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GMC, Digital Bridges ‘up-cycle’ computers for area schools

January 29, 2011 Technology upgrade GMC, Digital Bridges ‘up-cycle’ computers for area schools Vaishali Patel The Union-Recorder The Union-Recorder Sat Jan 29, 2011, 02:01 PM EST MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia Military College and Digital Bridges Milledgeville have teamed on a computer “up-cycling” program to clean and repair surplus computers so they can be refurbished for local schools and nonprofit organizations. GMC replaces more than 200 computers every year throughout the campus according to the school’s replacement schedule. Thanks to the program, Sinclair Christian Academy (SCA) was able to replace and add 40 refurbished computers to two computer labs and 17 classrooms last week. “We had a lot of problems with the old computers before and the computers were very slow, but these computers are going to work out great for us. It’s saving us probably $12,000, had we ordered the computers for $15,000. If things would have gone the way it was, we would be in debt right now,” SCA Development Director and Chapel Coordinator Dr. Bob Poole said. “We’re so thankful that GMC gave the computers to us and for Digital Bridges getting caught right in the middle to get through all of the stipulations with the state.” After Digital Bridges Information Systems Specialist and Georgia College Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) President Daniel Pittman took charge of a “Spring Cleaning” fundraiser to clean and repair people’s personal computers, the “up-cycling” program was developed. “Through conversations with the staff at Digital Bridges, that idea evolved into this computer ‘up-cycling’ program,” he said. “When we learned that current state law mandates the destruction of the hard drives before surplus computers can be transferred to other users, we reached out to state Sen. Johnny Grant to find a cost-efficient way of putting these computer resources into the hands of local organizations that need them.” After months of working with Grant and employees of the Surplus Properties Division in the Department of Administrative Services, GMC Associate Vice President of Institutional Computing Jody Yearwood jumped on the idea to transfer computer resources to eligible 501(c)3 organizations as the only local participating educational institution. “When you have a state agency like colleges, part of the budget is spent to buy equipment. When the equipment breaks, we can’t just get rid of it, we have to send it to state surplus, and sometimes it’s recycled or refurbished. GMC has to stay on top of technology, and we have to replace equipment based on a five-year plan,” he said. “Sinclair Christian Academy was the first to fill out their paperwork with the state to become eligible with state surplus. So instead of sending surplus computers to Atlanta, we can transfer them to other organizations.” Poole plans to pick up the final six computers, including CPUs, keyboards and monitors, from the Digital Bridges office within the week as elementary, middle and high school students take advantage of their updated learning resources. “We have about 25 to 30 of the computers set up that the students are already using. We have classes going on all day where each grade level has at least one period where they do independent studies using a program called Study Island to diagnose and determine where they are academically. It used to be a real hassle to have all the students work on the program, but with the computer labs set up, we have had no problem yet,” he said. “The computers are great for the two computer labs, and the extra computers will be placed in every classroom, including in the new building, which has eight classrooms. Now we can prepare students for the age we’re living in — the age of technology.” Digital Bridges Director Heather Holder said the main objective of the program is to see that technology is readily available to those who need it in the area. “We have been able to identify a mechanism that allows institutions of higher education, like Georgia Military College, Central Georgia Technical College and [Georgia College], to transfer these computer resources to eligible 501(c)3 organizations that need them,” she said. “This is only the beginning, and we will be happy to help any 501(c)3 organization that serves Baldwin County to complete the process.” As paperwork becomes finalized with the state, the Baldwin County Board of Education is also set to receive 32 refurbished GMC computers to be distributed throughout elementary school classrooms next week. “The computers will be used for the students 100 percent. They will take Accelerated Reading tests, Online Assessments and use Practice Planet to increase student achievement levels throughout the county. They will also be utilized in after-school programs as an extension to the learning day,” BOE Technology Director Vickie Harmon said. “We are very eager to get into production and adding to the instructional environment.” “At Digital Bridges, we feel that modern technology can empower people to better themselves and their community,” Pittman added. “Through this computer ‘up-cycling’ program, we are working to ensure that everyone can have access to the resources they need to realize that opportunity.”