UH Manoa College of Education partners to build a “New Again” computer lab for Maili Elementary

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Jennifer Parks, 956-0416
College of Education
Posted: Nov 15, 2008

The UHM College of Education, in a joint project with Hawaii Open Source Education Foundation (HOSEF) and Pan-Pacific Distance Learning Association (PPDLA), has constructed a "new again" computer lab for Maili Elementary School. In cooperation with these organizations, the college raised funds to build the lab, using computers which were originally designated as eWaste.

"What really made the project unique is that the computers were destined for the scrap pile," said Dr. Paul McKimmy, Director of Technology and Distance Programs in the COE.

In a series of Halloween-themed events which began last month, Scott Belford, director of HOSEF, prepared participants for volunteer roles in building the lab. Computer Guts taught volunteers how to disassemble and reassemble computers. In Resurrecting the Dead Computers, Scott demonstrated how an older computer can use a newer server as its processing center.

Finally, volunteers in Frankenstein's Lab used 22 old laptops and one new server to create a "thin client" lab for Maili Elementary. Thin client computers boot over the network from a server rather than from their own processor and hard drive.
The new server was provided by PPDLA through donations totaling $1,000. The new lab runs Linux, a free operating system that is created and maintained by a worldwide community of programmers.

Available software includes OpenOffice for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations; and a variety of educational software also available under public license. Typing, mathematics, graphics, and spelling software are immediately available at every computer. With this model, maintenance and lab administration is simplified — only the server needs to be maintained. No licensing fees are required for the software, freeing funds for other priorities. Disa Hauge, Principal of Maili Elementary, is interested in expanding this model throughout the school.

In a thank-you letter from Kamalei Terukina, computer resource teacher at Maili, Terukina wrote, "Wow! The lab is so great! From the new look to the faster connection, what you did for us is nothing short of a miracle. I am already feeling the benefits of teaching in a cleaner environment. The students are eager and excited to try the new learning programs. It‘s very user friendly and easy for the children to manipulate."

Contact Dr. Paul McKimmy at mckimmy@hawaii.edu for more information on volunteering for future projects or donating funds and older laptops.