We’ve all become somewhat used to living our lives online, but the experience is not the same for everyone. Imagine having to complete all your work, attend meetings, read articles, and engage with peers all from your smart phone! That’s what students who don’t have access to a laptop or device have been doing since we all entered lockdown and shifted to studying, working and, let’s face it, essentially living, online.

While this was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, not having access to a personal computer is an ongoing issue for many students that needs to be addressed. That’s why the LX.lab and IML have launched a laptop donation program to support UTS students who don’t have oheir own personal computer.

The digital divide

A recent survey of 800 UTS students revealed that nearly 20% reported a lack of access to a computer or suitable device. With students unable to come onto campus due to the lockdown restrictions, this lack of access created significant barriers in trying to complete studies remotely.  Though beyond uni, there is a need for everyone to have basic access to technology as we increasingly rely on it in so many ways. Social connections, information, seeking out employment, training opportunities to name a few, but also the ability for everyone to voice themselves is so important in our digitised world. Just like in the real world, we need to ensure this access is equitable.  

This need is even recognised as a human right where ‘effective access to digital and information technologies’ is viewed as an obligation amongst states to provide to their citizens. This is to ensure that marginalised or disadvantaged groups of people have the same right to the ‘sharing of knowledge and skills resources.’ As a result, various initiatives are being implemented globally to ensure more equitable access. Some examples are:

So, if this can happen at a global level, what can we do within our UTS community?  

The LX.lab and IML Laptop Donation Program

The brilliant thing about this program is that it provides a simple solution – staff (or students) simply donate their old or unused laptops and we’ll provide it to a student in need. In between there are some processes we’ll go through to make sure the laptop is cleaned out and set up with the basics – but you don’t need all the details.  

Of course, like any donation we can only accept devices that are in good working order (we’re trying to help students after all!) so there’s a pre-qualification form to complete. We’ll review this first and either a) accept your donation b) set up some time to do a bit more testing, or c) give you some ideas for how you can sustainably recycle your old device if it’s not suitable for donation.

To get involved, start by filling out our pre-qualification form.

While this is just a small step toward bridging the digital divide, your donation could have huge impact for one of our students.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to be involved please contact LX.lab.

Feature image by Joshua Woroniecki.

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