Apps for Good
On Thursday, I did my first Skype session for Apps for Good. Apps for Good is a charitable organisation that works with schools to provide a course for 10-18 year olds to build a mobile, web or social app to solve real issues they care about. The course teaches the fundamentals of the digital world, while also developing skills in problem solving, creativity, communication and teamwork.
Apps for Good then arrange for "Expert Volunteers" from the world of tech to mentor the student teams in one-hour sessions via videoconference or in person. Capgemini (my current employer), are an Apps for Good partner, so after a session at the end of last year introducing us to the concept and what they were about, I decided to sign up and help.
For my first session, the class was a group of Year 9's based in Cornwall, and there were about 27 of them. They were building their apps in groups of 3 or 4 so I ended up talking to 7 groups about their apps and what they were doing. I did a bit of questioning them about their apps and then each group had prepared 3 questions to ask me.
My first session
My session was a "Web Development" one, so focusing around the tools and tech that they were going to use to build their apps, the kinds of things I was asking them were:
- What is your idea for your app?
- What programming languages have you been learning, what have you built so far? (They'd been doing HTML, CSS, JS and a little Python)
- What do you think is the most important thing to consider when building your application?
- Have you thought about how you will break up tasks and what will happen when multiple people are working on the same part of the project?
- Are there any tools you can use to help you get started?
They asked me a variety of questions such as:
- How i thought their app could be improved
- If they were using the right technologies
- What tips I had from the first web app I built (I told them not to be discouraged if things didn't work first time - and that over 10 years into web development they still don't!)
The session didn't go into a lot of technical detail as this class was only just about to start designing and building, but I've been asked if I'll take part in a future session once they start building - so something to look forward to.
My thoughts on Apps for Good
I think the principles of Apps for Good are exactly what is needed in IT education today. IT is not just about the code, it's about the product idea, the processes of refining ideas, solving problems and learning from experiences. Combining building a product with the rest of the lifecycle is an invaluable learning experience and will give students a great start.
Anyone can sign up, so if you're interested in helping the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs then take a look at the Apps for Good website.