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ALTA in 2020 – Sustaining and Building the Core

i Mar 25th No Comments by

On Saturday 13 February, 2021, ALTA fulfilled its annual obligation to members and stakeholders by hosting its first ever virtual Annual General Meeting. Our foray into the world of virtual hosting was a success: all told, 42 members participated in the Zoom meeting, including Mrs. Zalayhar Hassanali who has never once missed an AGM in all of her years as ALTA’s Patron.

We look back on a year of adaptation for Alta, through the theme of “Sustaining and Building ALTA’s Core,” in the form of the AGM presentation by Board Chairman, Nigel Baptiste. This week we feature the first part of the chairman’s address.

Chairman’s Address

2020 – what a year, a year to forget for many of us! For ALTA it was a year of innovation and a year in which ALTA’s strength came to the fore. In 2020, the ALTA Programme successfully transitioned from classroom to virtual with two big achievements:

  • The first was planned – the pilot of ALTA Online
  • The second was driven by the pandemic – ALTA-V classes delivered by Zoom

Both these achievements, ALTA Online & ALTA-V, owe a great deal to two sponsors: the National Gas Company of Trinidad & Tobago and Republic Bank Limited.

In May, ALTA was honoured to receive the NGC Above and Beyond award.

This award came with funding for three ALTA projects of which two were essential components of ALTA Online and ALTA-V.

  • The ALTA Online Pilot brought ALTA Online to more than a hundred users
  • Stand Tall – I am ALTA awareness and student recruitment campaign attracted students to ALTA-V.

The Stand Tall – Above and Beyond award has helped see ALTA through the difficult pandemic year. Thank you NGC for this award to our students, our volunteer tutors, our nation.

This year was one of high achievement for ALTA, particularly as it relates to the Alta Online pilot, which has been in the making for over six years. A special thank you must be given to Application Support Engineer Sylvia Clarke who has been integral to the success of this initiative. The pilot’s successful rollout is attributed to the wider team of past Executive Officer, Tejumade Hendrickson who graciously volunteered as Project Manager, Joanne Phillip and Ariston Sutherland in their respective capacities as Programme Manager and Information Systems Manager.

Both Phase 1 and 2 of the Alta Online pilot had to be completely restructured from an in-person format (planned for schools and community centres with on-site Alta tutor mentors) to a remote mode, putting ALA Online to a radical first test. Implementation of the pilot in the ever-changing world of the pandemic is a true achievement and testimony to the dedication of our staff, tutors and students.

Volunteer tutor mentors conducted a questionnaire to gather comprehensive feedback from ALTA Online Pilot 1 users, with very encouraging results. Special thanks go out to Reanti Singh and Keren Wilson of the UWI Campus Office of Planning and Institutional Research who provided technical expertise, the Survey Monkey tool, and collated and analysed the questionnaire results – all pro bono.

Survey findings showed that 100% of users:

  • Felt improved reading and spelling skills
  • Felt a sense of accomplishment with each reading activity
  • Were interested in continuing when more content becomes available

Specific pluses noted were the ability to work from home, at their own pace, and the ability to redo activities and revise. Most users preferred ALTA Online to the classroom, with over 90% being willing to recommend ALTA Online to improve their reading and writing.

ALTA’s UWI partnership has also been a source of added support to the project, as Dr. Phaedra Mohammed has assigned Associate Professional Raphael Superville to work on the ALTA Online games under her guidance. This has added valuable strength to the development team.

For 6 years, Republic Bank has remained faithful to ALTA’s vision of ALTA Online, sponsoring the software development costs under its Power to Make a Difference initiative – and this has made all the difference! Republic Bank has demonstrated continued confidence in ALTA Online with a renewed commitment to the project along with ongoing support for ALTA-V classes.

After seven years of focused development work, which has proven both challenging and rewarding, Book 1, Level 1 ALTA Online is complete and Book 2 is making good progress. We also thank Software Team Lead, Matthew Williams, for his continued commitment to the project, working pro bono on ALTA Online remotely from New York while simultaneously working for Facebook. Matthew is ably assisted by Stack Developer Jovaughn Smith who has proved to be highly competent and dedicated to ALTA Online.

We continue next week with more from the report on ALTA over the course of 2020.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a tutor, joining a class, or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email altapos.tt@gmail.com.

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