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TSU committed to seeing students succeed during pandemic by providing laptops to those in need

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is making sure students have the digital devices they need to complete their coursework online as a result of COVID-19.

On March 16, TSU was the first public university in Tennessee to transition to all online classes because of the coronavirus. TSU officials checked with faculty to find out which students needed devices – like laptops and tablets – to be able to successfully work remotely.

Laptops arrive at TSU to be distributed to students. (Submitted photo).

“The impact of COVID-19 challenged us to reflect on student learning and the efforts of us all to maintain quality in the midst of a natural event,” said Dr. Alisa Mosley, interim vice president for academic affairs at TSU. “Faculty are grateful that we were able to provide these devices for use in their courses. We received requests from students in all majors and we addressed them.”

TSU freshman Nakailah Shields-Robinson said the laptop she received has been very useful. She said she wasn’t sure what she was going to do when her computer crashed.

“I have an iPad, but that’s not really good either,” said Shields-Robinson, a criminal justice major from St. Louis, Missouri. “So, when the laptop came, it’s been helping me write my papers. I have a five-page paper that’s coming up, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that on the iPad.”

Junior Joyvon Dickerson, a human performance and sports science major from Chicago, agreed.

“It’s kind of hard trying to write a five-page paper off your phone,” said Dickerson, who also received a laptop. “It’s nice to be at a school that cares about its students in this way.” 

Dr. Robbie Melton, TSU’s associate vice president for Smart Technology and Innovation, said once the devices were shipped, “we followed up to give them personalized tutoring on how to use the device.”  

“We had someone personally call them and walk them through, as well as help them with their online courses,” added Melton.

She said the university received donations to purchase more than 20 laptops and 20 tablets. One of the contributions was $25,000 from Fifth Third Bank.

 “To be competitive, both academically and for future work, they’ve got to have a digital device,” said Hosetta Coleman, senior vice president, university relations at Fifth Third Bank. “You look at our world, this whole virtual paradigm. If our communities are not ready for a digital environment, they have one more factor that makes them less competitive against others.”

Mosley said the university plans to “maintain this connection to technology in the future.”

“We moved to e-textbooks for general education in 2015 and we anticipate our work with open educational resources (OER) will increase,” said Mosley. “Our students will need devices as a part of the new landscape for their learning and careers.”

TSU has 23 distance education undergraduate and graduate programs and will offer most of the classes online this summer. Summer sessions are scheduled to begin in late May, early June. To learn more about the university’s online courses, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/online/.

For more on campus operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.