In the past, PCF has provided several hundred families with take home computers: free computers to families that do not have one at home. While we still support this program to some extent, implementation has been scaled back a bit due to the following factors:
- it can take up to two hours to install a single home computer (we often end up troubleshooting internet connectivity along with a host of other home electronics issues)
- to help a family utilize a computer requires ongoing education, hands-on training, and support
- there are other non-profit organizations that sell computers and provide training at very little expense
- some studies indicate that a computer paired with a lack of oversight may actually harm students (eg playing games when children might have been working on homework instead)
- in many cases, the parents have less experience with computers than their child, raising the practical issue of whom to assign Admin rights to (and thus who gets to control privacy settings, implement software/security updates, and so on)
These along with other related issues provide plenty of grounds for discussion. But practically speaking, PCF currently does not have the resources to install and provide on-going support for the Take Home Computer program unless we are working with the student or their family directly already.
PCF continues to provide take-home computers to students in our 3D Printing and Technology classes, Families and Schools Together program participants (in schools we are working with) and other students with whom we have direct contact.
Instead of providing computers to the general public directly, we are trying to set up as many publicly accessible mini labs in communal spaces such as Home & School Association rooms (inside schools) and mini labs in community centers, libraries, etc. These spaces are supervised by others and lessens the need for PCF to provide on-going support.