Students are often the first ones to master new technologies in schools, well before the teachers do. In the case of Cory Dobson, he is way ahead of the curve.
Mr. Dobson, a senior at Capital High School in Charleston, W.Va., recently created an iPhone application for his school to use for checking schedules, grades, and school closures, plus several other tasks.
It’s not the first iPhone app created specifically for a school, but it is clearly one of the first ones created by a student for use by an entire school.
The program Mr. Dobson created, called “iCHS,” gives students access to EdLine, the Kanawha County’s online report card site; Capital High’s home page; Google Maps; the school’s student-behavior policy; and the high school’s bell schedule.
Robert Haddy, Capital High’s multimedia teacher, came up with the idea over the Christmas break of having students create an application for the popular iPhone. He said he was inspired by young people’s constant use of such smartphones and other technologies.
A growing number of schools have developed iPhone applications for educational purposes. Following is a sampling of schools using their own customized iPhone apps:
Strathcona High School
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
• Access to school’s Web site
• Athletic scores
• Tic-Tac-Toe game
Boston Latin School
• Secure login
• Search for parents, staff, faculty, alumni, and students
• Schedules, scores, rosters, and news for all athletic teams
• Calendar browser
*The application developed for the Boston Latin School was created by Whipple Hill Communications, which has produced the same app for about 50 other high schools.
Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science
Bowling Green, Ky.
• School news
• Photos and videos
• Other social content
North Eugene International High School
North Eugene, Ore.
This app is only for the International Baccalaureate program.
• Class schedule
• School map
• Student handbook
• IB regulations
Crescent City Christian School
• School calendar
• Class notes
• Edline access
Sources: Education Week; Apple Inc.
The high school, which used to ban cellphones from the classroom, lifted the policy last school year. Principal Clinton Giles approved the use of cellphones in class as long as teachers have a good reason to include them in the curriculum.
Before starting the project, Mr. Haddy sent a mass e-mail to the rest of the high school’s teachers asking what they’d like to see. He also contacted a sales representative for Apple Inc., the maker of the iPhone, to ask how difficult it would be to get an application approved. He was told that as long as the program was free and for educational purposes, the Apple screeners probably wouldn’t have a problem offering the application.
Originally, the project was supposed to be a group project and was expected to take all semester, but Mr. Dobson completed it in just a few weeks.
“I didn’t think one kid would take it upon himself to finish it in three weeks,” Mr. Haddy said.
Mr. Dobson said he never programmed on a Macintosh computer before the iPhone project, and he personally uses the Google Droid phone instead of the Apple version. But he said programming for the iPhone was much easier than other coding projects he’s done in the past.
He points to the iPhone developer’s software, which allows programmers to see applications as they’re making them. In other programming software, developers have to wait until all the computer code is written to see the fruits of their labor.
After about two weeks of learning how to write code for the phone, Mr. Dobson was able to make the iCHS application in a day and a half.
The student said he made sure to craft the program so it could be updated easily.
“I want every kid in the class to at least be able to do one thing,” he said.
This month, Education Week began a special technology feature that will appear in every issue of the newspaper, covering news, trends, and ideas about digital learning and administrative uses of tech tools in schools.
Read the winter issue of Education Week Digital Directions to learn more about digital tools for customizing learning, the role of e-learning in personalizing education, teacher use of whiteboards, Twitter in the classroom, and student perspectives about how schools could use technology more effectively.
A version of this article appeared in the March 03, 2010 edition of Education Week as iPhone ‘App’ for School Designed by W.Va. Teen