Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Discussions around miscellaneous technologies and projects for the general membership.
acochran
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Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby acochran » Tue May 13, 2014 1:02 pm

I attended LDSTech 2013 and I was especially interested in the "Lost Sheep" session about member training. I have been a technology trainer for years and training the less tech savvy is an important topic topic to me.

I have an idea, but it would take some R&D from the church, but it would create a uniform training experience that would require little to no training time by local leaders.

In my mind time is our biggest obstacle. Training the trainers is an efficient system for a standardized platform, but when there are three or more versions of Gospel Library and dozens of combinations of phones, tablets and laptops, the task of training requires a very talented, patient, and knowledgeable tutor.

Here's what I think would work - don't shoot the idea down until you have considered it for a week or so. The idea came to me while sitting in the temple. That is not to say that this is inspiration, but it may increase the likelihood that some inspiration may be involved.

It is totally possible that the church is already working on a project like this.

My idea is a proprietary LDS Android tablet designed specifically to run the LDS apps.

To illustrate why this is a better solution than usergroup-style training, I have written the following fictional case study:

Janet is a 57-year-old married mother of four (only the youngest is still at home). Her kids use technology but she only reads email and does Pinterest. Her husband only uses a computer at the church when he enters the high priest's home teaching reports.

Each week Janet sees her friends using tablets and smartphones for scripture reading, checking the stake calendar, and singing the hymns. Janet wants to be able to do those things too. Occasionally a friend will make a comment like, "Janet, you really need to get into the 21st century." or "You can find Sister Johnson's number in LDS Tools." Janet feels like she gets more upset than she should when people make these comments.

Janet begins asking her kids about tablets. Her son tells her to get a Galaxy Tab, her daughter explains that an iPad is really the way to go for "old people," and her youngest tells her that she should just upgrade her phone to a smartphone. Janet's husband is a good man and he notices her interest in all of these devices. So, at Christmas time, he goes into the local electronics store and sees that there is a deal on a Brand X tablet for $89. He asks the sales person if it will let her do church stuff. The sales associate makes a few suggestions and assures him that the alternative tablet he recommended will meet Janet's needs. If that buying process confused you, you aren't alone. Her husband was equally confused.

Her husband wraps it up and gives it as a Christmas gift. Janet is excited, but almost as unsure about how to use it and what she would use it for as her husband is.

Janet's teenager sets up the device quickly without any explanation to Janet, then tells her to go into the app store (which the teenager opens and and logs into without any explanation) if she wants to buy apps. Janet immediately searches for "Scriptures" and finds the "LDS Scriptures" app for $14.99.

When she gets to church, she asks one of her friends where to get the hymns and the ward list. Her friend (who uses an iPad) tells her that she bought the wrong scriptures app and recommends that she installs Gospel Library - but there is no app store on Janet's tablet. Janet's friend's husband who uses an Android tablet points out that it's called the "Play Store" and not the "App Store" on an Android and they are off to download Gospel Library. If they can connect the tablet to the WiFi. Janet's friend's husband attempts to help her connect, but he explains that his Android device is a little different than hers. He fumbles his way through it in a way that makes Janet feel like her device must be the problem.

Finally, they connect and the Gospel Library is downloaded. In Relief Society, Janet asks her friend (remember, she uses an iPad) how to find the Teachings of the Prophets manual in Gospel Library. The friend is confident and begins to show her, until she realizes that Janet is using a different version of Gospel Library because the versions are different between iPad and Android. She fumbles through it, but again, Janet feels that her device must be inferior because it works differently and her techie friends have problems using it.

When Janet explains the problem to her kids, they blame the device, her intelligence and her age. She blames her husband for buying the wrong device.

Janet has two options: Press forward and learn the device or ditch the device because paper scriptures are much easier to use.

In this scenario, Janet is not stupid, her husband was not careless, her kids were not useless and her friends were not reluctant to help - yet the entire process of learning broke down because of non-standardized technology.

Concept for a solution:

A locked-down tablet with minimal apps including the church apps, memo pad, calendar, basic email system, Chrome browser and basic productivity apps. No camera (or a low-res camera), no games, no complex app store.

The tablet would come with a case and one or two video DVDs as a manual. The DVD would include tutorial videos and demonstrations that feature the EXACT tablet and software that the member was learning on and an illustrated notebook with illustrations of the tablet on every other page and lots of room for taking notes. The notebook would not be a manual, it's purpose would simply be for the user to draw thumbnails of the interface and write personal notes - thus becoming a personalized reference that they will probably never need to refer to because taking good notes increases confidence in remembering processes.

