AUGUSTA — In a pledge to incoming and returning students, Maine’s community colleges are announcing the “Tech Promise,” a commitment that students in need will have the technology and support they need for learning online.
“You bring the commitment to learn and we’ll make sure you have the tools you need,” said Maine Community College President David Daigler. “We have a lot of students who are interested in attending one of our seven colleges, but they’re hesitating because they just aren’t sure about the future. The Tech Promise erases at least one of those concerns.
“We are committed to the success of all our students, and the first step in this uncertain time is making sure they have the tools and support to be successful,” Daigler said. About 70 percent of classes are being delivered online this fall, with in-person instruction limited to critical hands-on instruction.
“We recognize that it’s a big change for our students. We want them to feel as confident as we do that we’re going to have a great online learning experience,” Daigler said. “We’ve invested in new tech ourselves to make the transition to online, and our faculty have been working this summer to overhaul and enhance their courses for online delivery. We’ve discovered so many ways to improve instruction, and it’s clear to us we’ll be using many of these methods going forward even after the pandemic has ended. It’s a whole new approach to delivering what students need, where they need it, and the flexibility to offer it when they need it.”
Daigler said the Tech Promise means each college will work with its students to make sure they have the technology they need, such as computers, internet connections, and tech support. Some colleges have instituted lending programs or allowed access to campus computing resources for rural students who do not have internet access. All students have to do is fill out a simple form.
As part of the Tech Promise, the colleges are offering free online training for all students on what to expect in an online course, and tips for being successful in an online course.
The Tech Promise is an extension of support provided this spring when students shifted to remote learning, and the colleges used federal COVID-19 aid funds to provide computers and tech support to students.
Funding for the program will come from a number of sources, including federal CARES Act money earmarked for COVID-related expenses; and The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges.
Maine’s seven community colleges have the lowest tuition and fees in New England and offer nearly 300 career and transfer programs of study, customized training for business and industry, and continuing education. Each fall, MCCS enrolls some 17,000 students. Annually, the seven colleges serve more than 27,000 individuals through degree programs, customized training, and opportunities for lifelong learning.