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Using AI in Education Can Reverse the Digital Divide in Rural Communities

The tools exist to stem the digital divide in rural communities – now, the government, educators and tech companies must collaborate to drive quality programs.

Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are the subjects kids must learn to improve their chances for financial success in the digital age. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in STEM fields are expected to increase by 8 percent by 2029 – double the growth rate for nonscientific professions. Beyond that, the future is yet to be shaped. Sixty-five percent of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that have yet to be created. People may not know just yet what those jobs will be but can anticipate they, too, will require STEM skills.

Not all educators or parents comprehend the mind-boggling statistics about the digital future nor are they acting fast enough to enable the required changes. Worrying about a shortage of tech and science workers to fuel tomorrow’s economy causes anxiety, as does the coming paradigm shift, which is likely to leave otherwise capable individuals underemployed or unemployed. Lack of STEM education can be the Achilles heel for the next generation.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Consider the story of Andrei, a young man growing up in an agricultural community with only 2,500 residents. He has the aptitude to take demanding STEM courses, but the curriculum was lacking in his Romanian hometown of Boteni. The NEXTLAB.TECH online adaptive learning platform available to students in his school allowed the introverted yet ambitious 11-year-old to acquire the requisite knowledge to work with programmable boards, sensors and mechatronics. After a year of hard work with the AI-driven platform, the budding tech enthusiast built a robot in Romania’s largest children’s educational robotics competition.

In 2020, investors poured a record-breaking $2.2 billion into education technology in the U.S. But although money is flowing for some projects, there is still concern that exciting new tools are going to urban or suburban kids, many of whom may already be ahead of the technology learning curve. This leaves kids from rural families at risk of being marginalized – unprepared to navigate their way in an information-rich economy.

Andrei continues to advance his computer and robot-building skills. The Bucharest hack-a-thon he participated in was a transformative experience – after a year of virtual work, he connected with other students from rural communities with similar interests. His teachers noticed a change in his enthusiasm when he returned to Boteni. He recently participated in other information technology competitions and looks forward to an exciting career he could have only dreamed possible.

Stories such as these – kids in rural communities making significant technological advancements – are now a reality for some young people. NEXTLAB.TECH is present in over 5400 schools changing the lives of numerous children. Andrei’s achievement may be only one young man’s story. Still, it offers an optimistic view of what is possible for families who choose to live outside significant metropolises. It can open a new world to someone traditionally cut off geographically from opportunity.

Represents a frictionless adaptive learning platform that uses AI to empower teachers, children, students and employees to learn about modern subjects such as AI, robotics, cybersecurity, IoT and big data. The platform is used by a wide range of clients from small rural schools to universities, banks, and top multinational software and semiconductor corporations.

The NEXTLAB.TECH  platform has a virtual learning assistant, automated narratives and advanced learning analytics. It has a proprietary AI engine which is integrated with modern transformers such as ChatGPT. Everything is based on a modern educational paradigm. is available in the AZURE marketplace.

The courses offered by NEXTLAB.TECH help students to learn how to  build, program and use simple robots, plant caring robots, aeroponic towers, robotic greenhouses, cleantech devices, cybersecurity environments, 3D printers, VR  devices and other  complex tech systems. It is designed to be used by schools, public libraries, universities and companies. supports both formal and informal educational activities aimed at training children and students for the jobs of the future. It is also a great tool for upskilling/reskilling employees.