App development - engendering creativity and flair
The consultation paper recognises the need for students to design and write programs, so app development is a natural candidate to meet this requirement. Apps are commonplace amongst the Smartphone and iPad generation. It therefore makes sense to tap into this common interest and use it to engage and encourage students. For tech-savvy students, app creation compels them to be creative, if only to stand out amongst their peers. The case for app development classes within the computing curriculum is a strong one, because not only does it feed the imagination and aspiration of students, it delivers practical skills and knowledge.
App development technology has come a long way to the point where anyone can create an app with ease. However, students still need to have a basic understanding of coding. The challenge is how to make what is a technical task something that doesn’t deter students or dampen their enthusiasm. A key consideration and benchmark must be that the technicality of coding should not interfere with the task of building an app and critically, students should be free to work at a pace dictated solely by their imagination, creativity and enthusiasm.
How do you engender creativity and flair? Well, a lot depends on how one defines creativity. I find Mary Lou Cook’s (an American author) definition the most apt: "Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” App development embraces all of these elements and by its very nature draws out the disinterested, the curious, the adventurous and the visionary. It provides a building block that teachers can use to expand a student’s interest in the wider computing curriculum.
You can’t legislate for creativity and ingenuity but you can create the conditions in which it thrives. App development plays to the strengths and interests of today’s younger generation and future generations to come by tapping into something they regard as an integral aspect of their lifestyle. Critically, app development classes have the potential to engage, to challenge, and to build confidence and self-reliance in a way that few other technology subjects can. The ability to think without limits; to conceptualise without constraints must be the cornerstone of any modern education system. It is this that warrants app development’s place in the new computing curriculum.