The students in the Seminary on the Air (SOTA)
program loved the textbooks and mp3 players loaded with course content and reference materials, but they needed a way to communicate with each other in real time, to send and receive lessons and course updates that wasn't dependent on a working website. The TWR Canada China Ministry team put their heads together and created the SOTA tablet which is now being used by students around the world. Students can receive a tablet once they have completed four of the 25 courses in the SOTA program.
Thanks to you, students are now more equipped to teach the truth and lead believers towards greater maturity and faith in Christ in China.What was the biggest obstacle in creating the SOTA tablet?
One of the biggest obstacles in developing this tool is the coordination of over 40 volunteers needed to input over 20 GB of course data onto the tablet. We had to work with the system developer to come up with a unified method of input.What does 20GB of course data look like?
We input all 6 SOTA textbooks which is over 2000 printed pages (there are 25 courses with a total of 860 lessons). Each lesson had its own PowerPoint presentation with an accompanying lecture so in total we input 7,158 PowerPoint slides onto the tablet. We added the lecture transcript for each lesson so students could read and listen to the lectures (over 5 million words). We added 11 reference books, accompanying photos, and an audio Bible with a search feature. How long did it take to create the software, find the hardware, produce and distribute the device to students?
It took us 7 months to develop the software and around two weeks to find the right hardware. The production for 2000 tablets took 15 days. What has been the reaction from students using the tablets?
Here is what one SOTA student who received a tablet said about his experience using it:“When I used the tablet, I realized how much God has provided. When you turn on the SOTA tablet, after login, you can quickly get into the current course that you are studying. I am currently studying Church History.In each course, you can find the outline of the lectures and the full transcripts of the lessons; you can also use its e-Bible as you study. For each lecture, there are pictures of the related historical persons, a course outline, PowerPoint slides and a full transcript of the lecture. There is even a list of Bible references that are relevant and mentioned in the lecture making it easy to look them up after the fact....The full transcripts of the lectures were the biggest help because I could easily go back to the parts of the lecture that inspired me and it helped me to take notes more efficiently.A few days ago in a lecture, the teacher mentioned a sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon which is not provided in the textbook. I was able to listen to the sermon a few times as it was provided on the tablet. It really touched my heart and made me really stop to think....With the help of the SOTA tablet I don’t need to spend time to find pictures or look for sermons mentioned in the course. I don’t even need to open my big and heavy Bible to find the texts. Theological study can be so rich and so convenient. All are God’s grace!” You knew this project would be a lot of work. What part of the process was more difficult than you expected?
It was more difficult to coordinate the work among the volunteers because each person was assigned different courses and the quality of their work was not the same. It was very difficult to finish such a big project within such a short period of time. What did you learn from leading this project - how did it strengthen or challenge your faith?
We learned that it is necessary to have good team cooperation in order to do a project well. We also realized that it is indeed by God’s grace that this project can be completed in such a short period of time. To us, it is indeed a miracle. The volunteers also realized that God is working through them and their faith was strengthened as a result.Pray that God will protect SOTA, the program, the students and the SOTA team.