imageHow many have heard of the organisation Apps for Good? 

Their goal is to

  • Ignite a passion for technology and social enterprise in young people in the UK
  • Encourage young people to use technology to tackle problems for social good
  • Increase the entrepreneurial skills and confidence of young people
  • Bridge the gap between young people and the business networks and knowledge that can help them
  • Build a connected world of young people, business volunteers and educators, inspiring each other to solve problems and succeed through the wonders of mobile technology

You may not have associated Microsoft applications and programmes as having a role to play in this programme,  but at Shireland Collegiate Academy in Sandwell, West Midlands,in September 2011, Year 9 students began an innovative approach to learning in the ICT and Design Curriculum by adopting the Apps for Good programme.

The Apps for Good course allows students to use a unique 5 step approach, to think about solving a local problem, with the help of mobile technology. It allows students to investigate and experience the Marketing, Audience Business and Enterprise aspects of the wider world. 

Apps for Good helps teachers approach ICT and DT teaching differently, as it helps bridge the gap between young people and  business networks. Students have access to technology professionals who give advice and feedback to student ideas.

Apps for Good has helped Shireland Collegiate Academy look differently at their provision of Design and Technology and its relationship with ICT and DT,making them rethink their whole curriculum delivery model. They are looking at various pathways to shape a new model and naturally develop and extend the changes that Apps for Good has brought with it. One possible way forward that is being considered from September 2012, is to run Apps for Good alongside Microsoft .Net imageGadgeteer, as they see the connections between the two technology solutions in their school.

Microsoft .Net Gadgeteer allows students to use an open-source toolkit for building small electronic devices using the .NET  Framework and Visual Studio/Visual C# Express. This allows students to learn about the Mechanics and Science behind the technology they use.

Through this innovative approach students gain an appreciation of the collegiate nature of project work and the need to reach consensus. They benefit greatly from the ability to concentrate on a single project for a period of time and to iterate improvements. And as Shireland is also a Microsoft IT Academy, Microsoft Technology Accreditation will be used on the programme and students will be able to boost their technology skills as well as career opportunities.

They are also seriously considering the new Microsoft AQA Computer science GCSE qualification as a different avenue that students can gain a useful qualification through. It builds on the work the students in Year 9 have already undertaken in Apps for Good such as learning how to design, create and develop their own mobile apps to solve real-world problems and run these on mobile devices.image

Along with resources that Shireland are utilising, you may want explore the potential of all Microsoft’s development tools, which are free to students through the Dreamspark programme . It includes free programming environments, that would be ideal for students to create their own Apps

So if you are interested in offering Apps for Good, applications for school partners for 2012/3 are currently being accepted, with a deadline of 30th of April 2012.  To find out more about the course and how to become a partner, visit  http://appsforgood.org/course/apply/.