What’s new from Apps for Good in 2015/16

What’s new from Apps for Good in 2015/16

We love hearing from our educators about what is and isn’t working in the classroom. We take this feedback on board to improve our course year on year. Here’s some of what to expect from Apps for Good in 2015/16:

  1. Mini Course: 10-12 hour Apps for Good course. The most exciting development for 2015/16 is the introduction of our Mini Course, which is grounded in the same pedagogy as our full course but provides more structured sessions that can be delivered in 10-12 hours. It’s a great option for those who have less class time available or want to teach Apps for Good as a club. Find out more about the Mini Course here and see a comparison of the Mini Course and Full Course Framework here.
  2. Improved technical content. We’re updating and expanding our list of recommended prototyping tools and providing more guidance on how to use them in the classroom. We’ll also be enhancing our technical tiers to include more programming. Other changes to the Course Content Framework include: simplifying the Scoping module, creating new resources to help your teams with their business model and adding tips from fellow educators, Experts and Fellows.
  3. Combined Teaching Notes & Course Content Framework. We’ve heard from many of you that you’d like a more simplified layout of the teaching materials. We’ll be combining the Teaching Notes and Course Content Framework together and linking directly to key background materials so you’ve got everything you need for each module in one place.
We'll be updating our course for 2015/16 to make it work better in the classroom

We’ll be updating our course for 2015/16 to make it work better in the classroom

Want to speak to us in person? We’re hosting a number of events this summer where we’ll be sharing our tips on how to deliver the course – look out for our emails with dates and locations or drop us a line at education@appsforgood.org.

In the meantime, there are lots of ways we can help with any questions:  visit our Educator Forum, call on our Ninja Educators or email us at education@appsforgood.org.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in 2015/16! If you’re a returning teacher, visit your Dashboard to let us know your plans for 2015/16.  If you’re looking to get involved, get started on our website.

Educators! Join now and deliver our new Mini Course

The foundations of the Apps for Good Mini Course are the same as that of the Full Course Framework, putting students firmly in the driving seat to propel their learning forward and create their own apps. Like the full course, there’s an emphasis on teamwork and problem solving. The Mini Course also features two built in Expert Sessions so students taking the course get feedback from real world professionals. Students who complete the Mini Course will also have access to the same opportunities as all Apps for Good students – including the Apps for Good Awards and Fellows programme – while educators will have access to our CPD and support. And, like the Full Course Framework, the Mini Course is free to deliver for non-fee paying schools.

Students taking the Mini Course can join or Fellows programme and enter the Apps for Good Awards

Students taking the Mini Course can join or Fellows programme and enter the Apps for Good Awards

So what sets the Mini Course apart? Well, of course, it is shorter than the full course, moving through the app development process in 10-12 hours of structured sessions. This reduced time does mean the course is not as in depth as our full course, but it makes it a great option for schools that don’t have the scope to deliver Apps for Good across the entire school year (most of the schools in our Mini Course pilot delivered the course as an after school club, in a single term or during enrichment days) The Mini Course is also a great stepping stone for any Educators who want to check out the Apps for Good course and figure out if it works for them and their students before taking on the full course framework. While our full course is mapped to the UK curriculums, the Mini Course is designed to be used alongside other course materials to meet curriculum demands.

The Mini Course takes students through the entire app development process in 10-12 hours

The Mini Course takes students through the entire app development process in 10-12 hours

You can find a full rundown of the differences between the Mini Course and Full Course Framework on our website, or drop us an email at education@appsforgood.org for more info.

Interested in teaching the Mini Course? Sign up to deliver Apps for Good in 2015/16 here.

Module 5: Pitch and Beyond

It’s the final blog in our module preview series and we’re looking at what to expect in Module 5: Pitch and Beyond.

In Module 4, student teams developed their prototype and identified the right business model for their app. Now, equipped with a well defined product, students will learn how to get their app out to their users.

What’s it all about?

Students begin with marketing and branding – developing their own marketing strategy to help their app grow. Marketing strategy in mind, students, just like real entrepreneurs, will then consider how best pitch their app to a panel of investors. By the end of the module students will also look to their own future and learn about careers in business and tech.

