Bringing “Lite” to Worldwide Education


While the Internet and educational resources are widely available today, two-thirds of the world are still left out due to issues such as low bandwidth or lack of Internet access. To remedy this injustice, members of the Foundation for Learning Equality (FLE) created KA Lite.

The FLE is an unofficial non-profit organization dedicated to making educational content readily available to everyone. Its project, KA Lite, is an offline open educational sharing system launched in December 2012 by a UCSD cognitive science doctoral candidate and a team of volunteers from not only UCSD but also different countries. 

KA Lite implements a microcomputer called Raspberry Pi to access local, offline servers that contain educational material videos and various exercises. Its computer language, Python, is supported by multiple computing systems to give students both the easy installation and multi-platform compatibility. 

All educational content distributed by KA Lite is developed by Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational website working to provide free worldwide education. According to KA Lite representatives from UCSD, Khan Academy has recognized KA Lite’s efforts and is working with them in a supportive relationship.

“We don’t yet, until we’ve been incorporated as a nonprofit, have an official partnership,” a KA Lite representative said in a statement to the Guardian. “But we’re good friends with people in Khan Academy and are coordinating with them to get help with things like internationalization and to get the content out to people.” 

The goal of KA Lite platforms is to give any student without the privilege of Internet access or high bandwidth, whether in the US or other parts of the world, the chance to participate in an offline “online” learning experience. 

KA Lite has been used in places such as prisons, India and sub-Saharan Africa.

Representatives of KA Lite noted an example in which a prisoner committed himself to using the educational platform to find a new life for himself. They said that he had dropped out of school in fifth grade and that turning to KA Lite was the first time that he had returned to education since then. They also said that the prisoner, who has been in prison three times, has expressed that he would never go back after being given the opportunity to pursue education again.

But implementing widely accessible offline platforms has its fair share of challenges. KA Lite representatives said that synchronizing data and implementing updates from widespread devices that connect only occasionally to other servers in different locations can be difficult to manage. This is because information on a device connected to one server cannot be transferred to other servers in different locations, simply because they servers are offline. 

To resolve this, the KA Lite team is working to utilize portable USB disks as a way to provide data synchronization between local servers. 

“It’s about reducing barriers,” the representative said. “We’re dedicated to optimizing performance as well.” 

In the future, KA Lite representatives hope to expand their project in order to allow locals to create educational material that’s relevant to their society. 

“We see it evolving towards a more general platform for sharing and for creating open educational resources,” the representative said. “We can facilitate global sharing to help bridge cultures and education barriers to create a more inclusive society.”