Repurposing computers for K12
Towson University’s Educycle program teams college students with high school interns to clean, run diagnostics on and redistribute ‘old’ computers. Refurbished devices go to Towson’s student labs and to local Baltimore County, Harford County and Baltimore City school districts, who then install new software and operating systems.
Educycle was launched in spring 2014 after Theresa L. Jenkins, Towson’s manager for technology, facilities and events, noticed that her high school-age daughter was spending more time at her lab’s faster computers. Paired with the short life cycle of computers, it triggered the repurposing idea.
“I was getting 300 new computers in my computer lab to replace ‘old’ computers, which were still useful, powerful and only three years old” says Jenkins.
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Together with Michael Bachman, the Office of Technology Services’ director of client services, Jenkins began coordinating the program with multiple university departments.
Educycle has repurposed more than 1,350 Windows computers and 300 Apple devices, at an estimated $1.8 million less than buying new.
More than 1,500 hours of hands-on computer work has been done by volunteers from area elementary, middle and high schools, and from Towson University, Hussman Center for Adults with Autism and the Baltimore Urban League.
High schools can also donate their computers to elementaries that do not need the high-processing power, further extending the devices’ life cycles and keeping them out of landfills longer, Bachman says.