The videos would feature short, 2-minute or less, tutorials on everything from turning the device on to individual app functions. The videos would not be played on the device itself because the members will need to use the device while watching the video. Posting the videos online is another option, but the DVD is essential because many members will not have access to, or an understanding of how to use, WiFi Internet for streaming videos.

Once a member has purchased one of these devices and used it for a while, they should progress from an A user to a B user. At that point, they may decide to buy a fancier tablet with more features - which is fine because the apps will work basically the same and the LDS Access sign-in will sync their information.

In the box would be a document encouraging members to donate the device to a central collection center at the church so that the tablets can be wiped and redistributed to areas where members may not be able to afford such a device. This is due to the assumption that most members who buy one of these devices will only use it for a about a year before upgrading to something more versatile as their comfort level and understanding expand.

Questions you probably have:

Q. How much would it cost?

A. $129 (The device needs to be priced low enough to be affordable, but high enough that members will take it seriously and feel obligated to learn how to use it.)

Q. Why would someone buy a church tablet when they could buy a Kindle, Nook or iPad?

A. This tablet would not be an alternative to a tablet, it would be a church-work-only device. The thought here is that there are many many members who ONLY want a tablet for church business, at least to start with. Members who want a multipurpose tablet will buy a multipurpose tablet. This is not an alternative to an iPad or other complex device. It is not in any way intended to be a full function tablet. Of course some techie members may buy it and hack it, but the hardware specs and cost will not make it an attractive alternative to a Kindle Fire or Nook HD. The appeal and purpose for this device is solely to help introduce non-techie members to the benefits of using technology in the Work of the Lord.

Q. What other potential uses would this device have?

A. The use of the Android operating system and expandable memory would allow these devices to be used to store ALL of the church videos, manuals and other content which could be streamed to any HDMI enabled TV using a $35 Chromecast dongle that could be permanently placed in every building television. (Side note: this would be a great solution for materials centers who have yet to abandon the VHS tape.)

These devices would also be useful in missionary work, and teaching in areas where a materials centers are limited in inventory and technology.

This device would be a sort of flagship device like the G series is for Android. It could be used to beta test new software as well as proprietary apps that would be exclusive to church use, such as missionaries, clerks, temples, etc.

Another thought I have had is that this device could be used with Deseret Book as a partner. This would give DB an exclusive outlet for books written by general authorities or other significant works for church members. Doing this may be one answer to the questions about cost and subsidizing R&D.

Thank you for letting me pitch this. I don't expect it to go anywhere, but I had to put the idea out there. I really do think that it could be a solution to the training concerns.

Of course this is just a summary. There are dozens of details that I have thought of, but this post is long enough and should give you the basic idea. I estimate that it would take about a year to produce and the hardware cost would probably break even. But, profit and longevity of use are not really the goal here. I am confident that the church would not lose any money on the device. I think that it could potentially lead to using technology for to increase efficiency in ways we haven't even realized yet.

bballrob
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby bballrob » Tue May 13, 2014 11:00 pm

I had a pretty good laugh about this. And my wife laughed along too when I made her listen to it, cause it described her attitude about technology and paper scriptures to a T!!

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gregwanderson
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby gregwanderson » Wed May 14, 2014 9:07 am

I would think that most of the problems you bring up could be solved by just having the tutorial videos you suggest. I would also think that the people who frequent these forums have both the knowledge of LDS Tools and video production to make those tutorials pretty easily (any volunteers?). That could happen within a matter of days. But, when it comes to the church producing its own tablet device, I just don't see this happening. It would be MUCH easier just to teach people how to choose and use what's already available.

It seems to me that, in past discussions here, some of us have already mentioned creating our own presentations to ward members to teach them how to use LDS Tools and/or the church website resources. Those could be easily adapted to teach the membership at large.

1cde2
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby 1cde2 » Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:06 am

acochran has stated the problem exactly! Technology training in the Church is essentially non-existant and the scenario you paint is part of the reason. The variety of options makes for a vast landscape to cover. There are other reasons, of an organizational/bureaucratic nature, that are also limiting factors. Your proposed solution may break the frustrating cycle of throwing apps over the fence and hoping people can figure it out themselves.

As noted by Clayton Christensen (https://tech.lds.org/blog/600-disruptiv ... y-archived) change in the Church comes from the membership. Whatever does come about to achieve better technology training for the "Lost Sheep" it won't be from top down within ICS as they are neither chartered nor funded to develop or deliver training.

My wife and I were released from our LDS Tech service mission in January and have been doing non-techie things. However, we still have a keen interest in thinking about solutions. Where are you located? Might we have a more extended conversation sometime?

Thank you,

Dan Eliason
3634 North 100 East
Provo, UT 84604
(801) 358-2077

acochran
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby acochran » Fri Aug 01, 2014 9:56 pm

I love all of these replies. I am especially happy to hear from Brother Eliason.

