Kirsty Tonks, Director of e-Learning at Shireland Collegiate Academy talks about Apps for Good at her school.
Number of students: 92 – Year 9 students
Location: Birmingham, UK
1) Why did you decide to do Apps for Good at your school?
In January 2011, I was lucky enough to see Iris Lapinski present about Apps for Good at the Learning Without Frontiers Conference and was not only struck by the clarity and purposefulness of the programme, but also the enthusiasm, confidence and authority which the students who had been through the programme presented with. I knew there and then that this had real potential and would fit perfectly in our academy as a real driver for both Design and ICT, but more importantly something that would absolutely catch the imagination of our students.
2) How have you implemented Apps for Good?
This year our Apps for Good Programme has been delivered in curriculum time to four discreet classes in Y9 totaling 92 students. Students have been put in groups of 4 or 5 and have had lessons delivered by qualified teachers and assessed under normal conditions. In addition the Academy has implemented a voluntary class after the Academy Day.
3) What have students gained from the course?
Students have gained an appreciation of the collegiate nature of project work and the need to reach consensus. They have benefited greatly from the ability to concentrate on a single project for a period of time and to iterate improvements. Students have gained skills in the areas of Business and Technology they would never had an opportunity to explore until Year 10.
4) What have teachers gained from the course?
Teachers have had the opportunity to work with students in a different way; focused project work with a clear outcome has allowed development of leadership roles by students and new classroom management systems by teachers. In addition the project has allowed teachers the opportunity to teach soft skills to students such as resilience and problem-solving which have built upon the competency framework that we operate in Year 8.
5) Why would you recommend Apps for Good to other schools?
Apps for Good is fast becoming one of our key delivery mechanisms for Design and Technology and in light of recent emphases on ICT programming, this will link rather well with other elements of our curriculum delivery, enabling us to offer a contextualised programme which students enjoy while learning key skills.
Sir Mark Grundy, Executive Principal said:
‘When Kirsty returned from the Learning Without Frontiers conference in 2011, she persuaded me to watch the video of Iris Lapinski, saying that of all the people who had spoken, this lady had something special. Here was a special opportunity for our students, an opportunity that we could use to link a number of strands and an opportunity that could raise standards and levels of engagement. We talked at Senior Leadership Team about the “Apps for Good” opportunity and all could see the potential of this.’
The course, which will be created and designed by Apps for Good, has been developed with the assistance of Techlightenment, an Experian company that develops social media social technology. This latest course offers young people the chance to learn how to build Facebook applications which have a positive social impact on their life and others around them.
Over the coming months the details of the Facebook- Apps for Good course will be made available to developers and educators across the globe, via the Apps for Good online platform to enable the scheme to be replicated across the world.
Young people studying on the first course in will be advised by some of the UK’s leading technology names learning the basics of web development like HTML 5 as well as more advance coding such as PHP for more complex apps and SQL for databases. Participants will be taught how to design, create, test, release, evaluate and maintain their own Facebook application before presenting their social applications to industry experts during a graduation ceremony in November.
Richard Allan, Director of Policy of Facebook in Europe said: “Facebook is proud to work with Apps for Good to create a course which has the potential to help young people from all corners of the world improve their entrepreneurial skills, employability and technological understanding while building tools, apps and services that could transform the society we live in.’
Iris Lapinski, CEO of Apps for Good said: “We are very excited about the Apps for Good partnership with Facebook which goes right to the heart of how young people use technology today. The course will allow them to create Facebook applications that address social and community problems they are passionate about in a truly bottom-up way.”
Gi Fernando, CEO and co-founder of Techlightenment said: “The framework that Apps for Good creates will provide young people with the skills to build social media applications and develop their overall business acumen, giving them a head start in whatever their career aspirations may be.”
Facebook and Techlightenment will also join the Apps for Goods expert community along side a range of technology companies such as Dell and Thomson Reuters, helping young people on the Apps for Good courses across the UK with their mobile and Facebook app ideas.
After a sequence of pilot courses over the last 18 months, in September 2011 the AppsForGood programme will run in 38 certified partner schools across the UK training, 1,500+ young people in a combination of problem-solving, design, enterprise and technology skills. We have more than 120 schools and community organisations that are waiting to be involved. We now have on average 3 partner requests per day!
Despite the fact that we haven’t been focused on running new courses before September, we continued to expose our methodology to young people whenever possible. In July, 300 students participated in an app design workshop organised by AppsForGood in partnership with TeenTech. BBC presenter and Teen Tech founder, Maggie Philbin, wrote a blog post on AppsForGood website about the experience. Working in groups of ten, the students came up with very creative ideas covering various topics from emergency first aid to finding nearby car park spaces and helping people to learn how to play a musical instrument .
At the core of our strategy to deal with the high demand and grow without increasing the costs exponentially is our online platform. A first version will be launched in October and we will be open sourcing our course learning content through it.
In June last year I graduated from the first ever Apps for Good course. My group made the Stop And Search app, an app that lets users know their rights when they are stopped and searched by police.
So what’s happened with our app since then, you ask?
Well, since its launch onto Android Market, we’ve so far had over 800 downloads with a 4and ½ rating with great comments from users.
At the end of last year we successfully applied for and received funding from Unltd, which is about to enter our account.
We’ve been doing a lot of behind the scenes ground work over the last 6 months – meeting and talking with various organizations including the Community Monitoring Network, National Policing Improvement Agency, numerous Metropolitan Police services and the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Everyone has been encouraging and supportive of our work, and given us great tips and feedback on how to take things forward.
We are determined to make the Stop and Search app as successful as possible, to make as much of a positive impact as we can. Which is why we’ve been talking to so many people…we are creating a new version! It’s still in the making and we are hoping to get as much buzz when we release it on ALL platforms as we did when we released the first version on Android. So of course we want to make sure we get things just right! So for now keeping watching this space… a shiny, new and improved version of Stop and Search will be coming soon to an App store near you!
- On February 16th at the Communities & Local Government, we hosted our second Dragons' Den, a stimulating event in the style of the BBC’s “Dragons’ Den”. Teams of Apps for Good students presented their final app ideas to a Dragons' Den panel who decided which apps would receive further support and be built.
Since early September, 20 students (aged 13 - 17) from the Central Foundation Girls School in East London have been working in teams to research and reflect on issues that affect their lives and their communities and creating mobile apps to solve them. In November 2010, we saw five teams present their initial ideas at Talk Talk in Soho for the first time. They have since worked hard to evolve and refine their ideas based on the feedback they received.
Our panel of dragons included:
Buzzer-Buddiez, a social wake-up app that helps people to remember why they should wake up in the morning and send messages to friends and families and Transit, an app to help teachers to communicate with parents who speak Bengali only, have convinced the Dragons and will work closely with developers to have their app built.
For the final presentations of the winning apps:
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