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NMSU Offers All Freshmen iPads and Digital Literacy Training

The university’s Aggie Launch Pad initiative secured 2,200 iPads for incoming freshmen and will provide an optional digital literacy course to help them learn to use the devices and assorted apps.

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Freshmen at New Mexico State University sign a use agreement to receive their free iPad bundle at the NMSU Bookstore on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2021. After four hours, 500 iPad bundles were distributed.
Miranda Cyr/Sun-News
(TNS) — New Mexico State University is offering free iPads to all its freshmen entering the college this fall.

All students need to do to get their tablet is visit the NMSU Bookstore and present their Aggie ID to prove they are a first-time freshman at the school.

The iPads are part of the Aggie Launch Pad initiative, which is intended to promote student success by providing freshman with digital literacy training combined the digital resource of the iPad. Over the next few months, there will be training on different ways to use the iPads as well as resourceful apps that can aid students in their studies.

The optional digital literacy course is offered through NMSU’s First Year Experience programming.

“‘Is this real? No,’” Gabriella Pargas said when she first saw the email sent to all freshmen about the Aggie Launch Pad initiative.

Pargas, who is studying criminology, said she only had a desktop computer, which is not something she could take with her to class. Half of her classes are online, meaning she has to go home to attend her Zoom sessions and return when she has in-person courses.

In class, she had been taking notes on paper, which she said are easy to lose track of. With the iPad, she’ll be able to take digital notes that she can easily look up and are all in one place.

“It makes it so much easier to stay on top of things,” Pargas said.

NMSU worked with Apple to get 2,200 iPad bundles from Apple that include an iPad, a Logitech Rugged Combo 3 keyboard case and an Apple Pencil. This is more than enough for the number of first-time freshmen on the main campus.

The iPads were distributed on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In the first hour and a half of the event, 330 iPad bundles were given to students. By 11 a.m., 500 were gone.

What’s the catch?

Once the students receive the iPad, it’s theirs to keep, even if they drop out or switch schools, according to NMSU Bookstore manager Collin King.

He said that the students sign a use agreement saying the iPad is intended for educational purposes, but it is theirs to use as they wish once it’s in their hands.

“We want most of them to be used for their intended purposes,” King said. “We’re seeing this group of students who were born after 2001, who’ve grown up in the digital era.... They’re very used to that form of engagement.”

King said the NMSU Bookstore has seen a huge increase in the sale of digital textbooks. This year and last year, the number one selling product is digital textbooks at the bookstore. King said before that it had always been physically-used rentals.

He added that this semester compared to last year’s fall semester there has been an increase in digital textbook purchases.

Jimmy McNellis, a freshman studying business, marketing and entrepreneurship, said he had originally expected some sort of “catch” in receiving the iPad, but was pleased to find there is none.

“It’s kind of like a reward for being a full-time student,” McNellis said. “I think it’s really cool. It motivates students to stay in school.”

Shelby Webb, a freshman studying nursing at NMSU, agreed the iPad is a great incentive to stay in school for the next four years. She intends the use the iPad as a computer in her classes.

“It was really hard for me to buy a computer this year,” Webb said. “It gives an opportunity to other kids who can’t afford a computer.”

Resources for all freshmen

With another round of first-time freshmen expected in the spring semester, King said the university plans to provide them with iPad bundles as well.

DACC provides the same iPad bundles to its full-time freshman as well. King said DACC started that initiative last year to help support students through online learning. Over 900 iPads have been distributed to DACC freshmen so far.

The Aggie Launch Pad initiative is in line with NMSU LEADS 2025, the university’s strategic plan. Goal 1 is aimed at enhancing student success and social mobility at NMSU.

“Both campuses are trying to work to make sure that we have some better digital literacy and tools for the student body,” King said. “Many of our students are first-generation college students. A lot of them would benefit tremendously from having tools like this at their disposal.”

With the leftover iPad bundles, upperclassmen have the option to purchase them using their financial aid packages. Follett, the company that operates the NMSU Bookstore, has also created payment structures to allow students to purchase available technology.

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