Looking for solutions to curb e-waste and lessen the digital divide? Freegeek.org is a program developed in Portland, OR to provide free computers to the community. Anyone can qualify - they simply need to donate 24 hours of community service to the Freegeek organization. Freegeek volunteers are taught how to refurbish donated computer equipment or provide other assistance to the organization, whether tech-related or not. There are limitations to what type of computer specs they can provide, but the computers are capable of basic functions, e.g. word processing, web browsing, and email, and uses open source software (Ubuntu Linux). In addition, classes on how to use the software are available. While this organization is developed specifically for the Portland community, it is a successful model for similar programs in other communities. This solution to the digital divide not only provides a product for those in need, but it provides training and education for its volunteers, as well as internship opportunities. For schools interested in developing community service programs that simultaneously meets the needs of a community but also provides an educational opportunity for budding "geeks", the FreeGeek model would be a terrific resource.
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Branka Sarac (Student)
Freegek.org can teach one a valuable lesson on how to be a good citizen and help those in need, but also, by volunteering, learn more about technology without attending extra workshops. This site can serve as an example and the base for a social studies project. By being divided into research groups and given them a task to explore freegeek.org, students could have a better understanding of social, economical issues, public policy and civic practice. The only weakness is the donation part. If one must donate, even such a low amount, that defeats the definition of donation contribution on a voluntary basis. (See: Required fees and Suggested donation)
It is very easy to navigate through the site.
Used in course? Yes
Seyi Osunade (Faculty)