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Marcia Wilbur, a consultant for Drupal development here at Arizona State University in the University Technology Office, has returned from an amazing philanthropic trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. There she helped install computer labs with educational and Linux resources for students in partnership with Kids on Computers, a non-profit organization dedicated to setting up computer labs in low-income schools.
With the Raspberry Pi computers Wilbur and her team were equipped with, students can now learn typing, searching, reading, and even introductory programming and technical applications at a school in Huajuapan de León. She encountered schools with damage from earthquakes and teachers looking to help their students learn, scouted local computer labs and updated and maintained them throughout the Oaxaca area.
One day, she received a message from a contact at a school saying 19 computers needed “divine intervention.” Grabbing a cab, Wilbur headed to the school and was informed the 19 computers needed Extreme Tux Racer installed on them, a 3D video game starring the Linux mascot penguin Tux.
It’s important to note the minimum requirements for lab set ups per Wilbur’s visit and work with Kids on Computers:
Plugs for regulators
As Wilbur points out, internet is not a requirement! This is not an oversight but an acknowledgement of the lack of internet support, due to cost or infrastructure, for students in low-income areas. All this being said, the school Wilbur was at had no internet access! Using her temporary phone, she accessed a hot spot that was able to stay stable long enough to install the game on 14 of the 19 computers before it got late.
The trip was a successful and helpful one to those in need for a resource that might not otherwise be provided to them. “These students did not have any computer lab or access to technology at school,” Wilbur said. “They were enthusiastic and excited.”
“Visiting these schools was a culmination of years of work in the area of content and in the area of application projects,” Wilbur said. “The impact for me was huge. I had been a part of the movement for open access of content and a member of the free and open source community for almost two decades now.”
Wilbur said the culmination of years of work being used to help “this underserved area, to benefit the lives of others, was extremely emotional for me and felt like we really did make a difference. This is the beginning of our new journey where we apply our community work in different ways.”
Make sure to follow UTO on Twitter @ASU_UTO.