Not to shoot anyone down, but training or videos alone will not work for the "market" I am referring to.

There are two reasons:

1. The problem is not the LDS applications as much as it is fear of the device. The tutorials would have to feature exact visual duplicates of every element of the device or the person will be scared away by the differences.

2. Nobody has time to dedicate to training. The Lost Sheep presentation hit the nail on the head with the different personas. Most of you in this group are C-types. When you need help, you just need to be pointed in the right direction so you can figure the rest out for yourselves.
I am talking about A-types. These are people who have an interest in the benefits of the technology, but zero interest in learning anything beyond the very limited use they have for it - i.e. reading scriptures. You know the type - they use Word to type everything, but refuse to learn to cut and paste or find and replace.
In order for training to work, you would need to have a very patient B-type who is willing to meet very often, and be available after-hours, to answer specific questions - in person. This teacher could NEVER get frustrated and say, "here, let me do it for you."

I used to hold beginner computer usergroups at the church and a non-member friend who also owned a similar business held meetings for the general community. The meetings always had the same people attending (between 50-75 per meeting). The meetings were 2 hours, the first hour was on a topic, the last hour was Q&A.

I answered the same questions over and over. I demonstrated the same skills over and over. This was because they didn't want to learn how to copy and paste, they just wanted me to give them immediate knowledge of how to use their computer. They came to every meeting in hopes that something I would do or say would give them that magic knowledge.

My friend and I began experimenting with our respective usergroups, We created video tutorials that covered how to solve common problems rather than focusing on basic skills (the same thing, but the approach was different). After we created the custom video tutorials for almost every problem we could imagine, the user groups faded away.

The problem is, you can't make volunteer video tutorials for every possible device and OS (remember that $60 tablet from the clothing store). That takes even more time than doing a monthly training session.

That is why I pitched the idea of a kit that contains the device and the tutorials. It is efficient and scaled down to a manageable project.

Adam Cochran
acochran@talkingdigital.org

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marianomarini
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby marianomarini » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:39 am

The Church has already his own products: BoM, D&C, English ans Spanish Bible,eccetera.
So I don't think would be a strange idea, having this also out of "paper".
I don't know if these book are printed in a church factory, at least first version was.
So Church can "choose" an unexpensive device. Make a contract to pay them a litle lower and then install what suggested by acocran.
This can be done in a centralized manner or let the trained stuff all round the word to do. (Service activity?).
Sorry for my bad English. I hope it is clear enough.

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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby russellhltn » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:49 am

From what I've seen, the church tends to stick with things that they and only they can do. When something is adequately covered by private business, they stay out.

Perhaps a private company would be interested. Perhaps Deseret Books.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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gregwanderson
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby gregwanderson » Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:56 pm

acochran wrote:Thank you for letting me pitch this. I don't expect it to go anywhere, but I had to put the idea out there. I really do think that it could be a solution to the training concerns.

I think that the church leadership's decision to go with iPads for missionaries is an indication that they're not interested in developing their own hardware. Developing proprietary hardware just seems like it brings up way too many problems that most of us don't consider. Something as simple as a bad lithium battery that causes a fire is something we don't think about. But the church would never want to be directly responsible for manufacturing a device that might have a bad battery inside of it.

It's clear to me that the future of tablets will be based around the foundation of Android and iOS for a while to come. So anyone who is interested in using a tablet just needs to buckle down and learn how to work in either one of those environments. Creating something else seems like it's just going to make it harder for people to learn to use it. If the church made an Android-lite kind of device then what's the point? Who wants a limited-capability tablet when, within a few weeks, they'll be kicking themselves for not paying a few dollars more and getting something that can do so much more? There are plenty of examples of people who bought a tablet for just one or two purposes but, after they got comfortable, they quickly started doing so much more. (When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad he correctly identified why the "netbook" idea never got any real traction. All you really had with a netbook was a lousy, limited laptop.)

In my Stake, we've started having a "Ward Technology Specialist" in every ward. In fact, that's one of my callings now. I had no instructions on exactly what my duties are but I'm often asked to help train people on things like using the Come Follow Me curriculum and how to use LDS Tools on their iPads. So, for now, I'm the local solution to the problem. Maybe I just don't want to bother learning to use a new, proprietary device made by the church.

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marianomarini
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Re: Possibility of a Proprietary LDS Device?

Postby marianomarini » Sun Aug 03, 2014 6:10 am

I think that the church leadership's decision to go with iPads for missionaries is an indication that they're not interested in developing their own hardware

What I'm saying is: instead to pay for paper and press the Church can buy (cheaper) hardware and put in it (freely) the software.


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