CDI Apps for Good

Apps for Good is an open-source technology movement that aims to grow the next generation of problem-solvers and digital makers; students who can create, market and launch new products that change their world. Apps for Good wants to change technology education forever by teaching young people to be makers - and not just consumers - of digital products. We want to enable young people to solve problems within their communities through technology by building mobile, web and social applications. Apps for Good sees technology as a way of levelling the playing field and we aim to close the gender gap in the sector.
Sep 23, 2014

Apps for Good Fellows programme launched and ready for 2014/15 school year

Apps for Good Fellow Amarah
Apps for Good Fellow Amarah

The 2014/15 school year is off to an excellent start, with an estimated 25,000 students from 470 education partners poised to deliver the Apps for Good programme (see map of where we are here), 700-1000 teachers slated to access our newly launched online continuous professional development platform and our pilot Fellows community already enjoying participation from 100 former students (Fellows) and several Apps for Good teachers.

Our Fellows Community is a development we’re particularly excited about, as it offers a means of bridging the gap that many of our former students experience, between participation in the Apps for Good programme, and entry into higher education or employment. While the Apps for Good programme gets students excited about solving problems using technology, and building their STEAMED skills, once they finish the course, they are left without an outlet or sense of how to develop further. The Fellows programme offers a means of sustaining contact with students once they finish the course, and continuing to nurture their skills development.

We came to identify the need for a Fellows community via requests from our former students and current teachers for more materials to engage with, as well as for internship and volunteering opportunities. Because of this demand, we opted to pilot a small project, using our Innovation Cycle to manage the process (see our Nominet Trust blog on innovation here) and coming up with a framework for the project (LADDR).

We are helping students get access to the following opportunities:

Learn: Continue to develop more skills (incl. coding/programming)

Achieve: Enter competitions and challenges

Discover: Get advice and guidance from Apps for Good Expert volunteers

Do: Gain work experience (on site and virtually)

Return: Become an Apps for Good Ambassador (speak at events, mentor students etc.)

Another factor fuelling our interest in creating a Fellows programme is our mission to, “empower students from all backgrounds to seize the opportunities of our digital age and create solutions to the problems they care about, using technology.” While a mere 17% of tech industry professionals are female, and the Guardian’s most recent report on A-Level results found that 9/10 students taking the computing exam were male, an average of 50% of Apps for Good students are female, and 33% from a visible ethnic minority, as well as 51% of our schools above the national average of Free School Meals. This leaves us well placed to support the talent of traditionally underrepresented groups in tech, and highlights the importance of having a network in place to do so, after our students finish the Apps for Good course. While still in early pilot stage, our fledgling Fellows programme has already placed several students in work experiences or internships, including Amarah, pictured with her Buzzer Buddiez partner Tamanna.

To that end, we were delighted to help 14 year old Apps for Good Fellow and former Coding Ninja, Alex Gower gain access to the global headquarters of Google, Facebook and Twitter, in Silicon Valley, California. Alex wanted to take a close up look at life in the tech sector, and judging by his blog visiting these three giants really captured his attention and built his interest.

In his words:

The coolest thing I saw at Facebook was the vending machine that dispensed technological devices. At Twitter, I liked the roof garden a lot because it had such good views of the city and had towers looming above it from all sides. The coolest things I saw at Google were the conference bikes that sat up to 7 people who each pedalled whilst having a conversation.

Alex’s visit fuelled his desire to become a computer engineer, because, in his words, he, “like[s] to understand how things work and this job would be at the heart of making a project.” Alex also noted the, appeal of ‘flexi working hours with tech companies’ as each of the three companies he worked for were happy for their teams to enjoy flexible working hours and remote locations, as long as communication was strong. His site visits helped him get a clear idea of what was required to achieve his goal, including: “[making] technical projects in my spare time, and by doing this, learn[ing] techniques that could become useful in a real-life scenario. Also, by taking part in open-source projects, I could learn skills such as coding in a team and reading other people’s code that could also help in a computing job.”

We were delighted to hear that Alex is still dreaming of becoming a full time digital maker, and that the trip to California was inspiring and informative. We’re looking forward to helping more of our Fellows find their way to exciting new learning opportunities. For more stories of the adventures of Apps for Good Fellows, please visit: http://blog.appsforgood.org/

To provide internships, work experiences and other opportunities to our Fellows please contact us at: fellows@appsforgood.org

Apps for Good Fellow Alex, at Facebook
Apps for Good Fellow Alex, at Facebook
Alex with his colourful Google bike
Alex with his colourful Google bike

Links:

Jun 26, 2014

Massive enthusiasm for 2014 Apps for Good Awards

Pitching the idea: Occasion Location on site
Pitching the idea: Occasion Location on site

The 2014 Apps for Good Awards were an exciting whirl of activity, featuring 18 finalist student ideas for apps to solve issues in the environment, communities, learning, information, productivity and finances, selected from among those submitted by 17,000 Apps for Good students.

In addition to the six issue area categories, the Apps for Good Awards include a People’s Choice Award, bestowed on the most popular app idea. The journey Apps for Good has taken as an organisation is neatly mirrored in the journey of the People's Choice Award category, with the astounding number of votes cast at this year’s awards reflecting the growth of the organisation and of public awareness of the Apps for Good programme and mission.

