Team DigiLearn is working to develop the Digital Backpack, an application for Android and the web that seamlessly transitions between an online and offline experience to aid remote learning.

Our Project: The Digital Backpack

The Digital Backpack system is an app available for Android and on the web that enables remote learning for students without reliable internet access at home. The app automatically performs search queries, downloads and uploads homework assignments, and pulls documents requested by the user, or suggested by a teacher, whenever WiFi is available. These tasks can be queued offline. When a connection is available, the app will automatically complete all specified tasks. The DigiPack app is supported by a back-end proxy server; while the user is offline, the proxy server will continue to act on students' behalf.

DigiPack Logo

The Homework Gap

Digital communication has grown and changed considerably throughout the past couple of years. The internet is an invaluable resource as well as a luxury that many people take for granted. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sudden shift to remote learning, greatly impacting those without the privilege of home WiFi. Nearly 12 million students across America do not have access to internet at home. This has a significant impact on the quality of education for those in disenfranchised communities with poor network connectivity. This lack of access to online materials has been described as “The Homework Gap”. Students without home Internet must rely on public hot spots to get their school work done. This can mean spending hours completing assignments in a parking lot with public WiFi. It also places a lot of pressure on the student to remember to upload and download necessary materials in the limited time they have with a network connection.

In response to this growing Homework Gap, Team DigiLearn is working with CANIS Lab to develop the Digital Backpack, a software-based solution to the problem of unreliable or non-existent network connections. The goal is to provide a fluid transition between online and offline learning.

CANIS Lab logo Our client, Dr. Morgan Vigil-Hayes, is the head of the Community Aware Networks & Information Systems Lab at NAU. She specializes in the research and development community-centered network architecture.
CANIS pursues various avenues to help alleviate the digital gap. The PuebloConnect project exemplifies the core beliefs of the CANIS team. One aspect of this project is the development of robust and affordable network hardware to expand access in these communities. The PuebloConnect project also explored innovative, software-driven solutions to the digital gap.

Meet Our Team

Sebastian Kastrul

Sebastian Kastrul

Technical Lead

Lead Security Developer

Mobile App Developer

Email: sebastian.kastrul@gmail.com

Caitlin Abuel

Caitlin Abuel

Project Architect

Network Architect

Progressive Web App Developer

Email: csa73@nau.edu

Israel Bermudes

Israel Bermudes

Lead REST Service Developer

Mobile App Developer

Internal Communications Coordinator

Email: ilb8@nau.edu

Kristine Hermosado

Kristine Hermosado

Mobile App Developer

Lead User Interface Developer

Release Manager

Email: kh2336@nau.edu

Team Sponsor and Mentor

Dr. Vigil-Hayes


Professor at NAU

Director of the Community Aware Networks & Information Systems Laboratory (CANIS Lab).

Email: Morgan.Vigil-Hayes@nau.edu

Volodymyr Saruta

Team Mentor

Email: vvs28@nau.edu