Some appmaking trends in Canada

Applications (or apps) that run on cell phones and mobile devices are interwoven with digital media literacy education in Canada. A wide array of organizations — non-profit organizations, school boards and corporations — are involved in designing apps that youth may encounter in their classrooms, or through after-school programs. Three major trends realated to apps: 1) Bring your own device, 2) Canadian content and 3) Hackathons demonstrate important considerations for educators seeking to integrate appmaking into their programs. These themes will be explored in this post.

1) Bring your own device

BYOD image

BYOD image by jennip98 on Flickr under CC BY 2.0

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a term that is often used to describe employees bringing their own computers and electronic devices to work. School board policies for BYOD demonstrate that this is a trend that is also relevant to schools. Many schools are making wide use of tablets in classrooms, which suggests that apps are a part of classroom education.

A 2014 report titled Digital learning: the ‘new normal, by People for Education shares results from a survey of Ontario elementary and high schools. The survey found that 58% of schools report students using their own devices at school, and that explicit policies are being developed in Peel.

Equity remains an important question in relation to BYOD practices in schools and other informal learning settings, where tablets or other devices may be brought by youth. Educators must find creative ways to ensure that students who lack their own devices can fully participate.

2) Canadian content

Various apps are being created by Canadian organizations, which encourage youth to become creators of content that can be shared on the web. Creating content for the web can link to a longer history of using communication media to share Canadian stories and experiences.

As one example, the National Film Board of Canada’s NFB StopMo Studio app enables users to create stop motion animation creations. Stop motion animation is an important component of the NFB’s history, as demonstrated through films like Neigbours, Norman McLaren’s  Oscar award winning short film. The NFB StopMo Studio app is a tool that can be used in classrooms or other educational projects for collaborative projects for creative expression.

3) Hackathons

Hackathon Image

Hackathon image by on Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0

Hackathons and events that facilitate a participatory approach to appmaking are an emerging model. Hive Toronto held an Appmaking Hackathon in the summer of 2014 for educators. A hackathon is a social coding event. A hackathon combines the ideas of problem solving through code, with a prolonged period of working together. App related hackathons, and similar events that involve learning, are emerging through partnerships including a range organizations. A playbook to assist organizations interested in the model for the EdAppHack event run at MaRS in the fall of 2014 is available to individuals interested in the possibility of hosting app related hackathons for and with youth.


Featured image by Image by Johan Larsson on Flickr under CC BY 2.0.