Q&A with our Head of Product, Ruairi Doyle

So what brought you to Apps for Good?

Just over a year ago, I had completed an intensive coaching course at Barefoot and decided there were a number of things I needed to assess and change in both personal and professional life.  After spending 6 years at full tilt in senior leadership roles in e-commerce and advertising, I decided I wanted to take a look at different sectors, experience new things and get back a little closer to technology and product where I originally cut my teeth.  A friend tipped me off about Escape the City, where I found a contract role for Apps for Good.  From the very moment I met Amy and Rob on the first round interview panel, I knew these were the people, organisation and values that it made sense to join.

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New adventures

A personal message from Debbie Forster, Apps for Good co-CEO, on the next chapter for AFG UK and her future steps with AFG and beyond.

About six weeks ago, I got a bit of a shock on Whatsapp.  My 19 year old daughter, Jess, had been travelling by herself around Europe for a few weeks and had set up a message group titled, “Do Not Worry Parents.”  On it, she would send us updates of where she was and the highlights and lowlights of her travels.

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Improving your Apps for Good journey: introducing our new Student Dashboard

We’re delighted to announce the arrival of our brand new Student Dashboard! What can your students expect as they get started on their adventure?

Apps for Good students in the UK can get ready to…

Compete to have their apps built and launched to market

Students can discover and enter our UK competition, where all finalists get to travel to London and winners have their apps professionally built.

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Explore the course materials and learn at their own pace

Students can explore lessons at their own pace, visiting the dashboard to watch videos, download presentations, and complete extension activities.

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Join The Fellowship

Students can join The Fellowship to access advice from tech professionals, alerts when work experiences become available, and much more.

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How do students sign up?

  • Students will need a code to register. Teachers must create a code, then ask their students to sign up using this form.
  • Former Apps for Good students can become Fellows by signing up for the Dashboard.
  • If you are an Apps for Good partner and you’re interested in a tour of the Student Dashboard, get in touch.

Questions? Email fellows@appsforgood.org

Taking Apps for Good to the next level (aka Global Domination for Good)

Many of you will have shared in our celebrations last year of 5 years of Apps for Good. When we first launched, we were sometimes asked what our ultimate goal was. Iris would say immediately, “Global domination.” I would laugh nervously and add, “For good, of course.”  Back then, with only 50 students at one London school, it seemed a wildly ambitious dream, but one we both believed in, knowing that the first step was to get things working in the UK.

Now five years later, we are not only established in the UK, but also growing in Portugal, Spain, Poland and most recently, the US.  I’ve been to New York, Minnesota, Maine and Arkansas and we now have 40 schools across the US, reaching around 1000 students this year.

As I bounce back and forth across the Atlantic, and Iris around Europe, we’ve realised we need someone to focus on leading our efforts in the UK, as our ambition remains equally great here. So, we’re recruiting a new UK Managing Director who can build on our strong foundation, leading the UK forward on its next phase of growth and innovating on our successful programme.  The new MD, working with the enthusiastic UK Apps for Good team, will have the chance to help us implement our new Internet of Things course, expand on our Fellowship Programme for former Apps for Good students and reach even more young people across the whole of the UK. They will be supported by Iris and I and our experienced Global Team. I will continue to oversee Apps for Good’s efforts both in the US and UK, while Iris guides our work in Portugal, Spain, Poland and our emerging partnerships around the world.
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Joining the dots: 5 Years of Apps for Good

In 2015/16, we’ve been celebrating our first 5 years in schools. Here, Founder & co-CEO Iris Lapinski looks back at our journey from one centre and 50 students in South London to over 1,500 schools and 75,000 students around the world, and at where we might be going next.

It is always easy to look back at the past and tell a convincing and logical story of what has happened and why it was unavoidable. But, as Steve Jobs already noted in his famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech, connecting the dots looking backwards is easy; what is impossible is predicting the future and knowing what dots are important and connecting them before events happen. So, you have to trust that the dots will connect somehow in the future.  Continue reading

Our Impact in 2014/15

It’s time again to talk not only about what we do at Apps for Good, but what we actually achieve in pursuing our goal of powering young people to change their world with technology.

In 2014/15 another seven of the best Apps for Good teams from across the UK launched their winning apps onto the market with the support of our development teams. But this is just the tip of the iceberg: during the last school year 24,000 students worked on nearly 5,000 app prototypes created to help make a difference to their communities. And this is not only in the UK, but also in new territories like Spain, Portugal, Poland and the USA. Our vision to become a truly global movement is one step closer.

But of course the number of app prototypes and number of students reached do not tell you the full story. By rooting students’ learning in the real world process of creating a technology product, students grow their skills and confidence. They get a clearer idea of their career options and choices in life. They get first-hand experience that building a technology product is a highly creative, collaborative way of working that can directly connect with their interests and passions. And, they learn that they have the power to change the world for the better. Educators delivering Apps for Good equally grow both in terms of their knowledge of technology but also pedagogical skills and confidence.

Here we present you the data for all of this. Collecting this data and making sense of it is not always easy, but we strongly believe that unless we keep measuring and tracking what we do publicly we cannot improve for the benefit of all of our communities. It is not only our students and educators who are learning, but so are we.

As we look back, the future is on our minds already. This year marks our 5th anniversary, when we will be celebrating having reached more than 50,000 students, a feat very few organisations achieve in our space. But this is just the start: our potential to grow both the quality of our work and our reach is bigger than it ever was before.

