When pondering the future of education, it’s understandable that most of us will slip into Utopian scenarios. Think Garrison Keiler’s Lake Wobegon, “where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” The reality, of course, is always going to be different. 

So it is when discussing the idea of digital equity. Every student deserves the right to high-bandwidth, solid-state, always-on access to the Internet, right? Reality check: A 2021 report from Common Sense Media found that 15 to 16 million K-12 public school students in the U.S. live in homes with inadequate internet or computing devices. This represents around 30% of all public school students in the U.S.

That doesn’t mean those students can’t get the education they deserve. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ryan Ross, CEO of Olivia Technologies, about their attempts to address this issue through synching techniques that don’t require access to the Internet outside the school campus. Their solution has been deployed in schools in Texas and Hawaii, where in certain areas, over 30% of students do not have reliable internet connectivity. 

Listen here to the entire conversation and scroll down for some edited highlights:

Whether a child lacks access to the internet at home or connectivity is intermittent and limited in the classroom, Olivia is designed to work offline to its intended audience. Content is delivered through a combination of teachers and a vetted curated library of videos, podcasts, and eBooks and supports existing learning management systems, adaptive learning, and social-emotional programs. 

ESN: Start off talking a little bit about where Olivia’s solutions began and where you find yourself currently when it comes to connecting—or I guess you could say not connecting—kids. 

RR: COVID really was an eye-opener because we didn’t realize—along with a lot of school districts that didn’t realize—how bad the connectivity issues were. We realized that these markets were being poorly underserved, and for a lot of different reasons—for instance, it’s incredibly difficult to run broadband out to locations in the middle of nowhere. 

Kevin Hogan
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Source: https://www.eschoolnews.com/innovation-insights/2023/06/20/how-asynchronous-tech-can-bridge-the-digital-divide/