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1004 The Digital Divide: Make Online Learning Accessible to All

9:15 AM - 10:15 AM ET
Wednesday, November 9

Tracks: Practices

The digital divide is widening and there are many barriers to access, not just technological. What have you done in your own practice to overcome barriers to access? How do we make sure we reach communities who face barriers to technology access? What concrete strategies have worked? Successful hybrid or fully online programs require reliable access to technology (hardware and connectivity) and other related resources such as space, time, and familial support. Frequently, assumptions are made about one’s access based on where they live. However, learners face barriers even in the US and even in areas with high connectivity. Many times educators will plan online learning experiences without the knowledge of barriers to access and learner needs, and then the learners are not able to participate, learn effectively, or complete the courses.

We will begin the session by outlining best practices in online learning by describing exemplar learning journeys comprised of asynchronous and synchronous sessions. We will then outline all of the barriers to access learners can face in successfully experiencing a learner journey and provide 1:1 solutions to these barriers. Participants can identify which barriers their learners face (e.g., bandwidth, hardware, cultural, familial) and walk away with concrete strategies to overcome the barriers. Participants will take away a technology access framework and screening tools to identify access barriers that learners face.

In this session, you will learn:

  • Specific steps that should be done prior to learners embarking upon any fully online or hybrid course (identifying learner profile, screening, performing a tech analysis, sample survey questions, etc.)
  • A list of strategies to overcome each named barrier (free of cost and paid)
  • Best practices in online learning for learners or employees
  • That barriers to accessing online learning go beyond hardware and bandwidth

Kelly Cassaro

Chief of Learning


Kelly Cassaro is the chief of learning at Generation, a nonprofit founded by McKinsey & Company to tackle global unemployment. She has built and led a diverse, international team to create and support implementation over 30 programs in 17 countries and across four market sectors. These programs have led to 92% graduation rates and 86% placement rates within the first three months of graduation. Kelly  previously worked for 15+ years in various educational leadership roles, including chief academic officer and managing director of instructional leadership development for urban charter schools and nonprofit management companies in New York City. Kelly is a Teach for America alumna, holds a master of educational leadership from Bank Street School of Education, and a bachelor of education and Spanish from Ohio Wesleyan University.