Many times I post articles on creation-based tasks for teachers and students. This morning I would like to share a story about a Westlake High School student that saw an educational need and began creating content FOR the iPad. And this is where our story begins….
Reposting excerpts from an original post I wrote for the WHS WIFI blog.
Filling an Educational Need
At the end of his Sophomore year, Michael found that there was no iOS friendly fingerspelling app that truly met the needs of a secondary student (e.g. vocabulary, speed, age-appropriate graphics and feedback) and/or was reasonable in cost. So what does a High School Computer Science student taking American Sign Language classes do to fill the void? With a little help from fellow WHS students… Michael went to work over the summer to code his first app using Objective C, ASL Finger-Spelling and released it October 3rd. (Video below created with video from earlier version of app.)
Meeting the Needs of WHS Students and Beyond
Multiple students currently enrolled in WHS’s ASL classes truly appreciated Michael’s lend-a-hand approach to filling a need for this resource and note that the app was:
“the only way we can practice and recognize finger-spelling (short of) standing in front of a mirror”
and that the practice the app provides allows them to “catch up with someone that fingerspells really fast.”
Collaboration and Peer Feedback to Polish the App
Mrs. Vinson’s ASL classes are even providing valuable user feedback to Michael so he can polish the app for the next update. Michael also has plans to add ASL 1-4 lists of words (in addition to the 5,000 most commonly used words already in the current version) in an upcoming release.
21st Century Learning Epitomized
Truly, this shift from Creating ON the iPad to Creating FOR the iPad has its foundation in 21st Century Skills and is a perfect example of why students should be allowed time for choice and inquiry-based learning. A Teach Thought article highlights 4 essential rules of 21st Century Learning focusing on student-centered instruction, collaboration, contextual learning, and integrating school into society:
“With the powers of technology and the internet, students of today can do even more. Our community is no longer just the area of space located around the school, but reaches out and envelopes the world.”
Truly, this shift in education and creation makes me wonder if we shouldn’t start teaching coding much earlier in school…And on that note, sharing a List.ly of Apps to build and support programming skills in elementary and intermediate age students.
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