Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Boston-area experts gathered for a breakfast-time conversation on the digital divide. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

On Tuesday morning, Axios business editor Dan Primack hosted a roundtable discussion in Boston on how technology, and access to it, will impact the future of work and education.

Why it matters: Over 20 educators, innovators and employers from across the city dissected the digital divide's biggest trends, problems and potential solutions.

Problems
Tom Daccord, the CEO and co-founder of EdTechTeacher, discusses the importance of constantly re-evaluating the skills both teachers and students need. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

Over the course of this hour-long conversation, these experts unpacked some of the deepest-seated issues we face when it comes to effectively integrating technology into our schools and workforce.

The access problem:

  • Many students don't have access to technology. Justina Nixon-Saintil, who oversees Corporate Social Responsibility at Verizon, spoke about one of the company's initiatives to bring digital literacy training programs to schools across the country: "On average, across our 100 schools, superintendents say that 25%–75% of their students don't have reliable broadband at home."
  • Access alone isn't the full solution. "If you present a connected device to a student in a home where the parents don't know how to use it, there can be negative effects," said Stockton Reece, the head of Community Boat Building — an experiential learning after-school program in Boston. "It's designed to be addictive. How do we teach kids to use these amazing little devices to extract something of value from it?"

The teaching problem:

  • The most tech-savvy among us get snapped up by high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley — not our school system — creating a learning gap among educators, according to Adam Medros, the president of edX.

The framing problem:

  • Internet access isn't commonly considered a utility — the way we think of electricity or running water — which reduces the business motivation to invest in it, a point that was stressed by both Primack and Tiziana Dearing, co-director of the Center for Social Innovation at Boston College.

The employer problem:

  • The incentive to invest in the future. Kate Gulliver, who is the head of Global Talent at Wayfair, discussed the company's desire to invest in on-the-job training and general talent development, but underlined the difficulty young companies have in thinking 20 years in the future when the business itself hasn't been around that long.
Solutions
Tiziana Dearing, co-director of Boston College's Center for Social Innovation, explains the importance of reframing how we talk and think about the digital divide. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

While the digital divide presents many issues, these experts also dug into the many possible solutions — both big and small — that could make a difference in closing the gap and expanding opportunity.

The teaching solution:

  • Making tech less scary. "We need to Debunk the myth that an educator needs all these complicated skills to be competent at teaching digital literacy," said Dan Pickett, the co-founder of Launch Academy, explaining that a teacher doesn't need a master's in computer science in order to teach students how to be resourceful online.
  • Teaching adaptability. "The teachers need the kind of training — not to teach to any specific existing device — but to teach the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to things that haven't been invented yet," said Linda Noonan, the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.

The framing solution:

  • The competitive-edge angle. Dearing touched on framing again to argue that the narrative shouldn't be "people are being left behind," but that by leaving behind 50% of our country's human potential, we are pushing all of us further behind on a global scale.

The education solution:

  • Learning for life. Medros, whose company offers online courses from universities around the world, advocated for "marrying industry with education, turning it into a process of lifelong learning and credentialing," adding that, "the moral obligation on companies is that they will have to re-skill their workforce as [their employees] are automated out of jobs."
Axios business editor Dan Primack wraps up the conversation. Photo: Beatrice Moritz for Axios

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this informative conversation and thank you Verizon for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."