Students will learn about effective marketing

Students will learn about effective marketing

What do they learn?

Module 5 encourages students to develop key transferable skills that they can use across the curriculum. Students begin by familiarising themselves with the fundamentals of a successful marketing campaign before embracing their creative side to devise a marketing campaign of their own. Whether it’s coming up with a catchy slogan or writing informative copy, students will learn how to attract the attention of potential users.

Students will also learn that communication skills are integral to launching their app: in order to attract investment and users they need to talk persuasively about their app. By practicing their pitches, students gain key presentation skills including tone, body language and speed of delivery.

Students will learn the key presentation skills in Module 5

Students will learn key presentation skills in Module 5

Finally, students will learn how the skills they have gained, and what they may have liked (or not liked) doing while building their apps – whether that’s designing their launch page or preparing their business case – can translate to a career. Students research careers in tech, design and business studies and gain an understanding of what skills and qualifications are needed.

What’s next?

Module 5 marks the completion of the course framework; however, student’s journeys do not end there. Student teams can enter the Apps for Good Awards (see last year’s winners here), our national competition where the winning apps are developed and launched on to the market. They can also be part of our new Fellows programme to take their Apps for Good experience even further. Through a range of activities, events and online courses, Fellows develop their skillsets further and gain hands on experience in the world of tech and business. Click here for more information about our Fellows programme.

Educators, can we help you with your delivery of the Apps for Good course in any way? Or do you have any hints and tips for delivery Module 5 to share with the community? Visit our dashboard and post them on our Educator Forum.

Module 4: Product Development

Welcome to the fourth blog in our preview series giving you a sneak peek of what to expect from Module 4 of the Apps for Good course. In Module 3 students investigated their app ideas – they looked at the world around the problem, conducted market and user research, and identified the essential features of their app or minimum viable product (MVP). In Module 4 the focus turns to product development and students are encouraged to think like real entrepreneurs! Students will prototype their MVP, test it with users and refine their prototype based on user feedback, before going on to identify an appropriate business model for their idea.

What’s it all about?

In Module 4, students begin to see their app ideas come to life. First students will consider the basic user experience of their app, and once they are confident with their design, it’s time to get making their apps! Students are encouraged to pick a prototyping software that they think will produce the best example of their MVP. Students are then encouraged to seek feedback from users and make changes to their app to ensure it is meeting user needs.

After all that prototyping it’s time for students to put their business hats on and consider a viable business model. Students should think about who their potential investors may be and the best way to fund their app.

Students will begin prototyping their apps in Module 4

Students will begin prototyping their apps in Module 4

What do the learn?

This module is undoubtedly an exciting one; this is the first opportunity students have to create an interactive version of their app. Students will become increasingly familiar with prototyping software during this process. As with previous modules, students will need to remain flexible and may have to amend their designs based on the software available to them. Based on research carried out in Module 3 about what information and features their apps will need to contain, students can make educated and informed decisions about how best to prototype their core features.

Alongside the technical elements of Module 4, students will gain an understanding of different business models and should be encouraged to think in a business savvy manner. By considering how much value users and benefitting parties will derive from their app, students will be able to make an informed decision about funding options for their apps. Students will also learn that developing good listening skills and taking constructive criticism in their stride are integral to the app building process and must also remember to have their user in mind at all stages of this module.

Module 4 is also a great time to hold an Expert session. Our Expert community will be able to give advice about all elements for Module 4. Whether students are seeking advice on user experience design, what prototyping software to use, or how to pick the most suitable business model, our Experts are here to help. Click here to request an Expert session.

Module 4 is a perfect time to get some help from an Apps for Good Expert

Module 4 is a perfect time to get some help from an Apps for Good Expert

What’s next?

By the end of Module 4 students will have fully formed app idea as well as a considered business model and a prototype app. In Module 5 Pitch and Beyond, students will learn how sell their idea to potential investors as well as taking part in careers workshops.

Educators can we support you in delivering Module 4 to students? Do you have any hints and tips for teaching Product Development to your students? Let us know on the Apps for Good Educator Forum .

