Like many of you, I had about one week to figure out how to bring my entire operation from face-to-face to online. One of the first things we did was put a spreadsheet in the cloud to gather information from our tutors about whether or not they had high-speed internet access at home, and what kind of equipment they had. Then we did some triage to determine who should get priority if we were able to issue college-owned equipment for them to take home. For example, a math tutor who would need to use the whiteboard and only owned an old-fashioned laptop with a mouse would go to the top of the list for a touchscreen device that could use a stylus. We were lucky enough to find two whole laptop carts full of Microsoft Surface Pros, and we issued about 20 of those to tutors who needed them.
That was mid-March. Since then, we’ve had several people tell us the stylus batteries are dying, or that the styli themselves are worn out and not working. We’re telling people to order replacements and submit paperwork for reimbursement.
Now, we’re starting to get requests like that from people looking to replace or upgrade personal equipment which they are using to perform their jobs. I’m looking to put in place some common sense guidelines for when we will reimburse for this and when we
will not. Does anybody have a policy like that in place already? For example, I have a tutor with an Ipad who wants to buy an Apple Pencil because it will be easier for her to write on the Zoom whiteboard that way. That sounds reasonable. I have another
tutor who already owned a Surface Pro with a stylus, and their personal stylus has worn out, and they’re asking to be reimbursed for a new one so they can continue tutoring without having to write with their finger. That also sounds reasonable. I’m trying
to anticipate what the slippery slope looks like in this situation. For example, what happens if somebody says they wore out their personal touchscreen device doing online tutoring and the college should buy them a new one? It hasn’t happened yet, but
I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Has anybody been down this road before?
Michele Costabile Doney, M.S.Ed.
Director, Student Academic Consulting Center & Immersion Programs
NCLCA Learning Center Leadership Certification Level Three
Baruch College, CUNY
55 Lexington Avenue, Box B2-116
New York, NY 10010
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