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Alta Online is a signature initiative
Today Alta completes the Year in Review; excerpts from the annual report which was first presented to members of Alta at the annual general meeting in November. In the past weeks the column looked at growth in students and development of Alta tutors, programmes and staff. This week the article will look at Alta Online: A Signature Initiative.
Republic Bank-sponsored Alta Online is Alta’s signature project, the most innovative product since the development of the Alta programme itself, in that it has the potential to bring reading instruction not just to Trinidad but the whole Caribbean and beyond – indeed anywhere reached by the internet.
As the application takes shape, the Alta Online team has seen where it can change to be more efficient and user-friendly. One such design improvement, already implemented, is the concept of Banks. This is where key audio, image and video files are stored and made available throughout the application. Implementation of improved design for long-term benefits has impacted the time-line in the short-term. Some application tasks that were completed and tested had to be re-worked.
Projects with the scope of Alta Online require many varied staffing resources. There has been a steep learning curve here. Being able to recruit and retain the best personnel for the job has been a challenge.
From simply being able to articulate what is required in the uncharted territory, to physical accommodation, Alta has been committed to getting it right in order to create the best possible outcome for the students.
In January, Alta employed a designated data officer to handle the overwhelming volume of content which could not be loaded by volunteers. The loss of two Data Officers in quick succession proved a temporary set-back, but the team is currently back to full strength.
A true gift to Alta Online has been IT professional and Alta tutor Sylvia Clarke. For the last year, she has been the project manager devoting many hours to Alta Online. Clarke’s years of experience running IT projects has made a huge difference to Alta Online.
The work of the extended team of Alta Online volunteers converting content for the application has continued under Alta CEO, Paula Lucie Smith’s guidance. The team remains committed to ensuring that the content, although adapted to suit delivery by smartphone or computer screen, remains true to the classroom experience of quality instruction. It is important that the final product have enough of a human presence to ensure that users do not feel as though they are going at it alone.
The mid-year design and staff changes meant that Alta adjusted the timeline, so the goal for October 2017 was to produce the first three lessons in Book 1 for Level 1. Alta is proud to have achieved this major milestone in this difficult project. Testing of lessons 1-3 by the extended tutor team is complete, so the team is now set to move on to external testing. Alta Online has been a moving target, however the challenges have served as the building blocks of a product that will better meet the needs of present and future students.
Alta looks forward to launching Alta Online in the near future.
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