Module 3: Scoping

Welcome to the third blog in our module preview series giving you a glimpse of what students taking the Apps for Good course are learning. In Module 2 students focused on idea generation – exploring the problems they would like to solve with their app and beginning to narrow down that pipeline of ideas through initial research. Now it’s time for students to undertake scoping – investigating the world around the problem they want to tackle – to help them focus on a single app idea that’s worth building.

What’s it all about?

In Module 3, teams investigate the small number of ideas that made it through the screening activities in Module 2. Students validate what they’ve explored about their ideas so far by undertaking market research and user testing, and by investigating the technical feasibility of their app ideas. These processes will help them focus on their most viable idea and ensure that it makes sense in the real world.

Students use market research to review and finalise their app idea

Students use market research to review and finalise their app idea

What do they learn?

At this point, many students are getting excited about their app ideas. They may have a favourite or two that they would love to build. However, in this module students learn an important part of the product development process: resiliency and flexibility. Students are taught that while it can be hard to let go of something they’ve been working on, pivoting on an idea to better serve their users or stand out from the competition, or even abandoning the idea altogether, can help them develop a much more successful app in the long run.

In this module students learn key market research skills and look at the role market research plays in the development of a product. Students are introduced to the concepts of market competitors and market analysis allowing them to understand the world in which their app will exist. Students will also focus on understanding their potential customers by conducting interviews, building user profiles and developing user stories. Conducting market and user research forces students to rethink and adapt their original ideas based on their findings. This may be because their audience have needs that weren’t previously anticipated, or they may find that similar apps are already in existence.

When dealing with the technical elements of Module 3, students will once again need to be flexible to adapt and adjust their idea in line with the technical tools available to them. Having been introduced to digital tools in Module 2, students can now consider how to use these tools to make their idea a reality. The knowledge obtained from market research will provide students with valuable background for this exercise. Students can use this information to answer key questions such as what functions will their app need to have, how much data will be needed to produce the app, and much more. Students should remember that the simplest approach is often the best – an app that tackles one issue in a simple, straightforward way is far better than one that tries to tackle too much.

Students will need to consider the technical challenges of building their idea

Students will need to consider the technical challenges of building their app

Module 3 is an excellent time to book an Expert session to ensure students are ready to build a prototype of their most viable idea in Module 4. Experts will be able to give advice and tips on how best to use the information gathered during market research and provide further market insights. Experts can also help teams understand more about how best to build their app to match their idea and meet the needs of their customers.

What’s next?

At the end of Module 3 students should have a thoroughly researched idea ready to be developed. In Module 4 students will move onto one of the most exciting parts of the course – building and testing a prototype app and sharing it with users. More on that in our next preview blog, until then we hope you enjoy Module 3!

Calling Apps for Good Educators – Share your stories on the Educator Forum

Do you need help on how best to approach Module 3, such as how to allocate enough time, particularly outside of the classroom, for thorough market research? Have you had success with this module so far and want to share your experiences and help your fellow educators? Start a conversation on our new Educator Forum or contact us through Twitter @AppsforGoodCDI.

Module 2: Idea generation and screening

Welcome to the second blog in our series giving you a sneak preview of what the thousands of Apps for Good students will be learning in our course. In Module 1 students were given a crash course in app development and introduced to our pedagogy that places the students at the forefront of their own learning. Now settled in their teams, it’s time for students to put pen to paper and get creative!

What’s it all about?

In Module 2 students generate the pipeline of app ideas that they are interested in exploring further, getting inspiration from their interests, daily routines or a social change they wish to see. From this idea generation process, students harness this energy and excitement and go forward to establish which of those ideas is the most viable to turn into an app. Through undertaking basic market research they will pivot and adapt  ideas based on their findings and prioritise those which have the greatest chance of success.

What do they learn?

