At the beginning of January, just one day after many kids had gone back to school the Department of Education announced that all learning in schools and colleges was to move online. As with previous lockdowns and periods of self isolation there is a real issue with access to online learning, either through lack of hardware or connectivity.
So while there isn’t a lot I can do about connectivity, I can certainly help with hardware. My first thought was to donate a laptop to someone, but to who? and realistically how much difference would one laptop make. My next idea would hopefully have a bigger impact. To collect and recycle old computers that many of us have lying around, wipe them clean of any data, install a free operating system and suite of free software making them usable for most learners. Obviously these machines are never going to be much use for gaming, but that’s not the point here.
As with most things I do it started with a tweet…
And the laptops started to arrive, along with messages promising more. Logistically this was going to get messy so I spoke to the nice people at Seftons Accountants who have an office in Oldham town centre and they were kind enough to set up a drop off point.
So now I have a supply of laptops, each will be wiped clean of any data and then set up with the following free software:
- LXLE Desktop – A lightweight Linux operating system, with a familiar point and click interface.https://lxle.net/
- Firefox – For web browsing and access to the Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom websites. https://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/firefox
- Thunderbird – For email https://www.thunderbird.net/en-US/
- Libre Office – An open source equivalent to Microsoft Office https://www.libreoffice.org/
- Inkscape – A drawing package https://inkscape.org/
- Gimp – A graphics package – https://www.gimp.org/
- VLC – A Media player for sound and video. https://www.videolan.org/vlc
Once they are set up the laptops will be given to organisations best suited to getting them to the people who need them most. How many we’ll be able to supply I have no idea, only time will tell.
How can you help?
If like many people you have an old laptop under the bed just waiting to be wiped of data before it goes off to the tip, then please consider giving it a second life. You can drop it off at Sefton’s Accountants, 139-143 Union St, Oldham OL1 1TE, and I’ll do the rest, making sure it gets into the hands of a family where it will make a world of difference.