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App development in the classroom

I drove a rental car recently, where the built-in GPS system voice instructed me to correct any driving breaches and warned of potential road hazards ahead. My iWatch also prompted me with directions and I had thought... how cool would it be to have an app for guiding drivers, including international travellers on our roads. The new safety app could become part of a rental-car service, where good drivers are recognised in a rewards scheme a bit like Speed camera lottery that uses game-based thinking to reward drivers.

GPS in a rental car

Now, imagine a Dragon’s Den scenario, where students pitch innovative mobile solutions to very real problems? One teacher has introduced student-created apps in a project-based/inquiry-based learning programme, where the students have done just that and developed some pretty impressive skills along the way.

In addition to all the marketing, graphic design, website building, and content creation activities that take place when you create an app, the students are learning brainstorming and social entrepreneurship. Edutopia The impact of student-created apps.

When students make apps, they learn:

  • valuable STEAM skills like coding, programming, graphic design, and content creation
  • how to solve real-world problems with digital design.

Students can become active and proactive members of society - creating apps to respond to local needs, drive social change, for entertainment, education or even business. Students who develop apps:

  • have increased interest and awareness of opportunities in STEAM areas
  • are empowered to succeed in computer science
  • have creative outlets to demonstrate their competence in STEAM skills
  • learn social entrepreneurship
  • learn how to work in a team
  • gain self-confidence.

Enabling e-Learning: App development in the classroom

What does this look like?

Five primary school students from Frankley School (New Plymouth) have worked together to tackle the growing issue of of bullying in New Zealand for 7 to 14 year olds. Their app educates bullies and the bullied about the different types of bullying and what they can do to stop it - it also has a feature that reads the words on the screen to the user in case they can't read it. Find out more in, Primary students create app to combat bullying for tech competition.


Where to start?

Choose apps or software best suited to the technological skills of your students. App development doesn’t have to involve coding, however if you did want your senior students to develop apps that way, there are text-based programmes that would suit. You might also like to teach your students about the planning processes for designing apps, ie design thinking and wireframe mapping. If you are new to this process, there are two pathways and a list of programmes (coding and non-coding) for you to consider in Enabling e-Learning’s App development page.

Strong links can be made to the curriculum (Technology learning area, Makerspace, STEM/STEAM) through authentic learning processes and contexts, ie: problem-based, project-based inquiry learning. The links between Designing and Developing Digital outcomes and Computational Thinking are also strong. See more in Getting Started in Enabling e-Learning.

The potential for students is endless where they can: work together to pitch new ideas for change, enter in competitions/tech challenges, add these skills to their resume and ultimately make a real difference in their world! Why wouldn’t you introduce app design in your classroom? Or have you already? We'd love to hear more.

smiley To find out more about app design and creation at Frankley School, join us for our up-coming  LIVE WEBINAR: App development in the classroom: 27 June, 3.45pm-4.45pm where well hear from Brendon Anderson from Frankley School talking about how his students are creating apps in the classroom and responding to genuine needs. Register Now

Image source: Smartphone, Pxhere, CCCO public domain


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e-Learning: Technologies

e-Learning: Technologies

Where we explore how different technologies can support learning.