There’s one golden rule in the Apps for Good course: no one else can set the agenda – the ideas must be generated by the students themselves. We don’t expect students to come up with the next Facebook or Instagram, but it’s key that students drive forward their own ideas, however big or small they are. Students are introduced to the techniques of idea generation and how to frame their app around a problem they want to solve (we talk about one of these activities here). Students are encouraged to focus on their daily lives and interests, as the most successful apps are those in which the students understand the problem they are trying to solve and can offer a unique perspective on it as a young person

Students are encouraged to focus on their daily lives and interests in order to come up with ideas

Students are encouraged to focus on their daily lives and interests in order to come up with ideas.

Once students have come up with their list of ideas, they go through screening activities to begin narrowing down the pipeline of ideas. Teams explore the feasibility and market potential of the idea so that they can spot and solve any  issues at an early stage and become aware of how the problem is currently being solved , as well as rule out less promising ideas. This is a fantastic time for educators to bring in one of our industry Experts to help students focus on the most viable ideas.

In Module 2, Students are also introduced to the digital tools for building their app prototype. Depending on the tech tier students are using, they have the chance to begin developing basic skills in coding and programming. For example, students who might use a building block tool begin exploring AppShed and AppInventor’s tutorials, while those who are thinking of web programming can learn the fundamentals of Javascript using resources from our partner CodeAcademy.

What’s next?

Module 3 gives students the opportunity to learn about how scoping can give them a greater understanding of their target users and market competition, which in turn will give them and their app a better chance of success. Educators will also get to connect with our community of Experts who can bring real life experience to the scoping process.

We love hearing from our community educators across the country and how Apps for Good is going in their classrooms, so share your stories with us! Contact us through Twitter @AppsforGoodCDI or email education@appsforgood.org

Preview of Module 1: Crash Course

Welcome to the first in the series of Apps for Good module previews. Throughout the 2014/15 school year we will be giving you a preview of what students enrolled in our course will be learning. Our course is made up of five modules that equip students with core skills ranging from working as a team, ideas generation to the more technical side of designing an app.

What’s it all about?

Module 1 sets the context for the rest of the Apps for Good course. While it’s a short module, it’s meant to excite students about what they are about to work on and clear up any misconceptions about building apps. It also lays the necessary groundwork for what’s to come, especially as the Apps for Good approach to learning – such as working in teams and student-driven projects – will be new for many students.

What do they learn?

One of the most important lessons for students is that they will be building their own project and that they will have the unique opportunity to drive forward an idea that they come up with. For many students, this is the first time they will have been given the space to be creative and take a level of responsibility for their learning, which can be both scary and exciting. However, students are also told that it’s not only okay to make mistakes, but that making mistakes and pivoting can help increase their creativity and enable them to develop an app prototype that is more finely tuned.

Students learn they will be driving forward their app idea

Students learn they will be driving forward their app idea

It’s also where students begin learning one of the core Apps for Good skills: teamwork. In Module 1, students form their teams of between three to five members. There are some important points for teachers to consider during the allocation of teams: circle of friends or not, shared versus mixed ability, specialist versus general skills and individual versus team learning. Getting the balance right is essential to ensuring that students get the most out of the course over the next year. We provide students with an outline of the six roles that will help teams successfully complete the Apps for Good course: idea generator, organiser, designer, tech specialist, entrepreneur and communicator. Students are given a task that helps them link their experiences and interests to evaluate their suitability in each of the roles. Depending on numbers some students take on two roles; however they are all encouraged to be proactive in collaborating through sharing expertise so all members are able to develop their skills set.

Students are also introduced to our Fellows community of former Apps for Good students. Our videos from Amarah and Mohima give students some great tips of how to get the most out of the course and how it can help them in their personal development.

Students are also introduced to the prototyping tools they will use throughout the year, including Balsamiq and AppShed, as well as CSS and HTML5

What’s next?

Module two will see students start to brainstorm and scope out the issues that are important to them and how they could help solve these problems through an app. Teachers will also begin connecting with our network of 800 Expert volunteers who help provide real world insight and advice for the students as they develop their app ideas.

We love hearing from our community educators across the country and how Apps for Good is going in their classrooms, so share your stories with us! Contact us through Twitter @AppsforGoodCDI or email education@appsforgood.org