At the first Apps for Good awards in 2012, the event was quite small and voting for the People’s Choice award was confined to the event itself, with paper ballots cast on site and frantically counted by hand backstage, by one of the 8 Apps for Good staff the organisation than employed. The following year, voting was slightly more sophisticated, with a digital platform used to cast votes, and voting confined to the area where students were presenting their ideas. As the votes came in, the monitor realised that people off-site were casting ballots, and with that realisation came the awareness that interest in the Apps for Good finalists had grown beyond the confines of a single building.

This year the People’s Choice Award voting opened weeks in advance of the Awards, with votes coming from far and wide, from Caithness, Scotland to Budehaven, Cornwall to North Carolina, U.S.A., reflecting the global reach of Apps for Good and the diverse origins of student participants. Over 14,000 votes were cast this year, resulting in Occasion Location from Sutton Grammar School for Boys, in Surrey winning the award. Occasion Location and the other winning teams went on to attend Skills Matter workshops on turning an idea into a great product, and will continue to receive mentorship and advice from the amazing Apps for Good expert team, as they work with development agencies over the next 6 months to truly bring their ideas to life, and launch them on the marketplace.

Apps for Good Finalists
Apps for Good Finalists
Learning in action at Apps for Good Awards
Learning in action at Apps for Good Awards
People
People's Choice Winners, Occasion Location
Mar 28, 2014

The countdown for the Apps for Good Awards begins!

Students pitching at the Apps for Good App Launch
Students pitching at the Apps for Good App Launch

As Easter approaches, Apps for Good students are busy preparing their entry submissions to this year’s Apps for Good Awards.

After several months of refining their problem-solving app ideas, completing feasibility studies, working on their marketing and business modelling strategy and developing their product, this year’s cohort of 17,000 Apps for Good students are now making the final alterations to their apps before submitting them to our national competition.

It is at this stage of the programme that Expert sessions become especially valuable for the students. Apps for Good teams are eager to gain specialised feedback on their app ideas and recieve advice from industry professionals on how they can improve their product and its features before submitting their entry.

Now is also the time for students to brush up on their public speaking skills. Delivering a killer pitch is a key ingredient for success at the Awards. Students have to present their digital products to a judging panel of heavyweight technology leaders and entrepreneurs who will select their favourite app. The winning teams will then work with development companies over the subsequent six months to have their app built professionally before being publicly launched onto the market.

Case-study: Apps for Good partner Barclaycard goes the extra mile

One of Apps for Good’s long-term and strategic partners, Barclaycard, took mentoring to the next level this month.

Philip McHugh, Barclaycard’s CEO Business Solutions and Michael Bristow, VP Marketing visited one of the Barclaycard-supported Ninja Education Partners, Mount Grace School in Potters Bar, to deliver a very special mentoring session for the morning.

This was my first school visit and it was very inspiring, some great ideas, and fun. Seeing students really develop their critical thinking and confidence presenting ideas matched with building technical knowledge are life-long skills that will make them more successful. I look forward to more opportunities to help." Philip McHugh, CEO Business Solutions, Barclaycard

“A pretty tough crowd to please!”

Philip spoke to the entire Year 9 group, who are taking the Apps for Good course this year, about his career, motivations and interests. Commenting that the students were a “pretty tough crowd to please,” Philip advised them to always be driven by their passions and strengths. The buzz of the students as they exited the Assembly Hall was testament to the energy and inspiration of Philip’s talk. 

2013 Apps for Good winners take the stage

Last year’s Apps for Good students and People’s Choice Award winners for their app Social Bank, Jack, Andrew, Arlo and Adam got involved on the day to give an insider’s view to the next cohort of students, sharing their tips on how to succeed at the 2014 Apps for Good Awards. The Apps for Good alumni also took the opportunity to pitch their winning product to Philip and Michael, who gave expert advice on how to take the app even further. Watch this space for Social Bank version 2.0! 

Barclaycard and Social Bank team up as judges

Philip and Michael joined the Social Bank team on a judging panel to hear current Apps for Good students pitch their app ideas in preparation for this year’s Awards. The creativity of the problem-solving apps was remarkable, ranging from one to source Equestrian clothing to another which acts as a forum for young people with mental health illnesses to support one another. The panel gave feedback on the apps and asked probing questions to encourage the students to think deeper about their product and its development.

“I have just spent an incredible morning on a school visit with Apps for Good.  Seeing the groups of students deliver their pitches was a great proof point of the benefits of the scheme – problem solving, presentation skills, critical thinking and team work, all skills that they will use throughout their lives at work and beyond.  Any opportunity to remain involved would be gratefully received.” Michael Bristow, VP of Marketing, Barclaycard

We look forward to receiving all this year's app entry submissions by the end of April. Bring on the shortlisting!

Barclaycard and Social Bank hear students pitching
Barclaycard and Social Bank hear students pitching
Social Bank pitch their app to Barclaycard
Social Bank pitch their app to Barclaycard

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