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ALTA Online – tried and tested

i Jun 3rd No Comments by

From May 2020 to April 2021, ALTA piloted its new signature initiative, ALTA Online. This web-based programme of literacy instruction is built around Caribbean life skills content and designed for independent use by persons aged 10 and over who have low level reading and spelling skills.

Sponsored by NGC as part of ALTA’s Above and Beyond Award, ALTA Online’s pilots 1 and 2 allowed real end users to test the robustness of the programme and to provide feedback for further development of the application and its public roll-out. Once the ALTA Online Readiness survey determined the project’s feasibility in terms of users’ access to a web-enabled PC, pilot 1 was underway.

A diverse group of users, both adults and children, representing a wide geographic spread, put ALTA Online to the test. Pilot 1 (May-August 2020) paired users with ALTA-trained mentor tutors who helped transition users into the online world and to garner their feedback. Pilot 2 (October 2020-March 2021) formalised ALTA Online User Support processes and brought new resources into ALTA Online to liaise directly with users, as well as offering Book 2 of Level 1.

ALTA intentionally split the ALTA Online pilot users fairly evenly between adults and teens/pre-teens. The majority of students in ALTA free community classes, including ALTA-V, are mature persons. It has always been difficult to persuade younger people in their 20s and 30s to face exposure of their ‘secret’ by joining a class. ALTA Online is designed to appeal to the younger age group so they can enter the workforce equipped with literacy.

One of our young pilot participants, Shakem Jack, was certainly pleased with the application, as he said: “The ALTA Online programme did help me. It’s kind of like a game – it was fun! I thank you for that.”

142 students improving their literacy through ALTA Online

The pandemic and its related physical distancing restrictions meant that schools and community centres have been closed throughout the project, so ALTA had to rely on students having access to their own laptops/PCs as these are required to access ALTA Online.

ALTA had to double or triple efforts to find persons with literacy needs who also had web-enabled home computers, and seek new partners, such as children’s homes with in-house computers and internet access where children were resident.

That said, 142 pilot participants is a major achievement given that this project was to be delivered onsite in schools and community centres using the computers and internet freely available there.

In next week’s article, look out for the results of our survey of pilot users with details of pilot user feedback. With the two phases of the pilot successfully completed, ALTA is ready to roll out to a range of subscribers starting in July.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining an ALTA-V class, enhancing their literacy through ALTA Online Level 1 or becoming a sponsor, call 624-2582 or email altapos.tt@gmail.com

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