Designing Your Own App!

Designing your own App!

This week I had a lot of fun with the “app” creation.  It certainly made my mind wonder, in terms of what apps are available and their benefits.  Before I brought this idea into Connected Learning, I interviewed a few of my students by asking them that if they could create an app, what would it be.  Below I inserted a picture of student feedback.  One of my avid readers came up with the idea of a “Book Talk” app.  He loves to read and says that in this app you can talk about what you are reading with other people reading your book.  You can share ideas, other book recommendations, thoughts, predictions, etc.



Next, I thought about my life and my personal interests.  As you all know by now, I love Yoga.  My studio has an app with a schedule, which makes signing up for class so fast and easy.  I wish, however, there was a way have all community yoga opportunities in one place.  For example, on Facebook I saw that Morris Arboredum has Tree Top Yoga several times a year.  I also noticed that the park around the corner from me has outdoor yoga.  There are many times I see these things after the fact, wishing I had more notice or knowledge of their existence.  In terms of brining connection to my community, I wish for a place where Yogi’s could communicate.  I would love to know about the various opportunities around me, and even post that I- as a yoga teacher- would be available to host group classes, etc.  This idea is similar to “groups” already existing on facebook.  I am a member of RUN215, which is a Philly running community.  Here I read about news, races, etc.  I also love this facebook groups because of the pictures that people post of run-related things.  I often get motivation from people’s postings, pictures, recipes, thoughts, quotes, etc.  This certainly makes me feel more connected to my community and is completely geared around my interests.

Another idea that I had (outside of this course), was a dog walking app.  Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to coordinate a dog walker to come to your house on the spot?  I know that for me, my dog walker needs several days notice.  Sometimes I wish I could run those few errands after work, but have to rush home to my dog.  With an app for dog services, pictures of your pet could also be exchanged via the phone.

My husband, when I asked him to “design his ideal app” said that he wishes he could find out the riding quality in the Wissahickon Park for mountain biking.  It rained a few days ago and he didn’t know if the trails were rideable or not.  Clearly, we answer the question of what we want to see based on our desires…our interests!

In terms of this course, and education, I am brining one of my major questions back into consideration.  Since the beginning of this course I continue to be very intrigued by inequity in education in low-socioeconomic areas.  I thought back to our #techquity discussion towards the beginning of the semester and Josh Karp’s article I read, “To Be Young, Digital and Black.”

The article talks about closing the gap of the digital divide.  Karp writes, “young blacks and Latinos are migrating decisively towards mobile media, using the phone as their main access point or gateway to the Internet.” He further informs us that black students spend an hour and half on the Internet (predominantly on cell phones accordingly to stats) while white students spend only half an hour per day on computers. Karp deduces that this is due to economics – cell phones are more affordable than desktop or laptop computers and their Internet connections more reliable given the prevalence of Wifi. 

This gets me thinking about the benefits of an app rather than a facebook community, or a teacher’s blackboard/message board that one would access via the computer.

This also got me thinking about how we could incorporate technology into a racially diverse classroom – a classroom and district where many of the students may not have access to a desktop or laptop computer with Internet connection but that would have access to a cellphone’s WiFi connection.  This also answers my next question of the course, which has been, “How can we get computers to districts that cannot afford them?”  It certainly is easier to get a cell phone than a laptop, and if we know that black youth is embracing mobile media than the answer seems to be slightly answered here. Apps could be the answer to helping close the digital divide.

If I were to design my own app it would absolutely be a homework helper app, which would bring assistance to students who need it beyond the academic day.  As I thought about this, I decided to ask my colleagues at school, “how could a mobile app increase equity in education?”

Afterall, as Karpp says, “Access is only half the battle.  The question we have to consider is: After access, now what?”

In the beginning of this course I did a lot of reading about inner-city schools who have inequity in education based upon “good teachers.”  If there were an app that has an option to deliver lessons, students could watch lessons through the app or re-watch lessons for re-teaching opportunities.  Just because a student may not have a “good” math teacher, wouldn’t mean that they couldn’t learn math that year.  The student who has had six different math teachers this school year in Philadelphia would have a chance to get access to the curriculum they may not have had exposure to in the classroom.  Even further, students who go home and attempt their homework wouldn’t give up once they get stuck.  If there were an app that students could all get connected to, kids could go home and ask one another questions, or post questions/answers to troubling situations.  It would be an app that acts as a message board.  Students could take a picture of a difficult problem and have it pop up as an “unanswered question,” awaiting another student to come to the rescue and help.  This could even become extended so that students from other districts, too, could use this.  I see this as an opportunity to not just connect the a classroom, but a whole school, district, community, state, etc.

As I was searching the web for ideas regarding tutoring, I came across an existing tutoring site.  Being that many students have a disadvantage and don’t own computers, this idea could be extended further into an app, thus giving equity to more students.  The website’s theory is, “We go beyond improved grades and test scores to help students eliminate stress, develop true academic confidence, become more ambitious, and increase their scholarship potential!!” Check it out!

I can see this really beneficial for middle and high school kids, so I struggle a bit to get too creative in elementary school (where I teach).  Many of students still do not have cell phones, and I’m not sure that posting for homework help is something that my fourth graders would need to do.  Last week I shared a youtube video of two ESL kids tutoring one another.  ( During this clip the teacher talked about how beneficial it is for both the “tutor” and the “student,” to engage in peer-supported learning because the benefits they are both getting are really, really vast.  Not only will one student hopefully pick up on the concepts, but also, the student “teaching” will learn communication skills.  I took this a step further and thought about how this idea of tutoring could become an app!  The idea of our learners being connected through school idea seems very powerful.  Instead of just wasting their time on facebook, or social media, students could be connected through educational opportunities, thus gaining equity in their learning whether they realize it or not!  Perhaps this could go further in terms of incentives.  Kids that use this app, or that “respond” to a certain amount of prep questions, or provide a certain amount of feedback to student’s postings could earn badges.  These badges could later turn into awards.  Perhaps even local businesses could throw in other incentives, making this idea community wide in order to show that communities support student learning as well.

  • I tried to create a “moc” app on appsbar (which I read about as an app maker), however I didn’t have much luck, nor did I think it’d actually go “live.”  Something work looking at, however, #ED677, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try it on!





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