BETT Show Learn Live Lab

Posted: November 20, 2012 in computing, education, teaching, technology
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This is an article I was asked to write to by BETT show marketing

BETT show: App Development 101.

What is Appshed. Apart from being a fantastic mobile app development platform it is an amazing learning and creative tool for the classroom. I cannot praise enough the platform nor the support that I, and many other teachers, have received from the Appshed team. Especially when I have my crazy ideas “can I just do this….” generally something that requires a server farm or at least 4 developers a month to build. I am always met with a convivial “yes, it’s possible”.

A bit of history: AppShed began back in 2008 as a business need. Rob suggested that they build a CMS (content management system) for apps instead of building each app from scratch. Torsten (CEO) didn’t need any further encouragement. Immediately development began on a native iPhone app framework using XML files to create dynamically generated apps. From that initial framework AppShed.com was born.

I am such an advocate of the AppShed platform that I gave a workshop at #Mozfest November 2012. The workshop was attended by industry gurus and delivered by me… just a classroom teacher. The workshop was a great experience and we received really positive feedback. One of the “users”actually built their app using a smart phone during the workshop!. It does require some delicate touches to build an app on a smart phone.

At the BETT show Learn live lab myself and my A-level students will be delivering the workshop. Why my students.. because they are fantastic and this will enable them to experience something impossible in the class. Real World business interaction. Helping as well as designing the workshop. The students will be creating a template app for the event along with the resources to go with. What I like to call a #nanohack. As part of their course they have to develop systems for a particular “client”. I run hackdays/ hackjams for young and old alike so now my students get to join in too. They now get to enjoy the fun and excitement that goes along with creating and delivering new technology driven experiences for others.

A little explanation regarding hacks/ nanohacks:What is a hack day? A hack-day, my definition”a collaborative environment where designers, developers or anyone interested get together to create something based on a theme”. The theme is their to inspire, help and guide the creatives to the ultimate goal of building something “awesome”, as my students would put it.

During the workshop you will learn about the platform both from within and outside a classroom setting. This is important as some of the cool stuff such as twitter widgets are blocked at most schools. Though, as we are not in school – Cool Stuff here we come. You will be able to customise the app to you desired content. Galleries of images (check for copyright), Maps / Locations, links to Videos. Upload your own files directly into your profile so that you can use the documents for any other app that you might wish to create. Link to Flickr accounts, create interaction/ quizzes using google docs. The list is endless. By the end of the session you will have a fully functional app on your smart phone.

I have created an app for my GCSE Computing class and their parents/ guardians. that has links to the exam board, online homework using socrative.com, uploaded files and other websites that are helpful for the course. Any modification that I make to app is then pushed out to the user next time they launch the app.

At the time of writing this AppShed are in their final stages of testing their new learning/ development environment. This new environment has been beautifully designed to enable and engage the “user” to produce the best possible app. It allows the “user” much more freedom and independence from the instructor. AppShed will soon be launching this entirely new interface, AppShed “K2” has been re-designed from the ground up to maximise the user experience to make app-building even simpler for the novice user, while at the same time increasing the flexibility for advanced users. AppShed “K2” has a simple column layout: the simulator on the left, and dynamic toolbars on the right. Apologies for the Tron “user” reference I couldn’t help myself. 🙂

“AppShed Academy is a versatile and comprehensive online tool to facilitate student development of apps in education. Intuitive, step-by-step learning allows teachers to include app development in the ICT curriculum without the need for an in-depth understanding of the app creation.” Their own words which I could not have written any better.

We all are really excited about being at the Bett Show and the opportunity to let other experience the joy and excitement of using and building your own beautifully designed app in under an hour. You can’t beat that at the BETT Show. Come and join in the fun Friday 1st Feb 12:15-13:00, Gallery Room 6. Any questions send me a tweet @pegleggen.

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