As schoolhouse doors around the world have been forced to close during the coronavirus pandemic, suddenly shifting education online, it has become clear that poorer children now have even less access to valuable education opportunities than before.
Many have indicated that there is a growing “digital divide” between different socio-economic groups regarding access to digital technologies. While many students today are digital natives who have grown up surrounded by tech devices in home and in school, other students have not had this opportunity.
While the coronavirus is not a cause of the digital divide, the pandemic has highlighted and made worse the effect of this divide for the poorer communities.
In order to help provide more students with digital education access during the pandemic, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has started a charitable initiative in partnership with the to distribute free Raspberry Pi devices to students in need.
Raspberry Pi Recipients
To help get Raspberry Pi devices in the hands of students who otherwise would not be able to complete school work at home, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been working with several charities in the UK (where the Raspberry Pi Foundation itself is based).
One charity partner has been, an organization that supports learning engagement. Working together, they’ve so far distributed over 120 Raspberry Pi 4 (2GB) desktop kits with screens and all necessary peripherals. School Home Support was also able to secure funding to make sure the student recipients would have access to reliable high-speed internet from their homes.
Getting Help with Set-Up
Most of the students who are receiving free Raspberry Pis have never used such a device before. In fact, most of them come from families who are completely unfamiliar with such technologies. So, it has been important for the Raspberry Pi Foundation to make sure to provide support and encouragement in getting the students set up.
While the students are expected to set up their new Pis on their own, they do have special access to support team members from both Raspberry Pi and School Home Support to answer any questions.
Only a few months in, and the students are already reporting many educational benefits from their new Pis.
For example, previous to receiving their new Raspberry Pi desktop kits, some students were only able to access their school assignments via their parents’smartphones. Not only was it harder for many students to focus and complete assignments on a small handheld device, they often had to compete for time on the device with other family members. Now, many students are reporting they’re able to devote more time and better attention to their work since they have their own devices.
In addition to helping the students complete their school assignments, each kit came with the Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide to help inspire and educate students in coding and digital technology.Now that they have dedicated access to a device of their own, many students are now learning to use and understand digital devices, helping them better prepare to someday join a digital workforce.
Based on feedback already coming in, it seems that having a Raspberry Pi has not only helped increase students’ motivation and digital proficiency, it has also helped reduce stress for parents, resulting in better health and productivity outcomes during these difficult times.
Raspberry Pi Foundation admits it still has a lot to learn to help make such charitable initiatives result in even greater benefits. For example, they know they could be reaching even more students as well as providing even more support to families who may feel initially overwhelmed by the new device.
They’re currently looking to partner with even more organizations to help support deserving students and families in bridging the digital divide. If you belong to an organization that might be interested in providing support and funding, you can reach the organizers firstname.lastname@example.org.
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