Home > A Man Uses Library System's Free Access [to] Create Dyslexia App

A Man Uses Library System's Free Access [to] Create Dyslexia App

BY HEIDE BRANDES, THE Journal Record OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Pierre Liebenberg of Norman knew his son was having trouble reading. He started switching letters and words around, dreaded having to get up in front of the class to read aloud and lost his confidence.

"We started seeing the signs, and we had him diagnosed. He has dyslexia, pretty severe dyslexia," Liebenberg said to The Journal Record . "We looked for help, but local schools don't recognize dyslexia as a learning disability. I started doing my own research and found if I showed him one word at a time on a yellow background with a specific black font, he would recognize the word."

As a software designer and a former English teacher, Liebenberg came up with an idea to create an app based on the flashcards. However, he needed to learn iOS programming and other skills in order to create the app.

"I found out I could take all the courses at the Metropolitan Library using Lynda.com for free," he said.

Nine months later, Liebenberg introduced Lexico, an app specifically designed to help children with dyslexia read. Since his son was diagnosed, he has doubled his reading ability and built up his confidence with words. Lexico is available for iPad, and an iPhone version is being created.

Liebenberg isn't alone in using the Metropolitan Library System to learn new skills or develop technical expertise, and Lynda.com isn't the only resource available to those wanting more education.

Through a new partnership with Google introduced soon, the Metropolitan Library System is getting even more high-tech when it comes to learning resources.

According to Victoria Stephens, communications coordinator for the Metropolitan Library System, Lynda.com is an online learning resource that can be accessed through a home computer, smartphone or mobile device.

The service offers more than 4,000 courses in areas like business, technical and software skills, creative techniques, public speaking, IT management, web design and more.

Residents with a library card can access the service for free. Lynda.com is typically a subscription-based service and was purchased by LinkedIn for $1.5 billion in 2015.

Through Lynda.com for libraries, users can take a course and watch teaching videos in "small, easy-to-manage chunks."

"We have had Lynda.com available since 2015 and we have almost 2,700 Lynda.com users. People use it to explore a hobby they are interested in or learn how to use a computer or even, for those who are tech-savvy, learn how to build an app, like Pierre," she said. "We are always on the lookout for new learning resources for the library, especially resources people can access at home without having to come in and use our computers. It's really easy to access and use, and people like that."

David Emmons, a digital media technician at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City, said he stumbled upon the free Lynda.com service while at a training course.

"We were switching over from Final Cut Pro (a video editing software) to Final Cut Pro X, which was vastly different and virtually unrecognizable. The workshop instructor mentioned Lynda.com and said it had a lot of good resources that go beyond what the workshop covered," Emmons said.

When Emmons learned that the Metropolitan Library System had free access to the learning program, he jumped on it. Opting to use Adobe software instead of the Final Cut software, Emmons knew he had to learn the basics and the more sophisticated aspects of the Adobe suite.

"I hadn't put the free Lynda to good use until we had to go through the transition," he said. "The library's service saved me a ton of money, too. If I had the subscription service, it would have cost me a couple of hundred dollars by now."

Like many library patrons, Emmons wasn't aware that the online learning was available for free until his wife told him.

"I don't think a lot of people know that they have to click the download tab. But, I think there's something for everyone on there," he said.

In December, the Metropolitan Library System announced that it received a grant from the Grow with Google program, allowing for Google Chromebook laptops at seven Oklahoma City metro-area libraries

The laptops can be checked out for up to 21 days at a time as part of the Tech Tools at Your Library program, which was introduced earlier in December by the Metropolitan Library System and Grow with Google.

Through the program, residents with a library card can take mobile hot spots and the laptops home with them if they do not have access to a computer or internet service at home. The library will hold workshops, which begin in January, on computer skills before users can check out the equipment.

The partnership is part of the Grow with Google initiative to help create economic opportunities for all Americans.

"Oklahoma City is outpacing the nation in many categories, including job growth, but many residents still need to connect with resources that can help them expand their skill set or grow their business," Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said in a press statement. "We are excited about this Grow with Google program that will harness the power of the web, the accessibility of our library system and OKC's growing economy to make a real impact in our community."

Through this initiative, the Metropolitan Library System will launch several skill-building and community resource programs at various branches throughout the metro that will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The workshops range from improved English speaking to one-on-one help on using the equipment, online job seeking, skills classes and digital training for formerly incarcerated patrons.

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans look to libraries to learn digital literacy. The report said respondents view libraries as contributing to the economic health of the community. Of those responding to the study, 75 percent said libraries have been effective at helping people learn how to use new technologies.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

An AP Member Exchange shared by The Journal Record.

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Date: 
Monday, January 28, 2019

Kim Terry

Kim Terry's picture

Kim grew up in a semi-small town in northwest Oklahoma and went to Oklahoma State University. Her original dream of being an architect didn’t pan out since she and physics didn’t play well together, so she decided to get a degree in Journalism/Advertising. She has worked in marketing for 20 years in various industries from healthcare to software to publishing.

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