Even if you’ve only spent a few short minutes around young folks, you know that they are enamored by technology—and so are an increasing number of teachers. Administrators, too, are beginning to see the benefits of coupling social networking and education. Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, and text messages sent in multiple languages give schools the ability to update parents about their schools and students with the click of a few buttons. This is exciting for all of us, but how do we ensure that all parents, particularly those who are economically challenged, have access to the technology necessary to communicate with them? We’d like to offer a couple of solutions.
Social Networking and Education: reaching parents, even those with economic challenges
Apply to Recycles.org
Recycles.org is a non-profit that specializes in technology for education. Donation offerings are updated every day and the quality and range of items may surprise you. In the two minutes we spent browsing the list, we noticed a couple of refurbished Mac Books! The only thing they ask is that participating organizations who benefit from the service periodically contribute towards Recycles.org’s expenses (a minimum donation of $20 is expected). To apply for membership, click here.
Use online fundraising sites
If Recycles.org doesn’t work out for you, give the global community a shot. Car washes, fundraisers, silent auctions and bake-offs are great, but they provide a limited amount of exposure. When you use online fundraising websites like DonorsChoose, AdoptAClassroom, GoFundMe and Chipin, you’re able to register your school and write about the things students, parents and classrooms need. Donors from around the world can search by location, school, teacher, etc., to find a cause that resonates with them.
Providing Parents with Internet Access
Now that parents have their own home computer, how do we get those who can’t afford it online? One option is to look into a Comcast program called Internet Essentials. After Comcast acquired NBC Universal earlier in 2011, an FCC-mandated requirement was that the cable giant offer cheap Internet access to low-income households. Families who qualify will be able to sign up for 1.5-Mbps Internet access for a mere $9.95 a month. Customers may also be eligible for a computer that costs only $150 and free Internet training. To qualify, users must:
- Be located where Comcast offers Internet service
- Have at least one child receiving free school lunches through the National School Lunch Program
- Not have subscribed to Comcast Internet service within the last 90 days
- Not have an overdue Comcast bill or unreturned equipment
For those who do not qualify for Comcast or live in an area where Comcast service is not available, here is a list of other low-cost (some are even free) Internet service providers: