Students create digital tools to solve problems

 
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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

After months of hard work, the Apps for Good winners are now at the last stage of the product development process. All seven apps, which solve specific problems within the students’ communities, look professional and are functioning efficiently. With the digital products in their final design and testing phase, we are excited to announce that they will be officially launched onto the market in January.

It’s an incredibly exciting and rewarding moment for the seven teams who won the Apps for Good competition back in June. Working alongside professional developers, the students have been committed to the building of their product right from the conception of the app idea through to the creation of the final designs and branding strategy.

Throughout their Apps for Good journey, each student has developed a range of invaluable skills and learnt some vital lessons. The winning team of the People’s Choice category, a group of four 14-15 year old boys who have developed a Social Bank app to make saving and managing money fun for young people, have explained how they learnt to always be ready to pivot ideas and alter tactics throughout the process. During the course, the Social Bank students pursued a different app idea for several months before receiving advice from an Apps for Good Expert on the high number of other similar products already on the market. At a late stage, therefore, the team of boys changed direction and began working on another digital product – the winning Social Bank app. Not only learning how to pivot ideas but furthermore creating business plans, leading marketing strategies and gaining key technological skills have been cited as huge benefits of the Apps for Good course and post-development process. 

The real ownership that the teams feel over their digital products is also clearly evident. The students were instrumental to the professional production of their app; creating mood boards to send to the developers, giving feedback on all the designs and functionality and always having the final word on how something should look or work. Furthermore, all the marketing, branding and business strategies behind the app were the work of the students themselves. Nearly all teams have created their own websites and have begun exploring various channels to advertise their upcoming apps and build a potential customer base. A team of girls who are creating the Pockupation app, which helps young people locate jobs for pocket money in their community, have organised market research within their area and even secured a press article in their local newspaper to raise awareness of their upcoming product.

As a result, when their app is publicly launched in January, the students can feel proud to have become leading innovators and entrepreneurs, creating and owning a new digital product on the market. 

Since the Apps for Good Awards in June this year, the winning teams have been busy developing their apps. Throughout the summer and into the new school term, the students have been working hard with professional developers, learning how to transform their idea into a real working product.

Each winning team has met with professional experts to discuss further all aspects of the final app. The students have received specialised advice on how to tweak the design, functionality, marketing and branding of their app in order to produce a feasible product that meets the needs of their target market.

Most teams have now created a landing page for their app and are linking this to an email communications system and social networking sites in order to launch and then manage their marketing strategy. The students are also learning how to use online analytics tools so as to better understand their potential audience and build a more targeted marketing campaign as a result.

In all, the student teams have learnt important business skills and sharpened their appetite for the technology world. One of the students from the team producing the ‘Social Bank’ app has explained how he felt the post-competition process has completely “exceeded” his expectations as “working with the experts is amazing” and he has described the whole experience as “incredible”.

The range of different types of apps currently being developed by the student teams is huge. Amongst others, there is an app to encourage owners to keep their pets healthy, an app to guide children through tuning their instruments, an app to help those with learning disabilities and Alzheimer’s disease and an app to support young people looking to develop their creative writing skills. Keep an eye out for these apps on the market when they are officially launched in January!

Winners
Winners' workshop

On June 11th 24 teams competed in London at the Apps for Good Awards, presenting their ideas to a panel of experts for the chance to get their apps professionally developed. The competition was open to the 5,618 students from 97 schools across the UK who took the Apps for Good course in 2012-13, the finalists on the day were selected from over 400 team app submissions. All were blown away by the quality and creativity of the projects and choosing the winners was a huge challenge.

The finalists competed in six thematic categories:

  • Power to do More: Getting the most from your time
  • Keep Moving: Doing things on the go 
  • Our World: Encouraging sustainable and healthy lifestyles
  • Learning and Information: Helping others learn and using information for good
  • Connected Communities: Using technology to unite interests, ideas and good causes 
  • Saving, Spending and Giving: Making the most from your money 
The winning app ideas offered a wide range of solutions and opportunities for users, these included an app to help people with learning difficulties and Alzheimer’s plan their daily routines, an app that allows farmers to track and manage information about their cattle. and an app that helps teens find odd jobs to earn pocket money.  As well as pitching their ideas to our expert judges on the day, our students had the opportunity to watch talks from some of the UK's most exciting tech thinkers and entrepreneurs. In the run up to the event, they got to prepare for their moment in the spotlight by spending time in cutting-edge start-ups in London, getting a close-up look at how tech businesses work from the inside. The awards serve as inspiration for the whole Apps for Good community, students, teachers and experts. To find out more about how the day panned out and the excllent app ideas put forward click here.
Students develop their ideas
Students develop their ideas

Links:

David from Beat the Book
David from Beat the Book

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:

  • Beat the Book - an app that uses gamification to encourage students to read and has been produced by a boy from St Matthews Academy with Injoit and sponsored by Nesta.
  • Feelings in a Flash - a communications app that helps teenagers track, share and deal with their mood or feeling and has been created by two girls from Blackheath Computer Club with Plant Pot and sponsored by Nominet Trust.
  • Mapp Your Way - app that helps students navigate their way around a large school using QR codes and was produced by five students from Wildern School with Codeten and sponsored by BlackBerry.
  • Weather Birds - garden watering app that instructs users based on weather predictions and has been produced by two girls from Central Foundation Girls’ School with Fuerte International and sponsored by Thomson Reuters.  
  • Promise Keeper – an app that allows two parties to track commitments and has been developed by five boys from St Matthews Academy with Put It Out and sponsored by Omidyar Network.
  • Oyster on the Go – proof of concept app that shows information from TFL based on an individual Oyster card and was developed by four boys from Featherstone High School with Novoda and sponsored by Barclaycard.
  • RMBme - a highly customisable reminder app that uses images and has been developed by four girls from Reading Girls’ School with Service2Media and sponsored by Dell. 

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/ 

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Project Leader

Luisa Gockel

London, London United Kingdom

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