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: email@example.com
Apps for Good Fellow Alex, at Facebook
Alex with his colourful Google bike