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.’