The Digital Apprentice Project offers a great way to bring real-world skills to the classroom. Children will not only learn more about how technology works but they will also be able to unleash their creativity by designing, building and sharing their own apps.
You can’t just give someone a creativity injection. You have to create an environment for curiosity and a way to encourage people and get the best out of them.
Sir Ken Robinson
The apps offer an amazing amount of flexibility. Children can create content which can be tailored to meet the needs of any subject, age, level and pupil ability. Content could include a famous person, a location, a famous team, a sport, a period of history, a health and fitness app, local study or a topic they’ve enjoyed at school – the possibilities are endless. The children could decide and become the expert on their chosen topic.
The content of the app could be teacher led and subject specific (see Earth & Space app below) but I believe the real impact comes when you harness the power of the children’s imagination (see the example apps below).
Designing the App with Wire Frames
Once the initial idea has been established the wire frames are introduced. Wire frames basically help the children to understand the process of how to create an app and to focus on it’s functions and user interactivity. App developers widely use these frames so that their clients can see how their apps will work. This will also and provide the children will an opportunity to develop a real world skills.
Creating the App
Any digital content created in other apps can easily be embedded into the app and could include any combination of the following:
- Designing and constructing pages for their app
- Customise their own app icon
- Designing and creating dynamic content to embed into their app (images/graphics, audio recordings and videos).
- Adding links, inserting quizzes and slideshows.
- Publishing their app to the web
- Generate QR Codes for easy sharing of their app
The app can be added to an iPad/Android home screen, just like any app and then even viewed online on any device simply by sharing the URL (see example below).
Digital Apprentice Classroom Days
I’ve been working in schools on the Digital Apprentice project with some fantastic results!
This Earth and Space app was created working along James Hartmann, Assistant headteacher and the pupils at Bellfield Primary School, Hull to show their understanding of the Earth and Space topic in science. There are also strong cross curricular links to computing, digital literacy, information technology, oracy and writing.
The apps below were created by Year 6 children at Larkfield Primary School, Nottingham. The children, prior to the Digital Apprentice day used the wireframes to design their apps. On the day the children, from 2 classes, were invited into the hall and introduced to the Digital Apprentice project. Throughout the session the pupils (in groups of 4-5) were given ideas on the type of content they might want to add to their app (graphics, videos, text, titles, images and audio recordings) but ultimately the choice of content they wanted to add to their apps was up to them. After a full day populating content in the app they were uploaded and added to the iPad home screens as a short cut (app icon). URL links were also sent home and QR Codes generated for displays/books.
Working with teachers
Working with the science coordinators from across the Hull Collaborative Teaching School I was asked to creating a series of science apps. The coordinators had been working together to pool some great resources and ideas together and were looking for a way to bring the content together so that it could easily be accessed by other teachers. The apps offered a perfect solution. Content was added in the form of text, web link, images, graphics and video content. When viewed, the content is clear and easily navigated on the web and is accessible from any device connected to the internet.
As well as bringing all the content together, I worked with the teachers to generate ideas on how digital technology could be used creatively to raise standards for pupils’ scientific enquiry skills. These innovative ways of learning were embedded into the apps in the form of videos, images, graphics and sound recordings.
The apps are hosted on the Mr Andrews Online Servers and are provided as part of the Mr Andrews Online Creative Computing Curriculum package. The apps require no contract, an unlimited number can be created and there are no additional hosting fees for the apps.