If families suddenly forced to study at home during the pandemic highlighted something, it is that all things are not created the same way when it comes to technology and internet access in the USA. Projects like the US government’s rural broadband rollout are trying to fill the gaps, but now individual states and universities are working hard, with South Carolina being the most recent to establish strategically located computer labs.
Announced today, the project is being led by the University of South Carolina, with $ 6 million in funding from the state’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER). It will be used to install eight Apple computer labs in South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict College.
Each of the eight will be located so that it is accessible by local school districts, along with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the South Carolina Technical College System. They will also be open to the public at no cost. A number of educational labs will also be held in each, following Apple’s coding curriculum.
“At Apple, we believe that education is the great equalizer and that access to technology is the key to learning and workforce opportunities today,” said Susan Prescott, worldwide vice president of developer relations and corporate marketing and Apple’s educational system. “We are proud that Apple products and curricula have been selected by the University of South Carolina and Benedict College for their new education labs. Together, we aim to ensure that all Southern Carolinians have the opportunity to learn, code, create and grow in new ways. “
Apple’s curriculum is already used by more than 9,000 K12 and higher education institutions worldwide. While it includes tutorials and more on how to develop apps specifically for iOS and iPadOS, which can eventually be launched on the App Store, it is also designed for novice programmers in general looking to start with the core tools.
The laboratories themselves will be based on existing facilities. There will be centers in the BullStreet District of Columbia and Benedict College, says the University of South Carolina, along with satellite labs on six of its Palmetto College and regional campuses. Each will be equipped with a mix of Macs, iPads with Apple pencils and Apple software.
South Carolina received GEER funding of just over $ 48 million, part of one-off donations to help support states during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, state governor Henry McMaster said that nearly $ 20 million of that fund would go to education and workforce training, with a particular focus on areas such as IT, health and Criminal Justice and Corrections. The states have until May 11 to grant their financing.