the supplier, Texas-based Laptops Anytime, GRCC remains the only college in Michigan offering laptops through the devices, through several other schools have requested information.
The Grand Rapids Community College Foundation provided funding to purchase the additional equipment.
"We want to remove barriers to success, because not every student has access to computers at home," GRCC President Bill Pink said. "The laptop vending machines are one way we can eliminate barriers and ensure all students have access to resources they need."
Students get laptops from the machine by swiping their RaiderCards and can use them for four hours. When they're finished with their work, they insert the laptop back into the machine, where any information left on it is wiped clean and its batteries are charged for the next user. The machine in the Main Building has 12 laptops available; each of the other two machines holds six laptops.
David Anderson, the head of GRCC's Information Technology Department, said the laptops provide opportunities for students outside of the campus computer labs.
"The accessibility and versatility is important for our students," he said. "They can check out a laptop and take it to class, or work somewhere on campus in small groups, even work on it over lunch or coffee."
GRCC’s Strategic Leadership Team provided a $35,000 grant to purchase the first vending machine.
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.