May 2007

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Have you recently upgraded your computer at home, and have an older one neglected in disuse? Don’t throw it away – computer and other many other electronic devices contain heavy metals that should NOT be disposed of in your garbage. What should you do? Consider these options:

1. Donate it.

Many organizations may have use of your computer. If you do not know where to donate it, consider an organization like Tech Corps WI (some of you may remember that they donated many computers to West and Wilson a few years back).

However, do not just donate any old computer. Usually, there are restrictions. Most organizations do not have much use for any machine that runs slower than a Pentium II. For donation guidelines, visit Their Donation Guidelines Page.

2. Use Parts From it.

I recently resurrected a part of my first laptop – the hard drive. For a meager $15 investment from, I had myself a handy 30 GB portable hard drive. This helped me backup my H-drive and store large media files.

Want to know how to do this? I followed the advice from an article in “Turn an old hard drive into an external drive”

3. Recycle it.

Recently, Staples announced that they will recycle computers, monitors and laptops for a $10 fee. (Staples will recycle smaller devices such as cell phones, pagers and digital cameras)for free, regardless of the brand or whether the device was bought at Staples). [Staples in Oshkosh]

Alternatively, your county landfill probably has its own guidelines on computer recycling. These are from Outagamie County:

Computers can be brought to the Outagamie County Landfill for a fee of $10.00. If you choose to recycle your old computer the prices are as follows: Monitor – $10.00, All other electronics – $5.00


Last week, a study (pdf) and a survey (pdf) got me thinking about education’s role in emerging technology.

The Study:
A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users
from the Pew Internet & American Life Project

Addressing people’s assets, actions, attitudes towards information and communications technology (ICT), this study sorts American adults into three distinct groups (and subgroups) with the following results:

Elite Tech Users (31%)
Middle-of-the-road Tech User (20%)
Few Tech Assets (49%)

The most alarming aspect of the study is that a very large group of Americans (49%) are not accessing or participating in modern digital life (or minimally so). At least in adults, this is stark evidence of a digital divide in America.

The Survey
Smoking, Drugs and Obesity Top Public’s List of Health Problems for Children from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health

As a relatively new health concern, internet safety (26%) beat out school violence (24%), sexually transmitted infections (24%) and abuse and neglect (22%) – taking 7th place as among the top 10 concerns.

From the study:
“Recently, state and federal legislators appear to have responded to public concerns about Internet safety for children, considering new legislation and issuing consumer alerts.” As teachers, we have seen these actions again and again, where valuable websites are routinely blocked.

What Schools Can Do

It seems to me that our schools should be on the front line of both of these concerns to effect positive change. As we are concerned about the future of all American students, then we should supply access and training for proper ICT use.

  1. Fair Access. To address the digital divide so that our emerging workforce is digitally literate, schools need to provide fair and consistent access to new technology. This access needs to be reflected in equivalent hardware, software and availability no matter the location or socioeconomic status of the school.
  1. Teach Safe and Proper Use of ICT. Like any tool, ICT can be a wondrous instrument, but it can also be abused as well. Instead of shielding kids from what could be harmful, we must teach and model to them safe and proper use of ICT.

[Originally seen on TechCrunch: The Growing Digital Divide and TechCrunch: Internet More Dangerous than…]