The COVID-19 pandemic that caused classes to shift from in-person to online, and made virtual instruction an integral part of education, highlighted the need for available and reliable technology. Unfortunately, some Indiana University Bloomington students lacked the laptops needed for remote learning, making the transition challenging.
However, two Ph.D. candidates in the College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology at IU Bloomington are working with the IU Center of Excellence for Women & Technology to ensure that any IU student who needs a laptop can get one—important again during the current intersession. Kaitlin Doucette and Allie Smith co-founded IUpcycle (pronounced "IU Upcycle"), where people donate used and unused personal laptops and tablets to be redistributed to students who need the technology.
Since the program started in November, Smith said, nine laptops have been received and five more are scheduled to be donated.
Smith and Doucette, both associate instructors in the Department of Biology, said some students reached out to them for help early in the year when IU announced that classes would switch to virtual formats. Smith said that when students returned home, they would no longer have access to the technology they needed for remote learning, whether it was a laptop or Wi-Fi, because they had relied on school computers.
The graduate students scrambled to help students as best as they could, securing some laptops to loan. The experience motivated Doucette and Smith to find a better solution: a way for people to donate unused laptops that could be given to students.