The world desperately needs more young people who are confident, resilient, and passionate and who actively and independently solve problems they face in their communities by turning technology into a force for good. And it also needs ever more confident, passionate and skilled educators who can support them on the journey.

We will do our best to help both.

Just imagine: a world where every young person and every educator on the planet could harness the benefits of these skills and confidence for themselves and their communities.  A world where people are empowered and able to solve problems they face.

A dream maybe, but not an impossible one to achieve.

Iris Lapinski, co-CEO, Apps for Good

Our Reach: A Global Movement

In 2014/15, the Apps for Good Course was delivered to 24,000 students in 588 schools all across the world. We have more than doubled the number of education partners we work with every year since the pilot in 2010/11.

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Our international growth in 2014/15 was significant, with major pilot communities in Spain, Portugal and USA. Schools outside the UK now account for 12% of the total Apps for Good education community.

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We have maintained high levels of diversity amongst our student body.

  • Girls consistently make up about half of our student cohort – far outstripping the 17% of female professionals in the tech industry.
  • As we grow, we are reaching proportionally more students from disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. In 2014/15, over half of the schools delivering the Apps for Good course were above the national average for recipients of free school meals.

Our Impact: Powering A Generation

The Apps for Good course continues to have a huge impact on a range of technical and soft skills that are vital to helping young people thrive in a tech driven future.

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We want to change the definition of failure. Our course incorporates the start-up ethos of “fail often, fail well”, teaching students that failure is an important part of problem-solving and building real-world products.

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By offering students hands on experience with tech, showing them that tech development can be a creative and collaborative experience, and connecting students with Apps for Good Experts (professionals from the tech industry and beyond), the course puts their skills in a real-world context and inspires students to pursue careers involving tech.

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Our Impact: Transforming Education

To really power a generation to change their world through technology, Apps for Good aims to transform education by having an impact on educators.

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By building the knowledge and skills of teachers and changing the way they teach, we can extend the effect of Apps for Good year on year, with more confident teachers able to inspire students to be independent and drive their own learning, whilst guiding them towards solving the “messy problems” of the real world.

This report highlights only some of the stats we’ve gathered this year. We’ll be posting blogs over the coming months that investigate what we’ve learned and what we’ve gotten right and wrong. Get in touch with us at contact@appsforgood.org if you want more details on our data and impact reporting.

Celebrating Apps for Good students in Portugal

Mohima Ahmed, Apps for Good Trustee, Fellow and former student, shares her experiences of visiting the end of year Apps for Good festival in Portugal. 

In 2010, I participated in the Pilot Apps for God course at my school in Tower Hamlets, London, where our team created Transit – an English/Bengali translation app for parent-teacher conferences. On completing the course, I became a Fellow and helped out at events as an advocate. Recently, I joined the Apps for Good Board as a trustee. Five years after taking part in the UK pilot scheme, I had the opportunity to see what students in the Portuguese pilot scheme where doing! It was my first business trip abroad and I felt like the fanciest 20 year old alive!

The Apps for Good pilot scheme in Portugal took place throughout the 2014/2015 school year and involved 30 schools in Lisbon and Porto. Like in all Apps for Good courses, students worked together in teams to develop app ideas to solve issues affecting their world.

Now, while all the teams I met on my visit had very unique and interesting ideas, one app from Lisbon that really stood out for me was Ebssa-Especial, designed to help children with speech problems communicate with teachers. The problem was inspired by the fact that 90% of the students in the school the girls attend have learning disabilities, many with speech difficulties. The girls used their classmates and teachers to put together all their research and the prototype for the app is currently being used in the school, attracting a lot of positive feedback. The team won 1st prize at the Apps for Good festival held in Lisbon and what struck me most was, when the students went up to collect the award, their teachers started crying. The head teacher even went on to take the microphone and very emotionally let us all know just how proud she was of her students. If there was ever a “poster story” for what this course is – it’s these girls and what they’ve created: a true APP FOR GOOD!

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The team behind Ebssa-Especial and their teachers

Of course, the schools in Porto were just as exciting and my favourite story is the one behind Baby Care – an app for pregnant women to store their baby information and find out all the imperative information expectant mothers so frantically search for. The best part about this app for me was its creator – an 11 year BOY! Being the older sister of a pre-pubescent boy, I can tell you that the struggles of a pregnant woman isn’t something a lot of them think about, but that wasn’t the case for Junior Vilela – whose mum has been pregnant many times. This just showcases exactly why I love Apps for Good. It gives a voice to young kids to tackle whatever they want – and the outcomes always amaze. It’s not often 11 year old boys get to help make life easier for pregnant women but at Apps for Good, it’s just another day at the office.

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Junior Vilela created an app to help expectant mothers

Now there’s no way I can end this bog without giving a MASSIVE shout out to the awesome Apps for Good team at Portugal. They were welcoming, friendly and VERY Portuguese (that means they hug – A LOT) which saw me lose the stiff British reserve very quickly – they don’t like it when you offer handshakes over kisses on the cheek so just don’t do it. The one phrase they taught me translates to “I’m hungry, feed me” so we got along just fine. The team there isn’t a team – it’s a family and so I’ll end this much longer than intended piece with a picture of me with the Portuguese family (yes, we used a selfie stick – don’t judge.)

Mohima with the Apps for Good team in Portugal

Mohima with the Apps for Good team in Portugal