At home and in our personal lives, through collaboration of technology available to us, we have the capabilities to organise how our devices and our individual data is managed. For today’s generation of young people, and students in particular, orchestrating the sharing of information between our; smartphones, tablets, laptops and PC’s couldn’t be easier and has almost become a prerequisite when considering the purchase of a new device and how it will interact with everything already owned.

So what happens when students go to college or university. Surely they’ll find the same degree of unified working will have been applied across various academic departments?

clip_image002This week I had coffee with Jamie Clarke, a young gentleman who has fairly recently finished his further education. He shared his frustration over having had a somewhat chaotic schedule of systems.

Jamie said “The sixth form was being run very much like a corporate company with each department working separately and having their own individual learning platforms”

He went on to share how it created extra work having to log into individual systems and try to mentally collaborate his coursework and class schedules. The systems were designed to function well individually but studying multiple subjects each with demanding workloads meant that there was something missing from the student experience. All of this and paper planners were still being issued alongside the technology that the school had put in place. Jamie was certain there must be a better way.

clip_image004With a good few years of bedroom coding behind him and a deep interest in the way things work, Jamie decided to create something that he could use on a daily basis to help him manage his studies and his time. He’d began coding at age 13 and developing his skills by playing around with HTML, CSS and PHP. He told me how, as an absolute beginner in mobile app development he found lots of great Windows resources online that could guide him step by step and build his skills and interest in Microsoft technologies. This was one of the fundamental reasons behind his decision to choose a Windows phone platform for his project.

My Study Life was designed so that Jamie could consolidate his range of subject timetables, which included Computing, Physics, Maths and Psychology. In addition to his workloads, deadlines and exam dates. Reminding him of what was upcoming to keep him on track.

He wanted to create a simple, one access point application that would work to facilitate and improve his time management, allowing him to work smarter.

His own use of his personal project and the fact that he was the target audience allowed him to refine and develop the app for its purpose and Jamie quickly realised he may be onto something.

Development of My Study Life started around his classes in October 2010 and was complete by December of the same year. In just 12 months his site had generated a wealth of interest with 40,000 users.

clip_image006By mid December 2011 the number of users had increased to in excess of 50,000 and Jamie was awarded with a Microsoft student prize for My Study Life in the Windows 7 competition.

I asked Jamie how he feels mobile apps integrate into our daily lives. He went on to describe the time that tablets were first introduced, how many of us were sure they were a luxury we didn’t need but today they are essential to both work and study lives.

He added “Applications were a similar story, but today, people live in apps. They’ve integrated them into their daily lives and can often take them for granted”

I was curious to know as now Jamie isn’t a student, what’s in store for the future of My Study Life and for him. He assured me that My Study Life’s future was secured by Virblue, the company he had founded earlier this year with the help of Angel investment. He also hopes to look into greater compatibility with schools and teachers. Jamie then showed me some of the latest updates of the app now that it has been developed for Windows 8 which include greater scheduling support as well as a complete redesign.

Meeting with Jamie reinforced a number of things in my mind when it comes to education and technology. We can often be spoiled in that we now just have incredible devices that facilitate every aspect of the way we do life. We go to a shop and purchase the latest advancement to technology and soon enough there will be something greater in its place. But thank goodness that we have young people who don’t take this for granted. That take it upon themselves to learn and be able to develop not only for business or mass consumption but to build products with the intent of improving their own lives. I personally feel that empowering students with digital skills such as coding so that they can modify their own tech experience opens incredible opportunities and creates a core foundation for them to develop world changing technology.

Why not check out My Study Life for you or your students at www.mystudylife.com