Last month's post, The Students We Serve, explored many of the barriers facing Marginalized Learners that are widening the equity gap. Among those barriers is a lack of technology access. In that post, I promised to share how we would address this.
Our first step will be to release Speak Agent as a smartphone app for students and families. This move is critical to addressing the Digital Divide. Why? Because look at the data from Pew Research Center (2019):
Black and Hispanic households have relatively low computer access, but virtually the same level of smartphone access (4 in 5) as White households.
There is an even larger disparity based on income. Lower-income households often have only one computer or tablet to share among the family. But even among households making <$30,000 per year, 7 in 10 have a smartphone. This means that a smartphone app can greatly increase the amount of time a student has access to educational content.
Below are the key details of our planned smartphone app release.
Platforms: iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. (Note: Tablets already run the web app in a browser, but the experience will improve.)
Timing: Currently planned for Winter early 2021 release. The timetable will be updated as we make progress.
Price: FREE. Students will simply sign in with the school login they normally use.
Compatibility: The app will integrate seamlessly with the web-based Speak Agent experience. When students sign in using any device or platform, they will see all of their lessons and progress.
Features: The initial release will include student activities, portfolios ("My Work"), learning achievements ("Badges"), and notifications. The teacher portal will remain web-based.
Content: The initial release will support at least 80% of all Speak Agent lesson content. Ultimately, all Speak Agent content will work on both web and mobile apps. In the meantime, students can access the web version on desktops, laptops, and tablets.
Launching a smartphone app will not be the end of our journey to address the technology aspect of the equity gap. On the contrary, it is only the beginning.
is CEO and Co-Founder of Speak Agent, Inc.