One of the things we observed from installing computers into the homes of families was the absence of working printers.
We learned that depending on the school, most students do not have a computer at home.* And amongst those that do, working printers are a rarity. We assume this to be true because printers can be difficult to connect and replacing toner can be expensive. But whatever the cause, the reality is that working printers at home are far and few between.
The lack of a working printer presents a real problem for students whose teachers demand homework be printed, or supporting research material be provided, and so forth.
For PCF to provide printers to students in need was simply not practical. What PCF has decided to do instead is to set up publicly accessible mini-labs into Home & School Association rooms where students (and their families) can come to access the Internet and use a working printer.
Despite dire budget problems, the school district has managed to provide every single student with a Google EDU account. This means that students can jump on a computer (wherever it may be) and save their information to the cloud. To print something then, students just have to get to school a few minutes early and use the PCF computers and working printer in the school’s H&SA room.
In the process, they will gain valuable computer literacy skills and it is our hope that they will entice their families to come into the school and utilize PCF computers to access the internet.
* Emlen estimated home computers to be less than 50%. Our own experience of teaching 11 of their smartest 5th graders was that 6 of them in fact did not have a computer at home.