“In the Cloud” was invited by the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) to present a pre-conference workshop on mobile literacy on 30 September 2019.

It was former president Nelson Mandela who said that education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world. This includes librarians – through educating ourselves, and in turn, educating others. If we do not pass on our new knowledge, how else will we create a better future, and empower others to continue from where we stopped?

During the past LIASA pre-conference workshop on mobile literacy, 59 librarians attended and engaged on how we can all collectively work together to go further as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, as opposed to workING alone and goING faster, with reference to the African proverb:

If you want to go fastgo alone; but if you want to go far, go together.”

Mobile phones are such powerful tools, and although it is a very personal device, it can be used as a great tool to collaborate and engage with others, beyond just making calls, messaging and social media. Since this was a digital mobile workshop, participants were encouraged to take notes using a note-taking app, take photos, record the sessions, scan QR codes – using nothing else than their mobile phones. During a group activity where participants took selfies and shared a mobile phone to complete an online form and attach the photos, they indicated that it did not bother them using someone else’s phone. However, in one instance the owner of the cell phone indicated that she felt her privacy was invaded since it attracted lots of comments and criticism from others on what she had on her phone.

The world of apps was further introduced to all. Participants learned that apps can be downloaded and installed with great ease from the Google Play Store, free of charge. Where their phones did not have it pre-installed, apps for the following were installed: a note-taking app, QR code reader, pdf reader, and an e-book reader. The LIASA conference app was also downloaded and installed, and all participants were encouraged to give feedback regarding the workshop through the contact function on the app.

Real-life challenges were experienced, and in the future we are positive that librarians will empathise more with their users. Batteries ran out, the network was slow at times and became flooded, and all participants had different phones with different settings, something that can become quite challenging and keep you on your toes when having to assist clients.

The second half of the session focused on the use of mobile phones to advance basic reading literacy among young learners. South Africa’s reading crisis is a topic of ongoing debate and several strategies for improvement have been proposed: promoting a culture of reading; encouraging parents to read to their children; making books accessible in schools and improving initial teacher education. Librarians were encouraged to extend their physical collections beyond just the brick and motor of a physical building, and to also create awareness on open access reading material available through app stores and initiatives such as the following:

Librarians were further encouraged to target potential clients not part of the membership yet, make provision for mobile users to charge mobile phone batteries inside the library, and lastly, to join and support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Reading Circle and the #ReadingRevolution, advancing the literacy level of all in our beautiful country. More at http://nrc.org.za/president-reading-circle/#

The presentation from the workshop can be accessed at https://www.slideshare.net/KidsintheCloud/liasa-preconference-workshop-3-mobile-literacy or scan the QR code using the QR code scanning app on your mobile phone.

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