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This fall, Hiram College will give students a new iPad and a pair of top-end hiking boots to embrace the liberal art school's new program, called "Tech and Trek," which aims to bring students into a mobile 21st century.
"We're very pleased to participate in this one-on-one mobile technology program," said Dr. Lori Varlotta, Hiram College president. "We'll be only eight or 10 schools in the country that are providing mobile devices to all of our traditional students and faculty."
Students and staff will receive an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and keyboard bundle and about 800 students will receive a free pair of Vasque hiking boots under the new program.
"We have so many outdoor activities and field research excursions that we want to bring the iPad outside," Varlotta said. "We want the iPad to go with them on the outside excursions, or treks if you will."
Apple represents the "Tech" part of the program while the hiking boots will encourage students to use technology in non-traditional ways while they're out doing field research in the mountains or southeast Asia or at one of the college's field stations in Hiram or Michigan. All students are required to do field research or study abroad, Varlotta noted.
"We're really trying trying to challenge the stereotypes that technology forces kids to stay inside," she said. "Much or our learning is outside, hands-on and experiential. We think having the iPad to take pictures or video on the spot adds a whole new layer to understand what you're seeing and being able to capture what you're seeing and go back and analyze and share."
Red Wing Shoes and private donors shared in the costs of the boots, a retail value of $170 a piece. Hiram College will use a $2.1 million donation -- the largest single gift in the school's history -- from 1977 graduate Dean Scarborough and his wife Janice to purchase the mobile technology.
Jimmy Cross, a junior communication major, said he's never owned a pair of boots until now.
"A lot of students don't have money to have a nice, durable pair of shoes," Cross said. "It's a good opportunity to be able to go out to the field station we have or go out hiking right off campus in the woods."
He said both the boots and the iPad will come in handy as her prepares for the upcoming school year and a career as a photojournalist.
"A lot of students I'm in class with don't have the same technology," Cross said. "It puts everyone on the same level. It's a good opportunity to get out in the field and for all students to apply ourselves to the 21st-century style of learning."