The new school year has seen the launch of the fourth edition of App Education. This lesson plan, based on app design and prototype development, is part of the mSchools programme, a multi-faceted mEducation programme of Mobile World Capital Barcelona in partnership with the Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA.

App Education opens the door to a world of opportunities for students, concluding in June with the mSchools App Awards. To date, more than 36,000 students and a total of 900 educational centres have enrolled in App Education. Jordi Gibert, App Education teacher at the Immaculada Concepció School in Lloret de Mar, relives his experience teaching the course at the school for the first time, and how EduKids, one of the apps developed by their students, was selected as award winner.

– How did you know about the mSchools programme? Tell us about your school’s first contact with App Education. 

I received information on this initiative from the Education Department of the Generalitat of Catalonia during the 2013-2014 school year, and I found the idea very interesting. However, I didn’t have enough knowledge on the subject to teach the course then, so I followed the mSchools training sessions for teachers during the 2014-2015 school year to learn the methodology and content of this lesson plan. So App Education was implemented in our school in 2015-2016, specifically for two groups of 4th  Year ESO (Secondary School) students.

– How did the students react? 

From the very beginning the students were really excited about the course: they loved the opportunity to be involved in creating an app like the ones they use on a daily basis.

The first months were hard as they had to get used to a totally new methodology: challenge-oriented team work, self-management, assignment of responsibilities, etc. But once they assimilated the dynamics, the experience was very rewarding.

– How did you work on the different project ideas?

The App Education course has clear guidelines which we followed: the students have to observe the world around them with the purpose of detecting a need they can fulfil. Many ideas come up at first, but finally they have to select one. Throughout this process they question themselves if their objective is technically achievable, until they gain the necessary knowledge to do so. The truth is that they came up with some exceptionally original and creative ideas related to all kinds of sectors.

– Tell us about the EduKids project: how did the idea come up, and how did the school support it?

The creation of EduKids has a lovely origin. In our school we run a programme with elder students supporting the younger ones, where students in Secondary level help the children in preschool stage with their learning. The group of students that worked on EduKids knew clearly from the start that they wanted to create a technological tool to make learning easier for the younger children.

They spent many afternoons during the app creation process talking with the infant school teachers to find out more about the activities taking place in the classroom, the teaching objectives at each stage, etc. With EduKids, the App Education students managed to get much of the school involved in the project. The idea is for our younger students to begin using the app.

– EduKids was one of the App Awards finalists. What was the reaction in your school? 

I found out on the same day as the meeting with the mSchools Expert – the industry expert that mentors App Education students. It was an important day, because the students had to present their projects for a second time to an industry expert.

They were all in the same classroom, making their presentation pitches group by group. Right at the end of the session, we told them that of the three projects submitted to the contest, EduKids had been selected as finalist in the App Awards. It was a beautiful exciting moment for all. And as a teacher, I achieved the goal I had set myself.

From that moment on the whole school threw itself onto the project: preparing the stand, the pitch, the poster… Enthusiasm, work and dedication became unconditional.

– What did being awarded in the mSchools App Awards mean to the students? 

It was an explosion of happiness! The kids made a full effort in this project, working as a team, assuming responsibilities… each one of them contributing with their skills.

– How do you think that the immersion experience at mSchools TechCamp helped them improve their technological knowledge?

It has broadened their horizons. At the start of the school year everything was new to them and thanks to App Education and TechCamp they have learned a lot and enriched personally. Also, through the contact with the IoT and automation they have a greater visibility of the professional opportunities ahead. They have become people with open minds and open hearts.

– As a teacher, what do you value in an initiative like App Education?

I think the course guidelines work very well, shaping the students as individuals as well. They learn to assume responsibilities, become involved, face the industry expert, confront the challenges themselves, work cooperatively… all this has all been helpful for them. Having the App Awards as a goal has encouraged them to go that extra mile in their efforts.

– And for the new 2016-2017 school year project… Any predictions?

This year’s students have the reference of those that studied App Education last year and they are enthusiastic looking forward to reaching the App Awards and TechCamp. Predictions? We must keep working just as hard until the end.