Students' books and papers in the classroom

Historic Agreement Reached Allowing Laptop Use by Students

By Mount Tamalpais College | June 2, 2021

We are thrilled to announce that we have reached a historic agreement with the administration at San Quentin State Prison around the use of technology by Mount Tamalpais College students. As we resume in-person classes, we will have laptops, charging carts, and printers available in the prison for student and faculty use. Students will be able to use laptops during class or in the education building.

Laptops will allow students to conduct research independently and access learning supports and word processing capabilities. They may also access online resources available on the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Canvas Learning Management System. This initiative will begin on a limited basis, and will gradually be expanded over time.

This agreement represents a significant gain for our students. For the past twenty-five years, students have not had access to technology or computers during their studies. They have handwritten work and conducted research using printouts and course readers sourced by faculty members and a limited collection of books. In fact, very few programs at San Quentin have been allowed to bring any technology or equipment inside the prison, resulting in a marked technology gap among incarcerated people upon their release.

Ultimately, we hope that students will have access to the laptops during lockdowns or quarantines and be able to engage in synchronous and asynchronous remote instruction as needed. We are now in the process of purchasing and processing the equipment for use as in-person programming resumes. 

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It's been a rough few weeks in terms of media layoffs so I want to flag a job I'm helping hire for: @prisonjourn, which trains incarcerated people as journalists and helps them get published, is hiring a managing editor to run all of its editorial strategy https://prisonjournalismproject.org/job-posting-managing-editor/

Teaching @StanfordLaw students alongside incarcerated students at @MtTamCollege in #SanQuentin was a highlight of the year—with hopefully more to come!

A fascinating glimpse at the history of higher education at San Quentin! While many hurdles still exist when running a college with a prison as its campus, at least we no longer have to "copy, stencil, and mimeograph" course materials to bring them inside.