Engaging Students in the new emerging technologies-Update
In 2011, The App Challenge (TAC) kicked off as a Royal initiative directly from His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan. TAC is a student-centered competition that invites young Jordanians to explore and engage in new emerging technologies.
Today, the world is rapidly shifting to mobile smartphones and tablets, and every single aspect of our lives is going towards app development, showing that we are moving towards the app-oriented and smart-connected world. To build Jordan’s capacity in that direction, and steer clear of short-term solutions but a long-term grassroots approach, the app challenge came out with a bottom-up approach: targeting students between age 14-16 from all over Jordan, to be the future app developers, designers, thinkers or business leaders forming our Appreneurs scene.
Managed and supervised by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD), Maysalward honored to lead as an executive partner in the Technical and Skills Development of Students since the first app challenge cycle. Today, the App Challenge has reached up to the 11th cycle, besides a Golden Cycle where top finalists schools from previous periods, competed to design and develop a Golden App idea. The sheet below summarizes the app challenges until 2018.
How does the app challenge work?
The Selection Process
The Ministry of Education (MOE) and KAFD invite students from both the private and public schools to take part in a one-day orientation with 3-4 team members besides one teacher.
During the one-day orientation which will last for about 7–8hrs, the students from each school will be engaged in an interactive session of Mobile Technology and Gaming, Learning Game design principles, and storytelling. They will work as a group to answer a pop quiz and create a good game story, helping tutors to test the creativity and the anticipation of students and their teachers. The team monitors the behavior and interactivity of schools and puts a score on it.
The storytelling sheets and pop quizzes blindly pass to a committee where they check and discuss the student’s submissions and select the qualified schools for the 5-day crash course training. Schools names are only shown at the end of the evaluation process to be entirely unbiased toward gender and schools.
During the five days of training, the students spend 8 hours daily with Maysalward’s Team, learning all mobile game development aspects which will prepare them, later on, to work alone for two months (maximum), where they can develop their games.
The students will work with a proposed theme from KAFD. In the previous years, students worked on Cultural and products of Jordan apps and Edutainment Games and during the last app challenge, the students were challenged to create an edutainment hypercasual game. Hyper--casual games are lightweight games with simple mechanics. These games are not only instantly playable but infinitely replayable, making them highly addictive and engaging to play.
After two months, the students will deliver their work and pass through a verification process where Maysalward’s team will verify that all game elements developed are the students’ authentic work, not copied or developed by external help. Otherwise, the team will be disqualified.
The teams, after passing the Qualification stage, will take a one-day soft skills training session, where they will learn how to present and pitch their ideas.
Also, a budget of $70 will be given to each qualified team, in which only within this budget, they can present their thoughts (printouts, giveaways …etc). Also, an expense report will be handed over on the assessment day. This part, however, was introduced to manage equal expenditures between schools where some better financially schools in the past had an advantage in showcasing their work.
The assessment day
The students present their ideas in front of a Jury panel. At every Cycle, it hosts successful entrepreneurs, representatives from mobile technology companies, Ministry of Education, ex/ministers, and heads of educative Jordanian organizations. They all share one agenda; to do a final polish up, proper assessment, and of course, select a winner.
The students usually get out with a lot of tips, advice, and encouragement from such leaders.
The KAFD and the Maysalward’s Team usually give a 10-minute general brief to the Jury panel on the cycle, theme, and the students and their teacher’s interactions.
How do the teams present their ideas?
The students enter the room without their teachers so they can get full freedom to present their projects and express their thoughts.
The students will teach the general and best practices pitching formulas, but not directed to a certain way, as they have all the freedom to select the best way they find fit for presenting their project.
From videos to PowerPoint or theatrical plays, the students will be at liberty to express themselves with full freedom.
They have 5 minutes to present and 15 minutes to answer the Jury panel questions and discuss remarks.
The Jury Panel follows a judging process and fills out a score sheet designed based on the competition criteria prepared by KAFD and Maysalward.
At the end of the assessment, the assessors will check out the results and discuss between them, to confirm and agree on the winners.
Winners are being announced at a special ceremony afterward, and the top 3 projects showcased live for the ceremony audience before announcing the winners.
To get the App Challenge, the right support, and attention in early days where App Development was still publicly in early stages, the students present and awarded live in front of His Majesty King of Jordan.
The first-place winner will go back to their schools with a budget of $5000 to build a Mini Lab. This non-personal award encourages students towards community work and sharing achievements. Also, the students in the first three places and their teachers go back with smartphones or Tablets.
The video below shows the 10th App Challenge Cycle Assessment Day.
Post App Challenge and Support
The Jordan Gaming Lab, which is operational in 6 cities now: Amman, Irbid, Aqaba, Karak, Zarka and Maan, is another non-profit setups managed and funded by KAFD with technical operation managed by Maysalward Team. The Jordan Gaming Lab follows up with the App Challenge students to make sure they continue their work and interest in apps.
Also, The App Challenge invites participant teachers to be part of the Jordan Gaming Lab TOT program, which focuses on developing their skills in game development to enable them to run their applications in schools or universities.
All TAC completed projects are being published in the app stores under the KAFD account, and the students with the Jordan Gaming Lab have all the freedom to update and support them.
Google Play: https://goo.gl/C2F3ZF
App store: https://goo.gl/YYSQaO
This fraction of young Jordanians represents the pool of talent that will continue to power Jordan’s future.
For Maysalward’s team, the app challenge helps us to be attentive to the latest in Mobile Video Game Technology as we want to give the best to a very tech-savvy generation that already armed with general knowledge about Technology and are hardcore mobile gamers.
“The App Challenge Keeps us updated, challenged, and we are Proud of being part of the future.” Nour KHRAIS, Founder and CEO Maysalward
The International Journal Associate acknowledged Nour KHRAIS Paper contribution and listed him as an Associate Editor in Volume 10, Issue 3-4: Technologies in Education. The Paper ” Engaging Students: Designing Mobile Phone Applications in Jordanian Schools” was presented back in 2015 at the Eleventh International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society at UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY | BERKLEY, USA and under the theme of Big Data and the Politics of Participation in a Digital Age.