Award-winning UK students unveil their mobile apps to investors and tech experts
December, London: UK teens are leading the charge into innovative app development, according to seven groups of students who launched their mobile apps at the Apps for Good marketplace at BT Tower.
Seventeen-year-old Mahjabin created an app with her classmate Janna in a bid to help her mother and grandmother learn more about growing plants.
“My family care so much about their plants but don’t really know where to get information from – we thought by creating an app that brings the information to them quickly and easily we could improve their lives,” said Mahjabin.
“Through the Apps for Good course we’ve learned all kinds of technical skills like user interface design and coding as well built our skills in everything from talking to a room full of investors to ways to project manage large and difficult projects – which helps even in preparing for A-levels.”
Thirteen-year-old Kordaine, whose team’s app Promise Keeper is set to help young people build better relationships with their parents, has set himself a goal to ensure everyone he meets downloads the app.
“Promise Keeper solves the issue of parents not keeping their promise – we want our app to help not just people we know but also people all over the world who want to fix this problem,” he said.
The seven apps launched were:
The apps, available today on Google Play and BlackBerry App World, were created over the past 12 months by student teams in partnership with some of the world’s leading tech companies, businesses and developers as a part of the Apps for Good Awards and programme. The apps were chosen from a competition entered by more than 1,200 students across 50 UK schools in 2012.
Apps for Good students also received coaching on the day from games heavy-weight Ian Livingstone, Apps for Good board members social and innovation guru Charles Leadbeater, and angel investor and former MD of LinkedIn Europe, Kevin Eyres.
Apps for Good is reaching out to schools across the UK to deliver the free course, and is seeking more industry experts to help guide the teachers and students.New experts can apply on our new online platform: http://network.appsforgood.org/
We have just launched our online platform, a powerful tool for online/remote volunteering. Please check it out on http://network.appsforgood.org/.
Our experts are at the core of what we do. They give feedback on our students' ideas, give masterclasses on various topics and mentor groups of students (remotely or face-to-face).
Last week Bob Schukai, Global Head of Mobile at Thomson Reuters, just flew in from New York and did an amazing expert visit at Wick High School in the very north of Scotland (see map). Here are some impressions from his visit:
“You don't have to be an expert in mobile technology to be in the program. All you have to do is listen, guide, mentor, and give constructive feedback. On my last trip to Wick, Scotland, I had the chance to personally meet with 53 kids taking part in the Apps For Good program. The kids are responding to the challenge to make Britain the best and most competitive place in the world for future entrepreneurs. Take the time to help them make this a reality!”
No worries, you don’t have to travel to Scotland to get involved (even though you might!). The default mode for an Expert feedback session is a Skype video call. Here is our tried and tested format:
1. Introduction (10 min): Expert explains professional background & area of expertise; teacher explains learning journey of student teams so far and shares profile of the teams & school
2. Pitches + Q&A (15 min - 60 min): Each student team pitches their app project/prototype build and a Q&A session with the Expert follows (we’d say maximum an Expert can engage with are up to 5 pitches and Q&A before running out of steam...)
3. Final feedback (5 min) by Expert on issues that are common to all student teams
What are you waiting for? Register as an Apps for Good Expert now: http://network.appsforgood.org/..
The Apps for Good Team
The Apps for Good Awards took place at the Barbican Centre on the 29th of June 2012. The day involved over sixty Apps for Good students from across the country pitching their app ideas to top industry judges, the Apps for Good Market place and a spectacular awards ceremony in the evening.
The Skillsmatter workshop allowed students to gain an insight into the mobile tech industry. Mobile experts Kevin McDonagh and Paul Ardeleanu took the students through app solution sketching. An example they used was an app for Kevin’s American employee Ben, who keeps getting lost in London. Students were able to take their minds off their pitches and learn something new.
The day moved on to the seven category judging sessions – where the top two teams went head to head and presented their final pitches to our top industry judges. Each team had fifteen minutes to pitch their idea, followed by a Q&A session. While judges thought they might need to take it easy on students, they quickly realised they could really put the team through their paces and the questions became increasingly challenging. The students responded very well to the judges’ questions, impressing them with their technical knowledge and calmness under pressure. Judges were very impressed with the quality of the teams’ pitches and found it very hard to pick a winner. One panel even missed their dinner break, debating long and hard to determine their category’s winner.
During each judging session we brought in a team of 7 artists to capture our students’ pitches through illustration. Each student team then had their idea captured in very great creative way, ready for the next phase—the marketplace.
The event now shifted to a more public focus as we were joined by guests from across the sector. Kicking this off was the Apps for Good Marketplace—a chance for each student team to convince our evening guests that their idea should win the overall Apps for Good Audience Award. The atmosphere in the room was electric with fourteen student teams pitching their app ideas. Guests found it hard to tear themselves away to make their way to the Cinema for the big finale.
After our evening guests cast their votes for the Audience Award, it was on to the evening awards hosted by BBC journalist and ex-Tomorrow’s World presenter, Maggie Philbin. The evening was a opportunity to see a video showing the progress of Apps for Good this year, see an overview of the day and to see well-deserved prizes given to the teachers, schools and experts for their outstanding contributions across the year.
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.
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