- Tech2Students initiative - supported by ESB- to help make virtual classrooms a reality during COVID-19
Camara Education Ireland and Trinity Access, Trinity College Dublin, have together launched a Tech2Students campaign with an appeal to homes and businesses in Dublin to donate disused laptops.
The laptops will mainly be distributed to DEIS school students with no access to technology at home. Tech2Students, supported by ESB, will focus on Leaving Certificate students as a first priority, to help those to continue their learning amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Tech2Students campaign is an innovative collaboration between Trinity Access and Camara Ireland, both of which are award-winning programmes which have received support from Social Innovation Fund Ireland (SIFI). ESB staff volunteers will also provide logistical support to collect laptops from homes or businesses across Dublin.
Camara Ireland and Trinity volunteer engineers will disinfect all laptops before restoring to factory settings, securely wipe all data from the hard drive, and then load the laptops with a fresh copy of the Windows operating system. ESB will then deliver the refurbished laptops directly to students allowing them to power on with their studies.
Marianne Checkley, CEO of Camara Ireland, a co-founder of the appeal said:
“We believe no student should be at an educational disadvantage due to the Coronavirus pandemic. We are appealing to homes and businesses to donate any laptops they have which are no longer used. Through our partner, Trinity Access, we are in contact with 20 DEIS schools that have identified students in need. Our long term partner, ESB, has kindly offered to make staff volunteers available to transport the technology, and support the promotion of the campaign on social media and radio. Our overall goal is to get Tech2Students operational across Ireland to assist all those Leaving Cert students who urgently need technology at this crucial time in their education.”
Dr Cliona Hannon, Director of Trinity Access, said:
“Students are doing their best to continue with their education through this difficult time and those without access to a laptop are at a particular disadvantage. We believe students and teachers in our partner schools are willing to take on the challenges of remote teaching and learning but they urgently need the right hardware now. This can either be old devices we can repurpose or contributions to enable us to buy laptops.”
Individuals or businesses looking to donate to the Tech2Students campaign can log on to www.tcd.ie/trinityaccess/tech2students.
Notes to Editor:
Testimonial from Michelle O’Kelly, Principal, Mercy Inchicore:
As a principal in a DEIS school, watching our building close on the 12th March was an image that will stay with me for a long time. As teachers reassured students that they would get them through learning from home and students left with black bags full of books in the rain we all knew that our innovation and commitment would be needed more than ever and we were ready for the challenge.
As ready as we were for that challenge , I also knew that that our students were not only on an unequal playing field now because of their DEIS status but also because the digital divide would become compounded and concentrated as we tried to connect with our students in their homes.
Very quickly into our first week using Google classroom we witnessed this divide, Leaving Cert students were not logging on as we rang each home the reason was very clear, our students homes do not have laptops , WiFi or space to study. While all of the online supports and websites that stakeholders in education have shared with us are great, they are not connecting with our students because they do not have the means to connect with them, they do not have the basic requirements.
Trinity Access, as always, were very quick to identify this issue and we have been working with them over the past three weeks to provide meaningful resources and hardware for our students to ensure that this digital divide does not disadvantage them further, and in turn
to ensure that our colleges are lucky to welcome such a diverse and resilient group of young people onto their campus.This investment in lT for our students during this time will ensure that our educational world is a much more equitable and diverse place to be as we enter into a new academic year.
About Camara Ireland and Trinity Access
Camara Ireland is a social enterprise established in 2010 to respond to the need to build the capacity of schools and youth education settings to use technology effectively and empower disadvantaged students. Since then we have focused on widening our impact with expansion to national programmes across schools and youth and community settings. www.camaraireland.ie
The Trinity Access support people from areas with low progression rates to higher education to reach their full educational potential https://www.tcd.ie/trinityaccess/