Broadband is more accessible than ever thanks to tech nonprofits like EducationSuperHighway and programs like Comcast Internet Essentials, while education is available to the masses via digital resources like Khan Academy. Yet there is still a digital divide – or arguably two digital divides. The first is 24/7 access to high speed Internet, while the second is around the lack of edtech products built for bottom of the pyramid customers. At Accelerate Good Global, Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway; James Tynan VP of Strategy and Operations at Khan Academy; and Karima Zedan, Director of Comcast Internet Essentials spoke about persistent issues within the digital divide, and strategies for driving adoption for new products and programs in the education sector.
Tynan and Marwell both shared great advice for driving adoption and distribution. As Tynan stated, the education system is challenging because you have the option to go either top down from schools and administrators, or bottom up directly to students and parents. Khan Academy recently ran a successful hybrid experiment in partnership with Internet Essentials. They launched an online learning challenge, Learn Storm, which enabled top down and bottom up distribution as it spread virally through students and incentivized teachers to engage their classrooms. Student and teacher focused adoption enabled the program to scale across districts without requiring lengthy contracting processes with schools.
EducationSuperHighway found that government can be an incredibly powerful distribution strategy. Marwell says he applied all the typical strategies you would use in the for-profit space to his nonprofit, and noted these strategies almost worked better within the nonprofit context. EducationSuperHighway on-boarded state governments by going directly to governors and convincing them to test their broadband speeds as part of the common core testing initiative. The incentive? EducationSuperHighway was publishing a report on where each school district stands, and was enabling districts to run the testing for free.
Check out the complete conversation below to learn about other strategies Khan Academy and Education Super Highway have used to increase adoption and relevance!