Mobile Learning at the County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries San Luis Obispo, CA

The County of San Luis Obispo Public Libraries (SLO) serve both rural agricultural and urban areas on the central coast of California. The library’s P3 efforts focused on addressing the needs of the primarily immigrant communities of San Simeon and Oceano for access to online learning resources. Given a clear need for English language learning tools, the library added a new option, Cell-Ed, to its mobile learning offerings. Cell-Ed uses texting as the mode for its English and workforce skills lessons, supplemented by phone and text-based coaching for every user. This feature of live coaching by trained bilingual educators, particularly because the pandemic limited patrons’ access to in-person support at the library, was key to its selection.

Library staff were trained to onboard users to the app, show them the navigational features, and start them on a short lesson to see how it works. In addition to library promotion through social media and newsletters, the community learned about this and other mobile resources through library outreach.

The library had originally intended to work with a workforce development partner to help job seekers, specifically, access mobile learning resources related to employment readiness such as  learning about job skills, interviewing, and resume-writing. However, there was a low response from job seekers—possibly because circumstances during the pandemic were more dire for the unemployed and a learning platform was not the immediate concern.

The reliance on virtual tools, prompted by the pandemic, has moved public systems to build out their capacity to provide internet access, digital tools, and user support to their communities. SLO continues to explore strategies and resources that will address digital equity and the needs of its communities.